God's Politics

God's Politics


Shane Claiborne: When Violence Kills Itself

posted by gp_intern

I’ve always heard the old adage, “violence is a weapon of the weak.” But after events like the Virginia Tech massacre, it’s easy to think that violence has ultimate power. After all, we’ve learned history through the lens of war. And we read the news through acts of violence rather than the hidden acts of love that keep hope alive.

But there is a common thread in many of the most horrific perpetrators of violence that begs our attention – they kill themselves. Violence kills the image of God in us. It is a cry of desperation, a weak and cowardly cry of a person suffocated of hope. Violence goes against everything that we are created for – to love and to be loved – so it inevitably ends in misery and suicide. When people succumb to violence it ultimately infects them like a disease or a poison that leads to their own death. Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus with a violent kiss, ends his life by hanging himself with a noose. After his notorious persecutions, the Emperor Nero’s story ends as he stabs himself. Hitler passed out suicide pills to all his heads of staff, and ended his life as one of the most pitifully lonely people to walk the earth. We see the same in the case of Columbine, the 2007 Amish school shootings, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and this recent Virginia Tech massacre – each ends in suicide.

Violence is suicidal. Suicide rates of folks in the military and working the chambers of death row execution are astronomical; they kill themselves as they feel the image of God dying in them.
It is in moments like these violent times that grace looks so magnificent. It is in the shadow of such violence, as was the case after the Amish school shooting, that the victims’ grace to the murderer’s family shines so brightly. Sometimes all the peacemakers need to do is practice revolutionary patience, and steadfast hope – for the universe bends toward justice, and the entire Christian story demonstrates the triumph of love. And it makes it even more scandalous to think of killing someone who kills – for they, more than anyone in the world, need to hear that they are created for something better than that.

I am reminded of a letter I got from someone currently on death row. After reading some of my writing, he wrote to me to share that he was a living testimony against the myth of redemptive violence (the idea that violence can bring redemption or peace). This fellow on death row told me that the family of his victim argued that he should not be killed for what he did, that he was not beyond redemption, and so he did not receive the death penalty for his crime. “That gave me a lot of time to think about grace,” he said. And he became a Christian in prison. Another story of scandalous love and grace.

So in these days after Easter, even as we see the horror of death, may we be reminded that in the end love wins. Mercy triumphs. Life is more powerful than death. And even those who have committed great violence can have the image of God come to life again within them as they hear the whisper of love. May the whisper of love grow louder than the thunder of violence. May we love loudly.

Shane Claiborne is a Red Letter Christian, author of The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical, and a founding partner of The Simple Way community, a radical faith community that lives among and serves the homeless in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia.



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kevin s.

posted April 19, 2007 at 4:52 pm


I’m not sure my friends in the military would agree with your parallel between the Virginia Tech shootings and active military combat. The reasons for military suicides are much more complex than simple guilt for having taken life.



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moderatelad

posted April 19, 2007 at 5:21 pm


kevin s. | Homepage | 04.19.07 – 10:57 am | #I still believe that as a free soceity that we have the right to deliver the ultimalte sentence – death. I believe that it should be done with mercy – lethal injection.That said – I am about to come out as one that believes that we should not carry out the final sentence. The person judged and given the death sentence so that they understand the gravity of their crime. Then it should be commuted to life in prison without the poss. of parole. At this time I believe that after doing this – there should be no further contact with family and friends from the outside because there is someone in the grave that will never have contact with their family.I will admit that my reasoning behind my thoughts is not so noble. We are spending 100’s of thousands of dollors on apeall after appeal after appeal. We are spending more money on their court costs then it would cost to just leave them in prison – alive. just my thoughts – Later – .



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Mike Hayes

posted April 19, 2007 at 5:48 pm


“…This fellow on death row told me that the family of his victim argued that he should not be killed for what he did, that he was not beyond redemption, and so he did not receive the death penalty for his crime…”. How fortunate that family is, that they recognize the error that often occurs when a family wants execution as punishment for the loss of a family member… and that execution does not compensate for the loss. “…We are spending 100’s of thousands of dollors on apeall after appeal after appeal. We are spending more money on their court costs then it would cost to just leave them in prison – alive…”. And, we are spending huge amounts by placing persons in prison who are not violent and who pose no threat to our society… we are punishing ourselves by placing non-violent offenders in prisons and paying the costs of their confinement.



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Pam

posted April 19, 2007 at 6:25 pm


I am the wife of a man who completed suicide. He was not a murderer, but the analogy of “losing the image of God in us” struck a nerve. At my suicide support group, we talk about the facts that our loved ones have lost themselves and are in pain. Their suicides are to End the Pain, not to kill themselves. Having lost their Image of God in themselves would certainly contribute to that pain.



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Wolverine

posted April 19, 2007 at 6:25 pm


An interesting article, but Shane Caliborne skips a few steps from showing that homicidal rampages frequently end with suicide to his conclusion that the death penalty is immoral. “Violence is suicidal” is pithy, but there are lots of differences between scenarios where deadly force might be used and Claiborne seems to breeze past all of them: from the murderer killing for personal reasons, to the soldier attacking the enemy, to the police officer who shoots an armed assailant. Police officers are also prone to emotional problems and my understanding is they have pretty high rates of suicide. Would this mean that policing is suicidal too? Wolverine



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Sarasotakid

posted April 19, 2007 at 6:36 pm


I’m not sure my friends in the military would agree with your parallel between the Virginia Tech shootings and active military combat.The reasons for military suicides are much more complex than simple guilt for having taken life. kevin s.Shane was not in any way saying that all military suicides were caused because the persons committing suicide had engaged in violence. He was not saying that it was the sole cause. BUT it most certainly an important contributing factor- in many instances probably the most contributing factor.With your propensity toward supporting military action, I can understand why you and your military friends would reject the correlation. The fact you and “your military friends” don’t buy it is really quite irrelevant to Shane’s stated argument which is cogent and true.



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Sarasotakid

posted April 19, 2007 at 6:39 pm


“I will admit that my reasoning behind my thoughts is not so noble. We are spending 100’s of thousands of dollors on apeall after appeal after appeal. We are spending more money on their court costs then it would cost to just leave them in prison – alive.” Moderatelad Yep, Moderatelad. You revealed your priority very well-Money, the “god” of America.



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mandy

posted April 19, 2007 at 6:41 pm


shane, that was beautiful. thanks.



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squeaky

posted April 19, 2007 at 6:42 pm


Wolverine–you seem to miss the point. The point is, even when justified, such as in cases of war, police actions ending in death, self-defense–to kill another human being takes something out of the person doing the killing. It is a horrific act, no matter how justified or how right it was or how much other violence it prevents. To deny that is to miss the importance of understanding why soldiers and law enforcement officers often suffer from “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”–it’s not only because they witnessed violence, but because they perpetrated violence themselves. It is why we need to be especially sensitive to people who are placed in the difficult position of taking the lives of others in service to their country or their community. It is also the reason that those in war time have used racial slurs like “Kraut” or “Gook”–the purpose of these slurs is to dehumanize the enemy so they are seen as the enemy and not a human who also probalby has a family praying for him at home.



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kevin s.

posted April 19, 2007 at 6:46 pm


“Shane was not in any way saying that all military suicides were caused because the persons committing suicide had engaged in violence.” I disagree. Here is what he said.”Violence is suicidal. Suicide rates of folks in the military and working the chambers of death row execution are astronomical; they kill themselves as they feel the image of God dying in them.” He ties the suicide rate to the acts of violence committed by the military, as though their moral core has been inherently compromised by going into combat. If I were a Christian in the military, I wouldn’t be happy with this insinuation. “With your propensity toward supporting military action, I can understand why you and your military friends would reject the correlation.” I don’t have a propensity towars supporting military action. I just believe that it is sometimes necessary. Unless you are a pacifist, then you should reject this correlation as well. “The fact you and “your military friends” don’t buy it is really quite irrelevant to Shane’s stated argument which is cogent and true.” Which argument, that engaging in combat inherently conflicts with the heart of God? He didn’t even make a case for it. He stated it as fact. Why the quotes around “military friends”?



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Wolverine

posted April 19, 2007 at 6:51 pm


squeaky: I’m willing to stipulate that all killing is likely to be emotionally damaging, no matter how justified it might be. But I don’t think that by itself gets Claiborne where he seems to want to go, which is a blanket condemnation of violence and a prohibition on captial punishment. The fact that an action is likely to have serious consequences for one’s emotional health doesn’t mean that action is bad, it just means its very difficult. Some women are depressed for months after giving birth to a child. Does that make child-bearing wrong? Wolverine



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kevin s.

posted April 19, 2007 at 6:57 pm


“Yep, Moderatelad. You revealed your priority very well-Money, the “god” of America.” This isn’t remotely fair. It is perfectly reasonable to question an expensive appeals process that does little to remedy the problem of innocent people being punished. That is not an example of worshipping money. “The point is, even when justified, such as in cases of war, police actions ending in death, self-defense–to kill another human being takes something out of the person doing the killing. It is a horrific act, no matter how justified or how right it was or how much other violence it prevents. ” I wouldn’t disagree with this, depending on what you mean by horrific. Shane’s conclusion, however, is that the trauma is a result of losing touch with God. I don’t see why that is an appropriate conclusion.



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Sarasotakid

posted April 19, 2007 at 7:00 pm


Which argument, that engaging in combat inherently conflicts with the heart of God? He didn’t even make a case for it. He stated it as fact. Why the quotes around “military friends”? kevin S You would never be able to admit that he proved his point because that would bring your right-wing ideology (at least that part of it that is so prone to using military force) falling to the ground around you. For those of us who do not wear those ideological blinders, Shane made his argument beautifully. “Unless you are a pacifist, then you should reject this correlation as well.” You present a false choice in your argument. One can be other than a pacifist and recognize that when one uses violence (whether that be in a military or non-military context) he or she would more prone to commit suicide. Of course you would want to present the false choice that you did because Shane’s argument goes so against you ideology that you have to try to tear it down somehow. Shane’s post was great and well said.



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kevin s.

posted April 19, 2007 at 7:18 pm


“You present a false choice in your argument. One can be other than a pacifist and recognize that when one uses violence (whether that be in a military or non-military context) he or she would more prone to commit suicide.” Again, that wasn’t Shane’s argument. Shane’s argument is that killing removes you from God. The only thing that removes us from God is sin, so he is calling it sin. To call killing someone in combat a sin is to presuppose pacifism. “Of course you would want to present the false choice that you did because Shane’s argument goes so against you ideology that you have to try to tear it down somehow.” If what I presented was a false choice, the Shane’s argument wouldn’t contradict my ideology. I am aware that combat conditions can lead to suicide, as is just about everyone else.



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Steve K

posted April 19, 2007 at 7:32 pm


Awesome plea for passion, Shane. We need to love loudly and boldly and in the manner of Christ, a manner that contradicts the current quid pro quo aggresive military posturing of our nation.



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moderatelad

posted April 19, 2007 at 7:35 pm


Sarasotakid | 04.19.07 – 12:44 pm | #Yep, Moderatelad. You revealed your priority very well-Money, the “god” of America. Not true – these are criminals – they are behind bars because they did something very wrong and soceity deemed that they needed to be seperated out. I just feel that it is a waste of resources to spend all this money and then after years of courtroom visits they are finally put to death. Just let them live out their lives in prison and not deal with the courts. The money we save could be spent on others programs that could benefit our communities and maybe the prisoners themselves. Please do not talk for me – I am able to do that very welll myself. Ask all the questions you want and talk for yourself. Whatever – .



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Sarasotakid

posted April 19, 2007 at 8:04 pm


“Please do not talk for me – I am able to do that very welll myself. Ask all the questions you want and talk for yourself.” Moderatelad Wouldn’t presume to. Words speak for themselves: “I will admit that my reasoning behind my thoughts is not so noble. We are spending 100’s of thousands of dollors on apeall after appeal after appeal.” Your ex post facto rationalization of your words makes them more palatable. Maybe you realized how untenable your position really was and decided to clean it up in your subsequent comments. As you would say, Moderatelad, “Whatever.””Yep, Moderatelad. You revealed your priority very well-Money, the “god” of America.” Sarasotakid “This isn’t remotely fair. It is perfectly reasonable to question an expensive appeals process that does little to remedy the problem of innocent people being punished. That is not an example of worshipping money.” Kevin S. What isn’t fair about it, Kevin? He wants to save money. It didn’t include your rationalization either. Every once in a while a person slips up and shows the true agenda. No need to worry, though, you can find a way to rationalize it later posts. We still see through it, though. Oh holy dollar…!



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Kristopher

posted April 19, 2007 at 8:12 pm


I think that the whole premise of Claiborne’s article is off base. His theory implying that violence leads to suicide is sporadic. In most of the examples that he mentioned -Columbine, the Amish school shootings, 9-11, and now VT – each one of the perpetrators made the decision to kill themselves before they commited the acts of violence. Their plan wasn’t merely to go kill a bunch of people, and then by chance in the middle of the heat of the moment, get caught up in a weak and cowardly state, and decide to kill themselves. They chose suicide, then hatched a scheme to take as many people as they could out with them. They knew that their names would be in the papers, their faces would be on TV, and that movie/book/animation rights would be sold to won their stories, which could have also been motivation for committing the heinous acts.



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Larry

posted April 19, 2007 at 8:17 pm


What I saw as a very powerful and viable point made by Shane is the observation that history is most often viewed through the lens of violence, not the acts of love that often counters and neutralizes violent responses. We swim in toxic waters that often see the barrel of a gun as the only viable option to pain, injustice and oppression. Jesus knew well the option of “redemptive violence” in his day and warned his disciples that taking up the sword only perpetuates a deadly cycle of violence. It would seem that participation in a kingdom not of this world calls for an alternative witness. Thanks Shane for engaging the imagination of what could be.



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moderatelad

posted April 19, 2007 at 8:25 pm


Sarasotakid | 04.19.07 – 2:09 pm | #Good Grief – when did I step on your last nerve. Chill – ask questions, please – but I am not your enemy. Later – .



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Sarasotakid

posted April 19, 2007 at 8:39 pm


“Good Grief – when did I step on your last nerve. Chill – ask questions, please – but I am not your enemy. Later” – moderateladWhat I did, Moderatelad, was impugned your character and motive. I did it rather unfairly, I would say. I don’t know you, your life experiences or why you believe the way you do, so I dissected your words and painted you in the worst possible light.My point was to show you how, I and a lot of other people here feel when you bat around slogans like, “Stay home, with Sojo” and you make statements like most of the Sojo contributors talk a lot but when it comes time to act, they won’t put their money where their mouth is and take action. (Yes, you did say these types of things in other posts in the past few days). Those types of statements offend a lot of people with deeply held beliefs and convictions. The truth be told, I cannot attribute a motive to your prior statement. Just as you are unable to fairly impugn the character of Sojo and those who agree with its way of thinking.



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kevin s.

posted April 19, 2007 at 9:46 pm


You could argue further that suicide begets violence in these instances. The person is driven to the point where they feel life is not worth living, and pro-actively takes revenge before turning the gun on himself.



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autumn

posted April 19, 2007 at 9:55 pm


I agree with much of what is said in this post, but some of it is just plain sloppy (and unhelpful): “Violence goes against everything that we are created for … so it INEVITABLY ends in misery and suicide.”This is simply not true. Millions of humans who commit violent acts never commit suicide.Furthermore, doesn’t this line of thinking undercut his (important) point that we should be merciful, and ever-hopeful about the possibility for redemption? A foundation of this hope is believing that, for a person who has committed violence, misery and suicide is NOT inevitable.



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Carl Copas

posted April 19, 2007 at 9:57 pm


Shane, a very thought-provoking article. Is it indeed the case that suicide rates are higher in the military and among staff who work death row? If so, what is the reason why?



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Wolverine

posted April 19, 2007 at 10:28 pm


While we’re on the subject of fatal violence, I wonder if anyone at Sojourners noticed that the Supreme Court upheld a partial-birth abortion ban. Not that the Virginia Tech shootings weren’t a great tragedy worthy of some contemplation and mourning, but I find it interesting that, unlike a lot of other news and commentary outfits, Sojo has yet to comment on this decision. Wolverine



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Justin

posted April 19, 2007 at 10:36 pm


Whether you agree with Shane, I believe Christ makes it clear that those who live by the sword(gun), will die by the sword(gun). You may not be killed by one, but using it will kill you. Peace, Shane, you are a blessing to us.



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Sarasotakid

posted April 19, 2007 at 10:46 pm


Whether you agree with Shane, I believe Christ makes it clear that those who live by the sword(gun), will die by the sword(gun). You may not be killed by one, but using it will kill you. Peace, Shane, you are a blessing to us. JustinWell put. That’s why I find it amazing that there are those who would question the premise of this article. But then again, maybe those who would question the premise of the article would say that to take that quotation from Jesus literally is too simplistic (intellectually lazy as some have put it in the past). Funny how Jesus speaks metaphorically sometimes or is it that we just don’t want to listen so we take his sayings as being metaphorical?



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kevin s.

posted April 19, 2007 at 11:08 pm


“That’s why I find it amazing that there are those who would question the premise of this article. But then again, maybe those who would question the premise of the article would say that to take that quotation from Jesus literally is too simplistic (intellectually lazy as some have put it in the past).” I call it intellectually lazy pacifism because most have not considered the ramifications absolute pacifism has on military endeavors that virtually everyone can agree are necessary (e.g. WWII) or law enforcement in our own country.”That’s why I find it amazing that there are those who would question the premise of this article. But then again, maybe those who would question the premise of the article would say that to take that quotation from Jesus literally is too simplistic ” It’s not simplisitc enough. Jesus told Peter to put his sword away, so that he could fulfill the scriptures. To make this into a call for pacifism is extrapolation that is inconsistent with the context of this package. You read pacifism into it because you want to, not because it is there.Why did Peter have the sword in the first place?



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Pedro

posted April 19, 2007 at 11:13 pm


I read Shane’s article as somewhat metaphorical, not a clinical, cause and effect examination of violent behavior. What I do think, however, is that we live in a culture that is steeped in violence, both actual and portrayed. Watch TV, listen to the music or take a trip to a video arcade. We consume violence on a massive scale. Surely this is poison to our soul and culture and a gross bludgeoning of the humanity spirit created in the image of God. God can’t be pleased with this. Is seems to me a safe bet that as Christians we should avoid violence at all cost if possible.



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Paul

posted April 19, 2007 at 11:18 pm


Carl, I too would be interested in his source. You might find the following useful. If you google on “suicide rates by profession” there is an interesting article at http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/457429 Unfortunately the link will not work here, but you can access it from google. http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/msuicide.html http://www.apa.org/monitor/jan01/suicide.html For some potential contributing factors: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?sec=health&res=940CEED71339F934A35757C0A960958260 cheers, Paul



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Julie

posted April 19, 2007 at 11:28 pm


Thanks, Shane, for giving us something to think (and bicker) about. Peace & Blessings, Julie



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Paul

posted April 19, 2007 at 11:35 pm


Shane, “Suicide rates of folks in the military and working the chambers of death row execution are astronomical;” Reference please. cheers, Paul



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Beth

posted April 19, 2007 at 11:48 pm


I’m in college and I know I have much more to learn, but I do know about God’s love. I read many of the comments and I saw some very good points, however, I believe the author’s intention was stressing our hope and strength here on Earth. To remind us of God’s love and that we need to share it with others. In professional journalism statistics and covering “all the bases” is important, but all that stands out to me is God’s love, and the author’s love for sharing it with readers.



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Sarasotakid

posted April 20, 2007 at 1:48 am


“I call it intellectually lazy pacifism because most have not considered the ramifications absolute pacifism has on military endeavors that virtually everyone can agree are necessary (e.g. WWII) or law enforcement in our own country.” Kevin S. Kevin, what do YOU know about what others have considered about the ramifications of absolute pacifism? Because they do not arrive at the same conclusion as you do, you label this as being “intellectually lazy.” How would you feel if an absolute pacifist called you spiritually weak? After all, if we get killed while not resisting the enemy we’re going to heaven to be with Jesus, right?The point being that many have deeply held beliefs (whether pacifist, just war or another paradigm)and labels like “intellectually lazy” doesn’t foster a constructive dialog.By the way, FYI, I’m not an absolute pacifist but after seeing the events of the past four years, I have more affinity with them than ever.



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Payshun

posted April 20, 2007 at 3:35 am


It’s not simplisitc enough. Jesus told Peter to put his sword away, so that he could fulfill the scriptures. To make this into a call for pacifism is extrapolation that is inconsistent with the context of this package. You read pacifism into it because you want to, not because it is there.Why did Peter have the sword in the first place? Great question Kevin. Because Jesus told him to buy it. Now when he saw Jesus under threat he leapt to his defense and tried to chop off the servant’s head. When he missed he cut off his ear. Now the funny thing is Jesus rebuked him for his act.Those who live by the sword die by it. The implication being those that take up arms against an agressor are doomed to die. Well that may not be a call for pacifism it definitely isn’t just a blocking action to his father’s will it’s a statement of what he expects his followers to do when faced w/ injustice. We are called to put down the sword and heal our agressors just like Jesus did. That may not be the political philosphy of pacifism but it is the call to love our enemies and go out like lambs. p



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Payshun

posted April 20, 2007 at 3:38 am


I remember when my best friend committed suicide a few years ago. The reasons behind suicide are complex w/ one central outcome. They just want the pain to stop. p



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Paul

posted April 20, 2007 at 5:37 am


Payshun, Very sorry for your loss. I can relate. cheers, Paul



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kevin s.

posted April 20, 2007 at 6:47 am


“Kevin, what do YOU know about what others have considered about the ramifications of absolute pacifism” Well, what I’ve learned here, for starters. “Because they do not arrive at the same conclusion as you do, you label this as being “intellectually lazy.”Nope. I call it lazy because, once one digs beyond political ideology, the pacifistic argument tends to fail. There are intellectually consisten pacifists, and they embrace the ramifications of pacificsm across the board, but I haven’t seen much of that here.”How would you feel if an absolute pacifist called you spiritually weak? ” That has been either stated or implied to me repeatedly on this blog. I couldn’t care less, unless they have a compelling reason to label me as such that goes beyond simply disagreeing with them. “The point being that many have deeply held beliefs (whether pacifist, just war or another paradigm)and labels like “intellectually lazy” doesn’t foster a constructive dialog. ” I guess. But let’s cut to the chase. What do you believe about pacifism? “By the way, FYI, I’m not an absolute pacifist but after seeing the events of the past four years, I have more affinity with them than ever.” So, on the basis of the Iraq war, you are more pacifist than you were. Can you explain?



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Roger Warren

posted April 20, 2007 at 10:31 am


Thank you Shane, I agree that “violence kills itself” I have always believed that by killing – something in the killer dies as well, some part of the “image of God” within him/her is blurred. This may lead to suicide. Once having taken another’s life, whatever the circumstances, one’s own life is diminished. I am not a pacifist. I will kill in self defense or to protect a loved one; I can only hope that I reach the end of my life without having to do so.



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Sarasotakid

posted April 20, 2007 at 11:50 am


“Because they do not arrive at the same conclusion as you do, you label this as being “intellectually lazy.”Kevin S: Nope. I call it lazy because, once one digs beyond political ideology, the pacifistic argument tends to fail. There are intellectually consisten pacifists, and they embrace the ramifications of pacificsm across the board, but I haven’t seen much of that here. Your labeling pacifism as intellectually lazy conveys an arrogant dismisiveness that adds nothing to the discussion. As for my having more affinity with the pacifist position since George Bush launched his immoral, illegal and unjust war in Iraq, it is simply because of the unjustness of this war. I’m not a total pacifist, though, because I realize that situations like Nazi Germany can arise and you don’t really have a choice. But at the very least there should be a strong presumption against war. I see how this administration lied to get us into the war, how unprincipled politicians on both sides of the political divide voted for it, and how many will argue just about anything (for example many of your own comments) to stay in it notwithstanding the fact that it is a lost cause. This war is very ugly and it makes people do horrific things, whether they be on the battlefield or posting on a blog defending and rationalizing ungodly and unchristian acts. Peace to you Kevin. We all could use it.



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Kristopher

posted April 20, 2007 at 3:35 pm


Sarasotakid, you say that you realize that “situations like Nazi Germany can arise and you don’t really have a choice.” I would like to know what you think we should do about Iran right now. Would you be willing to back a war against Iran, especially after their leader has on numerous occasions said that he would like to annihilate the jews, and us? Not to mention the fact that he is actively seeking ways to create nuclear weapons. Do you think that the intel about Iran is false, and that they aren’t really seeking nuclear weapons? Or is the Bush administration making all of this up too?I didn’t really want to change the subject this much, but the situation presented itself.



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kevin s.

posted April 20, 2007 at 4:45 pm


“Your labeling pacifism as intellectually lazy conveys an arrogant dismisiveness that adds nothing to the discussion.” That’s not what I did. I said some people adopt an intellectually lazy version of pacifism in response to policy they do not agree with (in this case, the Iraq War). In some cases, you had the same people citing Christ’s passages on turning the other cheek w/r/t Iraq calling for peacekeepers in Darfur. “As for my having more affinity with the pacifist position since George Bush launched his immoral, illegal and unjust war in Iraq, it is simply because of the unjustness of this war.” So you embrace pacificism because (in your view) they got it right on this one? “I’m not a total pacifist, though, because I realize that situations like Nazi Germany can arise and you don’t really have a choice.” You are not a pacifist at all, in fact, because you believe war is sometimes necessary. So, if you agree with Shane’s point that killing removes us from God, and is therefore sin, that God makes it necessary to sin. “and how many will argue just about anything (for example many of your own comments) to stay in it notwithstanding the fact that it is a lost cause.” This has even less to do with pacifism. “This war is very ugly and it makes people do horrific things, whether they be on the battlefield or posting on a blog defending and rationalizing ungodly and unchristian acts.” What are we doing over there right now that is ungodly or unchristian? We are trying to secure Baghdad.



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Donny

posted April 20, 2007 at 5:31 pm


It’s fascinating that you leftists think the death penalty for a grown-up murderer ,is wrong but that a woman can choose to execute her inconvenient child by aborting it after it has been hacked to pieces or poisoned to death. Your hypocrisy has to be evil-induced. Thank God, at least partial-birth abortion is now illegal again. If only the left wasn’t so sociopathic towards the unborn victims of violence. Odd that the ability of the progressive to see and understand that they were once an unborn human escapes them once they embrace liberalism. End the death penalty for everyone.



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Justin

posted April 20, 2007 at 6:01 pm


Since NAZI Germany was brought up, I’ll use an anecdote related to it. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the pre-eminent German theologian/social justice advocate, argued aggressively against Hitler’s rise to power and the nationalist movement. He helped run the Confessing Church (the only church organization in Nazi Germany to oppose the Third Reich). After witnessing the atrocities being committed by the government (euthanizing the mentally/physically handicapped, deportation of dissidents, extermination of Jews/Catholics/Gypsys/Slavs), he decided to take part in an assasination attempt. He participated in the plot to kill Hitler and was arrested for his role. He was summarily executed while in a prison camp in 1945. What is interesting about this, however, is that while in prison, he considered his attempt on Hitler’s life a grievous error. He repented of it. He repented of trying to kill Hitler! We have to ask ourselves, how does Christ free the oppressed from their subjugation? How does He free the oppressor from their tyrrany? I don’t see how he does it through military or strength of arms or war or even trying to “liberate” a people. In my time spent in Scripture, I see many attempts to make him king, to free the people from Roman rule. But in every case, we have a King and Lord who refuses the earthly crowns thrust upon him. Instead he says things like, “I am the bread of life”, and his followers desert him. Did you know that in the early church (pre-Constantinian inclusion), soldiers were required to give up their profession as a sign of fealty to Christ, in order to be baptized into the faith. Whatever your thoughts, I look to the church and see her glorified through peaceful assertion: MLK Jr, Bonhoeffer, St. Francis, Mother Teresa, while it seems when she embraces violence she is tarnished: the Crusades, the Inquisition, the KKK, etc. Peace to you all. May we seek His wisdom in all things. Bless you.



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moderatelad

posted April 20, 2007 at 6:02 pm


Sarasotakid | 04.19.07 – 2:44 pm | #I think that you and I would arrive at an understanding or even concensous if we had a chance to sit over a cup of coffee. The “SHWS” is more directed at the authors of the articles that we post our comments to than us ‘posters’. It would apply to some of the posters but I would be more direct at that point. (it is a little bit my action because of some of the people that the only answer they have for what ills the world is ‘Impeach Bush’) In the futuer and with ‘neon-nurse’ in mind – I will take my medication 15 min prior to loggin on. (LOL) I truly believe that most of us could agree on the solution for most of the issues we post about. We would disagree on the method to achieve the desired outcome. But we might come to an understanding of how we could work together to make change happen. The paradgme that I have worked under for a number of years is… ‘When the pain of the situation exceeds the fear of the process – change happens’. Let us leave our fears at the door so that we, with God’s help can make a change in our world. Blessings… .



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canuckelhead

posted April 20, 2007 at 7:21 pm


“It’s fascinating that you leftists think the death penalty for a grown-up murderer ,is wrong but that a woman can choose to execute her inconvenient child by aborting it after it has been hacked to pieces or poisoned to death.” Donny, once again your ideological venom exceeds your ability to make sense. How, pray tell, do you abort something “…after it has been hacked to pieces or poisoned to death?”



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Carl Copas

posted April 20, 2007 at 11:24 pm


Paul, thank you for the sources re: suicide rates by profession. On definitions of “pacifism”: my understanding is that there are different types of pacifism.The word has evolved over time. In the early 20th century, people who believed that a regime of effective international law could help reduce the chances of war were sometimes labeled “pacifist.” Their ranks included Elihu Root, who was Secretary of War under McKinley and Sec. of State under T. Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft.Root and Taft were certainly not against war no matter the circumstances.



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Sarasotakid

posted April 21, 2007 at 2:09 am


So you embrace pacificism because (in your view) they got it right on this one? Kevin S. I never said I was a pacifist- I said I had affinity with them (i.e. I am sympathetic toward them). It is you who twisted and misinterpreted my words. Any further references by you to my being a pacifist are therefore invalid. Yes, I did say that I am not a “total pacifist” which is a misnomer because you are either a pacifist or not. But I believe that my post was clear enough when I spoke about a presumption against war so that my meaning was easily understood without your perfectionistic nitpicking. So, if you agree with Shane’s point that killing removes us from God, and is therefore sin, that God makes it necessary to sin. Kevin S. This statement makes no sense. It is on par with saying that God created all that exists in the universe, evil is in the universe, so God created evil. Sheer rubbish. “What are we doing over there right now that is ungodly or unchristian? We are trying to secure Baghdad.” kevin s. Josef Goebbels would be proud of your ability to spin it, Kevin. Your skills would have been very useful for that regime. “That’s not what I did. I said some people adopt an intellectually lazy version of pacifism in response to policy they do not agree with (in this case, the Iraq War).” You ex post facto rationalization is unconvincing. I still believe that it was demeaning, snide and snotty.



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Sarasotakid

posted April 21, 2007 at 3:04 am


I think that you and I would arrive at an understanding or even concensous if we had a chance to sit over a cup of coffee. Moderatelad Agreed, Moderatelad. Though we may disagree on many issues, I sense that you are person of good will. Peace



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Sarasotakid

posted April 21, 2007 at 3:15 am


“Whatever your thoughts, I look to the church and see her glorified through peaceful assertion: MLK Jr, Bonhoeffer, St. Francis, Mother Teresa, while it seems when she embraces violence she is tarnished: the Crusades, the Inquisition, the KKK, etc.” Justin Eloquently and extraordinarily well stated, Justin. I didn’t realize that Bonhoeffer regretted having taken part in the plot to kill Hitler. I had always viewed Bonhoeffer’s story to be a compelling argument against pure pacifism. He was a man who initially had been a pacifist but found himself thrust into the pit of hell of Nazi Germany and then ended up assisting in the plot to kill Hitler. The lesson I had drawn from that is that there are circumstances, howevever hard it may be, where you might have to engage in a war or the like to end something even more evil. Now that you state that Bonhoeffer regretted ever having participated in trying to kill Hitler, I would be interested know the reason for his regret. It is certainly something that I would have a hard time regretting.



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Canuckelhead

posted April 21, 2007 at 5:38 am


“We are trying to secure Baghdad.” kevin s. | Homepage | 04.20.07 – 10:50 am |From what? For whom? Why? For how long?



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c kitty

posted April 21, 2007 at 7:14 am


Thank you , Shane, for expressing a position unpopular in our violence-prone culture. I beleive Christ tried to teach us to get beyond violence as a solution. Yet we have carved out exceptions to God’s laws and justifications for our tendency to want to strike out and strike back at others. Those who destroy themselves after killing others — are they finding there was no solution in the destruction of others, are they coming to some realization of guilt, has the imagined justification for their acts been revealed to them as a lie? I think Bonhoeffer understood that even in killing the most evil man on the planet, he would still be a killer. It would taint his relationship with God. He could not be sure there was any justification for going against God’s laws.When we go against God’s laws we are placing our faith in our own worldly ways rather than God’s. I think matters of death are too serious for us and we have proven our ineptitude in this area. This is God’s job. As I age, I become closer to pacifism and not because of intellectual laziness, as someone suggested. It is a lot more work than just hitting back would be. It requires excising carnal tendencies. It rquires patience. It requires more kindness than I would naturally tend to express. It requires that I forgive and even become friends with my enemies. It requires a lot of searching for satisfactory solutions. I don’t know what the solutions are for dealing with rogue nations like Iran, but if the only thing we consider is how to blow them up, then we will never know if there might be a smarter, better way.



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Sarasotakid

posted April 21, 2007 at 12:08 pm


Thank you c kitty. Very well stated.



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Anna

posted April 21, 2007 at 11:30 pm


Shane, Lovely post, thank you for sharing your thoughts. Small typo that should be corrected: The Amish school shooting was in the fall of 2006, not 2007. I am sure you knew this. :) Anna



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Sarah Caro

posted October 1, 2008 at 7:33 pm


the act of violence toward others such as in the columbine shootings of virginia tech massacre has nothing to do with leading these people to suicide. Yes their suicide followed these acts but even if these people did not do those horrific things they still probably would have commited suicide. SUicide is about the loss of hope inside one’s own mind and life. Someone who is suicidal is not neccesarily suicidal becuase of some hanious act of violence they commited but more because there is an internal struggle with sadness that they are losing. Though one may be followed by the other they do not neccesarily coincide. And the act of purposeless, hateful violence shown in school shootings and the act of neccesary violence that are in some wars are not the same thing. I personally am not for this war in Iraq but not because I believe we should not fight for ourselves but because I do not agree with the reasons for this particular war. There is a neccesity for wars, if they are done with the right reasoning and purpose. EVen the Bible had wars that took place for neccesary reasons. If we give alll we have away and become mindless passivist then we did not solve the problem of war and violence we only made it that much easier for the opposer to take over.



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