Archive | September, 2015

Policeman Indicted for First Degree Murder . . .

3 Sep

This story is shocking, especially as it was the second time the officer shot a man to death in dubious circumstances.

Things have changed with oversight of police shootings this year; this time he was ultimately fired.

The pertinent fact is that the man was shot after a scuffle but there was never any evidence presented that he was even the shoplifter who was being sought.

It is possible the “scuffle” was only a man trying to break free while being unexpectedly tackled by a police officer in a Walmart parking lot.  We will find out, I believe.

Even if he was shoplifting, that is not a capital crime.  And even if it were, the state gets to decide for execution, not the individual officer.

There is so much wrong here that I can hardly state it all.  To be handcuffed *after death, especially as the police officer attempts to give CPR (clue:  the person has to be lying flat for that).

I am not sure whether I am glad that the population of Portsmouth waited patiently for a grand jury to be called or whether I am sad that they are so beaten down it seemingly never occurred to them to organize a peaceful protest.  That is one poor and saddened city.

Yes, much is wrong here.

How in the Name of All that is Good and Right Does this Happen?

3 Sep

Let’s just pass right over the conditions this man faced in jail . . . we can give a miss to the “he said, she said” about whether he flooded his cell and got the water turned off as punishment or whether he flushed his food down the toilet in order to conduct a hunger strike.  Two sides of this story and we may never get them straight.

But why, why, why in the name of all that is good and right and holy was this severely mentally ill man in jail from April to August awaiting a room in a mental health facility?  Is this where our mentally ill people should go to await their assignment to a treatment facility?  Jail?  Would we be okay with that for *our mentally ill or disabled familymembers?

And even leaving aside the mental illness, is it appropriate to send someone to jail for four months for stealing $5 worth of food?  Didn’t Les Miserables suggest to us that a life sentence for the theft of a loaf of bread is unconscionable?

The bail was high for this $5 theft but I submit that a white family would have had a different outcome here.  Either the fine would have been lower or they would have found a way to raise it.  Or, aware of their child’s mental illness, they would have found a sympathetic ear in the judicial system to let him out or never charge him in the first place.

Yes, we do still have quite a racist system in the U.S.  You can’t imagine this *ever happening to a white family because it wouldn’t.

Please hear me when I say that I don’t regard our law enforcement officers as a racist cog in a non-racist system.  Our whole system is racist.  The law enforcement and judicial authorities are only following the dictates and preferences of a society totally soaked in racism, so deeply that we can’t even see it in ourselves.

Equal protection under the law is guaranteed but we constantly treat blacks differently, then justify that by saying that they are more violent than whites and *require different treatment.  Blaming the victims of the system for the system.

We think of the most violent crimes ever committed by blacks and hold those out as representative of an entire race.

I know we do it.  I have heard this my entire life.

And we need to stop slandering our fellow bearers of God’s image.  Now.

Arise, My Soul, Arise

2 Sep

I have been meditating on this Charles Wesley hymn for over a week.  It is said that it is his most well-known hymn, although I think in our particular circle “And Can It Be?” is more famous.

Here are the words to the entire hymn:

“Arise, my soul, arise; shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears:
Before the throne my surety stands,
Before the throne my surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.

He ever lives above, for me to intercede;
His all redeeming love, His precious blood, to plead:
His blood atoned for all our race,
His blood atoned for all our race,
And sprinkles now the throne of grace.

Five bleeding wounds He bears; received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers; they strongly plead for me:
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”

The Father hears Him pray, His dear anointed One;
He cannot turn away, the presence of His Son;
His Spirit answers to the blood,
His Spirit answers to the blood,
And tells me I am born of God.

My God is reconciled; His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child; I can no longer fear:
With confidence I now draw nigh,
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.”

While there is some controversy about the Biblical reference that Wesley used (Isaiah 49:16, “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me”), since no one is quite sure whose names are graven on the palms of God the Father, there is absolutely no controversy about whose names are written on Jesus’ nail-pierced hands.  His hands will be nail-pierced for eternity.  And they bear our names–He bears the names of the redeemed in those nailprints.  He bought us with them.

In the way that Jesus is so often presented as the paradoxical fulfillment of two prophecies at once (the Lion and the Lamb, the Good Shepherd and the Lamb, the High Priest and the sacrificial Lamb, the Judge and the Advocate . . .), so I believe the third verse poetically personifies His bleeding wounds to use them as a symbol–five parts of the Saviour representing the entire Saviour.  Even the most mystical among us knows that wounds don’t have voices to plead.  But they are eloquent when they are held up in the palms of the Saviour as He pleads His advocacy for us.  And that is how I believe Wesley used the imagery of this verse.  Especially as the fourth verse repeats that theme.

It would be nice to find an explanation of what Wesley was thinking as he wrote the hymn but, alas, I don’t think that exists.  At least I don’t find any preliminary strands leading in that direction.

Great hymn!  Great meditation.

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