Michael Dearest, and BTK
No comment on the photo. Courtesy of PageSixSixSix.com.
I'm avoiding the Michael Jackson trial but watching the BTK situation with some interest. There is something bone-chillingly creepy about a sadistic murdering psycho giving himself a moniker that sounds like a fast-food franchise. A reliable source tells me that the pastor of the accused, days after publicly affirming that his maniacal congregant is part of the body of Christ, has had a nervous breakdown.
My Reliable Source asked me what I would do if one of my own dearly beloved congregants turned out to be a serial killer. I'll have to think about that. We talk about the "inherent worth and dignity" of all human beings but of course "inherent" is not the same as "inviolate."
I certainly don't think I'd be using that "Body of Christ" line in public, that's for sure. I'd be talking about the victims, and our compassion for them, and keeping my mouth pretty much shut about my relationship with the accused. That's what pastoral privilege is all about.
I am well aware that, given the opportunities and plenty of time in the Big House, even the most heinous of evil-doers are capable of true repentance, spiritual growth and evolution of character. I've seen it with my own eyes. When that happens, it is very difficult for the loved ones of victims to appreciate the reformation of that individual. After all, they got a chance to move into another phase of life; an opportunity not granted the dead. When the families and loved ones can recognize the goodness in change, reconciliation can occur. When they can't, the perpetrator lives with the knowledge of that permanent hatred and resentment as best he or she can.
I do not generally support the death penalty. I say generally, because when there's a true sadist among us, my heart gets very cold and very unchristian. I want that person off the planet. They are living (or have lived) too far beyond the Pale of the basic human covenant, and they incarnate evil, which I believe is an absolute. So it's not a question of "eye for an eye" but of the kind of spiritual harm and danger represented by the truly unrepentant sadist.
But then... I remember the Hasidic saying: We should love the wicked, too, because as long as we do not love in this way, the Messiah will not come.
Justice is the most difficult human work.