Tragedy in Texas

broken-heart-valentine-background_1048-4957For many people, today’s shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas has stirred-up unwanted memories of Las Vegas, Columbine and Charleston. We should not be surprised that these events are beyond our comprehension, because they are often perpetrated by people who lack a conscience.

Sociopath and psychopath are words that have been used to described shooters or mass murders like Harris, Klebold, and Roof, as well as Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and Dennis Rader. The DSM-5 classifies sociopathy and psychopathy as Antisocial Personality Disorders and sets certain criteria for a diagnosis:

  • A disregard for laws, social mores, and the rights of others
  • A failure to feel remorse or guilt
  • A tendency to display violent behavior
  • Sociopaths are agitated, disorganized individuals, and they are unable to blend in with society

Psychopaths are high-functioning individuals who manipulate people with their charming personality. While they do not actually feel emotion, they can learn to mimic emotions to blend in with the crowd.

Due to their lack of conscience, people with these disorders process emotions like a blind man negotiates a maze; one doesn’t feel, the other doesn’t see, and both find the task daunting.

Dr. Martha Stout a Clinical Psychologist and former Harvard Medical School instructor, offers this assessment: An emotional word is love, hate, anger, mom, death, anything that we associate with an emotional reaction. A nonemotional word is lamp, street, hair, rug, that kind of thing. If I had electrodes hooked up to you right now and I said a string of words, and some of them were emotional and some were not, I’d get a larger spike on the emotional words. We are wired to process those words more readily than neutral, nonemotional words. We are very emotional creatures. But sociopaths listen as evenly to emotional words as they do to lamp or book—there’s no neurological difference. ~THE SOCIOPATH NEXT DOOR

The obvious question is: How do you treat someone who has no conscience?  The prerequisite to change is a desire to do so, and without a conscience there is no desire. Without a conscience there is no good or evil, and the need for true healing is a recognition of that which plagues the heart.

One thing that never changes in these instances is the need for prayer, and I encourage you to pray for those who were touched by the tragic events of today.

 

 

Charlottesville: The Blind Eye of Racism

charlThe year was 1963, and it was the first time I saw the ugly face of racial prejudice.  It happened while we were vacationing in the South and had spent the night at a relative’s house.

When we were about to leave the next morning, I heard my Dad’s cousin say:  Now Eddie, about 10 miles South of here you’ll go through a little town.  Everybody that lives there is a N–. If one of those worthless black N– walks out in front of your car, just run over them.  No need to stop–it’s just a N!

Even though I was just 10, I knew the hate-filled words of Dad’s cousin were reprehensible. Anyone who can run over another human being and leave him to die in the road has been seduced by his unrighteous rage. It was Gandhi who said: An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind. 

If you know anything about history, you know that far too many people have been blinded by hatred and prejudice.  A record of these misguided emotions can be seen in the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, England.  A graphic portrayal of the devastation of generations of enslaved men, women, and children is displayed. Etched into one wall of the museum are the words of Frederick Douglass, former slave and crusader for human rights:  “No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.”

When one segment of society brutalizes another, it is an attack on humanity as a whole.

Each of use have a circle of influence, and we need to do what we can do to right wrongs.  A clear teaching of the New Testament is the power of love when it is shared, and we are told that love covers a multitude of sin (I Peter 4:8).

The prose of Sam Levenson offers sublime suggestions on what each of us can do to change the world in which we live, and they are a fitting conclusion to this discussion.

For Attractive lips, speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair, let a child run their fingers through it once a day.

For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.

To the people of Charlottesville: Walk with the knowledge that you are not alone. I am one among the thousands who are praying for you and for peace to prevail.

 

Game of Thrones

game-of-thronesWith the start of its 6th season, Games of Thrones has been trending on social media.  Game of Thrones is a popular television show that is based on a series of fantasy novels written by George R. R. Martin.

The main pot of the show is the civil war between three rival families, the Starks of Winterfell, the Lannisters of Casterly Rock, and the Baratheons of Dragonstone. The story line incorporates swordplay, magic, and mythical dragons, as the backdrop in the struggle for power as each family endeavors to lay claim to the throne and to establish their kingdom.

While I have never read the books or watched the series on HBO, I know there is conflict among existing kingdoms—the kingdoms of light and darkness; and, it takes a certain amount of grit and courage to live walk out of the darkness and into the light.  Paul addressed this issue in his letter to the Colossians:

As you live this new life, we pray that you will be strengthened from God’s boundless resources, so that you will find yourselves able to pass through any experience and endure it with courage. You will even be able to thank God in the midst of pain and distress because you are privileged to share the lot of those who are living in the light. For we must never forget that he rescued us from the power of darkness, and re-established us in the kingdom of his beloved Son, that is, in the kingdom of light. For it is by his Son alone that we have been redeemed and have had our sins forgiven. (Colossians 1:11-14 ~J.B. PHILLIPS).

Never allow anyone to tell you they you have no right to this kingdom.  Jesus said He came to His own, but His own people did not receive Him. But to all who have received Him—those who believe in His name—He has given the right to become God’s children (John 1:11-12 ~NET).

When you walk with Jesus, you have been given the right to:

  • Be God’s Child (John 1:12)
  • Be redeemed and forgiven (Colossians 1:14)
  • Be a co-worker with God (6:1)
  • Be a citizen of Heaven (Philippians 3:20)
  • Be able to come boldly to the throne of grace, so you can obtain mercy and find grace to help in your time of need (Hebrews 4:16)

Life is more than just a game of King on the Mountain as you battle to claim a throne.  It’s a real fight, and you have a God who stands by your side:

Your arm is mighty. Your hand is strong. Your right hand is lifted high.
 Righteousness and justice are the foundations of your throne. Mercy and truth stand in front of you. Blessed are the people who know how to praise you.
They walk in the light of your presence, O Lord.  ~Psalm 89:13-15