Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Saturday, May 28, 2011
“Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that they should turn from their ways and live?” --Ezekiel 18:23
How blessed we are that God is merciful.
I watched the festivities surrounding the President’s announcement of the Bin Laden assassination with a pit in my stomach. I am not sad that he is no longer able to trouble the world. I am saddened by America’s reaction to the news; the celebratory, super bowl party atmosphere. This was not the end of a conflict or some wondrous success of the human spirit like the moon landing; it was the execution of a human being! And we cheer it in the streets? Even more offensive was the glee and mockery that came from the very same public figures who constantly lecture us on the importance of our nation’s Christian heritage. Mike Huckabee, a politician known for wearing his faith on his sleeve, even sent a mass email where he said “welcome to Hell, Osama; although I doubt even the devil wants you.” Would-be theologian and huckster Glenn Beck celebrated with a marching band and confetti.
Shockingly poor taste aside, I wonder: how would Jesus respond to this momentous news? With joy? Indifference? Chanting and cheering? Or with sadness at the destruction of a wasted life?
There’s a Rabbinic Mishnah that reflects on the drowning of Pharaoh’s army in the Red Sea in Exodus, recorded in Exodus 14. The Biblical text tells us that Moses and the sons of Israel praised God at their deliverance. They rejoiced that he had judged the nations, and saved His people.
The Hebrew Rabbinical tradition adds to the story. They said the angels also were celebrating and praising God for His wonderful victory over the army of Pharaoh, when God Himself chastised them for their mirth. He said “The Egyptians, too, were my children. I am not joyful that they are drowning in the sea.” And thus the heavenly host ceased their merriment, and soberly reflected on the tragedy inherent in God’s punishment of the wicked.
We know not whether this story represents revealed truth or simply poetic license, but we need only briefly peruse the New Testament to see that it fits the character of our Lord.
The 5th chapter of Matthew, the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, contains several instructive passages.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” –MT 5:7
“You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” –Mt 5:43-45
And in Luke, Jesus showed us what he meant. As he hung on the cross, the only truly innocent man to have ever been murdered, he called on God to forgive his killers. He prayed : “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." –Luke 23:34.
His example, juxtaposed with our actions, reminds us just how hard it can be to practice the basic tenets of our faith. God takes no delight in judgment; do we?
Posted by M at 12:19 PM
Friday, May 27, 2011
I found myself participating in a Frank Luntz opinion panel on Fox News. It was a disaster. If you saw it, I was the guy with the bow tie. Here are some thoughts on the experience, and here is a brilliant piece of artwork that I wish I could take credit for, but cannot.
Posted by M at 12:06 PM