Wednesday, March 31, 2010

TF - Chapter 5 - The Blame Game

I actually think Colson gets some things right here.  Colson deserves credit for both what he gets wrong and what he gets right.  Although he starts off with a beautiful example of projection:

Our culture's refusal to accept the truth of original sin has created a mentality of wholesale denial.  We find the judgment in the word "sin" a far greater offense than the failings to which it's applied.  When our own behavior might be described as evil or sinful, we compartmentalize our thinking, profess ourselves victims, or find ourselves generally astonished that any such darkness could have emerged out of us.
Colson has been talking about how Christians are persecuted because people are questioning the veracity of the Bible.  He went so far as comparing it to the actual physical persecution some Christians have received across the world and throughout history.  I guess when it comes to compartmentalizing and making oneself out as a victim, Colson is an expert.

Colson goes on to talk about how people make excuses.  This is where I agree with him and think he got something right.  Many people are too willing to pass the blame around and not take responsibility for their actions.  Personally, I take responsibility for what I have done.  We had some issues at my work this past week and it was my fault.  One of the first things I did was tell my boss that it was my fault.  The root causes do go back further than I have been working here and I am trying to change those now, but that particular incident went back to something I didn't do before I left for vacation.

Finding the root cause of something and shifting blame are two different things.  That is something that Colson does not seem to understand.  He conflates the two ideas and calls them both the same.  For example talking about terrorist Zacarias Moussaoi:

But the jury, after long deliberation, decided to sentence him to life in prison instead of the death penalty.  When jurors were surveyed after the verdict, nine of the twelve explained the lesser sentence by noting that Moussaoui had a troubled childhood.  A dysfunctional background excuses someone for knowingly take part in a plot to kill thousands of innocent civilians?

To answer his question, no it doesn't as Moussaoui was convicted and sentenced to life in jail.  Colson seems to be out for blood here, the old an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth Deuteronomy style revenge (revenge because that it is what it would be, not justice).  What did Jesus have to say about this?

You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. - Matthew 5:38-39

Moussaoui was held responsible but the jurors saw fit not to kill him and showed compassion giving him a lesser sentence.  For some reason I think Jesus would be more proud of the jurors than the blood thirsty Colson (YHWH may be a different story though).

Colson later uses a prisoner as an example of the same thing, saying:

One prisoner told Dr. Dalrymple that he had become depressed after "his trouble came upon him again."  His "trouble" was breaking and entering into churches, stealing their valuables, and then burning them down to destroy the evidence.  The doctor wondered whether this "trouble" had come about because the prisoner had been forced in his childhood to attend too many church services by a hypocritical family.  "Not at all; it was because in general churches were poorly secured, easy to break into, and contained valuable objects in silver."  The man blamed his actions on lax church security.  The prisoner thought this only reinforced his compulsion to steal.

Contrary to the Moussaoui story, here is a man that is shifting all the blame onto others.  This is what I too would speak out against.  This is far different then finding the underlining issues.

In the last part of this chapter, we stumble across some of the best irony ever written.  After going on about how people should not shift blame, Colson says:

As we've seen, Satan practices his deception not only on individuals but on whole cultures.  He uses false religions and false ideas to ensnare cultures in evil.  If he can turn a whole people toward worshiping a false god, he can compromise millions of consciences at once.

Yes, that is right it is all Satan's fault.  Colson just shifted the blame from everyone in the world to Satan.

He goes on again to say that questioning the veracity of the Bible's truth claim is letting Satan do his work.  Comparing it to Nazi's taking over the world.  Yes, he seriously did this.  He then says just like the allies invaded Europe, God has invaded this world, and ends the chapter.  Why the stark military references at the end?  Colson is really appealing to the idea that everything is a war and we all have to fight.  Sadly some people will take this seriously (Hutaree Militia).  Colson and the others that inspired this group using military jargon will then back as far away as possibly saying things like 'We were talking about a spiritual war not a physical one'.  Again I am reminded of something attributed to Jesus:

"Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword." - Matthew 26:52

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