Breivik’s Blood Is Not On Us

The blood of those killed by Anders Breivik is on the hands of Anders Breivik, and no one else. That insane animal is no more a Christian than I am a Muslim. Less. There’s a lot about Islam that I get, that resonates with me; I can identify with what is happening in the heart and mind of a Muslim. The heart and mind of Anders Breivik is a broken, twisted, blood-soaked mess. I can no more identify with or understand what is happening inside his demented, dysfunctional brain than I could breathe with my head buried in sand.

Breivik raves that he’s a Christian. He leaves behind a 1,500 page rant, now practically de rigueur for the killing spree set. Who cares? Why do we for a moment treat as credible or even interesting the proclamations and “writing” of a guy so psychotic he blew up and mowed down almost one hundred innocent people? How is it that committing mass murder doesn’t automatically cancel the possibility of having your thoughts and sentiments taken seriously? Yes, many right-wing conservatives in Norway are concerned about their country’s growing Muslim population — just like many right-wing conservatives in America are concerned about our country’s growing Mexican population. People have all kinds of social and political concerns. But just because a well-armed psychopath slaps one of those concerns onto his gun before he starts spraying everywhere the blood of others doesn’t make him a legitimate contributor to the conversation surrounding that or any other issue.

To the media, Breivik claiming to be a champion of Christian values gives the story of what he did legs like Jackie Joyner-Kersee. A lone nutjob snaps and starts killing people? Good — but not great. But a lone nutjob who snaps, start killing people, and says he’s doing it because as a good Christian he wants to strike a blow against Islam?

Now you’ve got something that will move units, bring eyeballs, sell ads.

And the guy’s good-looking? Pffft. It’s like having a money-minting machine in the break room.

Yesterday I tweeted, “Writing about the Norwegian only pumps up the next deluded psycho with a closet full of guns. Can we please shut-up about him?” So I know I shouldn’t even be writing this. But everywhere I went yesterday, I found people talking about the Norwegian nutjob as if what he did should be taken as anything more than a psychotic one-man orgy of blood lust.

“See what the right-wing agenda has wrought!”

“He was part of a vast conspiracy of fundamentalist Christians who won’t be happy until the world is rid of Muslims!”

“His blood is on the hands of all Christians!”

That people sort of instinctively consider Breivik normal is touching and even encouraging. They assume he must have done what he did as a sort of rational response to a set of reasonings or motivations that are grounded in and defined by the same sort of reasonings and motivations that informs the lives of everyone in the world who isn’t a mass murderer. Being utterly helpless to conceive of anyone as depraved as Breivik, we do the only thing we can do, and cast him in our own image.

That’s a mistake. A very sweet mistake, yes. But a mistake.

I — you, we — have seen the enemy. And we needn’t be afraid.

He is not us.


[Just now — being about three hours after originally publishing this post — I added this as a comment to it, which — duh — it now occurs to me to also include here up in the post itself:

I love the quality thus far of the comments to this post. And I especially appreciate where and how they touch upon something I simply didn’t have space to properly address within the post, which is the consideration of what responsibility we as a society do have to maybe ratchet back the bombastic hyperbole with which our media now so routinely handles all kinds of matters that should be discussed with appropriate care and respect. One of the things I most like about blogging is that it allows me to write in the sort of broad-stroke way the strictures of the form itself sometimes impose — knowing that, once I’ve done that, my thoughtful readers and commenters will then come in and essentially refine, hone, and further clarify what I’ve written (or overlooked altogether). The trajectory of that way of presenting and then exploring an issue has never been more perfectly evidenced than by the comments to this post, and I’m really grateful to those of you have and are so thoughtfully shaping this dialogue. In the end, we always end up with such a satisfyingly comprehensive treatment of matters that, like this one, are, after all, formidably dense. What a pleasure it is for me to host that process of elucidation.]

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  • It always saddens and dismays me to see such credence given to people who individually use religion as the motivation to partake in murder and destruction. They don’t represent me, my views or my faith. In fact they represent the opposite.

    I also think that giving people like that more time in the media give them (in their own twisted minds) justification and confirmation that what they’ve done is right. Putting their faces on magazine covers, covering their histories on news shows. Spending time on the whys and wheres of their action just perpetuates the horror.

    To me it is better to simply say. A lone individual with murder and mayhem his motivation carried out his horrible actions. Let us remember and pray and honor those he injured and killed. Let us help the families who have faced loss and tragedy. Let us remember them, the one who caused the damage deserves no such memory.

  • Kara

    The blood he shed might not be on us, but there are a lot more “not us” people out there than we’d like to admit. My sixth grade Sunday School teacher said we should just bomb Afghanistan off the map since “they’re all going to hell anyway.” This kind of thing shouldn’t reflect on all Christians, but it does reflect on those who preach the xenophobic message that God hates Muslims and that Muslims hate God. That’s what I heard as a kid. Even if they wouldn’t support this kind of violence, those Christians are responsible for creating the climate in which this is possible.

  • Saying that Anders Breivik does not represent Christianity is like saying that Osama bin Ladin does not represent Islam. To one within, this is obviously true. To outsiders looking on… It’s a much harder case to make. “Reload and take aim!” -Sarah Palin

  • Stephanie Potter

    Agree with everything you said: As well, we have a lot to learn from looking at the shooter. Not just how do we respond to the violence, how do we prevent it, that sort of thing: but also it invites us to take a closer look at ourselves and see our own intolerance, prejudices, etc. For human beings, seeking compassion is a limitless journey, marked by many encounters with our own hypocrisy. Every single one of us, without exception.

  • Dirk

    The actions of this horrid man are exactly why I differentiate between “conservative Christian” and “Christian”.

    His actions are very much typical for conservative Christians. The sole difference to American conservative Christians is that our conservative Christians ‘only’ kill, beat, maim, rape and torture gays, lesbians and the transgender. Their mass killings are ‘limited’ to funding Kill The Gays Bills in Uganda and promoting wars of aggression against Islamic countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, to name but three.

    I no longer associate with the Christian church – the hatred towards us homosexuals and the transgender is too strong on the one hand, the silence at our torture and murder too overwhelming on the other. The blood of these murdered children is very much on the hands of both Christians as well as us followers of Christ. We have permitted this atmosphere to develop through our silence, through our tolerance of the hatred of the other which defines American conservatism

    Oh, and the irony that the two women who did the most to save those who could be saved are lesbians who have been sorely abused by the conservative Christian press does not escape me..

  • This was my mini rant yesterday on Facebook: is tired of reading about the supposed religious perspective of the Norway mass murderer…he is a mass murderer with a manifesto that was 1500 pages long. I’d rather be spending time reading about how those families are getting the help they need to heal, that they are surrounded by love and prayers. Enough of of headlining the monsters and forgetting their victims! (steps off soap box)

    He is a mass murderer, an agenda or ‘mission’ based killer. Whatever his ‘mission’ was is the least of our concerns. We should be praying for him but more than that we need to be reducing his time in the spotlight. We don’t need a headlining pseudo villain taking up space when we could be sharing love, prayers and support with the people of Norway and the rest of the world who mourns with them.

    When John posted his Tweet I was saying, “YES!”!

    The LESS we talk about him and the MORE we show true love as God’s children the more our actions will speak than any words which could ever be crafted or spun by man or woman.

    Our greatest societal sin is that we pay so much attention to the monsters we forget WHAT made them monstrous (their actions) and the victims of those actions are forgotten in our strange desire for gore and cyber lynch mobs.

    Put him in a box, shut the lid and do some serious work of prevention and healing…(end rant)

  • Really? The actions of Anders Breivik are “very much typical for conservative Christians”? You can’t be serious.

  • If you’re so dense about life generally and religion particularly that you think either Obama is typical of Muslims or Breivik of Christians — or that either of them evinces the true values of their faith — then you’re so “outside” you’re not even on the map. But I do know what you’re saying, and appreciate how readily we demonize others or groups outside of our experience.

  • Nora

    He’s a loon who happens to espouse some aspects of some of the more out-there factions of Christianity. I mean, for cryin’ out loud, he claims he’s a member of the Knights Templar! I think he’s also a Mason. Sounds like he’s your typical run-of-the-mill loner nutjub who latches on to and and all oddball society out there more for the trappings and cachet than any genuine resonance with their tenets or values. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the Illuminati crop up somewhere in his background, or the Rosicrucians, or a specially bound collector’s set of the Dan Brown ouevre.

    Clearly, we, Norway, everybody has to do a better job of identifying these volatile loners before they erupt. That’s the real lesson to be learned from this, from the Arizona shootings, and so on.

  • RoeDylanda

    While it is true that actual Christianity abhors the man’s actions, I think we as a culture have become much too fancy-free with the language we use about and to those with whom we disagree. Someone mentioned Palin’s “Don’t retreat– reload,” and that’s a prime example. The woman is joking about killing fellow Americans, full stop. While no one but the shooter is responsible for his actions, I think we all bear the responsibility for the current climate of public discussion. Do I joke about killing conservatives? Of course not– it makes me sick. What am I doing in my own little corner of the world to prevent this kind of thing? Not much. I pulled out of a choir performance because of an offensive reading– not exactly chaining myself to the courthouse. Crazy people will always be with us. We as a society shouldn’t be tossing out so much hateful rhetoric for them to latch on to.

  • Yes. You said this perfectly well. Thank you.

  • Kara

    Not typical, but not as *atypical* as we might wish either. Jokes about “shooting some Arabs,” use of the slur “raghead,” suggestions that we bomb Middle Eastern civilians and holy sites like Mecca, and claims that the solution to the Iraq war is to import Southern hunters and tell them that the locals hate Jesus and love Brokeback Mountain were all common at my church, which is a fairly mainstream Southern Baptist church in NC. This man’s ideas aren’t those of the average conservative Christian, but they do surface from time to time in different forms, and in my experience, no one really bats an eye.

  • Excellent, Shanyn.

  • I think the language even in these comments demonstrate a distinct problem though. People refer to Anders as a “madman,” a “loon” and a “murderer.” All of which are fair. People refer to Osama as a “terrorist,” which also seems reasonable. People do not refer to Osama as a “madman,” a “loon” or a “murderer.” And people do not refer to Anders as a “terrorist.”

    There are definitely teams here, and somehow a foul by our team doesn’t looks just a bit different from a foul by the other team. I’m not accusing anyone here of supporting mass murder, I’m simply saying that everyone has biases, and allowing those biases to go unacknowledged and unchecked allows people like Anders to more easily justify their madness to themselves.

  • There is a fundamental difference though Kara. The people you talk about don’t go out and murder indiscriminately, targeting people who may or may not fit the category they so hate.

  • Dirk

    John, I think you don’t spend enough time actually reading what conservative American Christians write on quite a surprising range of topics.

    We do see them raping, murdering, torturing people in the US, just this morning a very well researched report was released documenting the number of gay, lesbian and transgender children in the US who are homeless. They are not being kicked out by liberal Christian parents.

  • Okay. Just wanted to make sure that you’re sticking by your statement that the typical conservative Christian is a mass murderer. You are. Gotcha.

  • Jack

    Is it worth pointing out that there have been over 17,000 acts of mahometan terrorism since 9/11–and only this one by a self-identified Christian?

  • Jack

    \His actions are very much typical for conservative Christians. The sole difference to American conservative Christians is that our conservative Christians ‘only’ kill, beat, maim, rape and torture gays, lesbians and the transgender.\

    How many GLBT people do you personally know who were raped by American Conservative Christians? Speaking as a gay conservative Christian, I know none.

    Remember when Jerrod Loughner, the accused Tucson shooter, went on his rampage, and the American media was quick to label him as a conservative Christian and member of the tea-party movement?

    Of course, as it turned out, he was neither.

  • DR

    I don’t know any conservative Christian personally who wouldn’t give everything in their power to see someone who is gay protected, loved, respected and nurtured. There have been seveal here that have posted that have made their revulsion and disrespect for gay men and women known. And we have what – hundreds of stories at this point that document the abuse gay men and women have suffered firsthand as a result of the Christian culture (which is comprised of people).

    There are a lot of people who are frustrated that we keep individuating instead of focusing our energies on the collective messages that come from the Christian culture that can *inspire* the mentally ill, deranged, stupid, violent and idiot. That we as a Christian culture seem to focus on saying “That’s not me, stop labeling me” instead of focusing our energies on removing “gays are sinful” from our vocabulary and our culture is the point a lot of people make in making these generalizations. I don’t blame them and I think working hard at really *hearing* them beyond their accusations that are quite the punch in the stomach is – by our own power – impossible to do, to be lumped in with a violent, evil pedophile or a violent sadist who murders children is going to make the most reasonable and sophisticated person see red. But can we through God’s Grace actually *hear* what people are offering us? I hope so.

  • Russell Mark

    It really is hard to pray for our enemies – even harder to recognize them as our brothers and sisters; be it someone like Breivik or Phyllis Schlafly, Glen Beck or Tim LaHaye. It is an exercise in faith that has no end. I read something today in Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth that captivated me – he said “to forgive is not to overlook, but to look through.” Even a cursory “look through” at the depravity of what Breivik has done is to see a fellow human twisted by fear and rage, paranoia and delusion; who saw violence as his only way of being heard, of being “seen.” We see a man whose “lostness” has unleashed a reign of grief and anger around the world. But he is not alone and he is fuel to the fire. If we do not begin to recognize the sense of disenfranchisement that so many of our Christian Conservative family members feel – and the fear and rage that can come with that, they will NEVER hear or understand the disenfranchisement that they have visited on women, the LGBTQ community, immigrants or anyone that is different from their sense of normative. And if we do not work hard – very hard – to have this dialogue that breaks this cycle, then we will have many more Timothy McVeigh’s and Breivik’s and suicide bombers of every ilk. It only takes a few of the mentally unstable amoung “us or them” to tip from enraged rhetoric into violence.

    The AIDS crisis taught us that Silence = Death. Christian progressives have been silent too long or at least far too quiet. We talk boldly and loudly to each other, but where is the public counter tone to the conservative rhetoric? When do we take back the public discourse, using our credintials and our authoritative voices? [NY’s marriage equality is a great example where progressive people of faith made a positive difference – we must sustain this!] It is not enough, to get into a screaming match of accusations – then no one wins. We have to be assertive in our engagement, but we have to look through to where our opponents are coming from. We have to understand them, if we ever hope to diffuse the powder kegg we’re ALL sitting on.

    There will always be those that will never be swayed by the facts. They are hardcore ideologues for whom reason has no place. But I believe the vast majority can be engaged meaningfully, with tough love and respect. If all we want to do is be right, then we’ll lose. We have to swallow our pride, our ego and our injuries and we have to embrace them. We have to find our commonality; our communion with them if we really want to change the dialogue and ultimately behavior. It is what our Christ calls us to be. Peace makers.

  • How are we defining terrorism? B/c there certainly have been lots of non-Christians who have been terrorized by punks & thugs who claim to be Christians (I’m thinking in particular of the Sikh who was gunned down a day or two after 9/11 by some bozo who thot wearing a turban made one an Islamic terrorist). Nor can we forget that the US has not merely condoned but ordered & encouraged the torture & humiliation of thousands of Middle Eastern prisoners. And we haven’t even touched on the Army of the Lord which is still running rampant in Central Africa, wiping out entire villages by slaughtering the adults & dragging the kids off to become either soldiers (if they’re male) or breeders (if they’re female).

  • I love the quality thus far of the comments to this post. And I especially appreciate where and how they touch upon something I simply didn’t have space to properly address within the post, which is the consideration of what responsibility we as a society do have to maybe ratchet back the bombastic hyperbole with which our media now so routinely handles all kinds of matters that should be discussed with appropriate care and respect. One of the things I most like about blogging is that it allows me to write in the sort of broad-stroke way the strictures of the form itself sometimes impose — knowing that, once I’ve done that, my thoughtful readers and commenters will then come in and essentially refine, hone, and further clarify what I’ve written (or overlooked altogether). The trajectory of that way of presenting and then exploring an issue has never been more perfectly evidenced than by the comments to this post, and I’m really grateful to those of you have and are so thoughtfully shaping this dialogue. In the end, we always end up with such a satisfyingly comprehensive treatment of matters that, like this one, are, after all, formidably dense. What a pleasure it is for me to host that process of elucidation

  • A while back I had a brief discussion on FB w/someone whose wife had been brutalized by a neo-pagan cult when she was a teen/young adult. As one might imagine, that person had a dim view of any positive portrayal of magic, the occult, etc., in popular media since those beliefs had been used to brutalize his spouse.

    The point I hope I made to him was that the people who brutalized his wife were sadists before they were introduced to neo-paganism, that all their occult leanings did was to provide trappings and a rationale for their brutality.

    I can understand the fear of the other that was at the base of Anders Breivik’s rationalization about his crimes: Is there any one of us who hasn’t said “I wish ‘those’ people would stop bothering us”? (And by “those” people I mean anyone you’re not comfortable w/for ANY reason, justified or not, real or imagined.)

    Anders Breivik jumps several steps beyond that, however. He goes waaaaaaay beyond any legitimate non-violent steps to persuade “those” people not to do whatever it is he doesn’t like, waaaaaaay beyond saying “those” people should be carefully observed to prevent them from actinging against others, waaaaaaay beyond any claim to protect himself if directly threatened/attacked by “those” people.

    Rather, he claims a right to a unilateral preemptive strike against unsuspecting, unarmed, and in the case of many of the kids who were gunned down in their swim suits, virtually naked victims.

    This is nonsense. His real goal was to inflict sadistic harm & terror on innocent victims. Period. His right-wing Christianist rantings are merely a justification — he could have just as easily converted to Islam & struck out at the same people for the same “reason”.

  • yes yes yes yes yes yes this.

  • Patiently Waiting

    My husband is Arab American, and all I can think about reading this post is that Arab Americans and Muslim Americans have been saying the same thing for years. It may sound terrible, but I am somewhat relieved that people are saying that Christians should apologize for him. As an Arab American, my husband was told over and over again that Muslims/Arabs were bin Laden supporters because they had not denounced bin Laden, which, in addition to being completely untrue, is exactly what Christians are being asked to do today. The fact that people are asking Christians to denounce this man at least means that people are not viewing Christian terrorists as different from Muslim terrorists. In the end, they are all terrorists. If I can think of one silver lining to this silliness, it is that I hope that now Christians have a window into what Arabs and Muslims have been feeling for years. While it is a ridiculous question to ask someone to apologize for the actions of a crazy person, I hope that one thing Christians take away from the experience is just how ridiculous it is to ask such things of other people.

    Anne Fontaine over at Episcopal Cafe has an interesting piece making the point that we do have a responsibility to look within our community to find out what causes this kind of thing.

  • Mike Bruno

    Well…if he says the shooter is a Christian, we have to take him at his word. After all, there is no objective measure of what is or isn’t a Christian (though I would like so see those standards published). Since scriptural interpretation is purely subjective, we can’t fall back on the “No True Scotsman” argumentative fallacy…he wasn’t a TRUE Christian.

    That said…It would be convenient to for the anti-Christian factions to latch onto this story and paint with the broad brush, but saying all Christians are potential lunatic killers is like saying all Americans are professional baseball players [baseball phrase credited to some stand-up copy]. Nut-jobs are nut-jobs.

  • I’ve been wishing since… as long as I can remember that people would see each other as individual humans rather than as groups – as this or that group. I remember long ago, when I was a teenager, watching the news during the Oklahoma City Bombing crisis… while they were still searching for subjects. I remember seeing an address on the news by a Muslim woman pleading with the public not to blame her entire religion/all Muslims for this (Islamic terror was the immediate suspect even then). I remember feeling very sad for her – that people had to apologize for an entire religion and plea to stave off racial violence. Then, of course, they caught McVeigh – Mr. All-American Boy, ex-Military and everything. When 9/11 happened and it was supposedly Muslim terrorists, I didn’t blame the whole – just Al Qaeda.

    I mean, if every Muslim in the world wanted to destroy everything not-them that badly, they certainly could have and would have done it by now. How many millions (billions?) of them exist?

    And, I suppose, having been a Christian for a while – I’ve grown sick of people blaming me (as in *personally,* somehow) for the Crusades, the Inquistion, Slavery, the genocide of the Native Americans, “Why I’ll never be President! WHINE!” etc. (I actually got the last one from someone on a forum. I personally wouldn’t vote for her, though – nothing to do with religion/lack thereof, everything to do with the piss-poor / didn’t care way she “ran” her own Internet community, but I digress). I think what I’m saying is that I have compassion for everyday people who are unlike me (Muslims) because in a way, they are like me (blamed for everything but everyone not a part of the club with a chip on their shoulder).

    Ever since this happened – and seeing lines like your “The blood of those people is on all Christians!” ranter…. this image has been going on in my imagination.

    I imagine myself walking up to someone who says such a thoughtless thing and handing them a knife, then kneeling before them. I describe myself a little bit – “I’ve never owned a gun… I’ve never killed anyone. Everything I like most in the world is themed after Love and Peace. I hold doors open for strangers. I do little favors for people at my job all the time. I once went out of my way and risked my life to save the life of a horse belonging to a person I did not know. I admit that I once had conservative politics, but I’m quite progressive at present. I am a human, probably not unlike you….

    I also happen to be a Christian. Sweet zombie-Jesus and everything. Now, if you really think that the blood of those innocents is on my hands, how about you avenge them, here and now? I’ve given you a knfie and I offer you my throat. Now, I’ve never killed anyone and have no desire to, but if you think people like me shouldn’t exist and we should pay the price, go ahead.”

    This is just something that goes on in the theater of my mind. People who say things blaming an entire broadly-defined group of human beings…. I wonder about them. I’d like to make them think – maybe write fiction that gets people to think.

  • The Sikh gentleman was in Phoenix. I was living in Arizona on 9/11 and it was all over the news stations there. I didn’t here anything about the killer being a “Christian” just about him being one of the area rednecks.

    That said, there are people on the liberal sites lately who seem to think “all Arizonans are…” or that Arizona/Arizonans shouldn’t exist. I take it pretty personally as I do have plenty of sane family members still in the state, not to mention former friends – though I will make jokes about how the heat in the southern part fries everybody’s brain, which is why it’s such a crazy place. Born and raised there *twitch!*

  • *hear. This place needs an edit feature.

  • Nice post, the Christophobes are loving this as an inidcation that since this clearly insane man identifies himself as a Christian, then all Christians also harbor such hate, but they control it better than this guy. I agree with John’s insighfully written blog of the day.

  • nurmihusa

    I disagree, respectfully. The blood IS on all Christians – whether they held the gun or not – whether they supported his agenda or not.

    I am an American. The blood, for example, of innocent Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis, Colombians, etc… is on MY HANDS, too. Is it enough to say I don’t support it? Did I do enough – do I continue to do enough – to stop the carnage done in my name and on my behalf?

    All Germans have worked and continue to work to expiate the sins of the Nazis. It is a job that, frankly, will never be done.

    There is no religion, philosophy or political movement in the history of humanity that has more blood on its hands than Christianity – by orders of magnitude. Saying “Oh, well, fill-in-the-blank isn’t a REAL Christian” does not absolve, it only excuses and encourages the next atrocity.

  • Only Dork could take such a tragic event, with over 76 confirmed killed, and assign the guilt to all “conservative” Christians and then associate it with the “abuse” guys have experienced first hand from the Christian culture. To Dick, all of the hate, murder, torture, pain, suffering violence, etc. in the entire world, is a direct result of “conservative” Christians. Conservative Christians are the real problem in the world, if only they were silenced (or eliminated) , the world would be a better place.

    From my iphone, so there may be typo’s

  • Kara

    The idea that Muslims are sub-human and that their violent deaths should be positively portrayed and a source of humor does not seem to me to be as far removed from this situation as you think. As of a week ago, this guy hadn’t mass-murdered anyone. I’m not saying they’re killers, or that they will be, just that the extremisim that breeds violence is alive and well in many conservative Christian churches.

  • Jen

    Although I completely agree that while Anders Breivik did what he did out of his own extremist views, not out of any Christian obligation, I am very disappointed in you, Mr. Shore. You immediately labelled him “psychotic,” thus unwittingly promoting the stereotype of the mentally ill killer.

    An overview of mental illness and violence, published by the World Psychiatric Association, puts it better than I could ever have:

    From the paper: “Mental disorders are neither necessary nor sufficient causes of violence. Major determinants of violence continue to be socio-demographic and economic factors. Substance abuse is a major determinant of violence and this is true whether it occurs in the context of a concurrent mental illness or not.”

    When something like this happens, as you have said yourself, Mr. Shore, many people cannot fathom it. So they immediately assume “something was wrong with them.” It effectively puts “people like that” in the Other category, and assures people that “this cannot happen to me.”

    If all those who commit random acts of bloody violence are mentally ill/psychotic, then we need to immediately evaluate all of the government heads of the world, the generals, and other members of the military. They may be “normal” but the conflicts they begin and sustain are made for just as (to me, at least) unfathomable reasons as Anders Breivik: Ideology, money, imperialism, because they were told to.

    I wish humans only killed each other when they were extremely sick. But that’s not the case, and when the human rights of those labelled “mentally ill” are on the line, it’s a dangerous belief.

    That being said, the WPA consistently says that substance abuse does increase violence, and apparently Mr. Breivik was abusing “mood-altering steroids.” So I guess we’ll see how this pans out.

  • Mindy

    Brian, that is painfully childish. Typos, my ass. While I agree that Dirk’s views here seem extreme, I can see where he’s coming from. As a non-religious person, it is easy for me to see the slippery slope that can be any organized religion. Religion is the key ingredient in nearly all efforts to eradicate “the Other,” whomever that other might be, and the intolerance of the vocal minority of Christians, the fundies and evangelicals, does give voice to many bigoted, isolationist views.

    Do I hold all conservative Christians accountable for this madman? Of course not. If he hadn’t latched on to Christianity, he’d have found another group that isolates itself as “the best,” “the chosen”- and used that as his platform. I just wish that somehow, ALL religions could cease and desist with ANY “us vs. them” rhetoric. Of course that would mean having to acknowledge that they aren’t special, that their being saved doesn’t make them God’s favorite any more than my not being saved makes Him hate me. And I fear that will never happen.

  • No, that is just not so, are all atheist to blame for Stalin or Mao? Catholics shed the blood, not Christians…..

  • Agreed, Religion is the opiate of the masses – Christianity liberates and Jesus saves

  • And now for something completely different…. (don’t judge it until you’ve read it)

  • Nah. Plenty of Christians have shed blood. Then again, I consider Catholics to be Christians, too. However, I don’t think it’s right to broad-brush and blame entire segments of people (men, women and children)!

    It’s like the atheism. So many atheists are quick to say “athiesm isn’t to blame for anything because it has no dogma and is just a free belief in nothing!” Then people point out Stalin. Cue the inevitalbe whining about “But his was a religion! A religion of the State! It wasn’t true athiesm!” Yeah, right… yeah, yeah, *rolls eyes*

    But I feel the same way about people who say “not true Christians.” Now, the Bible does have precedent for the “No True Scottsman” fallacy (people coming in the Name who never knew Him, anyone)? However, to those on the “outside” that reeks of No True Scottsman.

    I just came from reading an article regarding Brevik as a “cultural identity Christian” rather than a serious, religious Christian (something about how he claimed no relationship with Christ, only a European-Christian idenity), but, you know, if he calls himself a Christian, I’m not going to try to convince non-Christians that he’s “not one of us.” They won’t believe it. To them, anyone who says they’re a Christian (especially someone who does bad things) is one. (Unless it’s some long-dead historical figure they happen to like, then they’ll claim up and down that they were too good or too smart to be actually a Christian, but whatever…) I’m willing to “own” the killer, so long as I get to assert that I am NOT the same as him, family and friends are NOT the same as him. WE ARE ALL INDIVIDUALS.

    Honestly, now, the only groups I can think of who haven’t had terrible doings / horrible killers and suchlike in their histories are the relatively small, extreme pacifist groups. Even Buddhsim has a little darkness in its history (Tokogawa Period Japan). I’m not sure the Jains, the Bai’hai or the Quakers do, but they’re extreme pacifists who might not even exist if it weren’t for people who aren’t pacifists protecting their rights from other people who aren’t pacifists.

    And even there…. if anyone claims that they and their own are the paragon for peace and superiority, I like to remind them that they belong to one, horrible, vicious group – it is inescapable. They are humans.

    Sometimes I genuninely wish that I was not a Christian, but probably not as often as I genuinely wish that I was not a human. I remain both. I am who I am and am not gonig to change it to please anybody (and don’t always have the power to please even myself).

  • I seem to remember one of Mr. Shore’s posts about how Christians (as God’s people) are not at all special – just lucky. Nothing more.

    Extending that, I think that Christians (ones that are real for-serious believers and not just using the name), might, in fact, be inferior people – the dregs of humanity – just because I think God likes to work with broken things. It stands to reason that God finds more glory in working with the “weak” than with the “already strong.”

    Extending that further… I’ve got my head in the clouds. I love fantasy stuff. I watched a Harry Potter movie yesterday (not the final one, was catching up in my movie-watching and need to see the final. I’ve yet to read the books). The whole series is about a “chosen one” boy who is meant to save the world. I enjoy video games and my very favorite series is The Legend of Zelda – in which you play “Link” – a boy chosen by the gods of his world to save it. In all this cliche’d fantasy chosen-one stuff that I love so much, the heroes never lord their strength over others. The whole purpose of heroes in these fictions is for them to save people from evil and oppression. The strong uphold the weak.

    And that’s how I see life – if anyone is “chosen” or “strong” it is not their duty to crush others or to lord it over them or to “other” them – as I see it, they were given their “calling” and/or power specifically to lift others up.

    It is unforutnate that some who feel like they are “called” or “chosen” feel like it means they are to lord over and crush others. To me, that’s the opposite of a calling or a strength.

  • RoeDylanda

    Just a gentle reminder from a Quaker– most of us are Christians! 🙂 Most are also extreme pacifists as well. Certainly all humans. And boy, can we suck, just like everybody else.

  • *Shiver*

    Reminds me of how I passingly-knew someone in one of my geek fandoms. Back when I was into the anime and manga “Trigun” very hard (I still love it, I’m just not an active fandom creative or forum goer for it anymore), there was a guy that several members of the fandom started “following” because he claimed to have some secret inside information about stuff going on with it in Japan.

    The guy went by the name “MillionsLivio” – which was a reference to two of the characters in the series. I went to his message board breifly at the request of a friend of mine who hung out there and wanted me there to set up roleplays with. I found ML himself rather disgusting and seem to remember telling him to his text as far as I could go with that without being kicked off the board. I eventually left after growing sick of him.

    He and his close friends at the board – were rather blatant white supremicists. It’s weird that they liked Japanese things, but, yeah. ML was also an atheist, by the way, so his attudes had nothing to do with religion. He hated religious people, he hated Jews, he hated Blacks, he hated Gays (oh, the rants he had about gay people. He tried to justifiy it by saying he was abused or something, but people didn’t really buy him).

    Most people only stuck around his board because they loved the fandom and wanted all this “secret information.” Once it became clear that he was talking out his ass about that, he faded into obscurity.

    But it weirds me out that I was in contact (even briefly and online) with a potential extremist. Unfortunately, I don’t know “MillionsLivio’s” real name as to altert anyone or to know if something happens with him.

  • I know you’re a Christian sect – just one that’s big on peace – was used as an example of a pacifist group.

  • Robert


    I really have not been following the media stuff around the killings… I had heard he identified as a Christian… and that was about it.

    You denying his status as a Christian… is… not rational.

    He may not be a follower of your liberal brand of Christianity… but his way of thinking… rigid, exclusionist and kind of delusional… is found within the Christian community. “Westboro Baptist Church” and “the pastor who burnt the Koran” to name two. An almost any Southern Baptist Church would likely be seen as extremist to me.

    In my opinion, this is the problem with Christians, Jews and Muslims… they all believe they are RIGHT based on the irrational and delusional belief that GOD told some guy a thousand years ago something that was written down a hundred or thousand years later and then translated and mistranslated and blah blah blah… confusion.

    But they KNOW they are RIGHT cause they have GOD on their side. And there have been many wars and millions killed because of these rigid belief systems. All in the name of GOD. These facts can’t just be denied. Because these facts are the main reason I left Christianity years ago.

    There is an arrogance and intentional ignorance that seems to fuel all these semi-monotheistic religions. (side note: You do realize that Christianity is in reality a duel-istic system… with a good god and a bad god.) It is this desperate clinging to doctrines and dogma in a quest for speciallness which is annoys me. (side note: I actually had a Christian say to me she was suprised I was a good person… she told me I acted more like a christian than most christain she knew… What suprised her was that I was a gay, atheist… who world for 20 years with the poor and homeless.)

    You and your brand of Christianity comes of this dogma… (quote. 1.Jesus Christ was God incarnate. He performed miracles; as a means of providing for the irrevocable reconciliation of humankind to God he sacrificed himself on the cross; he rose from the dead; he left behind for the benefit of all people the totality of himself in the form of the indwelling Holy Spirit)… you created a nice version of Christainity… but in the end… it is based on the same belief system of the Westbone Baptists.

    There are many branches to this Crazy Christian Tree… you are one… and this killer and the Westboro Baptist Church are other branches…

    You can’t just deny them… they are real and their points of view are supported by the words written in these “sacred” texts and anointed by the almighty. blah blah blah.

    I believe Jesus had a very important message to say… and unfortunately this message was lost to most people when he became a GOD.

    He is only one of many people that have been saying over and over and over again. “Love each other, treat each other with decency and respect. Be kind, generous and compassionate.”

    Jesus the man it more important to me… than Christ the God.


    Lastly…. It is nice that you “denounce” people like this killer and homophobs… but rather than just denying this man is who he says he is. (BTW… we all know he is crazy). We might want to ask… why do so many Christians always have to believe they are RIGHT… about everything???? And what is it about the christian expereince either attracts these people or helps create these people…

  • DR

    What is a Christophobe and why are you using the term?

  • DR

    This made me tear up to read, it echos so much of what is in my heart and what has simply exhausted me regarding topics like this one. Thank you, thank you I needed this this week.

  • DR

    Never mind, I found the definition (or one of them):


    An insult used by Christian fundamentalist extremists against anyone who disagrees with their twisted, hateful interpretation of scripture, and the homophobia, sexism and racism that it implies. Part of a greater sentiment among Christians that they are persecuted, despite the fact that Christianity is the most powerful and publicly accepted religion in this country, most government officials are Christian, including the President, as well as most notable figures in the media. Some funamentalist Christians want a world in which public schoolchildren are forced to pray to Jesus Christ, homosexuals are actively persecuted, non-Christians are second class citizens and women with unwanted pregnancies end up bleeding to death from self-administered abortions. Anyone opposed to this twisted fantasy of what would in actuallity be a hellish and depressing future is labeled a “Christiophobe.”

  • Diana A.

    Hmm. I see your point and I almost agree.

    “Terrorist” is more of a political term. It implies that there is an entire movement behind the actions of the terrorist.

    “Madman”, “loon”, and “murderer” are more terms we apply to individuals–individuals whom we consider to be acting alone, rather than as part of a movement. “Madman” and “loon” tend to imply some level of mental or emotional disorder, while “murderer” speaks to the action itself and may imply that the perpetrator is more of a “cold-blooded killer” type.

    I’ve not heard any evidence linking Anders Breivik to any sort of organized movement. This doesn’t mean that he wasn’t affected by a form of fundamentalist Christianity–it’s just that he’s not (to my knowledge) part of an organized network of fundamentalist Christian terrorists and that this was not part of an organized terrorist plot.

    Osama bin Ladin and those whom he sent to do his dirty work were part of an organized network of terrorists and what they did was part of an organized terrorist plot. This is why he is considered a terrorist and Anders Breivik (at this point) is not.

  • Jen, the violence alone is not what points to mental illness. The paranoia, the delusions of grandeur, and the narcissism does.

  • Hello Brian….Are you saying Catholics aren’t Christian?

  • Now, see, I was wondering who was going to note that little discrepancy … . I feel our Catholic friend D.R. out there somewhere, clutching her heart as she collapses to the floor ….

  • No, Brian. Most people don’t extrapolate to “all” like that that quickly. Just like ALL Muslims are not radical, all Christians are not radical. Just like all Muslims are not Fundamentalist, all Christians are not Fundamentalist. Just like all people with mental illness are not dangerous.

  • I think it’s Sam Fuller’s SHOCK CORRIDOR that has a black character, an inmate in an insane asylum, who has been driven crazy by racism & now believes he is a Grand Dragon in the Ku Klux Klan. He’s so convinced of this that he actually manages to whip up a lynch mob mentality in his fellow (white) inmates & goes after another white inmate.

    So, was that character actually a Grand Dragon in the Ku Klux Klan? After all, he claimed to be.

  • Thanks for sharing this, Patiently. It offers important perspective.

  • Yes. This.

  • kimberly

    john, i’m quite honestly still stunned by this tragedy. and sickened by the exploitation of it. i am encourgaged by the sense of community and support from many peoples and places on FB for the norwegian people. as widespread as the hate is, there is a lot of love out there as well. and it matters. God bless you my friend.

  • Free speech should be responsible speech. It isn’t always, but even my children know what “inappropriate” means. And what it seems to take to counter these types of occurrences is for someone, with whom the statement maker closely identifies and respects, to say, “Hey, that kind of talk is out of line.”

  • And those of us who find it inconsistent with the Way of Jesus need to stand up to our church communities and church leaders and our family members when it happens and say, this is inappropriate.

  • Dirk

    John, perhaps, at this point, it might be useful to see whether we define ‘conservative Christian’ in the same way.

  • Dirk

    I wish I could answer that really hateful question with ‘none.’

    Because I worked in a gay and lesbian crisis center (that’s all we were back then, no alphabet soup yet and the transgender were even more marginalized than today), I, unfortunately, have to say more than 20.

    Which is awful.

    Nowhere near as bad, however, as the venom in your statement.

    You may, indeed, be a ‘conservative Christian’. Gay? I seriously doubt it.

  • Dirk

    Just proving my point, Brian.


  • DR

    I’m out. This is not the first time Brian has implied that Catholics aren’t Christian, he just doesn’t state it directly. Brian’s words speak for themselves and if history repeats itself, he’ll either ignore Christy’s question, answer her question with another question or just start talking about Jesus in order to avoid answering.

    Or maybe not, maybe Brian is this great, sincere Christian guy and I’m the one who doesn’t see him accurately and everyone’s fine with his style of communicating. I really don’t know.

  • DR

    I appreciate the challenge you’ve offered here, for me this is constructive criticism I can get very lazy with equating the two very quickly. Thank you.

  • Brian, seriously, are you saying Catholics are not Christians?

  • Don Rappe

    Or, if it is impossible to pre-identify nut jobs in a free society, we might reconsider whether the types of weapons employed in these crimes really need to be as available as bags of peanuts.

  • Don Rappe

    It’s very likely that the murderer was baptized in the Church of Norway and thus was a Christian. He may well also have a funeral there some day. But, will they know he’s a Christian by his love?

  • Don Rappe

    He is not us? Wait a minute, are we anti-immigrant or not? Is he so different than the guy who snapped at the congresswoman’s rally? I can relax because I have some pickled herring in the fridge, but suppose it should become unavailable? I might snap. I live in Texas, so I can easily walk to a guns n ammo store. How would I decide who to take out? Fellow Episcopalians who have been tolerating and even confirming the undocumented? What about the Lutherans and Catholics who do the same? I need to take a deep breath. I’m heading to the fridge now!

  • I got DR’s back….but then again….you want me on your team, cause when you need it, I’ll get your back too.

  • Mindy, thanks for the commentary on the “typos.” Really, Brian? This ain’t our first rodeo.

    I am interested though in the distinction you are drawing between Religion and Christianity. By what means are you using to make it? OR – How, in your mind, is Christianity different than Religion?

  • Dirk

    DR isn’t a follower of Christ, but of Rome.

    I am not a follower of Christ, but of my lusts.

    Only conservative Christians are real Christians.

    These are Brian’s clearly held, if poorly stated convictions.

    One reason people like me get so furious with conservative Christians (apart from their murdering other people) is because we expect better behavior from Christians than these conservatives exhibit.

  • cat rennolds

    I love you guys so much. I do. But I have to say this.

    One cannot, one day, posit that the Body of Christ is responsible for the horrors perpetrated by its members in its name, and the next, when the horror is too horrible, recant and say that it is not.

    One cannot, one day, state unequivocally that no one can judge whether or not another person is “truly” a Christian, and the next say, except for that guy.

    Did Christ or Christianity directly cause this action? No. That was human nature. Is Christianity the only religion that has ever been used to divide Us from Them? No. Does the example and the rhetoric of the Christian church over the last 2000 years make it understandable? Yes. This was in Christ’s name, and that makes it Christianity’s job to RESPOND to it. To be responsible for it.

    Christ not only said Love your neighbor, he said LOVE YOUR ENEMY.

    And as soon as, in Christ’s name, you start saying out loud or by example that it’s okay to hate (attack, shun, deliberately hurt) or even just fail to love THAT guy over there, for any reason, you fuel the fire. In this thread alone there is enough rancor and namecalling BETWEEN CHRISTIANS that I can certainly see how outsiders might be unable to say, No, that guy sure doesn’t represent.

    He that hath ears, let him hear. If you find this offensive, which is not my intent but I sadly predict, then it probably applies to you. However, I foresee another round of “Not me, him!” Prove me wrong.

    To stand up and say, No, his values are not ours? Good, yes, that. To say, we believe in peace, not violence? Do that. To say, Christianity doesn’t lead to this? Well, if it doesn’t, when is it going to stop? Who said the tree shall be known by its fruit?

  • Dirk

    I once believed we could achieve our rights through quiet voices and reasonable discourse.

    I was wrong.

    One need only look at the statements being made by the Republican party’s top contenders for president to see how wrong. All of them want to re-criminalize homosexuality. All of them want to make abortion not only illegal, but to reduce the status of women (still not constitutionally anchored) back to barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.

    All of them have actually stated that this country is a Christian country and other religions are merely tolerated.

    Conservative Christians have moved beyond the point where one can reason with them. All we can do now is to protect ourselves, get out the vote against them and weather this storm until the pendulum once again swings away from this extreme of hatred.

  • Dirk

    Define terrorism.

    I submit that every single gay, lesbian, transgender person, together with every single woman or child who has been beaten, raped, murdered or tortured in the name of Christ has been a victim of conservative Christian terrorism.

    I submit that the illegal war of aggression against Iraq (so not defending Saddam) was terrorism.

    I have no desire to defend a religion which hates dogs, women and gays. Still, let’s be realistic here. Nobody does hatred half as well as conservative Christians.

  • RoeDylanda

    Beautifully said. It’s really hard (for me at least) to quietly and calmly engage people in a real discussion when I really, really disagree. But I’ve made the most headway with the people in my immediate circle when I can find a way to connect with the fear, or disgust, or whatever that has made them cling to positions that are angry and defensive at heart. Conservative Christians, as angry, mean, and paternalistic as they can be, still have human hearts in there somewhere. Many can be reached and challenged by the reality of what life can be like for the truly disenfranchised. We all have to keep talking.

  • RoeDylanda

    Thank you. Beautiful.

  • DMK

    Thank you. Very well put.

  • DR


    That someone is a Christian in nature – in being is what it means to be “Christian” which I’m sure is John’s point. Can we as Christians evade responsibility for what is done by those of us who are Christian in “name”? “Responsibility” is a layered word and even more complex assignment, but I agree with you in that we cannot invest energy in differentiating between the two.

  • DR

    I don’t know what Brian’s story is, he is free to clarify. That being said, this is *exactly* what many conservative Christians will say to Catholics. We follow Rome and then they will vaguely indicate (when pressed) that it’s maybe – maybe possible for Catholics to be Christians if they have a personal relationship with Jesus. Which is essentially, the rules of salvation set up within their own traditions. And they generally offer that only when pressed for clarification.

  • On the issue of how anger leads to hate and how we can love our enemies, here’s a good article on that:,sb=652347,b=facebook

  • cat rennolds

    Yeah, but I think calm and quiet might not be the way. We can be loud, we can be passionate. But we have to CONNECT.

    Within reason, with those who can be connected with. Is it the majority? Only one way to know.

  • Nora

    Except that most gun violence involves illegally obtained guns and the bombs involved in this and in the Oklahoma City bombing were made using materials available at your local Home Depot.

    Plus, there are the nutters who go off on people with machetes, poison, acid, and God only knows what else. Some crazy in my city lit someone else on fire the other day.

    The truth we all have to learn to live with is that you can’t prevent all tragedy. You can try to identify people who are dangerously close to acting out in this way, but you’re not going to be able to identify them all, and you may “identify” someone who wasn’t ever going to go this far.

    Part of the problem — and a very large part of the problem where I live — is the “destigmatization” of mental illness. On the one hand, and rightfully so, we have moved away from the notion that mental illness is demonic or somehow different from other illnesses. On the other, we have advocates for the mentally ill claiming that the mentally ill have the right to choose to go untreated and unmonitored as a “lifestyle choice”. Nice. So when someone, who the medical community, his family, etc., have all recognized as a paranoid schizophrenic with violent tendancies, “chooses” to embrace his disease as a lifestyle decides to off fifty people in a mad murder spree one day, no one’s responsible. He’s not — he’s crazy. His doctors and family aren’t — it was his choice to forego treatment in order to coddle his special little personality “quirks”.

    How many people have to get shot up by some loon like Laughner or Breivik before we say there’s a point where you’re on your meds or you’re locked up — those are the two choices you get, “lifestyle” be damned. Someone has to be the grownup here.

  • I’m not sure he’s saying “every conservative Christian is a murderer or potential killer” – but I think he and Kara are concerned about some of the attitudes they see.

    Strangely, some of the more racial, “raghead” attitudes are ones I’ve seen in people who weren’t in the church (when I used to live in Arizona). The conservative Baptist church I went to there was opposite of such attitudes (not entirely: they didn’t think much of gay people but thought the solution was conversion and love, not raping and killing). I’m not inclined to go back to the dogma anytime soon, but my own experience was with non-monsters while the people who had the scary attitudes were people who weren’t much for church (like my brother, like a boss of mine). Then, my experience varies and was probably a weird, one of a kind one.

    But, certainly the attitudes are floating around.

    I think they’re floating around among the entire human race, though. I’ve seen non-Christians proclaim various people to be non-human/less than human/not-fully human, and it’s not always even over religion. I feel like lots of people must think of me as sub-human becuase I happen to have a mental illness (as functional as I am with it), for example (the media / television comedies certainly have such a bent).

    We’re a bunch of psychotic apes, the human race.

  • No I’m not saying Catholics are not Christian, since they do affirm the essential truths of Christ the one must believe to be a Christian.

    My point is when people claim that “Christianity has shed more innocent blood than any other religion”, I want to make a distinction, that history bears out, that it was almost exclusively Catholic Popes (or his henchmenn) that ordered the killing and near genocide of people based on their non-Catholic beleifs while claiming to be Christian. There was a time for over 1,000 years that if a person claimed to be a Christian and didn’t submit to Rome, you were a heretic and subsequently killed or punished. If you claimed to be a Christiam, you had to bow to Rome and be a Catholic if you wanted to live or even function in society.

    Catholics are Christians, I have nver stated to the contrary.

  • cat rennolds


    Have you ever been shot at, beaten so badly you had to go to the hospital, deliberately hit by a car, had a broken beer bottle thrown at you hard enough to cut you, had your possessions taken and destroyed, your home vandalized, been suspended from school, had noise made outside your door all night to the point you couldn’t sleep and were afraid to go out, had your relatives threatened, had public assistance refused you, or your children allowed to go hungry because you are a conservative Christian? ( I do know some of this abuse does happen to Christians in other countries, by the way.)

    Ever been forced to go to counseling and told you’re mentally ill because you’re Christian? Ever lose a job because you’re Christian? Ever been told you’re evil and going to hell because you’re Christian? Ever been forced out of a car in the middle of a national forest in the middle of the night because the person driving found out you were Christian? Ever had several people lock you into a small room with a drunk person trying to rape you because you’re Christian? Ever have somebody send a steamy love letter in your name to the captain of the football team because you’re Christian?

    I, personally, know GLBT to whom ALL of this has happened. Some of it has happened to me.

    That’s without dragging in the daily, DAILY torment in school, after school, at work, after work. Without mentioning being afraid to ever go anywhere alone. Dirk’s already covered in painful detail the WORSE fates that happen to GLBT daily just because they’re GLBT.

    That’s not some vague distant historical thing. I’m not even talking about Uganda and other countries where it’s even worse. All of this has been in this country in my lifetime.

    John closed comments on the other thread before I could get back to it, but I wanted to say, yeah, I think DR and Dirk ARE too harsh on you. Now, I still think so….but mostly because they shouldn’t give you any more ammunition.

    so stop saying “yeah, but it’s not me…” If you don’t want to be lumped in with the people who commit these atrocities, stop defending them, stop saying they don’t exist, stop spreading the teachings that support it, and stop turning it back around and name-calling.

    Whatever happened to turning the other cheek instead?

  • “Christophobia” is what a “Christophobic” suffers from. It is a common term to describe the phenomenon of intolerance and discrimination against Christians. The term consists of the words “Christian” or “Christ” and “phobos” (φόβος) which means “irrational fear”. The term means therefore an irrational animosity towards Christ, Christians, or Christianity as a whole.

  • Yup, all of the problems in America has its roots with conservative Christians, all the drug use, crime, rape. murder, drunkedness, corruption, greed, hatred and on it goes, it’s the Conservative Christians and of course the Republicans. If we could get rid of the Republicans too, life would be good……

  • Christy,

    IN short, religion is man’s attempt to reconcile with God (normally through their justification with “good works”) while Christianity is God, through Jesus Christ, reconciling Himself to His people. One is initiated from the heart of man (religion) the other initiates from God (Christianity)

  • Cat,

    Yes I have suffered some of those things you mentioned for being a Christian but no where close to what some in the GLBT community have suffered, no where close, I admit that. It is wrong and tragic, but you can’t legislate morality. If someone hates, they hate. The change needs to come from the inside out ( a change of the heart that God the Holy Spirit will accomplish). Once a person is truly converted by the free and soveriegn Grace of God their heart is changed and they will live a life of love towards God and to love thier neighbor as themselves (that also means love their enemy too and I’m not saying the GLBT community is an enemy to a Christian).

    Now since we have a sin nature, Christians do sin and can and do commit horrible acts of sin (David committed adultery and murdered the woman’s husband). Christians are not perfect and they need to live in a “continual state of repentance”. There is NO EXCUSE for Christians NOT to treat those in the GLBT community with the same respect and love as they do everyone else.

    I’m not defending any Christian that behaves contrary to the core teachings of Christianity.

  • Great! Thanks.

  • So, you said, we cannot legislate morality. Then we can and should abandon the notion that based on the religious convictions of a particular group of people we should limit the rights of others legislatively. Right?

  • Christy,

    Agreed and affirm

  • Brian, Ok, I see what you are saying. What if we broadened it a bit to say: Religion is humankind’s attempt to reconcile with the Divine (normally through orthodoxy or orthopraxy or some combination thereof) and it may very well be the opiate of the masses, but the Divine presence in our life is what liberates us, transforms us, and sets us free.

  • Christy,

    All constitutional and civil rights in place today are applicable to all citizens and I know of no people in society that these rights are not available to. I know that those convicted of a felony have reduced (I suppose “limited” rights), but if you have not been convicted of a felony and are here legally you have full constitutional and civil rights.

  • That’s not the question I asked you to answer. But it is the answer I have come to expect you to give.

  • I will have to try using this answer with my Tea Party friends when they complain that Progressive and Liberal people of faith are trying to legislate morality upon them through mandatory charity via taxation based on the religious convictions of those who believe God cares about what happens to the Poor and that the richest nation in the world, which also often claims to be a Christian nation (by some) has a responsibility to care for the least of these as Jesus commanded us to do. (I have a feeling, though, it won’t fly there either).

  • DR

    You’ve both manipulated and redefined the point Dirk was making. Comsider reading with the intent of understanding what’s being offered and responding in kind instead of getting defensive and then offering a generalization that derails the actual conversation people are trying to have.

  • DR

    Well you actually have in the past but it’s nice to see you’ve changed your mind. I do find it fascinating that you consistently differentiate Carholics vs Christians whenever you have the opportunity to do so. And I wonder what that means and what point you’d even try to make in doing so. Perhaps Carholics aren’t Christian when you’d prefer to not be associated with the damage Christians do.

  • Sorry,

    What was the question then? I understand your post to mean that because of some religious convictions of a group of people, say Catholics, then the rights of others (non-Catholics) can be or is now limited legislatively. My response was no group of peoples rights are limited now, if you’re here legally and not a convicted felon everyone’s constitutional and civil rights are the same. Am I missing something are there are group of people whose rights are limited? Are you referrring to growing beliefs of Muslims in America who are trying to use the Freedom of Religion clause so they can “govern” themselves first by Sharia law THEN the Constituation?

  • I have no problem with my tax dollars helping deserving people abroad – like natural disasters or famine. I just don’t like how the money never makes it to the needy because of corruption. I further believe based on a biblical precept, our FISRT responsibility would be to the domestic poor and needy before those outside our borders. I put the needs of my family ( food , clothing shelter) before the needs of others. I think we have an obligation to the “American family” before those not in America.

    I would have no problem and would indeed support say a shelter for the GLBT community that have been neglected or abandoned by family or society and have no where to go other than the streets. A place to get help, food, clothing, shelter, medical needs etc.

  • DR

    I copied my definition from the Urban dictionary verbatim. I’m sure there are other definitions as well but that’s the one I certainly resonated with.

  • His intent is clear in almost all his posts – conservative Christians hate people (oops extremely hate) and (virtually) all the problems in America are directly or indirectly a result of conservative Christians and now Republicans.

  • Christy,

    Ok, yes, I would agree with that…

  • B

    I have a hard time even formulating how hurt and disappointed I am at this article. In your haste to distance yourself from this killer, you wantonly heaped abuse and dehumanizing language on one of the most vulnerable groups in society – the mentally ill. I expect that sort of thing from careless popular news sources, but not from a thoughtful progressive blogger whose writing I have long appreciated.

    Another commenter has already posted some links, but let me reiterate – mental illness does NOT increase rates of violence unless it is paired with drug addiction (and then, the increase is comparable to sane people under the influence of drugs). Mentally ill people are far more likely to be the victims of violence than perpetrators of it.

    You may not be able to relate to Breivik’s thought processes, but that does not mean he is an “insane animal” or a “nutjob.” There is no evidence that he was acting on the command of voices in his head or that he didn’t know what he was doing. On the contrary, the evidence points to a meticulous plan at least 2 years in the making. He had reasons for what he did – he wrote a 1500 page manifesto elaborating on exactly what those reasons were. And they are not reasons about divine commands or space aliens, nor are they even particularly unusual conspiracy theories. I have heard him called delusional and narcissistic, but he does not seem to be more so than the authors of any of the many blogs and other writings he drew from (copy-pasted) for his manifesto. His actions were those of a rational man drawing from a horrifyingly flawed data set and political philosophy. His sub-culture, if not his national culture, glorified violence and preached fear and desperation. Under those circumstances, he seems to have felt he had no choice but to strike the blow he did. He was shockingly, soul-deadeningly wrong, and a terrible person – but mental illness does not explain that. Being crazy does not make you evil. He is a person inclined to hatred, who sought out writings and worldviews that fanned the flames of his hatred. He is a terrorist.

    Your apparently mistaken attributions of his actions to mental illness are not harmless (I say apparently because evidence may yet reveal legitimate brain dysfunction; however, it does not, currently). Even in this thread, that association has led a commenter to decry destigmatization efforts and to imply support for restrictions on the human rights of people labeled mentally ill, such as forced medication. That kind of dehumanization leads to intense suffering of innocent people. I have been there, am there. I can elaborate if you need. A significant portion of what I suffer is intrinsic to my illness, but I think the total suffering might be reduced by half if society had a place for me, and that will never happen if even other progressive people insist on falsely categorizing every evil man as insane, and then dehumanizing the entire group of insane people.

    As for his Christianity, only God knows the state of his heart, past or present. I certainly agree with you that he displays no fruit of the Spirit. But he identifies as Christian, and draws his horrifying ideology, in part, from other people who identify as Christian. In this horrifying ideology, he is not so different from the Salem witch hunters, or the Spanish Inquisitors, or the Crusaders [all generally acknowledged as sane by their contemporaries]. I know it is painful, but Breivik, and these historical groups, did draw their motivation from their understandings of the religion we share. Neither you nor I are the arbiter of who is really a Christian, and denying that these people are part of the same group we are is not helpful to the victims or to the non-Christians around us.

  • What about the poor here at home? Over 13 million children live in poverty in America. And nearly 4 million older adults over the age of 65 do as well.

    And I’m not talking about you and what you are ok doing with your money and what you are not. I’m talking about people, particularly Conservative Christians, who don’t like to pay taxes because they disapprove of social programs but they are ok with legislating restrictions on reproductive rights for women and banning same sex benefits and civil rights for the GLBT community and are opposed to making sure healthcare is available and affordable for all people and are ok with pollution enhancing legislation and deregulation because it is “anti-business.” This is what I am talking about.

  • And in my religious experience this is framed within a mystical experience with the Divine for others it may be in church or a synagogue or a mosque or a walk in the woods or whirling with dervishes or silent medictation….but it is in the connection itself – not how the connection is made. Religion tries to dictate the how. The Divine is not contained by the rules and limitations of Religion. This is how many of us recognize that there are many similar paths up the same spiritual mountain.

  • DR

    Listen. There’s a point to be made in John’s post and if you’re reading to understand it, you will. We all bring our own pain, anger and sense of injustice to these conversations as a result of our own story and the stories of the people we love. And those are legitimate. They’re valid and they often resemble the stories of a lot of other people.

    That being said, there is a point here that is available for you to consider on its own merits:

    To write off an entire group as “murderers” because they share a Christian tent is very simple to do. And it makes sense that people do that. But it also reflects on some level, a lack of critical thinking and intellectual honesty for those of us who do it (I do it) as well. Because there are thousands if not millions of Christians right now as we speak, actively cleaning up the mess in their respective corners of the collective Christian Church. Not only do they not believe or espouse the tenants that are so dangerous within Fundamentalist Christianity, they’re shutting down those within our tent that are using them to harm. They are educating those who’ve grown up in the system and freeing their minds. And on top of that, they’re doing a lot of very good things for the poor, for the throw aways, for the imprisoned, for the homeless, for some of the most vulnerable people in our world that the non-Christians aren’t exactly organizing around. So we should all consider editing some of the emotional barn burning that we’re doing on this forum and ease up a little on the positional thinking we bring to the table.

    Secondly, violence is rooted in pathology. Pathology is traced mental illness. We can talk about violence using that construct without conclusively condemning the mentally ill as also violent and deranged. It’s clear John doesn’t believe that, he’s differentiated it a thousand different times on this blog.

  • Christy,

    I did mention the poor here at home should be our first repsonsbility before the poor abroad.

    I know of no conservative Christian that “doesn’t like paying their taxes” soley because of social programs. I don’t think conservatives or liberals like the way Washington is spending our tax dollars, do you?

    What legislation restricts reproductive rights? You want the pill? you can get it free. Condoms? Ditto. IUD’s, no problem. A teenager can have consensual sex and because she and her partner didn’t do anything to prevent pregnancy, she can get an abortion without parental permission up until, what, the 8.99th month.

    Same sex marriage is legal in a few states, so you can get married. Affordbale healthcare is the governmenst responsibility? The government can’t seem to do ANYTHING better than the private sector and you think the government can provide affordbale healthcare, really? My premiums have already gone up BECAUSE of Obamacare, since I have a job that provides a healthcare plan thru a private company I should pay more for my premiums so others can pay less or get a plan subsidized by me or my company. Does that sound fair?

    I’m not for pollution enhancing regulation, I don’t know anyone who is, but what the tree hugging, bug loving Bambi kissers don’t realize is the legislation that is in place already limits pollution and the more legislation in place, the more costly it can be to do business, it causes small and mediem sized business to comply to such insane EPA guidelines that they can’t operate any longer.

  • DR,

    Great post…..

  • B

    I suppose our fundamental disagreement is in your statement “Violence is rooted in pathology.” This may be true in some cases, but to me it seems that most violence, historically and in the present, is nothing more or less than an effort to enact change on the world. It is the wrong way to do so, in my opinion, but plenty of people we would not consider pathological subscribe to it. Some people might turn to violence out of preference, others only after all other options for causing the sort of change they desire are exhausted, but it is a purposeful action in most cases. Relevantly, in this case, the murderer identified a problem, found the group he thought were most effectively perpetrating it, and killed them so that his society would change in the way he thought it should.

    Further, linking violence and pathology and mental illness does make the world a worse place for the vast majority of mentally ill people who are not violent. Perhaps we “can talk about violence using that construct without conclusively condemning the mentally ill as also violent and deranged” – but generally, we don’t, unless we are incredibly careful with our language and explicit in every case that no, mentally ill people are not intrinsically violent and their human rights do still matter. It is that specificity that I am trying to contribute to this discussion. And terms like “insane animal” are really never okay. That sort of dehumanization IS regularly used to curtail the rights of innocent people.

    As to your other point, I do agree. I know very well that plenty of Christians are doing good things; I try to associate with those ones. I know that they are working against hate-filled ideologies both within and outside Christianity; I do so myself, in my life. I also agree that it is equally intellectually lazy to see this terrorist and conclude “all Christians are violent extremists” as it is to see Osama bin Laden and conclude “all Muslims are violent extremists.” However, the point of this article is that the “blood is not on us” – displaying more concern for our self-image than for the people who were hurt and who are hurt in other ways every day by people drawing from Christian ideology.

  • DR

    This is why I appreciate this blog, the thoughtfulness of the responses. Thank you for this. Let me do some thinking about how i’m defining “pathology”, there may be another word that’s better. It’s one of those loaded words that might be unnecessary.

    These things have layers within layers. A statement like “blood is not on us” is absolutely true on one practical, personal level and then absolutely false on another if we’re speaking as the Body of Christ.

    For me, spiritual and emotional maturity means we treat both as equally separate points worth their weight and then we focus like crazy on the latter point if it means that the damage done to the name of Jesus is repaired and the smoke from that clears. I want to get the noise out of the way between who he is and those who’ve been so hurt by those of us who have acted harmfully in his name. If it means that I am called a pedophile or a murderer as they are processing the hell a Christian put them through? Why should I even care about that? I know who I am. The church requires no defending. We’re not innocent. But we still need to do what we’re supposed to do.

    For me ultimately, we are the Body of Christ. Jesus said that over and over and over and over again, removing our *self* from the equation and

  • It ain’t about fair. Grace ain’t about fair. Compassion ain’t about fair. Ego…ego is all about fair.

  • B: You’re making a categorical mistake of logic. Saying that someone who commits mass murder is necessarily mentally ill is not the same thing as saying that all people who are mentally ill are necessarily mass murderers. In murdering Breivik has proven himself as mentally ill as mentally ill gets. But that doesn’t mean — and I certainly never meant to claim that it does — that all mentally ill people are murderers.

    For what it’s worth, relative to my own experiences in this regard (and this is hardly the whole of it):

  • DR

    Brian the one thing you’ve consistently stated on his blog is how misunderstood you are, how well intended you are and how no one understands you. Your intent – not your impact – is what you continue to focus on. Yet with Dirk you seem to have some magic gift of discernment of deciding he is just a “hater”. I find it fascinating that you are so vehemant in your pleas to be heard and understood but are so confident in applying your broad “hater” brush to Dirk with no hesitation, even in conversations where he’s not even speaking to you.

    If you’re going to be asked to be really listened to and not judged, consider actuall modeling that behavior yourself.

  • DR

    I’m I’m the tax bracket that’s actually impacted by the tax hikes suggested. I’m fine with paying more, I recognize the privilege that got me here and that the USA is one of the best countries in the world. It’s expensive to live here and as someone who is privileged and makes a lot of money, I can carry more people who need help and are limited. As a Christian I’m peaceful with that reality. I really don’t earn anything, my salary like everything is a gift from God. It’s His money and I trust Him.

  • I don’t know how “ego” is all about fair. Care to elaborate?

    DR, good post, I have no problem paying if it is spent as wisely as I try to use God’s money He gives me. I just don’t think our elected officials are spending our tax dollars wisely. They care about their programs and getting fed money to their district, not what is truly best for the country.

  • Amen.

  • DR

    Wow. Exactly this, exactly exactly.

  • DR,

    I don’t “constantly” say any of that. Dirk does, more times than not, on almost every topic, comments that conservative Christians “hate” all those that don’t believe the way they do, have and they especially hate the GLBT community. Read his posts, he “constantly” makes Christophobic comments……..

  • The Amen was for DR. And, Brian, this is exactly what I hear from my conservative friends who don’t like to pay taxes.

  • DR

    Brian one trigger for Conservatives seems to be around what is “wise” and “efficient” when it comes to spending “your” your money that you believe you are entitled to as a Christian because you earn it. But we are entitled to nothing, the Lord gives and He takes away, Blessed be the Name of the Lord. Wise and efficient didn’t feed the 5000, Jesus actually broke the rules to feed his friends on the Sabbath. Conservatives seem to suggest that Scripture is all about generosity to the poor as long as it is handled efficiently. In a world ravaged by sin, efficiency is you know, the last priority if it means one of God’s little ones is sleeping in the back of her car. Preventing that is worth people taking advantage.

  • DR

    Oh and Brian you told us that you and your wife are married by the church, not the state. Does that mean you don’t pay the marriage penalty tax you were talking about?

  • He was sane enough to hide his intent b/c he knew people would try to stop him if they were aware of what he was planning.

  • Leo

    I have been lurking a while, and have come to love your writing John, and intend to buy some of your books. But I must be frank.

    I don’t understand the point of this post.

    Are you trying to say that there AREN’T groups who are in favor of or support him here? There are people among us who, even if they aren’t chomping at the bit to do another, or even praising him for what he did, ARE okay with what he did, and they rationalize it.

    Are you trying to assuage fears in us that we may be like him? I know I am. We are.

    If you’re trying to encourage people: “don’t worry, you have to be totally “insane” to do something like what he did.” How do I know I’m not “insane” like him, if I can find pleasure in the suffering of another person? Isn’t that just sinfulness? Or do we limit it to just murder? The times I have fantasized about assassinating corporate heads and some politicians for all of the destruction that they cause to the helpless without remorse are too often. I can’t even say that i know my own depravity, because it goes deeper than what I know. And I know that I’m capable of some pretty awful evil.

    But what counts as murder when it comes to our own personal depravity? Jesus Himself had a few words on that.

    And don’t you absolve him of responsibility by putting him in a different category as us, that of the mentally ill? If he had no control over his on mind and actions, how can he be accountable?

    For him to be able to be held responsible, he MUST be like us.

    The Enemy IS me. The Enemy IS my sin.

    And besides, if “The Enemy” is psychosis, what assurances do any of us have against THAT?? There are varrying levels of “sociopathy/psychopathy/Antisocial personality disorder.” We ALL do things that we don’t feel bad for even though we should. We all do things to hurt people because it feels better than to refrain. I have long been scared that, despite my deep, abiding empathy for so many people in pain, one day I could snap like him, because, for instance, I find myself too often daydreaming about revenge.

    I have several friends who have mental illnesses. One of them even has anti-social personality disorder, or is technically “psycho.” Believe me. The difference between Breivik and us is not mental illness.

    People are often very surprised by the evil that they’re capable of. Just take a look at the Bystander Apathy Experiment (1968), or The Stanford Prison Experiment (1971), or even the The Milgram Experiment (1961). Were all several million normal-people-turned-nazis who rounded up the jews for mass murder mentally ill? What the heck sort of false hope are you hoping to provide for all of us other “normal people”? That we’re not capable of what he did? B.S. It’s a sad and scary reality which can only effectively be overcome by trusting God, but it is a reality.

  • DR

    As someone who’s been in dialogue with you consistently, let me assure you that you are offering a steady stream of “Why are you so mad at me, all i’m offering is the love of Jesus, you are twisting my words.” etc. You’re asking others here to look past our anger at you and your beliefs against same sex marriage because what those beliefs have done to people we love, I could point to 5-6 appeals in the last thread alone where you appealed to our better nature as it related to you.

    Yet you refuse to look past Dirk’s rage, hurt and anger at Christians who’ve hurt him. What’s your explanation for the double standard?

  • cat rennolds

    Yay Christy! and also to the next one which no longer has a reply button. This is great, you two.

  • Don Rappe

    He was crazy, not stupid. But I’m not at all sure his craziness was a mental illness. First comes the fascism or other extreme ideology, then comes the mass killing of innocents. The people who do this are not suffering from an illness so much as from a demon. His father says he has had no contact with his son in 16 years. The son is 32 now. Would this have happened if he had a father to listen to his crazy ideas and then say: “Sure son, now have a little more herring, It’s delicious.” ? Were the Japanese soldiers who committed extreme atrocities during the Rape of Nanking all mentally ill? I think not. They were simply a battalion of soldiers all killing innocents in about the same quantity as Breivic. Are all the Americans who supported and enabled the killings in Iraq mentally ill? Certainly there was no shortage of hubris. And all those killed are still dead and to be mourned. Blessed are they who mourn!

  • cat rennolds

    Thanks, Brian, I’m satisfied with that. I suspect we probably still disagree on some other issues but it’s really hard to type with a lapful of baby.

    I feel if you are doing your best to live in love and walk in the Spirit, then everything you really need to know will be revealed to you in His time. Stay open to hearing it, though, it might sound like one of our voices speaking.

    all of us just really need to just have a running conversation over on Thruway. We keep hogging John’s threads off-topic.

  • cat rennolds

    John, DR, et al, rather than trying to point-by-point: On violence, morality, pathology and mental illness.

    In order to label Breivik ill, you’ve defined murder as categorically pathologic and violence as inherently wrong and bad. I don’t agree with either of those points.

    Violence is not bad or wrong in and of itself any more than fire. It can be used wrongly and badly…and it’s EASY to use wrongly and badly, and it’s very dangerous. It can be a PRODUCT of pathology, but it doesn’t imply one. Even Christ threw the money changers out of the temple. When and how to use it appropriately is a moral and legal judgment. The commandment is not actually Thou Shalt Not Kill, it’s, Thou Shalt Not Commit Murder. Meaning, no wrongful, unsanctioned killing.

    Ergo, I agree with the posters who said that wrongful violence can be just as easily perpetrated by a sane person from conscious volition. But Breivik had to construct a whole manifesto to justify it.

  • DR

    I understand your point cat, I just don’t agree with it entirely. Murder – violence – can all be motivated out of all sorts of intent. But violence in and of itself for me is wrong. Anger is what Jesus displayed, not violence.

  • Molly by Golly

    He’s Christian. He did very bad things as a result of his religious convictions. His blood is indeed on us. After we are done with these moments of anger, grief and denial, we must walk into the world, admit loudly that Christians commit atrocities, and work actively and very publically to curb violent fundementalism within our community. The sooner we commit our hearts to this work, the better.

  • Brian W

    There is no double standard, Dirk accuses conservative Christians as being hateful. I don’t hate anyone nor have anger, like you and others do towards conservative Christians and have admitted so. Ok so I believe that the covenant of marriage is between a man and a woman, as does the Sacrament of marriage in Catholic doctrine. Where same same sex marriage is available, a vast majority of committed cohabitating same-sex couples reject the institution of marriage. Same sex marriage seems to be more important to you than to same sex couples.

  • DR

    Brian, you said below that legislating morality is wrong yet you’re against gay marriage and you’d not vote for it because of your religious beliefs.

    You talk about wanting “fairness” in taxation yet you’ve said you’re not “married by the state” and haven’t confirmed how that impacts how you file your taxes and whether or not you and your wife file as a married couple. So you want fairness but you won’t confirm if you – as a marriage couple – are paying the right amount of taxes you owe.

    And when I or anyone asks you about any of this, you refuse to answer directly. You bring it back to me, implying I’m fixated on the topic that you yourself keep posting about.

    I’m not the problem in this conversation.

  • Brian W

    The marriage tax penalty occurs when married people who earn similar incomes file a joint return, they pay more tax than if they filed separate returns (which married people can do) Since God has been so good to me financially, my wife chose to remain at home and not work at an employer. She did work since raising 5 kids is work!! So filing a joint married return saves us the most in taxes. Yes we chose a Christian wedding instead of a state civil union.

    DR, you’re right it’s not “my money” it’s God’s, and we are to render to Ceaser what is Ceaser’s (gov’t taxes) none the less, I still think our elected officials are not spending our tax dollars wisely, like in needless wars that are killing young American men and woman AND innocent native peoples.

    Get us out of this war!!!!

  • Cat: You wrote, “In order to label Breivik ill, you’ve defined murder as categorically pathologic and violence as inherently wrong and bad.” No, I haven’t. What I said is that the mass murder Breivik committed proves beyond question that he’s pathologically insane. It’s astounding to me that anyone would argue that. (And calling Breivik’s 1,500 page ramble a “manifesto” is like calling a vampire bat a robin. I’m so tired of people acting like that crap meant anything.)

  • DR
  • vj

    “For human beings, seeking compassion is a limitless journey, marked by many encounters with our own hypocrisy. Every single one of us, without exception.”

    YES!! I think that’s why Jesus tells us to first get the log out of our own eye before trying to get the splinter out of someone else’s…. We could all spend our whole lives getting rid of assorted logs, leaving no time for judging others. Every time we do otherwise, we are, as you say, ‘encountering our own hypocrisy’.

  • The Women’s Christian Temperance Union brought about Prohibition & in doing so allowed organized crime a foothold in America it never enjoyed before. Corruption followed suit; while there had always been corrupt politicians, they generally weren’t being bribed by people who were actively victimizing the general populace.

  • “I coined the term ‘Christianism’ many moons ago to defend Christianity and the gospels from their political co-opters. And I think it’s indispensable in understanding the motivations of the terrorist, Anders Breivik (yes, I’ve given up my quixotic attempt to call him by the English name he gave himself on his manifesto).

    “One of the core messages of Christianity is a rejection of worldly power. The core message of Christianism is, in stark contrast, the desperate need to control all the levers of political power to control or guide the lives of others. And so the notion that Breivik is a “Christian fundamentalist” seems unfair to those genuine Christian fundamentalists who seek no power over others (except proselytizing), but merely seek to live their own lives in accord with a literal belief in the words of the Bible.

    “But Christianist? Breivik’s picture should accompany the term in any dictionary. Christianism is all about power over others, and it has been fueled in the last decade by its mirror image, Islamism, and motivated to fury by hatred of what it sees as is true enemy, liberalism. Both Islamism and Christianism, to my mind, do not spring from real religious faith; they spring from neurosis caused by lack of faith. They are the choices of those who are panicked by the complexity and choices of modernity into a fanatical embrace of a simplistic parody of religion in order to attack what they see as their cultural and social enemies. They are not about genuine faith; they are about the instrumentality of faith as a political bludgeon.”

    — Andrew Sullivan, “Breivik: A Living Definition Of Christianism”

  • Brian: <>

    Does it sound fair to get fired from your job because you have Cancer and can’t work and in the process lose your health insurance because you are now jobless and then die because you don’t have coverage while also leaving behind your family and a mountain of medical debt?

    Is it fair to be trapped in an unhappy underpaying job so you can keep your family’s health insurance because your baby was born with a genetic anomaly and now has a lifetime pre-existing condition?

    Is it fair that John was locked up in a mental institution and was tortured?

    Is it fair that it is an act of fate and randomness where you are born and what family you are born into and this dictates much about what kind of education you obtain, food you eat, and nurture or lack thereof you receive?

    Much about life isn’t fair, even though it is legal or “in accordance with the rules or standards.” Jesus didn’t talk about fair. Re-read the parable of the workers in the fields. God is about what is just – what is morally right.

    Ego cares about itself. So when it sees someone getting something for nothing or a benefit it isn’t eligible for, of feels left out, or it feels it is being taken advantage of it cries foul. By its very nature it is self-protective. Our egos jump through hoops to deny, defend, rationalize, and convince us that we are right. Ego always makes us see from our own point of view. An over-inflated sense of ego produces narcissism.

    Compassion, on the other hand, sees from the other person’s point of view. It speaks out and stands up for those who are being taken advantage of, the oppressed, the victim, the underdog. Compassion sets aside what is best for itself in order to put the interests and concerns of others at the center of its circle of concern. It focusses on the needs of others even at the expense of personal benefit. Compassion has dethroned the self and put others in its place.

    The Narrow way of Jesus is the way of compassion and few are those who find it. It is the Golden Rule and the Greatest commandment lived out.

    Ego is the wide way which leads to destruction. And as long as our ego rules our lives it blocks our compassion for others….particularly those with whom we disagree or do not like.

  • Thanks, Cat. I love what you write here. It’s always so thoughtful and calm….Thank you for that.

  • Patiently Waiting

    I think we also should be careful about the use of the words “sane” and “insane” to describe him. These terms are legal in nature, not diagnostic. A person is “insane” under most states’ laws if he does not know the difference between right and wrong. Breivik’s manifesto clearly indicates he knew that what he was doing was wrong and that he would be punished or possibly killed for it. In most states, he would be fit for trial (though I don’t know what Norwegian laws are like).

    The underlying issue here is whether anyone who commits mass murder is mentally unstable. While Breivik’s actions may not qualify under DSM standards for schizophrenia or some other diagnosis (though, based on his writings, I would be surprised if he didn’t meet a number of the criteria for narcissistic personality disorder), that does not mean that he did not have some sort of issue that could have benefited from mental health treatment. It comes down to a matter of philosophy on mental illness, and I personally believe that most people have some level of mental illness. I think murderers are just unfortunate enough not to get help before they act out on their problems. I do not mean to say that everyone with mental illness would act out violently if not given help. I only mean to say that we all act out on our issues in different ways, and some people do so violently.

    I think anyone who gets to the point he did needed help, and I do not think that saying so implies that all people with mental illness are violent or that mental illness is the main cause. I think that he thought he was doing what he needed to do, but most mentally well (by DSM standards) people do not think that murder is the way to solve problems. I am a former psych ward employee for children with devastating issues. Believe me: I do not mean to imply that mental health is the only reason he was violent. I simply mean to say that I believe it contributed here.

  • DR

    yes, this exactly.

  • Patiently Waiting

    I can’t stop thinking about this post. It bothers me so much that Christians are trying to distance themselves from him by calling him not a Christian. It seems to me that doing so is just as bad as saying anyone who goes to a particular church is not a true Christian because that church allows gays to get married or believes in a different interpretation of scripture. Only God knows if he is a Christian, and we may not like the fact that he associates himself with us, but we do not get to toss him aside and say “he is no more a Christian than I am a Muslim.” He may very well be a Christian, so we need to stop pretending that he isn’t one of us.

    What is accomplished by distancing ourselves from him? All it does is make us feel better. Is accepting the fact that he might be a Christian a hard thing to do? Of course, but sometimes we have to accept difficult ideas and do what is right instead of what is easy: pray for him.

  • My taxes are now YOUR business? Anyway, I file a joint return, since I’m married. Doesn’t everyone want fairness in taxes? Take a look at this:

    From the U.S. Treasury,

    1.) The top 5 percent of taxpayers, who report 31% of the income paid more than one-half (53.8 percent) of all individual income taxes

    2.) The top 1 percent of taxpayers paid 33.7 percent of all individual income taxes in 2005. This group of taxpayers has paid more than 30 percent of individual income taxes since 1995. Moreover, since 1990 this group’s tax share has grown faster than their income share.

    3.) Taxpayers who rank in the top 50 percent of taxpayers by income pay virtually all individual income taxes. In all years since 1990, taxpayers in this group have paid over 94 percent of all individual income taxes. In 2007, 2008, and 2009, this group paid over 96 percent of the total.

    Treasury Department analysts credit President Bush’s tax cuts with shifting a larger share of the individual income taxes paid to higher income taxpayers. In 2012, says the Treasury, when most of the tax cut provisions are fully in effect (e.g., lower tax rates, the $1,000 child credit, marriage penalty relief), the projected tax share for lower-income taxpayers will fall, while the tax share for higher-income taxpayers will rise.

    4.) The share of taxes paid by the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers will fall from 4.1 percent to 3.6 percent.

    5.) The share of taxes paid by the top 1 percent of taxpayers will rise from 32.3 percent to 33.7 percent.

    6.) The average tax rate for the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers falls by 27 percent as compared to a 13 percent decline for taxpayers in the top 1 percent.

    7.) The White House has announced it will lobby Congress to end legislation of most of President Bush’s tax cutting measures.

  • Isn’t it nice to have a job that pays so well that we can afford to pay taxes.

  • Christy,

    I agree none of that “is fair”, unfortunately life isn’t fair as you pointed out, in fact for some people life down right sucks, so does that make it governments responsibility to make a persons life as good as the government can. I say no, its not. Help for the truly needy is perfectly fine, healthcare reform to make it available to more people is great and for the truly indigent, free. I just have a problem with able bodied people with their hands out to get something for nothing and not work for it. Helping the truly needy is fine, we just have too many freeloaders and illegals taking advantage of the system.

    Finally the narrow way if Jesus wasn’t compassion, it was the way to eternal life. Broad and wide is the way to destruction and strait and narrow is the way to eternal life. That’s what Jesus said.

  • And these represent some of the lowest tax rates on the upper 10% of society in decades. And yet the disparity between rich and poor continues to grow and is at one of the highest levels in our country’s history. While incomes have steadily risen since the 1970’s it has been concentrated in the top levels of society, while for the bottom half wages have remained stagnant. Wealth continues to concentrate at the top, not because they ork harder, but because the system, which the wealthy created, reinforces this trend.

    Anybody brushed up on their Deuteronomy reading during all this debt ceiling circus? I did…. this morning. Chapter 15: 1 – 18 is worth a read.

    ‎”Greed and fear of loss are the roots that lead to the tree of evil.” ~ Star Wars the Clone Wars. Tolstoy would agree – how much land does a man need, indeed.

  • Brain you said, “I just have a problem with able bodied people with their hands out to get something for nothing and not work for it. Helping the truly needy is fine, we just have too many freeloaders and illegals taking advantage of the system.”

    What pray tell is grace?

    Matthew 5: 43 -48

    43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

    Forgive as God forgives.

    Show grace as God shows grace.

    Love as God loves.

    Be compassionate to others as Jesus taught us to do in the example of his life.

    I said in another thread, with awareness and willingness one can see how what I am saying and what you are saying and what Jesus is saying… the same thing.

    Compassion teaches us a new way of seeing Brian. Blessings on your journey towards it.

  • cat rennolds

    don’t have another word for it. crap will do, but it might have been a tad confusing in context. haven’t read it, don’t plan to, so i have no idea whether the mass murderer in question is sane or not. nor do i care. at this point the results are the same.

    i think he needed help a looooooong time ago.

    i’m in no way excusing or justifying his actions. If he did it sane, that’s much, much worse. I’m questioning the definitions used, for their own sake and the larger implications.

  • cat rennolds

    what i’m asking, is, where do you get this conclusion: “The mass murder Breivik committed proves beyond question that he is pathologically insane?” UNLESS you have simply defined mass murder = pathologically insane?

    Obviously it is not beyond question. I can be pretty astounding at times. I can come up with several scenarios in which mass murders have been committed by sane persons.

  • cat rennolds

    He overturned the tables and drove them out with a whip. If it’s a gray area it’s a pretty fine line.

    I respect the choice of any adult to define violence as categorically wrong for him or herself. But when we accept that definition culturally, we deprive our children of the ability to defend themselves. If you begin by assuming at a subconscious level that violence is evil, then when someone comes at you with violence, you are not prepared to fight back.

    There will always be aggressors. I can love them as human beings and respect their right to free will, and while I might pity them, I am still willing to do my best to stop them from doing damage within range of me.

  • Patrice Wassmann

    it is possible to be a sane and very evil mass murderer. The capacity of committing evil acts, or the actual doing of them does not render one “insane”. I sure am not going to let this guy off the hook by saying he is insane.

  • DR

    The point that John is making here is so obvious that it’s hard to understand that some of you aren’t understanding it. Massively condemning all Christians as “murderers” – literally – which is exactly what is being done as a result of this man is taking energy away from the responsibility that Christians as a whole *do* have in fixing any hole in our church and our theology where this sneaks in and then violently back out again.

  • Mindy

    “Sure, son, now have a little more herring . . . ”

    That is the best line I’ve read all day. Not to belittle in any way the serious discussion on this post, but Don, I love this.

    I wondered about that whole absent dad thing the first time I read that quote from his father – a dad who gives up on his own kid at 16 is a prime example of failed parenthood . . .

  • DR

    There are instances where violence is justified or at minimum, understood To suggest that murder typically occurs and not connect that somehow, with pathology and/or mental illness – that it is in any part the small percentage of violence that is justified/understood is fairly bewildering to me, I’ve now totally lost the point you’re trying to make. What seemed like a very valid point, not immediately equating all mental illness as having the potential of being capable of violent, willful murder and how not all violent, willful murder is rooted in mental illness has now moved into what seems – to me – to be an overcorrection.

  • Mindy

    LOVED this, DR. He also did a great segment showing Fox News talking heads filled with indignant outrage that this man was being referred to in the “liberal media” as a Christian, when obviously, by his actions, we KNOW he is not a Christian and how dare they attack Christianity this way, etc. Followed by as many clips of them describing the Ft. Hood shooter as Muslim, excitedly fanning the flames of divisiveness. It was all utterly ridiculous.

    No one is saying that this cretin ACTED like a Christian. But the only requirement for BEING a Christian, if I’m not mistaken, is believing in Jesus. He did, and he used that belief to justify his actions. That, obviously, doesn’t make him right. But we consistently, in this country, look upon Muslims with suspicions and doubt because of the violent actions of a minuscule percentage of their population, even as most of them are peaceful, family-loving, hard-working people. I just can’t see the difference here.

  • Mindy

    Brian, you are flat-out lying. You bring Dirk into posts that have nothing to do with him, you slam him when he is not talking to you. On several of John’s recent posts, you insult him for no reason other than your own meanness.

    Get over your infatuation with Dirk. He’s been hurt, badly, but a group of people you claim to be part of. The fact that you refuse to take responsibility for that is why he paints all of your ilk with that broad brush. I don’t agree with him, that all conservative Christians are downright evil. But a lot are. And those who aren’t MUST start calling out those who are and stop letting them co-opt your religion.

    Your childish responses to Dirk are getting old.

  • cat rennolds

    Murder is an illegal killing committed, by definition, by someone who knew what he was doing and had the capacity to control his actions. Legally speaking, an insane person cannot commit murder.

    Justifiable homicide by definition is not murder.

    If what you’re really asking is, when is violence/killing justifiable, there’s the legal definition depending on where you are, and there’s the moral definition, depending on which moral code you use. They vary, and have varied throughout human history.

    If you teach kids violence is always wrong, you are teaching them to be afraid of the people who will use it anyway. You are teaching them to flinch, scream, run away, hope for help and die, instead of being able to protect themselves. We SHOULD be teaching them when, why and how it is rightful.

    If you want to know what I personally find rightful, moral and justifiable, it’s a whole ‘nother polemic, and it’s not culturally supported right now, so I’m probably a little insane in sharing it here. Bear in mind that although I love the Christ, I am neither Christian nor a pacifist. Suffice it to say, “anything between consenting adults” should apply to violence, not just sex. In fact, to any human behavior.

    I wouldn’t want to DO most of these, but If I were writing the laws? This is what I believe sane people who want to should have the right to do.

    Self-defense, defense of noncombatants or defense of property. Suicide, assisted suicide. BDSM. Duels, fights, martial arts, blood sports, football. Basic training. Religious sacrifice of volunteers. Execution and corporal punishment for criminals. War.

    War is wrongful when it involves noncombatants, conscripts and/or their property, and rightful when it involves volunteers on a battleground. Execution and corporal punishment presumes that you knew it was a possible consequence when you committed your crime. Defense presumes that the aggressor volunteered for violence when he offered it.

    The only exceptions to “consenting adults” are accident or error, and spankings to discipline children. (NOT beatings or abuse).

    I come from a warrior culture. I come from a culture in which it is perfectly possible to show someone love, honor and respect while simultaneously breaking his nose. (well, it was an accident. mostly) Think Valhalla. Then you laugh and have a beer together. After you wipe up the blood.

    When you believe in eternal life, death and physical suffering are really not that big a deal. Violating someone’s free will is.

    My guess (without having read his “crap”)? Breivik, like most terrorists, has persuaded himself he is a warrior in a moral cause. I think he is in most grievous error. True warriors do not attack the helpless or the innocent, nor do they strike indiscriminately, without fair warning and without a chance to fight back.

    It’s a question of scale: He may or may not be pathologically insane on a personal level, but on a human level, he is. He doesn’t HAVE a disease, he IS a disease. He’s a cancer that thinks he’s a white cell.

  • Patiently Waiting

    That’s my whole point. Legally, he seems to be sane (at least in most of the U.S.), but legally sane is not the same as being completely healthy. If he were being prosecuted in the U.S., he would be “sane,” so he does not get “off the hook by saying he is insane.” Again, “insane” is a legal term. Just because he is legally sane does not mean that he doesn’t have mental health issues.

  • Last I read, his legal counsel was questioning his sanity.

  • Patiently Waiting

    I understand that we are wasting time condeming all Christians or giving Breivik any credence at all, but the first paragraph and the last sentence of this post clearly show John’s distancing himself from this person. John is not the only person doing this (see Bill O’Reilly, for example).

    It strikes me as exactly what people do when they are uncomfortable with gay Christians. E.g., You can’t be gay and a Christian, so you are “no more a Christian than I am a Muslim” or you are “not us.” It makes a Christian who doesn’t believe in gay Christians feel better, but it doesn’t mean that there are no gay Christians. Believing that there are no Christian terrorists may make us feel better, but it does not mean they do not exist. There are Christian child abusers, too, even though Jesus is pretty clear about what he thinks about treating children badly. Are child-abusing priests not true Christians because they commit this heinous sin? Isn’t that what John is saying here, that Breivik is not a Christian because his sin is so horrific? It may make John feel better about himself as a Christian, but it doesn’t make Breivik go away.

    Ultimately, distancing ourselves from Breivik serves the same purpose as what non-Christians are saying about Christians. If he is “not us,” then we do not have to look at him and wonder if we have any similarities to him. If I am a non-Christian, and he is a Christian, I am different from him and thus unable to commit these heinous acts. If I am a Christian, and he is only a Christian by name, I am not capable of doing what he did, and neither are any of the good Christians I know. I do not understand why you do not see that this post comes off as doing exactly what non-Christians are doing: distancing themselves from Breivik. It may not have been John’s point, but it is certainly an underlying message. I find it really bothersome.

    If I am misunderstanding things, I would welcome some guidance, especially as to how better to interpret John’s first paragraph and last sentence.

  • Patiently Waiting

    Of course they are. That is their job. That does not mean he is legally insane. In the U.S., defense attorneys must look at every possible defense. They are required to do so. That does not mean that the defense will fly with a judge. In the U.S., it would likely not, based on his writings.

    Regardless, even if he is found to be legally insane, that does not mean he did not commit the crime. It just means that he is unable to form the requisite intent required to commit murder. To find someone guilty of murder, you have to prove they had intent, and if a person has no idea what s/he is doing, then s/he cannot have that intent. As a resulty, the person will not be found guilty because the prosecution cannot show all the elements are met. It doesn’t mean he didn’t do it. It means he can’t be proven guilty of murder in the first degree.

    Additionally, being found legally insane means that you are going to go to a high security facility. It’s not jail, but it isn’t like he gets to walk around town free to commit more violence. He will be watched around the clock, and hopefully, he would get treatment for any mental illness.

    Also, again, I am not familiar Norwegian law. Their insanity standard may be different.

    My only point here is that mental illness and legal insanity are two different things, and just because someone is found legally sane does not mean that s/he does not have some mental health issues.

  • Here’s a superbly done piece about the sociopolitical contexts and influences that informed the crazy fury of Breivik: A Blogosphere of Bigots.

  • cat rennolds

    thanks for sharing that, John, it was really good.

  • cat rennolds

    In the South they do.

  • KSC

    John- Anyone familiar with Hannah Arendt’s “Eichmann in Jerusalem” or “Origins of Totalitarianism” would realize that her now famous phrase “banality of evil” is as appropro with this case as with the mentality surrounding the “great terror” of Stalinist Russia, Mao’s Cultural Revolution in China, Hitler’s Holocaust, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Dafur…. and now Utoya Island, just to name a few. This incident has no more to do with religion than any of those other examples listed above. It doesn’t matter whether or not we call this guy a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jew, agnostic, or atheist. It doesn’t matter what he calls himself. There were and still are alive today a lot of people who perpetrated the unimaginable violence involved with these incidents of history. And, when questioned afterwards about their actions, the killers would often simply shrug and say something like, “I was just following orders,” or “I didn’t want to do it, but I would’ve been shot,” or, like Timothy McVeigh’s famous remark about the children killed in the daycare center of the Oklahoma City Federal Building: the toddlers were “collateral damage” to his actions.

    What matters most is that this absolutely self-centered, self-absorbed individual decided he had the right to single-handedly murder, one at a time, almost one hundred people who were no threat to him or anyone else…. simply because it served his purposes; his own personal agenda. I can not think of a more typical example of the mind of a serial-kiler than that.

    Although I personally and philosophically do not believe in the death penalty, Arendt concludes her book on Adolf Eichmann by saying, “It is for this reason, and this reason alone, that you deserve to hang.”

  • Mindy

    One of the best things I’ve read on it, John. Glad you shared it here.

  • Don Whitt

    In defense of life. That’s the only time violence can be justifiable. That’s it. Not in protection of livelihood, or ideology or anything else. You can have a peaceful tribe that’s not violent OR push-overs.

    Protecting our loved ones and the innocent is noble and just, but killing to further an agenda is criminal.

    What angers me is this “terrorism” brand that we place on lunatics who are simply violent criminals who achieve a larger scale than most. It legitimizes their “causes”. It makes them martyrs when they are only violent criminals clever enough and lucky enough to succeed in their audacious and cruel pursuits.

    These people are nothing but violent criminals. Let’s stop elevating them above that by calling them something so grandiose as “terrorists”.

  • Robert


    I agree with you that the blood that is on this killer’s hands is on his hands alone.

    But my question is:

    Is there something inherent in Monotheistic Religions that make it easy for this man and many others to justify their actions? Because this is just one example in a long line of examples extending through history of people using the bible, koran and tora to defend their bad behaviors.

    And in all honesty, I don’t see too many Buddhists using the teachings of Buddha to justify this kind of stuff… do you?