DEATH, SOLAR FLARES, AND UKRAINE

This is just one of those blog posts that can’t stay focused.

 

1.  Botched Execution.  Apparently Arizona had a very “Oklahoma-like” moment this past week when it tried to execute a man guilty of murdering his girlfriend and her father.  Click here for the WSJ’s report.  It took almost 2 hours for him to die.  in April the same thing happened in Oklahoma, but it only took 45 minutes for him to die there.  Oklahoma has that effect on people–it makes them want to die quicker.

I am not a supporter of the death penalty, and have blogged about that before (click here).  However, I am a big supporter of competency.  I worry about reports like this because it highlights the growing incompetency of our society.  The inability to quickly and effectively kill someone by a state organization whose sole job is to put people to death is troubling.  I know that there are many mitigating circumstances, but it is precisely the point that competency falls apart when too many people try to command the situation.  Please note, I have no sympathy for this murderer and others like him.  Instead, I worry that we can’t even perform the most basic of civil responsibilities.

 

Fortunately, the sun was not aiming for us
Fortunately, the sun was not aiming for us

2.  Solar Flares.   The earth was almost destroyed in 2012.  No, it wasn’t the Mayan Apocalypse or the pesky rapture that never materialized.  It was solar flares.  Click here for the article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.  The newspaper says that if those would have hit earth, and they nearly did, we would still be picking up the pieces.  Apparently it would have knocked us back to the Middle Ages.

Apparently we dodged a bullet.  What overall lessons can we learn?  A) The cosmos is a dangerous place.  B.  We probably dodge a bullet every day.  C.  Everything is not predictable.  D.  You should give thanks for today, because you have electricity and Netflix and smoothies.  Tomorrow you might not.

 

3.  Ukraine.  It occurs to me that Vladimir Putin is currently playing the role of Kim Kardashian or Miley Cyrus or something.  He just can’t help but be in the headlines so he will do almost anything to stay there.  The MH17 shoot down was likely a mistake.  I can’t imagine why anyone would want to shoot down, on purpose, a civilian airliner.  What is not a mistake, though, is that the Russians are giving very powerful anti-aircraft artillery and other weaponry to people who are not really all that expert in using it, and that Russian apparently is firing into Ukraine.  Click here for news story.

I told you months ago that Putin was playing poker, not chess.  He now knows that he has all the cards, and that the West will fold.  At this juncture, it is only a matter of time before Russia annexes all of Ukraine.  I suspect it will happen before the end of 2015.  The only thing that will stop that is the deployment of NATO troops in Ukraine, and I just don’t think that will happen.  We will not call Putin, and as we fold he will rake in the winnings.

 

 

image from thedailybeast.com

LIFE, OFFENSIVE WORDS, AND THE DEATH PENALTY

Nestled between two worship services, a small group meal and study and a quarterly business conference was my presentation for the 2013 annual Apologetics Conference.   Past topics have included writing and marriage.  This year the topic is abortion and apologetics.  Yeah, not for the faint of heart is this conference.  If you want to see my presentation, you’ll have to register at the conference homepage.  They have everything archived, including my previous years presentations.

I began by insisting that we who value life are winning the struggle and I used Facebook to prove it.  You’ll just have to watch to see how I do that.

Everything was rocking along pretty well until I insisted upon two concepts that I think are pretty important but apparently not many people in the conference agreed.  In fact, someone accused me of being ‘liberal.’  It has been a very long time since that has happened.  I actually enjoyed it.

What did I insist upon that got people riled up?  Well……

  1. Well, the first thing that seemed to raise hackles amongst people was my opinion that the word ‘abortion’ is probably too strong a word to use in sermonizing and in general church discourse.  My reasoning is that it has become one of those harsh words that can have a very negative connotation to many people.  There are only a handful of words that are stronger in the English language–such as the “N” word,  faggot, and masturbate.  Even if one uses the words properly and without emotional connotation they just take the focus off the goal and move it onto something else.  Notice how as you read this, me writing “N” word probably makes you feel so much better than actually typing out the awful word.  Why?  It carries so much emotional baggage for understandable reasons.  I think the word abortion does the same thing.  It takes people’s minds away from our argument about the purposes of God, the sanctity of life, and our responsibilities as sexual beings.  For this I was accused of adopting ‘liberal Gen-Xer language.’  Maybe, but I think I’m right.  I want to persuade people, not offend them.
  2. The second thing I did was to connect the abortion issue to the death penalty.  I put forward the argument that we in the Christian community lose credibility when we argue for the sanctity of life of the unborn but vociferously advocate for the death penalty.  My reasons for opposing the death penalty are nuanced and complicated but the key reason is that in the United States the practice is racist.  People of color tend to be executed at substantially higher rates, while those who are wealthy are able to afford better lawyers.  Life and death should not depend upon the skill of a lawyer.  Other reasons include the concept that Jesus was executed by the state for crimes he didn’t commit, because the state is not always right and the aforementioned lack of credibility on the issue when engaged with the world in general about policy.  I would gladly cede capital punishment to strengthen the defense for the unborn.  Turns out, this is pretty controversial.  Many folks disagreed with me on this capital punishment issue.  Their arguments ranged from citations of Old Testament biblical passages to the case that harsh penalties save lives and establish the importance of victim’s lives, thus paradoxically preserving life even as it takes it.  I accept these arguments, perhaps in a perfectly just world they would sway me.  We do not live in that perfectly just world.

I said a lot of other things, but if you want to see those, you’ll have to register and watch the video.