Monday, June 01, 2009

A lack of faith

The New York Times is particularly striking today in the pieces that bookend section A. On the front page, the news of Dr. George Tiller's murder by an anti-choice fanatic, revved up by the violent rhetoric of Operation Rescue, Bill O'Reilly, et uglia. Then, in the op-ed, we find a "reasoned" plea from Bob Barr for the Supreme Court to intervene in the death penalty case of Troy Davis. Barr informs us that "I am a firm believer in the death penalty, but I am an equally firm believer in the rights and protections guaranteed by the Constitution. To execute Troy Davis without having a court hear the evidence of his innocence would be unconscionable and unconstitutional."

It occurs to me that the extreme right in this country is preoccupied with vengeance, of the eye-for-an-eye, life-for-a-life variety. "'Vengeance is mine; I will repay,' saith the Lord"--and yet these folks don't seem to trust the big guy to get the job done. They don't really believe God will dispense satisfactory justice for wrongdoers in the afterlife. Otherwise, why do they take it upon themselves to mete it out in this world? Seems they aren't quite sure about the existence of hell (or heaven), or maybe they don't think God will necessarily make the same choices they would. Maybe God would spare Tiller, a Christian after all, from hellfire; or maybe even reward him for giving his life to ensure women's safety and autonomy. Maybe God, like many on earth, would find Troy Davis innocent, or find the death penalty in any case a usurpation of his power.

Yes, I know, loons like Tiller's murderer think they are doing God's work, that he's personally fashioned them as instruments of divine retribution. But I submit that this extreme thirst for vengeance is, in reality, a failure of faith. Which I gather God doesn't take too kindly to, either.

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