Friday, September 30, 2005

Christianity, Killing, and Murder

Some time ago, I responded to a letter whose writer said that all killing was wrong.

He has recently responded in the comment section. See here.

Well, here is my response. The blue words are his from an email (and some of them are from the comment mentioned above).

Thank you for your response. ...

I hope to answer your main points so please let me know if I do not or if I misunderstood what you wrote.

First, you wrote:
To violently take a life is to kill--the image and likeness of God present in each person born into this world. It is therefore impossible to justify the killing of that presence of God, for whatever reason. You cannot love one another, including the enemy, and justifiably kill/murder them simultaneously. Thus, thou shalt not kill (period) has no exceptions.

You seem to be equating killing with murder. Do you regard them as the same? As having the same moral weight?

I do not. I, along with most traditions of morality (both east and west), see a distinction. Killing (a human) is an act whereby a human's life is ended. This can be shooting them, choking them, hitting them with a car, injecting them with a chemical, giving them something poisonous to eat, etc. The death can be unintended or intended. Killing is an act that results in the death of someone. Murder is when someone intentionally takes the human life of an innocent other. You may disagree with this distinction, but it is the distinction advocated by Christianity from its beginnings. The Church has maintained it. She did not come up with it. The Jews had already understood this as can be seen with statements and distinctions drawn from the Old Testament.

So if you regard killing and murder as the same, with no distinctions, we are arguing from different bases. Which means we probably will not come to agreement. But please realize, since you bring in the Christian component to this moral issue, that your view is at odds with Christianity, with the Bible, with God's own words (Gen. 9:6), and with the authority and interpreter of God's Law and Word: the Catholic Church.

The second command God gives humanity (after "be fruitful and multiply") is to kill murderers: "If anyone sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; For in the image of God has man been made." (Gen. 9:6) Because of the value of the human being, God demands the just killing of those who murder, of those who desecrate the special status humans have (as being in the image of God) through murdering them. "Just" because it is giving to one what is his due. "Just" because God, the Creator of humans, demands such a response.

I presume you are Catholic based on your writing in The Tidings. If I am wrong, then appealing to Church authority probably does not carry weight. If I am right, then how do you square your view being at odds with the Church?

As regards God's Word, the fifth commandment should not be understood as literally meaning "Thou shall not kill." Why? Because first off in the Hebrew, it reads "Thou shall not murder." Hebrew has two words that could be used. The one meaning "murder" and not "kill" is used. Therefore, what God said was "Thou shall not murder."

Why did Christians write it differently? Perhaps it is an issue of the Greek language. I will look into that: if Greek had two words to distinguish this and what the Greek translation of the Old Testament had.

Regardless, from the beginning, as can be attested to through a reading of the Early Church Fathers, the Church always regarded the commandment as meaning murder. There was never a blanket prohibition on any killing. (If you say there should have been, then you are departing from the Christian moral tradition, let alone the original meaning of what was said and believed; on this latter point, see St. Paul's writing where he acknowledges the state does have the authority to kill certain criminals. Cf. Romans 13, esp. 13: 1-5.
It is therefore impossible to justify the killing of that presence of God, for whatever reason.
The presence of God is not material. It is not physical stuff in a human. It is an immaterial presence, a spiritual presence, in the person. Therefore, any physical act (killing) cannot kill the immaterial component of a human. We do not say that someone's soul dies. No, we do not because the soul is immaterial and cannot be killed, especially by a physical act. We do not have that power. Thus, the killing of a human being is not the same nor can it be as killing the presence of God within them.

More to your point, "for whatever reason."
There are no times someone may be killed? What about in self-defense? What about to stop Nazis from killing millions of innocent civilians? What about to stop someone from raping a young child? What about from stopping a persistent criminal from attempting to kill your own child? I argue and so does the Church and the Bible that there are times when one may kill. In fact, even should kill. The "should" may sound too strong, but my only point is to show that there are times when one may justifiably kill.

You cannot love one another, including the enemy, and justifiably kill/murder them simultaneously.
What do you understand "love" to mean? Love, as understood by the Church and many of the great thinkers in the Church, is to will the good of another. What is the good of another? What his nature calls for and what is his due. Love means we facilitate his journey to Christ. Love means we are witnesses to truth in this world. Love also means that one supports another getting what is his due. If someone is guilty of a crime, they much pay the punishment. It is not a lack of love to support punishment. It is not love to say someone should not be punished. If someone merits Hell, love does not say God is mean. Rather, love says that is what the person chose through their actions. They are getting what they sought: a life separate from God. Here, however, it is an everlasting life. Thus, to love someone is to seek the good for them. The good is what their nature calls for and/or what they deserve by their actions. This can be rewards or it can be punishments. Killing murderers is a just punishment. (I am not saying all murderers should be killed. I am saying that it is permissable by morality and by biblical morality. I think those who have demonstrated a willingness to murder by actually doing so and are a continued threat to hurting others should be put to death. I think just war is a possibility and that enemy combatants in a just war may be killed. And these instances, by definition, are not murder and are thus morally permissable.)

Thus, thou shalt not kill (period) has no exceptions.
Wrong. It does have exceptions. The Bible itself speaks of times when killing is not only permitted but called for (cf. Gen 9.6, Rom. 13). The Church has always understood "Thou shall not kill" as meaning "Thou shall not murder" because some forms of killing are permissable.

Your next paragraph has a lot to consider. First, all the examples you state are moments of personal not civil instruction. I understand this to mean that one should not take the law into his own hands. That when one wrongs me, I should turn the other cheek. That does not mean that when one wrongs an innocent and vulnerable person that I turn their cheek or even mind. I defend the innocent and vulnerable. I defend them even if that means inflicting force on the aggressor. I defend them even if that means having to kill the would-be rapist, attacker, murderer, etc.

There is a difference between violence and force. Force is typically the use of power of some sort (physical, emotional, moral, psychological, etc.). Violence is the unjust use of force. An important distinction.

God alone, as the author of life, has the right to give and take life.
And God has the authority as the author of life to instruct us to impose punishment and even to take the life of murderers: Gen. 9:6: "If anyone sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; For in the image of God has man been made." Does not God have the authority to transfer this right? As possessor of this right, to demand those in this world to administer justice? He does and did. Here in Genesis and further through the ages.

NO WAR (war is terrorism)
War by its very nature is terrorism? Was the fight against the Nazis terrorism? Was the fight against the Japanese terrorism? Was the fight against the Communists attempting to bully and persecute the South Koreans terrorism? Was the fight against Saddam Hussein and his invasion of Kuwait terrorism. Iraq invades Kuwait. What is Kuwait to do? Turn the other cheek and be massacred? I am not saying every war the US has fought has been just. I am only saying that some wars can be and are just. Some wars are morally permissable. Further, war is not terrorism. You are conflating the terms. Some wars may entail terrorism, but war in itself is not terrorism. Terrorism means to attack innocent civilians (non-combatants) for some political or ideological purpose. There is a difference. What some Arabs in Israel have done is terrorism. They target innocent civilians to further their cause. The same was true of the IRA in North Ireland and Britain. The same was/is true of ETA in Spain. And so on.

I find it interesting that you included in your list "NO POVERTY."
Do you think that poverty is engineered or intended to keep people down? Who wants to continue this "poverty"? All public officials or representatives I know of want to help those in poverty. There is just disagreement on how and what works best.

Curious, do you think direct abortions are wrong and should be outlawed (either outright or gradually)? Is this a form of oppression and violence upon those innocent and vulnerable ones in the womb?

That said, I realize I probably did not answer all your points. I hope I answered the main points and enough of the points to cause you to rethink some of your positions. If they continue to be your positions, that is your choice, but they are not the views of the Church nor of traditional Christianity.

In Christ,

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

"Only in America"

What a way to start "being an American"!

Man Takes Citizenship Oath, Wins Lottery

DES MOINES, Iowa (Sept. 27) - A man who immigrated from Kenya to the United States found prosperity beyond his expectations on the day he became a U.S. citizen.

Shortly after Moses Bittok, of West Des Moines, took the oath of citizenship on Friday, he discovered he had a $1.89 million winning ticket from the Iowa Lottery's Hot Lotto game.

"It's almost like you adopted a country and then they netted you $1.8 million,'' Bittok said Monday as he cashed in his ticket. "It doesn't happen anywhere - I guess only in America.''

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Democrats and Descartes

Perhaps Descartes was right. Some centuries ago, Descartes coined the phrase, "I think therefore I am." Known by many as the Cogito (Cogito ergo sum), it basically means that since I can think in some way (even doubting many things), since my mind is at work in some way, I must exist. Cogito ergo sum. I must exist because if I did not exist then I could not perform the act of thinking. If I can think, then at least I am certain that I exist.

That said, The Borowitz Report hits on a striking irony:


Opposition Party Could Be Black Hole, Expert Says

With President George W. Bush’s approval ratings plummeting in recent weeks, the inability on the part of Democrats to capitalize on the president’s waning fortunes has caused some leading scientists to postulate that the Democratic Party may not exist at all.

Dr. Marisa Drazin, a leading scientist who for years has been questioning the existence of Democrats, said today that what many have thought to be the Democratic Party may in fact be nothing more than a black hole.

“When the president loses ten or twelve approval points, one would normally expect those approval points to go to the opposition party,” Dr. Drazin said. “But instead, those points have vanished into thin air, leading one to conclude that the so-called Democratic Party does not exist.”

Theories about the nonexistence of the Democratic Party are nothing new, said Dr. Drazin, who pointed out that scientists first developed them during the 1988 presidential campaign of then-Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis.

While the silence of the Democratic Party in recent weeks seems to bolster theories of the party’s nonexistence, she said, there are still some nagging pieces of evidence to the contrary, such as the perpetually outspoken DNC chairman, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.

“I’ve discussed the Howard Dean phenomenon with my colleagues,” Dr. Drazin said. “And it’s the consensus of the scientific community that there is no logical explanation for Howard Dean.” [Because there is no logic in his rants?]

This just might explain quite a bit.

If thinking is one sign of a thing's existence, then would the contrary be applicable? Non-thinking is a sign of non-existence? The leaders of the Democratic Party and other Leftists are often known for their lack of thought and rational activity with regard to policy decisions (as Dennis Prager has so clearly demonstrated). They are better known for their alleged empathy. They feel the pain of those involved, of those victimized. They express emotional responses to political problems rather than rationally-based answers. They seek legislation that makes certain people "feel" better about issues. Thus, the absence of thinking going on. No thinking, no existence? Hmmm. No political/public existence of Democrats because they are not/cannot think politically? Hmmm. Borowitz might be on to something.

Special Forces Kill No. 2 Terrorist in Iraq

WASHINGTON — U.S. Special Forces killed Al Qaeda's No. 2 terror mastermind in Iraq, Defense Department officials said.

FOX News has confirmed that Abu Azzam, who was believed to have been in charge of the financing of terrorist cells in the war-torn country, was killed during a raid in Baghdad early Monday morning Iraq time. Azzam is thought to be the top deputy to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Iraq's most wanted terrorist.

Azzam is the latest in a series of top Zarqawi deputies that have been killed or captured by coalition forces in recent months. Zarqawi's Al Qaeda in Iraq group has taken responsibility for some of the country's most horrific acts of terror including car bombings, kidnappings and beheadings of Iraqi civilians and westerners.

I wonder what would happen if the media reported the good news too. For that, go here and here.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Rita and SciGuy

Hope they are not hit as hard as some think. Here is a projection of where it will hit.

Houston Chronicle's SciGuy has good updates and links.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Wright Athlete

Here is an article on the Wright kind of water polo player: "Wright in the Middle."

Wright is a 2004 All-CIF Southern Section Division I second-team selection, a two-time first-team Press-Telegram Dream Teamer and a 2005 Junior Olympics Honorable Mention All-American. He even made the U.S. National Youth Age Group team over the summer.

"He's really a mobile player and he's quick. We kind of switch off him depending who is in foul trouble," Newport Harbor attacker Clay Jorth said. "We don't drop off him because we know that he's a big threat. We try to keep him out of the picture."

A high school athlete worth knowing about.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Hugh's Questions and Demons

Hugh has started a blog for theologically-based discussion: OneTrueGodBlog.

He poses some questions and gets responses from these Christian (Protestant, Orthodox, and Catholic) thinkers: Albert Mohler, John Mark Reynolds, Mark D. Roberts, Amy Welborn, David Allen White. In the first set of posts, the discussion is based upon these questions:

Subject one: The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a movie about demon possession. Millions of Americans --the majority of them young adults-- have seen this movie.

Questions: Do you believe in demons? Why? What should be the attitude of a mature Christian believer on the subject?

What are your answers? Mine will follow somewhat soon. However, to answer the first, yes, I believe not so much in demons as that they exist. A significant difference.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Clinton Legacy Lives On

Aspects of the Clinton legacy.

These are not good signs, but they are what our society has reaped.

You can check out one of his effects on our society here in this UCSF study published in Pediatrics. (HT: Al Rantel)

And let's not forget "MOMMY, WHAT'S A RAINBOW PARTY?"

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Intelligent Military

You have got to love this photo!
The picture shows that this soldier has been thru Survival School and learned his lessons well. He's giving the sign of "coercion" with his left hand. These hand signs are taught in survival school to be used by POW's as a method of posing messages back to our intelligence services who may view the photo or video. This guy was obviously being coerced into shaking hands with Hillary Clinton. It's ironic how little she knew that he would so inform us about the photo---perhaps because she's never understood our military to begin with.
Posted by Picasa

Judge Roberts: Play Ball!

In his confirmation hearings for SCOTUS Chief Justice, Judge Roberts compared the role of a judge to that of an umpire.

"Judges are like umpires," he said.

"Umpires don't make the rules. They apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules. But it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ball game to see the umpire." Then Judge Roberts promised: "I will remember it is my job to call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat."

Lynn Swann: A Future in GOP?

"I believe Pennsylvania needs leadership from outside the box."

Swann is a rare creature, indeed. The son of Democrats is an African-American Republican, something once thought to be an oxymoron. His potential ability to excite both suburban conservatives and urban African-Americans intrigues national GOP operatives. A year from November, Swann arguably could be the nation's highest ranking elected Republican African-American -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was, of course, selected by President George Bush. From that platform, it would not be inconceivable to imagine a run at the presidency in 2012.


Swann's staff includes some of the same experts that got Tom Ridge, a once-obscure congressman from Erie, in the northwestern corner of the state, elected governor in 1995. Ridge served during 1995-2001, before becoming Bush's first Office of Homeland Security advisor. Ray Zaborney, who helped engineer Ridge's victory, is executive director of Team 88. Mark Holman, Ridge's former chief of staff, is a consultant.


In a September 2004 Web chat organized by the Bush campaign, Swann addressed the issue of his diversity: "I am always somewhat amused by the fact that some people would ask, 'Why as an African-American am I a Republican?' In many cases, my response is, 'Why not a Republican?' Why is it such a grand assumption that African-Americans should be Democrats when historically the Republican Party has been a leader on issues important to African-Americans?"

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Hurricane Katrina: If Blame Is What They Want, Look amongst Their Own

There are so many on the left who are criticizing--no, make that highly condemning--the federal response to Hurricane Katrina. Read into that a vicious attack upon President Bush. The federal response may be subject to criticism, but Democrats and leftists seem to imply from their critiques that Bush is the main one, and perhaps only one, responsible for the resulting dire circumstances that ensued.

This just seems to fly in the face of common sense. Why are they not looking into the actions of those local officials who were/are most directly responsible for situations like these? What about the mayor? What about the local politicians, city council? What about the governor?

Why did the local officials not follow the emergency plans that were drawn up for this type of situation?

Why is it that it was President Bush who had to intervene because the mayor and the governor were negligent in their duties?

Bob Williams in "After the Storm" explains with detail many of the lapses of judgment and thus action on the part of those officials who were much closer to the situation, those who are more directly related and responsible for the horror that resulted.

Subtitled "Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin failed their constituents," Williams goes on to write that

Many in the media are turning their eyes toward the federal government, rather than considering the culpability of city and state officials. I am fully aware of the challenges of having a quick and responsive emergency response to a major disaster. And there is definitely a time for accountability; but what isn't fair is to dump on the federal officials and avoid those most responsible--local and state officials who failed to do their job as the first responders. The plain fact is, lives were needlessly lost in New Orleans due to the failure of Louisiana's governor, Kathleen Blanco, and the city's mayor, Ray Nagin.

The primary responsibility for dealing with emergencies does not belong to the federal government. It belongs to local and state officials who are charged by law with the management of the crucial first response to disasters. First response should be carried out by local and state emergency personnel under the supervision of the state governor and his emergency operations center.

The actions and inactions of Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin are a national disgrace due to their failure to implement the previously established evacuation plans of the state and city. Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin cannot claim that they were surprised by the extent of the damage and the need to evacuate so many people. Detailed written plans were already in place to evacuate more than a million people. The plans projected that 300,000 people would need transportation in the event of a hurricane like Katrina. If the plans had been implemented, thousands of lives would likely have been saved.

In addition to the plans, local, state and federal officials held a simulated hurricane drill 13 months ago, in which widespread flooding supposedly trapped 300,000 people inside New Orleans. The exercise simulated the evacuation of more than a million residents. The problems identified in the simulation apparently were not solved.


Mayor Nagin was responsible for giving the order for mandatory evacuation and supervising the actual evacuation: His Office of Emergency Preparedness (not the federal government) must coordinate with the state on elements of evacuation and assist in directing the transportation of evacuees to staging areas. Mayor Nagin had to be encouraged by the governor to contact the National Hurricane Center before he finally, belatedly, issued the order for mandatory evacuation. And sadly, it apparently took a personal call from the president to urge the governor to order the mandatory evacuation.


The city's evacuation plan states: "The city of New Orleans will utilize all available resources to quickly and safely evacuate threatened areas." But even though the city has enough school and transit buses to evacuate 12,000 citizens per fleet run, the mayor did not use them. To compound the problem, the buses were not moved to high ground and were flooded. The plan also states that "special arrangements will be made to evacuate persons unable to transport themselves or who require specific lifesaving assistance. Additional personnel will be recruited to assist in evacuation procedures as needed." This was not done.

The evacuation plan warned that "if an evacuation order is issued without the mechanisms needed to disseminate the information to the affected persons, then we face the possibility of having large numbers of people either stranded and left to the mercy of a storm, or left in an area impacted by toxic materials." That is precisely what happened because of the mayor's failure.

Instead of evacuating the people, the mayor ordered the refugees to the Superdome and Convention Center without adequate security and no provisions for food, water and sanitary conditions. As a result people died, and there was even rape committed, in these facilities. Mayor Nagin failed in his responsibility to provide public safety and to manage the orderly evacuation of the citizens of New Orleans. Now he wants to blame Gov. Blanco and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In an emergency the first requirement is for the city's emergency center to be linked to the state emergency operations center. This was not done.

As for the governor,

The federal government does not have the authority to intervene in a state emergency without the request of a governor. President Bush declared an emergency prior to Katrina hitting New Orleans, so the only action needed for federal assistance was for Gov. Blanco to request the specific type of assistance she needed. She failed to send a timely request for specific aid.

In addition, unlike the governors of New York, Oklahoma and California in past disasters, Gov. Blanco failed to take charge of the situation and ensure that the state emergency operation facility was in constant contact with Mayor Nagin and FEMA. It is likely that thousands of people died because of the failure of Gov. Blanco to implement the state plan, which mentions the possible need to evacuate up to one million people. The plan clearly gives the governor the authority for declaring an emergency, sending in state resources to the disaster area and requesting necessary federal assistance.


I am not attempting to excuse some of the delays in FEMA's response. Congress and the president need to take corrective action there, also. However, if citizens expect FEMA to be a first responder to terrorist attacks or other local emergencies (earthquakes, forest fires, volcanoes), they will be disappointed. The federal government's role is to offer aid upon request.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

US Defeats Mexico; Sore Losers???

"The U.S. is a small team. They play like my sister, my aunt and my grandmother.''
--Ricardo Lavolpe, Mexico soccer coach

(My, my. A bit touchy, are we?)

What does that say about Mexico since they lost?

By the way, what was the score?

That's right, 2-0. US: 2 goals. Mexico: 0 (that is ZERO) goals!

Posted by Picasa Midfielder Steve Ralston (19) of the U.S. celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the second half of their World Cup qualifying game as Mexico defender Francisco Rodriguez lays on the ground at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, September 3, 2005. The U.S. beat Mexico 2-0. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan

As US player Landon Donovan said: "They do a lot of talking. They haven't beat us in a long time here. I'm kind of sick of it. There's no better scenario than to beat them easily.''

Like I said, 2-0. US: 2 goals. Mexico: 0 (that is ZERO) goals!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Where Is America?

As the damage from Katrina becomes better known and we see and learn more of the suffering, the blogosphere has a great idea to help:

Bloggers across the country and the political and social spectrum are asking their readers to contrubte to Katrina relief efforts to day.

So please take a look at Instapundit and Truth Laid Bear and find a charity for donating.

From Just a Woman:
"There's no America out there except America to respond to it. We've got to do it ourselves."
--Col. Austen Bay (on the
Hugh Hewitt Show, Tuesday, August 30)
Here are my suggestions:
Catholic Charities
Brett Favre Foundation
Feed the Children