Indiana’s Religious Freedom Law and Holy Week

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Lord https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Lord https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Indiana’s governor is at the center of a firestorm because he signed a religious freedom law.

I am aware that any Catholic blogger, especially a Catholic blogger who writes about politics, should be all over this.

But I’m not going to do it. Not this week.

This is Holy Week, and I need the time with Christ. I think a lot of other people do, too. Sad to say, this issue, and its many ramifications, is not going to go away. Religious freedom is under attack in this country.

I could easily write a strong post about this, as well as the outrageous attempt at intrusion into Church governance that is occurring in San Francisco.

However, this is Holy Week.

I write this blog for one reason: To contribute to the work of equipping Christians to stand for Christ at the intersection of public life and faith. However, I understand something that I’ve seen a lot of Christian culture warriors forget: This is not about changing the culture to our viewpoint. It is about faithfulness to Christ.

We must take time to be with Jesus. That means, among other things, deep prayer on a daily basis, reading the Scriptures every day, and mass as often as you can get there. It also means relaxing a bit and trusting Him.

I’ll say this again: This is Holy Week.

This is the week when God showed all the world for all time the depth, width and breadth of His love for us.

We are in a serious struggle to retain religious freedom in this country. The reason we are in this struggle is not because we have failed at power politics — although by every objective criteria, we have failed.

We are in the situation of fighting for religious freedom in a culture that engages in Christian bashing because we have failed in our mission to be the light. While we were blasting away at our enemies with the full-tilt ugliness of power politics, we forgot that our first call is to bring people to Christ.

Redemption is not won at the ballot box. Redemption was won once and for all by Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ at the cross.

This is Holy Week, when each of us should be thinking on that Cross. We should consider, for at least one week, the miracle of our salvation. We need to ponder and appreciate the unfathomable mercy of a God who poured out His life’s blood in an agony of public shame, humiliation and torture that we might be washed clean by that blood and given eternal life.

It is no accident that this final Passover on Calvary took place at the time of year when the first Passover is celebrated. In Egypt, the Israelites slaughtered a perfect lamb and then marked their doorways with the blood of the lamb so that the angel of death might pass them by. Scripture tells us that it was “the Lord’s Passover.”

When Jesus approached John the Baptist at the Jordan, John announced Him by saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” This was a clear prophecy of Jesus’ Passion. It was also a public testimony that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God.

Jesus is our Passover from death to life. He is the perfect lamb whose blood redeems all humanity with one perfect atoning sacrifice. If we are marked with His blood, the angel of death will pass us by.

Jesus died that we might have eternal life. That is how much He loves us. It demonstrates as nothing else can the depth of His mercy towards us.

This is Holy Week. We need to think on these things, to take time apart from the yelling and carrying on of political fighting and pray for guidance and strength in how we proceed in the days ahead. Because we are not called to leadership in the broader world. We can called to followership in the Kingdom of God.

We need to go to the cross and kneel there in the dirt and blood of our own sinfulness and be converted to an ever deepening life of following Him, wherever that leads, whatever it costs.

We are going to be called to much more than ballot box Christianity. We have a harder task before us than political activism. We must convert the culture for Christ, and we must do it one person at a time.

This is Holy Week.

Take time to worship, pray, meditate and recommit to the fight ahead. Consider the viciousness of the attacks the Governor of Indiana is suffering and understand who is behind them. You are not part of that dark army. Turn your back on replying with equal viciousness.

Go to the cross and fit yourself for this battle by believing that this Jesus who is dying there is Lord of all creation. Understand that even though He is God, the God, He will not force us to follow Him. We, like Mary when the Angel Gabriel stood before her, must give our fiat to His grace and His dominion over our lives.

Give Him your will. Decide to do what He wants from now on instead of following your own understanding. Do the holy thing, even when it’s not the smart thing as the world reckons smartness. Enlist in the Lord’s army for real.

We need to be far more holy than any of us have been up to now. We need to become true disciples.

We can only do that if we follow Him without question. Trust and obey, the old hymns says. There is only one way to be happy in Jesus, and that is to trust and obey.

Scripture tells us that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us.

Draw near to God this week. Therein is our strength and our power. We will not win this fight if we battle for our own selves and our goals. Forty years of political fighting that has left us with dust and ashes is proof of that.

We will only succeed in our call to convert the culture if we yield up ourselves and become part of that great army of the cross. Our message is salvation paid for by the incomprehensible price of the death of God.

That is our faith. It is who we are. It is who we must be if we are to be pleasing to Him. Before we convert the culture, we must first be converted ourselves.

Still Sick and It’s Holy Week. To the Point Blogging Ahead.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Chauncey Davis https://www.flickr.com/photos/chaunceydavis/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Chauncey Davis https://www.flickr.com/photos/chaunceydavis/

My asthma and what for everyone else would be an obnoxious cold have conspired against me. I’m still sick and need to focus on recuperating for the next few days.

It’s nothing a round of antibiotics and steroids won’t cure. But I’ve enjoyed this garbage as much as I can stand. I’m going to cooperate with the medications and take care of myself.

What that means is that my blogging this week will be short and to the point. Unless something grips me beyond all restraint, I will focus mainly on the business at hand, which is our walk down the via dolorous with Our Lord.

This is the week that we were purchased from satan’s hand. If you doubt the value of every human being — including both you and the person who annoys you the most — consider the price that God paid to redeem us.

I hope that every one who has the health and the freedom to do so will attend the Triduum services this week. I know it’s long, but the Vigil Mass on Saturday is a wonderful experience, too.

The Divine Mercy Novena begins on Good Friday. I’ll post the prayers for that, even if I don’t do anything else. I’m praying that you will choose to pray this Novena and then avail yourself of the great gift of the feast of Our Lord’s mercy on Divine Mercy Sunday.

Be well my friends, and love Jesus. The events of this week are why we are here together, In His Name.

Palm Sunday: Jesus’ Popularity was Going Viral

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Denise Krebs https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrsdkrebs/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Denise Krebs https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrsdkrebs/

The Skit Guys explain Palm Sunday.

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Was Lazarus a Zombie?

Photo Source: Flicker Creative Commons by Sharon Mellerus https://www.flickr.com/photos/clairity/

Photo Source: Flicker Creative Commons by Sharon Mellerus https://www.flickr.com/photos/clairity/

The Skit Guys explain Jesus raising Lazarus.

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OU President Boren: Racist Chant was Taught to Students at National Fraternity Leadership Training

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons by Phil Constantin, open source

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons by Phil Constantin, open source

University of Oklahoma President David Boren announced at a press conference today that the racist chant members of the SAE fraternity were singing in a video that was released earlier this month was taught to local fraternity members during a leadership cruise sponsored by the national organization four years ago.

The chant had become a standard part of the pledge recruitment and initiation process. It was routinely taught to new members. The report said that the chant was part of the “institutional culture” of the fraternity.

Levi Pettit, one of two students who were expelled for singing the chant on the video, participated in a press conference with state Senator Anastasia Pittman and leaders in the Oklahoma City black community, including several prominent black pastors. He apologized for his participation in the chant and expressed deep remorse because of what he had done. Representative Mike Shelton addressed the House of Representatives about the video soon after it first aired.

Hopefully the national leadership of this fraternity will be held accountable at some point.

You can read the complete report here.

From News9.com:

NORMAN, Oklahoma -University of Oklahoma President David Boren has announced the findings of an investigation into a fraternity after members were caught on video engaging in a racist chant.

President Boren held a news conference at noon on Friday. According to the University, the origin of the chant was that it was learned by local chapter members on a national leadership cruise sponsored by the national organization of SAE four years ago. Overtime, the chant was formalized in the local SAE chapter and was taught to pledges as part of the formal and informal pledgeship process.

According to the University, prior to the chapter’s annual Chapter’s Founder’s Day event on March 7, there was alcohol available at the fraternity house, and there is evidence that a significant number of members were consuming alcohol prior to boarding the bus on which the chant was sung.

Jill Stanek: “I Expect that From the Democrats.”

Jill Stanek Photo Source: Flicker Creative Commons by Pro-Life Unity https://www.flickr.com/photos/24711181@N05/

Jill Stanek Photo Source: Flicker Creative Commons by Pro-Life Unity https://www.flickr.com/photos/24711181@N05/

We have two goals today. First of all, in our own way we want to pressure the GOP leadership in the House to present the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act for a vote.

From various sources on Capitol Hill, I have heard that we have already had an impact. There really wasn’t any particular rush felt on this issue, and now there is.

The other goal is to reorient this discussion back to the babies, who are literally being drawn and quartered on a daily basis. People don’t seem to have any sense of urgency about making that stop.  Jill Stanek

Jill Stanek is pro life.

Her pro life convictions were acquired the hard way: From being forced to do the dirt of abortion’s toughest kind of killing.

Infants born alive from abortions are often killed, usually from neglect. I’ve talked to nurses in Oklahoma hospitals who were ordered, as Jill Stanek was, to let babies that are born alive during abortions die slowly and unloved.

That was the inspiration for the bill that brought me within 50 votes of being censured by the statewide Oklahoma Democratic Party. It was the motivation behind the bill that drove a wedge between me and my Democratic colleagues that made the rest of my time in the legislature a kind of purgatory. It was why I could never attend another Oklahoma Democratic Party function again, even though I was the state party’s longest running elected official.

Ms Stanek was a nurse, working in a hospital who had to let a baby die. Unlike the doctors who gave the orders and walked away, she was a witness to these deaths. I heard stories from nurses about what happened here in Oklahoma when babies survived abortions in our state hospitals. I heard the same stories from clergy who worked as chaplains in these hospitals.

These situations drove some of the nurses who were forced to do these deeds to a moral crisis. Most of them just did what they were ordered to do and went on. I don’t know if it hardened them into a deformed version of themselves that was indifferent to killing, or if they suffer deep grief in silence.

I do know that a few nurses were not able to go on with it. Both here in Oklahoma and in Illinois, they stepped out. That is how Jill Stanek became pro life. She held a dying baby in her hands and it changed her. Then, she got involved in seeking a political end to this killing, and that changed her again.

She met President Barack Obama when he was Senator Obama. She lobbied him to pass the law that would allow infants born alive in abortions to receive medical treatment. What she got instead was a dose of what legislators do when they want to kill bills by sleight of hand. The guy who took the hit for the whole pro abortion movement in Illinois was Senator Obama, chair of the committee where the bill died.

The fight for this bill went on for years. When it finally came to a vote, Senator Obama continued to fight it on the floor.

Then, presidential candidate Obama lied about having done this.

Jill Stanek was well-schooled in the ways of politics. But she harbored illusions. She thought that this behavior was a Democratic failing. She evidently honestly believed that Republicans were different.

If she had asked me, I would have told her the truth. But I doubt that she would have believed me. Because this is a hard truth, that people detest. It rips away illusions that make things easy and simple. The pretend that there is a moral safe house in politics simplifies and comforts. The truth, not so much.

When the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives withdrew the bill that would have stopped abortions after 20 weeks off the agenda, a good number of pro life organizations rushed to defend him. That’s the way it works, you know.

Some of these pro life organizations have become Republican organizations first and pro life second. Many of them receive substantial funding from the Republican Party. Others, including most big name Republican-backing clergy, enjoy the backslapping and the “access” to people in power so much that they will not jeopardize it by publicly calling powerful politicians out when they betray the pro life cause.

They have deified a political party, and, no matter what they say to the contrary, that political party is where they bend their knee.

Not so Jill Stanek. She didn’t come to the pro life cause through theological reasoning or political allegiance. She held a dying child in her hands. She was the unwilling participant in the murder of innocents.

Her pro life convictions, unlike that of these other folks, is why she’s involved in all this. She’s there because of the babies, not the political goodies on the periphery of elective office.

She had seen Democrats use legislative ruse to kill pro life bills. But she evidently did not believe that Republicans, once they were in power, would do the same thing.

She didn’t understand the core truth of party politics. I repeat this truth like a mantra. Here it is again: The political parties are about getting power and keeping power. Everything else they say is a lie.

I’m not saying that there are no differences between the Rs and the Ds. What I am saying is that  those differences are not as meaningful as the similarities. At their core, the Rs and the Ds are the same. Both of them are about gaining and holding political power.

So, Jill Stanek joined together with people from the Christian Defense Coalition and Operation Rescue to hold a prayer vigil in front of Speaker Boehner’s office. Ms Stanek said she was there to put the emphasis back on the babies. She ended up getting arrested, along with other pro life leaders.

I am going to add that in this, at least, the Rs and the Ds are different. The Ds treat their allies better than the Rs. I saw it in the Oklahoma legislature and I see it again in this arrest. The Ds don’t have Planned Parenthood people arrested. In all my years in office, I never saw the Democratic leadership disrespect liberal clergy the way I saw the Republican leadership tell pro life clergy to sit down and shut up.

Pro abortion advocates do not grovel before pro abortion Democrats. They work together with them as a team. That’s a huge part of why they’ve seen so successful at keeping abortion legal these past 40 plus years.

The Ds treat their allies on social issues better than the Rs do theirs. And that’s a fact.

According to Ms Stanek, the actions that she and her allies have taken have put the bill to end abortions after 20 weeks back on the legislative map.

Hopefully, she is right.

From Charisma News:

Since the U.S. House of Representatives pulled the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act from consideration on Jan. 21—the evening before March for Life 2015—pro-life blogger Jill Stanek has been relentless in calling for the bill to come back to the House floor for a vote.

With the bill yet to be reintroduced two months later, Stanek felt the voice of pro-life activists was not being heard.

When she teamed up with Rev. Pat Mahoney of Christian Defense Coalition and Troy Newman of Operation Rescue to announce a Sit-in/Pray-in at Speaker John Boehner’s Congressional office, within days the Speaker of the House responded.

Before the protest, Stanek agreed to an interview as her team met at Pete’s Diner on Capitol Hill—a location they knew was one of Speaker Boehner’s favorite spots for breakfast.

Within two hours, she was handcuffed and arrested by Capitol Police outside the Congressional office of Speaker Boehner along with seven other pro-life activists.

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Tornadoes in Oklahoma and Lucky Me, I was There

Cell phones change everything, including the experience of taking shelter during a tornado.

Last night, while we sat in our storm shelter in Oklahoma City, my husband exchanged texts with his best friend who was a hundred miles away in Sand Springs. His friend was also in a storm shelter.

Okies.

We know tornadoes.

A wave of storms swept through the state yesterday, sending a lot of us into shelters. These weren’t the huge killer tornadoes that come down and stay down for long periods of time, taking out whole communities. They were the hop, skip and jump tornadoes that happen any number of times in this state every single year.

I underestimated these storms from the start. Yesterday was the first day in almost two weeks  that I felt well enough to go out to eat. We went to our fav Mexican food place, where we go every Wednesday. They know us so well that they don’t bother to bring us menus. The waiter already knows what we want.

One of the waiters was twitchy about the incoming storms. He and I had both been watching them on radar on our phones. “I think Tulsa is going to get it,” I told him, “but we’ll be alright.”

So much for me as a weather prophet.

My husband decided to put gas in his car, so, on the way home, he pulled into a gas station around the block from our house. We’d been watching the clouds on the drive home. As we pulled to a stop, I noticed a change. I watched as one of the clouds started to turn; to, as the weather guys say, “rotate.”

“That thing’s starting to spin,” I said.

I think my husband’s view was blocked by a post in front of our car. He glanced up, saw nothing and got out to get the gas.

His view must’ve changed when he was standing beside the car, because a moment later he got back in and started the engine. “I can get gas tomorrow. We need to get home.”

It was a short drive to our house, literally around the corner. But as we turned into the drive, the wind hit, bending over the pear tree in the front yard. That tree had been a poofy cloud of white blossoms. As  we drove into the garage, the wind stripped those blooms, blowing the petals into the garage ahead of us, littering the concrete floor with white.

We got in the shelter, and the rest, as they say, is rock and roll.

This particular tornado hit about six blocks from our house. The damage it did can be repaired and no one was killed. There was another small tornado — or maybe this same one, touching down again, a bit further south of us that tossed around vehicles and shaved off the roofs of houses.

The people of Sand Springs and Tulsa got hit with a stronger tornado that did heavier damage and killed one person.

Tornadoes like these happen several times a year, every year, in Oklahoma. They’re different from the huge tornadoes that come along less often. They certainly can and do kill people. A direct hit from a small tornado will destroy your home and kill you. But their killing power is limited to smaller areas and tends to be somewhat capricious.

These little tornadoes go up and down. They are unpredictable. They can form in minutes and vanish in a second.

That is what we were dealing with last night. The warning on a big tornado can give you enough time to get into shelter. But these smaller tornadoes happen fast.

The weather reports had predicted storms, and we could track the overall storm pattern on radar. But the only specific warning we had last night was when I looked up at that cloud and saw it start to turn. If I hadn’t spent a lifetime looking at these things, I wouldn’t have known what I was seeing.

That’s what makes smaller tornadoes dicey. The local weather people, even with all their tornado spotters and radar, mostly tell you about small tornados shortly after they’ve hit. A small tornado can dip down, flatten your house and go back up, leaving the house across the street covered in debris from your house, with the car that was in the drive tossed aside, but otherwise untouched. Then it can come back down and flatten a whole block two streets down.

The irony here is that the thing can kill you just as dead as one of the big ones like the tornado of May 3, 1999. Thanks to our excellent tornado alert system, I watched on tv as what we call “the May third tornado” formed in Apache Oklahoma. I watched it as it stayed down and plowed 100 miles across the prairie to my neighborhood.

I didn’t watch as it continued on through Del City and back out across the prairie to Stroud. I was too busy ducking.

Big tornadoes usually give more warning than little ones. In fact, little tornadoes don’t give warning at all. They are more survivable, and they do not usually cause the total destruction of whole communities. But they can spin up and drop down in a minute. I mean that literally.

I found a spider in the storm shelter last night, which means it needs de-bugging, and not in the computer sense. I also realized that we need to buy flashlights and put them in there. Also bottled water. And maybe a horn or something we can use to get help if the worst happens and we get trapped because our house has fallen on top the shelter.

After the storm passed, I went into an exhausted, totally washed out mode. It was like the experience sucked all the life out of me.

I didn’t realize it, but I’m still not over the big tornado from two years ago. That one killed a lot of people, destroyed a whole community, took out a hospital and flattened two schools. It killed 8 school children in the process.

The rebuilding hasn’t been completely finished from that tornado. I see foundations with no houses when I drive my Mama around in the afternoons. The hospital will be rebuilt, but it hasn’t been yet. The grieving for lost loved ones is on-going.

I guess that’s why this experience last night left me so tired and dispirited. Also, I’m still not entirely well from this cold/flu thing I’ve had. That may have made it worse. All I know is that I usually take these things matter of factly, but last night I reacted with exhaustion, that, and I’m glad we have that shelter.

Mama was prattling to me later in the evening, and I realized that she had forgotten the entire thing. She had no idea there had even been a storm, much less a tornado. Her dementia had wiped it away.

There are times when forgetting is a blessing.

 

Levi Pettit, OKC Black Leaders Hold Press Conference About Racist Video

Senator Anastasia Pittman Oklahoma State Senate File Photo

Senator Anastasia Pittman Oklahoma State Senate File Photo

Levit Pettit, one of the two young men who were expelled from Oklahoma University for their participation in singing a racist song at a fraternity gathering, apologized at a press conference this afternoon.

Senator Anastasia Pittman and other leaders in the Oklahoma City black community, including prominent members of the clergy, joined him at this press conference. At one point, one of the black community leaders reached out to pat him on the back while he was speaking.

Senator Pittman ended the press conference by saying that she and the community leaders who were with her wanted this event to lead to a growth in understanding and greater interracial harmony.

I am proud of and grateful to our Oklahoma City black community for the noble and loving way that they have handled this situation. These Christian leaders have shown us the positive way that true Christian leadership can function. Senator Pittman has demonstrated the best in what an elected official can contribute to her community.

They have shown us the healing power of forgiveness.

You can watch a video of the press conference with Senator Pittman’s comments here.

This is a video of the press conference. It does not contain Senator Pittman’s comments, which I regret. Her words about using this incident to bring us together are important.

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From KFOR.com:

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Former OU student Levi Pettit issued an apology this afternoon, weeks after a cellphone video showing him participating in a racist chant went viral.

20-year-old Pettit is accused of participating in the racist chant along with other Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members.

“Let me start by saying that I am sorry… Although I don’t deserve it, I want to ask for your forgiveness,” began Pettit.

Pettit, flanked on both sides by local leaders in the black community, gave his apology after meeting and speaking with Oklahoma Senator Anastasia Pittman, civic leaders, and local pastors about the incident.

“There are no excuses for my behavior. I never considered myself a racist,” said Pettit. “All the apologies in the world won’t change what I’ve done.”

Pettit and his family have reportedly spoken with Senator Pittman several times since the video was made public on March 9th.

 

Breaking: Speaker John Boehner’s Office Orders Arrest of Pro Life Demonstrators

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons, by Gage Skidmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons, by Gage Skidmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

Pro life leaders were arrested for holding a prayer vigil outside House Speaker Boehner’s office today.

Pro life nurse Jill Stanek, who has been a vociferous critic of President Obama for lying about his history of killing the infant born alive bill when he was in the Illinois State Senate was one of those arrested. Other arrestees include Rev Pat Mahoney, the director of the Christian Defense Coalition and Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue. Seven pro life protesters were arrested in all.

“We were told yesterday by Speaker Boehner’s office that this is the most pro-life Congress that has ever been installed,” Troy Newman told CNSNEWS.com.

The protesters were holding a vigil in an attempt to get Congress to pass the ban on abortions after 20 weeks. The bill is usually referred to as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

The bill was scheduled to come to a vote in the House on January 22, which is the anniversary of Roe v Wade. It was pulled at the last minute and a bill disallowing the use of federal monies for abortions in circumstances not pertaining to the Affordable Care Act was passed in its place.

I am grateful to these protestors for doing this. Maybe the bad publicity will force Speaker Boehner to bring the bill to a vote.

I’ve personally witnessed pro-life people back down and cover up for Republican leadership when they killed pro life bills here in Oklahoma. I’ve also seen big-name preachers take a pass on everything they’d been preaching to their flocks when leadership leaned on them.

This arrest underscores a simple fact that We the People are loathe to accept:  Politics is about power, not morality.

From CNSNEWS.COM:

CNSNews.com) – U.S. Capitol police on Wednesday arrested seven pro-life protestors while they were praying outside the office of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

hose arrested, who included prominent pro-life activist and nurse Jill Stanek, were protesting the House Republican leaderships’ failure to call a vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would prohibit aborting an unborn child in or after the 20th week of gestation.

The House Republican leadership shelved the bill less than 24 hours before it was set to come up for a vote on Jan. 22 after some Republican congresswomen, led by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) and Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), objected to the rape and incest exceptions in the bill, which they deemed too onerous. The exceptions said a baby 20 weeks old or older could only be terminated if the the baby had been conceived by an act of rape or incest that had been reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

In 2012, Ellmers had co-sponsored the District of Columbia Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which banned abortions in the 20th week or later in Washington, D.C., and had no rape or incest exceptions whatever. On July 31 of that year, the bill was brought up on the House floor under a suspension of the rules, which required a two-thirds vote instead of a majority. The bill failed to get two-thirds but did get a majority, with 220 voting yes, 154 voting no, 55 not voting and 2 voting present. Six Democrats voted for that bill with no rape and incest exceptions.

 

From Hitler to the BTK Killer, How Do You Forgive a Monster?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tony Webster https://www.flickr.com/photos/diversey/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tony Webster https://www.flickr.com/photos/diversey/

When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer. Corrie Ten Boom

Corrie Ten Boom’s story was pivotal in my growth as a Christian.

My conversion to Christ happened when I was alone, driving my car. No other person, no church or clergy, participated in it. It was literally Jesus, reaching out to me and filing me with His love.

I knew that what I had experienced was real. I knew that I had encountered Another, and that this Being bore no resemblance to the poisoned descriptions of Him that had been used as a club against me so many times in my life.

This was a Being of ecstatic love and joy.

I was changed by the experience, changed further by the on-going relationship with this Being, who I later came to understand was the Holy Spirit. However, even though this direct encounter and relationship with the Divine gave me an understanding of His nature, I had no parallel understanding of Christianity itself.

I did not hate Christianity with the frothing at the mouth propagandized carry-on of today’s Christian bashers. But I had experienced cruelty and dishonesty at the hands of Christians. I had also drunk deeply at the cultural well of Christianity deconstruction. I honestly believed many of the lies I had been told about Christian history.

One of my first encounters with positive Christian witness was when I picked up a book called “The Hiding Place” at a used book sale. I don’t know why I paid the fifteen cents to buy that book. I only know that it was the first time I’d read or heard anything about Christians who had stood against the evils of the Nazis based on their faith in Christ.

Every bit of information on the subject of Christianity and the Nazis that I had seen, read or heard up until that time had been a version of the many Christian bashing tropes that are circulated today. Nobody told me that Christians had worked against the Nazis to their great personal peril and had been themselves been persecuted and murdered for their defiance of the evils of that time.

Corrie Ten Boom was a saint of World War II and the years after. She was an unmarried watchmaker’s daughter and a highly skilled watchmaker herself when the Nazis invaded Holland. She was a woman in her fifties who lived a quiet life with her family, in the home where she had grown up.

She was also a devoted follower of Jesus Christ in a family of devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

Corrie Ten Boom’s family hid many Jews from the Nazis. They were betrayed by a man they had helped and sent to the concentration camps themselves. Corrie’s father, brother and beloved sister died at the hands of the Nazis.

Her sister Betsy was Corey Ten Boom’s best friend, companion and solace in the nightmare of the camps. After the war, Corey encountered the guard who beat Betsy and whose cruelty probably contributed to her death.

This past week has given me the opportunity to reflect on Corrie’s life. I originally intended to pray for the grace of forgiveness during Lent. But other things got in the way. Then last week I got clipped by some sort of flu-like illness. This bug has forced solitude on me. It has freed me to do what I should have been doing all along.

I have prayed deeply about issues of forgiveness in my own life. I’ve also watched more television this past week than I have in the entire year before it. Among other things, I watched a documentary about a man whose family was murdered by the BTK killer in Wichita Kansas. I also watched a documentary about Corrie Ten Boom.

The difference in how these two people responded to the horrific things that had been done to them was stark. I understand the man’s reaction. I’m not in any way condemning or criticizing him. I see a lot of myself in him.

He was a young person with a casual faith. He did not have the underpinning of years of walking with the Lord that Corrie had when tragedy overtook her. He was unable to look at the savage murder of the people he loved from an eternal perspective.

He did not have the sustaining relationship with God that upheld and sustained her even when she was, as she put it, in the pit. He was much like I was when bad things happened to me early in my life.

His life was savaged by the murder of his family. Hers was magnified. Corrie Ten Boom survived the camps and went on to become a great international speaker and evangelist for Christ.

She wrote books and traveled the globe, speaking to people everywhere about the power of forgiveness. “There is no pit so deep that His love is not deeper still,” she told people, and they believed her because she had been in the deepest pit of human devising.

The young man whose family was murdered spent time in prison. He fathered a son he did not raise and has spent his days trying to paste the shattered pieces of himself back together again.

The difference between these two people is faith and the grace of God. It is also the grace of forgiveness.

God used Corrie Ten Boom, but He did not give her an easy life. Not only did she endure personal suffering in the concentration camps, she lost the people she loved there. As if that wasn’t enough, God sent the man who had beaten her sister to her to ask for forgiveness.

This forgiveness was the decisive cleansing of Corrie Ten Boom. It was the surrender she had to make in order to be useful to Him and His purposes. If you pray to become a saint, pray carefully. God asks all of you.

This video is Corrie’s account of her post war encounter with the concentration camp guard who had tortured her sister. It describes the healing power of the Cross, which gives peace that passes all understanding.

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