July 13, 2010

"These friendships, relationships, are a precious and priceless gift from God."

"Here I am, a convicted felon, a murderer, a man undeserving of anything that is good and wholesome. Yet, there are people who have found it in their heart to love me and have concern for me. Also, these friendships help to connect me with the church, and with society. It’s not a one-sided relationship but one of mutual giving."

Sayeth David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam, who received a 25-years-to-life sentence in 1977.

How do you begin to understand this quote?
I contemplate the profound mystery that is God.
I subtract 1977 from 2010.
  
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131 comments:

Palladian said...

One of the flaws of Christianity: forgiveness.

And is there a better photographic example of the kind of woman who writes to jailed serial killers than this one?

rhhardin said...

His dog loved him.

Joe said...

Krazee Broads who want to "hook up" with a condemend mass murderer, aren't "friends."

However, if they aren't that sort of groupie, then yes, it is a mystery, and a wonder of G*d that he has friends....

And that he responds. And it is for this reason that I oppose the Death Penalty...sure it may all be "show" and cods-wallop, or it might be real. In the end only G*D can know, but possibly is soull has changed...

HOWEVER< doesn't mean I'm in favour of letting him out...EVER...if he is lying I don't think we want Son of Sam loose again...He may be "redeemed" in G*D's Eyes, but we can't know that so we can't let him go.

Comrade X said...

my dog says no parole

Fred4Pres said...

David Berowitz was nuts. I am glad he is getting better. But I am going with Commrade X's dog's advice on this one.

John Lynch said...

Lies.

bagoh20 said...

I subtract 6 lives from 1 life and end up with someone owing a debt they can't repay.

Pastafarian said...

Palladian said: "One of the flaws of Christianity: forgiveness."

That was my first thought too, but it's just an initial visceral reaction; I don't actually believe that if I think about it for a minute.

It's one of the aspects of Christianity that would prevent me from ever becoming a Christian, but not because I necessarily disagree with it in principle -- I just know that I'd be unable to turn the other cheek in every instance. It's one of the reasons that Christians are worthy of respect, particularly compared to adherents of... other religions (cough)Islam(cough).

But these pen pals of Son of Sam aren't motivated by Christian charity. They're pathetic lonely losers who want a captive friend, one who can't get a restraining order against them like all their other closest friends have. I don't know why they'd let someone like this have contact with the outside world.

HDHouse said...

I guess there is always time to forgive those who were most certainly invaded by mental demons...but then anyone who kills has demons.

In Breslin's book, he went hunting toward the end in my town, at Magic's Pub on Main Street in Westhampton Beach. It was the luck of life that he didn't stop to do his dog driven mission.

If he has found some peace, well fine. When the families forgive I'll revist this. Not before.

Joe said...


Palladian said: "One of the flaws of Christianity: forgiveness."


Jesus said "forgive" He never said "forget."

He said "Love your enemies", He never said you won't have enemies or that your love will make them your friends...

So we can love Son of Sam and forgive him, but also not forget he was and quite possibly still is a psychopathic murderer. And hence, as Comrade X's dgo implores, not parole.

Peter V. Bella said...

He must be up for parole.

NotYourTypicalNewYorker said...

All very well and good, I hope he fully recovers.

But as one of millions who lived under his reign of terror back then, I want him to stay right where he is until his demise.

We all lived looking over our shoulders from sundown to sunup for a year until this maniac was caught, of course the media kept the city at full boil the entire time... I remember this vividly even today.

Tidy Righty said...

It is not surprising he found salvation through Christ. There is no more powerful force.

Oligonicella said...

"These friendships, relationships, are a precious and priceless gift from God."

Which is why he took them from others.

He should stay in his oubliette.

Shanna said...

So we can love Son of Sam and forgive him, but also not forget he was and quite possibly still is a psychopathic murderer. And hence, as Comrade X's dgo implores, not parole.

Exactly.

I don't see forgiveness as a flaw at all. I see it as a way (or an excuse!) to let go of the anger you would constantly carry for so many people if you couldn't forgive. If you've ever known someone who let bitterness over something that happened 30 years ago ruin their life you'll understand.

forgiveness doesn't mean letting crazy serial killers out of jail to kill again (not that I think there is a chance in hell that SoS will be paroled).

John said...

There is a very interesting book that came out in the 1980s called "The Ultimate Evil" that argued pretty convincingly that Berkowitz was only responsible for one or two of the murders. The rest were committed by a Satanic cult based in Yonkers New York of which Berkowitz was a part. Berkowitz only fit the description for two of the shootings. And in no way fit the description of the Moscowitz shooter. That was the last murder. Berkowitz was connected to it because he got a parking ticket near the scene. But, it appears he was merely a look out at that shooting. Once he had gotten the ticket, it was obvious he was going to fall under suspicion so he was convinced to take the fall for all the shootings in return for no one harming his family. The cops were so desperate to solve the case they took his "the dog next door told me to do it" story hook line and sinker and never investigated any further.

Berkowitz was a very sad depraved young man who fell into a very bad group. But he seems to have repented. Good for him.

bagoh20 said...

"It is not surprising he found salvation through Christ. There is no more powerful force."

I wish this was the only option for those like him. He could do so AND be executed. Win - Win.

Joe said...


It is not surprising he found salvation through Christ. There is no more powerful force.


IF you believe in that sort of thing....

Damon said...

Forgiveness is one of the truly great things about Christianity. It is a major tenant that sets it apart from other religions.

Forgiveness is for the person who forgives.

John Lynch said...

Repentance is between him and God. His sentence is between him and the state of New York.

Joe said...


Repentance is between him and God. His sentence is between him and the state of New York.


Agreed

Geoff Matthews said...

As mentioned earlier, forgiveness doesn't mean that you allow criminals (sinners) to avoid the consequences of their actions.

I believe that Christians also have a responsibility to protect those around us. Keeping threats like Berkowitz in prison fulfills that responsibility.

Of course, the death penalty also does this. . .

Dad Bones said...

Gods and dogs...you gotta love them, but watch out!

knox said...

Everyone--especially Christians--should be skeptical about the sincerity of those who claim to find God, redemption, salvation in prison.

It's pretty easy to pay lip service when they lock you up and opportunities to shoot young couples evaporate.

lemondog said...

One of the flaws of Christianity: forgiveness.

Forgiveness is its foundation.

But it is not nihilistic.

traditionalguy said...

As I recall Berkowitz was mind controlled by a cult that had taken control over his thoughts. That is the basis for having mercy upon the man Berkowitz after he has been delivered from the demonic force's personality. But this is beyond the Law's pay grade.

William said...

"Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully." When a man knows that he will meet his parole board next year, the path to God and repentance becomes clear.

edutcher said...

We can forgive those who have sinned against us, but I think Berkowitz is God's territory. The best we can do is pray for his immortal soul which, unless there is some dispensation for the truly insane, will suffer the tortures of Hell for Eternity.

That said, it's easy to be as cynical as Palladian and forget there are those people who are capable of the kind of charity it takes to feel a Christian love for someone like that. I know I haven't got it and wish I did. It probably takes more courage than almost anything else.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Perhaps God has forgiven David Berkowitz. God forgives everyone.

As for the rest of us, only Berkowitz's victims and their families have any kind of forgiveness that counts, morally. And his victims aren't here to forgive him.

Berkowitz did nothing to me. If I forgive him, it costs me nothing--I'm just preening.

Berkowitz did nothing that "society" can forgive him for.He didn't murder "society". He murdered individual humans. Society acted to neutralize the threat he posed to individual humans.

As a society we can talk about what is best to do with people who murder, but as a society we cannot "forgive" David Berkowitz, without reducing real people to meaningless abstractions.

MadisonMan said...

I am usually curious about the timing of articles such as these, and how/why they end up in the paper. It should be natural for the Times to be interested in how someone who affected NYC is doing. But I also wonder if someone issued a press release to start this all up. Imagine issuing a press release for the Son of Sam.

ricpic said...

Berkowitz was one of those single eyebrow guys. His whole life might have worked out right if he'd shaved off the middle brow, found a nice Jewish girl and raised a passel of little Yids in Levittown.

Trooper York said...

The greatest owner in the history of sports has passed away and no post to mark his passing.

Shame!

ricpic said...

The record of The Yankees under Steinbrenner's aegis says it all. A great great owner.

danielle said...

If he killed 6 people and wounded 7, how is it that he only got 25 years to life ?

EDH said...

Here I am, The One that You Love, asking for another day.

traditionalguy said...

Danielle...Berkowitz did not fit the evidence on most of the murders that he agreed to plea guilty to in exchange for the hopeful number 25. There was contemporaneous speculation of a cover up involved. There was also speculation of a common connection with the Charles Manson lead group out in California. The training of men to be assassins, like brainwashed Manchurian Candidate types, took serious field trial experimentation and this was said to have have resulted in men like Berkowitz and Manson being on the loose. Of course there is total denial by the CIA men put in charge of such work.

knox said...

the kind of charity it takes to feel a Christian love for someone like that. I know I haven't got it and wish I did. It probably takes more courage than almost anything else.

I don't know that I feel admiration for people who give time and energy to someone who has caused so much death and pain. If anyone does "The Devil's Work" on this planet, it's people like SoS.

How's this: Adopt a foster kid, not a serial killer.

David said...

All the bullshit in America isn't getting this guy out.

David said...

So he only did two of the murders--or three--or even one. Does this change anything? Not in my book.

Blair said...

I would like to believe that David Berkowitz is redeemed, and that he is contributing positively to the lives of others. But on principle, he must stay behind bars for the rest of his life. Too many dead people and grieving families for anything different.

I wish him well when he meets his Maker, and hope his faith proves genuine.

LarsPorsena said...

"Jesus said "forgive" He never said "forget."

That's fine, forgive and forget..but first get even.

reader_iam said...

But these pen pals of Son of Sam aren't motivated by Christian charity. They're pathetic lonely losers who want a captive friend, one who can't get a restraining order against them like all their other closest friends have.

How can you possibly know whether either sentence one OR sentence two, much less both, is true, especially to be able to state those sentences so flatly with reference to all those in contact with Berkowitz?

Celia said...

The 25 years to life thing never fails to surprise me...If a guy kills someone when he's 25, he could get out by the time he's 50. Ack!

tim maguire said...

It's a beautiful statement of christian principles in action, but as with most others voting, the first thing I did was the math.

reader_iam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
reader_iam said...

My position with regard to serial murderers is that they should not be eligible for parole on grounds of both justice and risk.

Joe said...

"Jesus said "forgive" He never said "forget."

That's fine, forgive and forget..but first get even.

Do you read before you paste? It's forgive and NEVER forget...and "justice" isn'ta bout "getting even."

But being a humourless Crypto-Jew I may ahve missed the sarcasm/humour in your posting. If I have I apologize...and further if I have I offer you a really, really good rate on a loan...or a nubile Christian virgin, your choice.

bagoh20 said...

If Berkowitz was not the killer of all the victims, then I think it unlikely the murders would have ended when he got caught. It would be unlikely that someone else driven to such things and willing to take the risks involved would for quit just because SOS got caught. Remember the murders stopped before he confessed to them all.

LarsPorsena said...

"That's fine, forgive and forget..but first get even."

Jimmy Cagney, "Blood on the Sun", 1945.

Words to live by.

bagoh20 said...

"I offer you a really, really good rate on a loan...or a nubile Christian virgin, your choice."

How about a Christian loan? I love a banker who is big on forgiveness.

Lem said...

People abuse the word "friendship" with limitless impunity.

bagoh20 said...

I find it sad that with all the innocent yet truly needy people in the world, that anyone would pick this POS to feel sorry for and spend time on. I suspect his "friends" do it for their own purposes, and not out of true charity. Or they are just stupidly immoral.

traditionalguy said...

Reading Berkowitz story again, it says that he is a part of a group of supportive and kind people corresponding with him on the basis that he is another Saved Christian as they are. So he is not as lonely as many of the un-jailed people we meet everyday. As a people, most Americans will usually forgive other repentant people. But I agree with David that Berkowitz has as little chance of being given a parole as Manson and Sirhan have in California.

Joe said...


How about a Christian loan? I love a banker who is big on forgiveness.


Sadly not an option for me...ask Tidy/C4 they'll explain.

reader_iam said...

So, all of these Christians are 1) self-serving, 2) faking Christian charity and/or 3)stupidly immoral.

Have I got that right?

Quaestor said...

Oligonicella wrote: "He should stay in his oubliette."

For the benefit of the unenlightened an oubliette was a tiny hidden chamber where miscreants were confined -- a little place of forgetting where the evildoer could be forgotten by his victims.

Berkowitz owes us a debt for reminding us of his existence.

Joe said...

36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.' 37 Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' 40 And the king will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'

G*d's not culling them by absolute guilt or innocence...and as to the "Christian" motivation, please note it is BERKOWITZ, giving the testimony about his support. NOT the "supporters."

Were it the supporters, then yes, one might think that these "have received their reward on Earth," but as the supporters did not trumpte their support, we are less sure about their motives.

Chip Ahoy said...

<anecdote alert>
In my teens, an acquaintance of mine on the dog circuit, a married fellow older than myself who also showed groenendales (in confirmation, his obedience training style was regrettable but that's irrelevant) was helping me improve my chess game. Through that I learned of the ongoing chess games he kept with prison inmates. The games were maintained in a thick little book where tiny cardboard pieces were moved into slots on a page for each game. The gravity of the prisoner's crimes were irrelevant to him and ah pity da foo who would challenge that man to chess. He was a fierce bloodthirsty player. I recall no religious conversation even though we traveled together regularly to nearby states. That is all.
</anecdote alert>

reader_iam said...

Now I'm thinking of all the denominations and churches involved in prison ministry. Jesus, the number of self-serving, charity-faking, stupidly immoral Christians simply boggle the mind!

My God, what a fifth column of criminal apologists.

Joe said...


My God, what a fifth column of criminal apologists.


That's no better than saying they're fools or charlatans...

There are a goodly number of smelly-hippie Christians, or non-Christians, who will always see the criminal as "victim" and "redeemed."

reader_iam said...

Joe: Did you click through and read the entire article? Or is your 1:35 p.m. comment based solely on the excerpt in thi post?

reader_iam said...

Look, I don't give a shit about Berkowitz, and as already stated I don't think serial killers should be eligible for parole, period.

But I do find it quite interesting that people here are, either directly or in effect, engaging in what would be called knee-jerk, unthinking, presumptuous and condescending Christian-bashing if people on the left were saying similar things in other contexts.

What's up with that?

Joe said...

Reader just the excerpt....probably to my dtriment.

Lem said...

Hi reader.. where have you been?

reader_iam said...

That's no better than saying they're fools or charlatans...

Perhaps I should have tagged that comment explicitly as sarcasm. In context of my comments, I thought that was clear. Since it appears I thought wrong, I will try to remember to be more clear in future.

Joe said...


Perhaps I should have tagged that comment explicitly as sarcasm. In context of my comments, I thought that was clear. Since it appears I thought wrong, I will try to remember to be more clear in future.

I apologize...without tone or inflection it's, sometimes, tough to catch sarcasm, in the written word.

My bad...need any Christian babies?

MadisonMan said...

reader, it came through as sarcasm to me. Very clearly sarcasm.

MadisonMan said...

But for someone new to althouse, without knowledge of your history of posting? The sarcasm might have been harder to see.

bagoh20 said...

Reader,
Like I said there are millions of innocent needy people who could use the charity. Children, seniors, handicapped, deformed, and rejected. They did nothing to anyone to deserve their fate, yet they are passed over for the likes of Berkowitz. I find that immoral, and I question if such charity is designed to feed the ego of the "friend"; to prove their piety at the expense of the innocent victims of fate who truly deserve their help but wait in line, often for their entire lives. They who never even blew any holes in the heads of anyone.

reader_iam said...

See, I've been trying to post much more infrequently and, when I do comment, to be much less idiosyncratic and much more brief, pithy, direct and to the point--and where does it get me?

**Sigh**

; )

reader_iam said...

yet they are passed over for the likes of Berkowitz.

Again, I question your premise.

Joe said...

Like I said there are millions of innocent needy people who could use the charity. Children, seniors, handicapped, deformed, and rejected. They did nothing to anyone to deserve their fate, yet they are passed over for the likes of Berkowitz.

We are many parts, all one body…..Who says they’ve been “passed over” you, in a rhetorical flourish. Churches, synagogues (but mostly so we can scope out their possessions for later re-sale, or course), mosques, and secular charities spend BILLIONS reaching out to these very groups! SOME Christians, and non-Christians, are reaching out to Berkowitz, other Christians, and non-Christians, are reaching out to others.

Christ, as I understand Him/him-admittedly as a Crypto-Jew my understanding is more on the PR/Marketing side of the deal-did NOT exclude the evil or the guilty from His/his Ministry…To DENY Berkowitz the outreach is also un-Christian, and may lead to reduced revenues, which as a Crypto-Jew we all know is what really motivates us.

Lem said...

Don't be a stranger reader.

bagoh20 said...

If you focus on the needy rather than the who is giving and why, then it becomes harder to accept charity being spent on murderers and others who cause more suffering in the world.

I don't know anything more clear in the world than that there is not enough charity to go around.

To pick a murderer to give something as rare special as love and charity seems more than a little wasteful.

Someone truly needy and innocent is wishing that charity was visited on them today, yet someone who could help is going to write a letter to a serial killer, making HIM feel better?

I would put them at the very end of the line, if at all.

bagoh20 said...

"We are many parts, all one body…..Who says they’ve been “passed over” you, in a rhetorical flourish."

This is irony at it's saddest.

Joe said...


To pick a murderer to give something as rare special as love and charity seems more than a little wasteful.

Really, so now you can apportion G*d's Love and Mercy, for us...Wow, even the Pope doesn't do that.

"That which you do to the LEAST of my Brothers, you do to me." By judging Berkowitz UNWORTHY of Salvation, we have judged Jesus as "unworthy."

You're working with the idea of the "deserving" and undeserving" NONE OF US IS DESERVING OF G*D'S EFFORTS!

Check out the Prodigal Son again...you ahve placed yourself in the position of the "Good Son," declaiming against his father.

The point of the parable, my least favourite parable until I had the inversion of seeing I was the "Prodigal," is that whilst we all identify with the Good Son, we are all the Prodigal...

So if you'd deny Berkowitz the fatted calf, you are saying to G*D, "I, too, am unworthy of mercy...not even the least kid goat for me."

I wouldn't deny Berkowitz the support, the fatted calf, or Salvation...I WOULD deny him Parole...

He might just be lyng, and since only G*d can see his heart we might want to err on the side of caution.

Class factotum said...

to turn the other cheek in every instance.

Here is what Marcus Borg says about that:

In his books "Engaging the Powers" and "The Powers That Be," Wink argues that Jesus rejected two common ways of responding to injustice: violent resistance and passive acceptance. Instead, Jesus advocated a "third way," an assertive but non-violent form of protest.

The key to understanding Wink's argument is rigorous attention to the social customs of the Jewish homeland in the first century and what these sayings would have meant in that context.

To illustrate with the saying about turning the other cheek: it specifies that the person has been struck on the right cheek. How can you be struck on the right cheek? As Wink emphasizes, you have to act this out in order to get the point: you can be struck on the right cheek only by an overhand blow with the left hand, or with a backhand blow from the right hand. (Try it).

But in that world, people did not use the left hand to strike people. It was reserved for "unseemly" uses. Thus, being struck on the right cheek meant that one had been backhanded with the right hand. Given the social customs of the day, a backhand blow was the way a superior hit an inferior, whereas one fought social equals with fists.

This means the saying presupposes a setting in which a superior is beating a peasant. What should the peasant do? "Turn the other cheek." What would be the effect? The only way the superior could continue the beating would be with an overhand blow with the fist--which would have meant treating the peasant as an equal.

Perhaps the beating would not have been stopped by this. But for the superior, it would at the very least have been disconcerting: he could continue the beating only by treating the peasant as a social peer. As Wink puts it, the peasant was in effect saying, "I am your equal. I refuse to be humiliated anymore."


http://www.dharmagates.com/other_cheek.html

Shanna said...

If you focus on the needy rather than the who is giving and why, then it becomes harder to accept charity being spent on murderers and others who cause more suffering in the world.

I think when picking a charity, generally people do it because they have a personal connection to that charity, not because they have systematically sorted through every charity in the world and decided that one was the best. People who work with prison ministries probably do so because they have a heart for that for some reason or another. Perhaps they were once prisoners themselves, or they had family members who were. That they are doing anything should be applauded, rather than saying “why this not that”.

I would be suspicious of those communicating with this guy, not because he is a murderer, but because he is famous. Some people are attracted to fame, whether someone is famous for being a hero or a villain.

Pastafarian said...

Interesting points by reader_iam and Joe. I don't mean to disparage all Christians who do outreach in prisons; but I really can't understand the point to redeeming this murderer.

If there's a Hell, let him rot there. Don't save the son-of-a-bitch. That's what Hell is for.

I just don't understand you Christians. I really don't.

Class factotum, that's an interesting interpretation. I've never heard that one before. But it seems...strained. There's something there that doesn't fit.

What do you other commenters more knowledgeable about scripture say about the notion that Jesus was actually encouraging some sort of subversive defiance with the "turn the other cheek" admonition?

bagoh20 said...

I'm agnostic myself, but I've always had an affinity for religious people and not so much for atheists, but when scripture is used to justify bad choices and lack of compassion for the needy, I have to side with the atheists who point this out ad nauseam.

The facts of who is being given compassion and who is sacrificed for it does not change because a verse in a book can be interpreted to justify it.

But if that works for you,

From the Talmud:

"All who are made to be compassionate in the place of the cruel
In the end are made to be cruel in the place of the compassionate

Joe said...


but I really can't understand the point to redeeming this murderer.

If there's a Hell, let him rot there. Don't save the son-of-a-bitch. That's what Hell is for.


h3LL is where we send ourselves, not where we send others.

NONE of us is worthy of Heaven...That's why Christ sacrificed Himself, because without His Gift NONE of us could attain Heaven.

So actively letting Berkowitz go to H3ll is tantamount to condemning ourselves to H3ll. That's not my job...Berkowitz may be more evilllll than me, but he is no less deserving of Salvation. Now whether or no, he has truly repented and truly gets into Heaven only G*d can see that.

There's no Deserving and Undeserving, when it comes to Heaven, we're ALL "undeserving."

Youngblood said...

The response that I would give isn't among the poll answers, although the latter is closest.

John Douglas (former FBI agent and the father of practical profiling) was of the opinion that Berkowitz made up the whole "Son of Sam" thing to set up an insanity defense in case he ever got caught.

Berkowitz confirmed this on the record. You can read about it in Douglas's autobiography, Mind Hunter.

Berkowitz is no doubt fucked up, but he is not a lunatic who believed that dogs were ordering him to murder. He is a murderous misogynistic sociopath.

Back in the 1980's and 90's, the evangelical conspiracy theorists came up with the notion of a vast Satanic cult which was secretly behind the majority of criminal activities in the United States, from drug dealing to serial murder.

Berkowitz hooked up with this crowd, and they discovered their interests lined up.

Desperate to prove the existence of their Satanic conspiracy, the conspiracy theorists invented accomplices or alternate suspects for the "Son of Sam" murders. So they've taken him on as a kind of project. (We're not talking serial killer groupies here. We're talking Evangelical Christians with a New Age conspiratorial view of the world.)

Desperate to shirk responsibility for his crimes and get his fat ass free from jail, Berkowitz was suddenly born again and admitted that he was a patsy, just one cog in the vast Satanic-Criminal complex.

So while his ultimate desire is to get out of jail, the only people who are offering him anything are a subset of muddle-headed Evangelicals.

Youngblood said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe said...


but when scripture is used to justify bad choices and lack of compassion for the needy, I have to side with the atheists who point this out ad nauseam.


Straw Man....but if it makes you feel better to believe that Berkowitz is getting the lion's share of Christian or non-Christian aid or compassion, Drive On Troop.

Someone's already said it, these are folks who may ahve a special calling to prison ministry...it's like being an engineer or a lawyer...they are NOT interchangeable jobs, and if you're good at one it doesn't mean you gave up the chance to be good at the other....

Many parts, all one body....Matthew wrote to the Jews, Paul sought out the Greek, they all sought to fulfill G*d's Plan...

It's not either/or....

bagoh20 said...

If you had the power to take all the charity and compassion given to murderers and similar criminals and transfer it to orphanages and children's hospitals, would you?

If you woke up today and decided to spend the day compassionately helping and supporting someone in need, would you choose a Berkowitz or an Elephant Man?

I just don't see how people choose a serial killer, but it is their choice.

Youngblood said...

Bagoh wrote:

"I just don't see how people choose a serial killer, but it is their choice."

I actually explained this above.

While there are no doubt fine, decent, sane Christians who do wonderful outreach with convicts, Berkowitz is valuable for the people who believe that there is a vast and extremely dangerous Satanic conspiracy undermining literally everything that is good, right, and holy.

Berkowitz says what they want him to say, and in turn they get a star witness, a reformed high level member of the conspiracy that they turned to the light.

Youngblood said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

Do people really identify more with a serial killer than a child who needs to learn to read or to use his prosthetics?

While someone can do both, nobody can do both at the same time. So one is always sacrificed for the other.

I'm not talking about careful measured perfection, but a serial killer tilts the scale right off the table for me.

If I were to take this month's charitable donation to the children's fund and send it to the CEO of BP, because he's having a hard summer, I think most people, Christians included, would say that I could do better next time. That's what I'm saying. The CEO didn't even kill one person.

bagoh20 said...

"The CEO didn't even kill one person."

Well, not premeditated murder anyway.

traditionalguy said...

In the scriptures forgiveness is only given by God, who also says He can also will to forget. Jesus got into bad trouble early on by saying out loud that a man's sins were forgiven him, and then proving His authority by doing an instantaneous miracle healing that none of his legalistic critics could match. Jesus was early on showing that the man Jesus was God. It was all down hill from there until Easter. Yet Jesus taught his listeners over and over that men also had to forgive others, or else they would be turned over to tormentors. The decision to forgive can be done against our strongest resolve to get revenge. Reminds me of the Jack Benny quip,"Your forgiveness or your life...well...I am still thinking it over".

Twin said...

The way it became undeniable that Althouse is a far right wingnut lying about being a centrist was when she became an effusive supporter and fan of the pig Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh is undeniably a racist, and the fact that Althouse adores him tells us everything we need to know about her.

Today, the fat man used the occasion of George Steinbrenner's death to race bait.

The funny thing is how many people listen to this, revel in it, even, and yet insist that neither they nor the pig man are racists.

reader_iam said...

Twin: I'd like a catalogue of your interests and who and what you're a fan of so I can extrapolate broadly and definitively.

Game on?

reader_iam said...

But be careful--once I get started, unless I get bored or overly disgusted, I'm pretty damn good at that sort of thing, better than most, truth be told, though I rarely indulge in such things because I generally oppose that kind of mental and moral sloppiness, on principal.

traditionalguy said...

@ Twin...You may need to forgive Limbaugh for being an extraordinary great thinker and communicator with excellent knowledge of his enemies. The Racist headquarters today sit in the Attorney General of the United States' office. Starting a race war was Charlie Manson's assigned job. So why do you and Holder want to start one so bad???

Trooper York said...

I don't know reader. I have seen Twin!

Maybe you are in for more than you know!

bagoh20 said...

"The way it became undeniable that Althouse is a far right wingnut..."

For me it was when I heard Obama wisper, "et tu Annie?"

Watch your back, Meade.

traditionalguy said...

@ Youngblood...Your age is 34 on your info sheet. So in the 80s and 90s you were between 4 and 24. I was between 35 and 55 and I never heard of this Satanic Cult belief held by silly evangelicals. And I knew many silly evangelicals from Pentacostals to Baptists to Episcopalians and everything in between. What book did you read that posits there was such a Christian belief was going around?

Flexo said...

One of the flaws of Christianity: forgiveness

Well then, Palladian, you'll be happy to know that rejection of forgiveness, which necessarily includes your own forgiveness, will not and, as a matter of fundamental logic, cannot be forgiven. (Mt. 12:31-32)

So, fear not, the "flaw" resolves itself -- forgiveness will not be imposed on you against your will.

Flexo said...

As for those "more deserving" --

Charity (from the Latin caritas, meaning "love") is not a zero-sum proposition. Love expands to meet the need.

And, although it is a scandal to the world, while they are not the most "deserving" -- as has already been said, none of us are deserving -- the greatest sinners are the most in need.

bagoh20 said...

"Love expands to meet the need."

That must be very comforting.

bagoh20 said...

"the greatest sinners are the most in need."

Maybe spiritually, but that's above my pay grade.

Is there an Osama Bin Laden fund where I can send him some much needed help? Should I send money, canned food, or just kind words of encouragement?

Lem said...

Sorry for your loss Trooper.

Watching the game tonight?

Trooper York said...

Thanks Lem. He will be missed. George was among the last of his kind in professional sports. I just wished he had owned all of the teams I root for.

He never would have lost Lebron James to a pissant city like Miami.

Trooper York said...

I am doing a poll of who is the greatest baseball team owner of all time.

Your boy Yawkey is one of the candidates.

Vote early and often.

Paddy O said...

"that Jesus was actually encouraging some sort of subversive defiance"

Maybe... but it's a pretty detailed reading, with the assumption of a lot of specific cultural baggage. The easier, more direct, more common reading is probably the best one.

Especially given the example of Jesus later in his life, and the example of the disciples.

the peasant was in effect saying, "I am your equal. I refuse to be humiliated anymore."

Again, maybe... but the great Philippians 2 passage suggests that shame and humiliation were all part of the process. Jesus himself lowered himself to become shamed and humiliated, precisely not asserting his rights or his due status, putting himself lower than the judges and the leaders, taking on the shame and sin of the world, to die in a shame filled manner. And he called his followers to do the same. Essentially he refused to play the shame/status game at all. The resurrection is the argument that his not playing the game is the only possible victory over those who want to assert their own dominance.

Paddy O said...

We're talking Evangelical Christians with a New Age conspiratorial view of the world.

Unfortunately, this is certainly is a subset of Evangelical Christians. I don't at all remember any particular Son of Sam connection, to be sure, but I do remember the Procter and Gamble Satanist claims, and there's certainly been a lot of variety of antichrist watch over the years. Paranoia seems to be a feature of lots of folks who have some of the basics of Evangelical faith down, but seem to miss the key bits about hope and faith and trust and suchlike.

Eric said...

And that he responds. And it is for this reason that I oppose the Death Penalty...sure it may all be "show" and cods-wallop, or it might be real. In the end only G*D can know, but possibly is soull has changed...

This is the reason I support the death penalty. We don't need more guys like Lawrence Singleton lying their way out of jail.

Kirk Parker said...

Careful, don't get reader pithed off!

Paddy O said...

"I really can't understand the point to redeeming this murderer"

The point isn't to brush the evil under the table. It is reconciliation. People being made whole again. The trick is not to simply emphasize those who are the biggest sinners. We have to also emphasize those who have been hurt by such sin. Those who are oppressed find hope and promise that they are not condemned to their suffering. Those who are oppressors are freed from their ultimately futile attempts at domination. The victims are confronted with hope. The perpetrators are confronted with their own sins. The act of redemption says that the murderer and the murdered will find restored communion, the murdered being open to the murderer, and the murderer humbling himself before the murdered.

That's basically the story of the cross.

I take no position at all about what salvation Berkowitz may or may not have. I'd say he'd prove his sincerity by never seeking parole, but seeing his penance in helping those also in prison find release for their inner chaos, to be likewise restored into real human community.

Paddy O said...

Seems like if someone becomes a Christian, that's even more reason to support the death penalty in their case.

Their eternal salvation is secured, so we wouldn't worry about that part.

Same goes with lifetime imprisonment. If they found faith, well now they have a much better ministry inside prison than they could have anywhere else.

Of course, it is true that much of our New Testament was written by a guy who was responsible for a lot of Christians dying.

Youngblood said...

Traditionalguy,

My first experience with the types of evangelicals I'm talking about took place when I was around 8 or so. That was right around the time that the game Dungeons & Dragons was popular, and being geeky young boys, my friends and I naturally started playing it.

Before long, we lost one member of our group because his mother thought we were trying to pull him into this conspiracy. (Pat Pulling, the Evangelical Christian author of the Devil's Web and founder of the group Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons was the genesis of this theory.)

That was about a year after the McMartin preschool case started and, as anybody with any familiarity with the case knows, it soon devolved into an exploration of bizarre Satanic conspiracy theories.

Kee MacFarlane, a major player in that case, spoke a year later in front of Congress about the growing danger of ritual child abuse.

I have no idea whether MacFarlane was religious, or what her religion was, but her testimony fed into the Satanic Ritual Abuse conspiracy theory, which was injected into the popular imagination after the publication of Michelle Remembers.

This was also around the time when the same kind of conspiracy-minded Evangelicals I'm talking about were passing around xeroxed sheets that explained how Procter & Gamble was a Satanic front, based on a secret occult reading of the company's symbol.

In 1985, when I was nine, P&G bowed to the pressure and changed its symbol.

For about ten years before my friend's mom made him stop hanging with us because we were supposedly Satanists, evangelist Mike Warnke had been peddling his belief in a kind of Satanic super mafia. So was Rev. Jerry Johnston, founder of Jerry Johnston ministries.

This ended up merged with a belief in the "Four P" or "Four Pi" movement, a legendary cult responsible for drug dealing, serial murder, and the wave of ritual Satanic child abuse that was supposedly sweeping the country. Michael Newton, author of a number of True Crime books (specifically Hunting Humans) sympathetically dipped into the Evangelical conspiracy mill frequently in his work.

Not only were individuals like Berkowitz said to be a part of this conspiracy, but so were corporations (like Procter & Gamble, and D&D's publisher TSR).

You can pick up a lot of this stuff in a really distilled form in the pages of Jack Chick's little comic book pamphlets, which throughout my youth and into my early adulthood were probably the most popular tracts handed out on street corners by the "Born Agains" (as I called them when I was younger).

I'm only scratching the surface here. The fact that a subset of Evengelicals believed in a secret criminal conspiracy of Satanists is easily verifiable. Some of this stuff was fairly fringe, but some of it was peddled by massively popular Evangelical media like Pat Robertson's 700 Club (like when the 700 Club pushed the now-discredited expose Satan's Underground).

All of this stuff is easily verifiable by a trip to your local library, or even a few Google searches.

You may not have met these douchebags, but I did.

Flexo said...

The trick is not to simply emphasize those who are the biggest sinners. We have to also emphasize those who have been hurt by such sin.

Yes, the victim can fall into great sin himself by allowing his injury to harden his heart in rage and resentment. The victim can find himself in great danger in this way, by nursing his suffering, rather than allowing that suffering to be transformed by the Cross, thereby allowing him to let go of the hate and heal himself.

----------------

As for Osama bin Laden -- if and when he is willing to lay down his arms and reconcile, we can begin to have peace. I have no desire to hold grudges. But that is up to him. Unfortunately he and his fellow followers of Mohammed have no desire for reconciliation or peace, as evidenced by their 1400-year war against mankind. Thus, we must continue to implement peace and security by removing them from this world and giving them the peace of the grave.

Flexo said...

Sorry, Paddy, but the history of Saul of Tarsus is too much of a scandal to the world for many to understand.

Flexo said...

bizarre Satanic conspiracy theories

Yes, it is true.

I once enthusiastically recommended that an acquaintance show the movie Matilda to her visiting nieces and nephews. That recommendation turned into a big row when her sister vociferously objected that the movie was Satanic (because Matilda has telekinetic powers), and I said I thought that was about the most idiotic thing I had ever heard.

Yes, some people really do give Christians a bad name.

Trooper York said...

Right now God is not worrying about the Son of Sam or any Satanic cults. He is having a couple of Miller Lites with Billy and George.

You see above all else, God is a Yankee's Fan.

traditionalguy said...

@ Youngblood...My apologies. I Googled 4-pi, and Johnston and Warneke. There was a fringe group of salesmen selling the Satan Cult idea to Christians for high incomes. I honestly never heard of any of them before.

Youngblood said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Youngblood said...

I just read over my original post, and just to make this clear to Traditionalguy and anyone else who cares, I was talking about a smaller movement among the Evangelical, and not the whole of the movement.

It was this subset I was referring to as "muddle-headed".

I have no idea how large this movement within the movement was back in the 1980's and 1990's, but it was definitely large enough to leave an imprint in the popular culture and national imagination.

Trooper York said...

I would like to mention that those Satan Cultists were Red Sox Fans. Just sayn.

Paddy O said...

Flexo, and it's foolishness to the Greeks.

Youngblood, I went to a Warnke concert back in the day. Being an ex-Satanist was a huge part of his shtick. I do remember him being funny, though. Which was a change from most Evangelical entertainment. Well, a change in that he was intentionally funny.

Cedarford said...

In other religious news -

The French parliament's lower house enacted a sweeping but constitutionally vulnerable law Tuesday barring women from wearing full-face Islamic veils anywhere in public.

The National Assembly's 335-1 decision was scheduled for a vote in the Senate in September. If ratified, the law will make France the second Western European nation after Belgium to ban outright what has become the most prominent symbol of the growing Muslim presence

jamboree said...

What annoys me is that there are plenty of good people that don't have people clamoring to be their friend - and some of them are lonely, I imagine.

Reverse celebutards.

Although maybe it's those people that are writing this guy...hmmm.

Youngblood said...

Traditionalguy,

No need to apologize at all. I actually find this stuff fascinating.

However, in your earlier posts, you professed a belief that Berkowitz was a victim of cult mind control, and that there was supposedly a common connection with Charles Manson's cult.

That's actually the core of the "Four P movement" conspiracy theory, as put forth by Terry Maury in The Ultimate Evil, which is actually the book that folded the "Four P movement" into the grander Satanic cult conspiracy theory. (The "Four P movement" is the same thing that Maury called "The Process".)

I have to admit that I'm a little confused that you were capable of articulating the basics of the conspiracy theory without ever having come across it!

JAL said...

I have no idea whether MacFarlane was religious, or what her religion was, but her testimony fed into the Satanic Ritual Abuse conspiracy theory, which was injected into the popular imagination after the publication of Michelle Remembers.

I'm not sure whether irony would be the right word here, but the Satanic Ritual Abuse schtick did not originate with evangelicals. Did some get into the groove with it? Sure. (The ones that get sucked into multi-level get rich quick things....) But this bizarre (truly the only appropriate word) historical episode of therapist induced abuse of children and clients is a blot on what should be a helping profession.

You ask about MacFarlane:(Sorry for the long piece.)

Check out wiki -- [MacFarlane] received a bachelor's degree in fine arts in Ohio and later received her master's degree in social work.[4] After graduation, MacFarlane became a lobbyist for the National Organization for Women[5] and grant evaluator for the National Center for Child Abuse and Neglect,[6] later becoming the Director of Children's Institute International (CII).[3] In the time leading up to the McMartin preschool trial, MacFarlane described herself as a psychotherapist but lacked any professional licenses.[2]

As part of her job at CII, MacFarlane interviewed 400 children for the McMartin preschool trial using anatomically correct dolls and hand puppets. MacFarlane believed that the children suffered from "child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome", and would deny sexual abuse without special techniques designed to encourage disclosure.[6] The interviewing techniques used during investigations of the allegations were highly suggestive and invited children to pretend or speculate about supposed events.[7][8]

By spring of 1984, it was claimed that 360 children had been abused.[9] Astrid Heppenstall Heger performed medical examinations and took photos of what she believed to be minute scarring which she stated was caused by anal penetration. Critics have alleged that the questioners asked the children leading questions, repetitively, which, it is said,[10] always yields positive responses from young children, making it impossible to know what the child actually experienced. Others believe that the questioning itself may have led to false memory syndrome among the children who were questioned. Ultimately only 41 of the original 360 children testified during the grand jury and pre-trial hearings, and fewer than a dozen testified during the actual trial.[11]

MacFarlane went on to testify in front of the United States Congress that she believed there was an organized, nation-wide conspiracy of individuals sexually abusing children.[12]


So please. When smirking at Christians, don't use Kee MacFarlane to make a point. (Don't know where she is or what she is doing now.)

Nor Jack Chick, who has always been fringe. (Always wrong? No, but definitely very fringe.)

And "former Satanist" Mike Warneke? Was exposed by -- evangelical Christians. (He was funny though, wasn't he? But a pathological liar.)

As for Berkowicz: The death penalty would have worked for me. But no parole forever makes sense.

Forgiveness and justice are different.

JAL said...
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JAL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JAL said...

One of the defining features of Christianity: divine vengeance.

One of the defining features of Christianity: undeserved, unearned divine forgiveness.

Which is not a get out of jail free card.

traditionalguy said...

Youngblood...Many of the 4-p ideas in wiki did sound like they may have a common source in a writer named Peter Lavenda. He wrote Unholy Alliance and Sinister Forces. Both books are descriptions of Nazi practices and their importation into the USA in German psychic experts during the late 1940s and early 1950s for trying out their effectiveness in intelligence work. I do not believe that Lavenda has ever been a Christian.

Flexo said...

"The mercy of Christ is not a cheap grace; it does not presume a trivialization of evil. Christ carries in His body and on His soul all the weight of evil, and all its destructive force. He burns and transforms evil through suffering, in the fire of His suffering love. The day of vindication and the year of favor meet in the paschal mystery, in Christ died and risen. This is the vindication of God: He Himself, in the person of the Son, suffers for us. The more we are touched by the mercy of the Lord, the more we draw closer in solidarity with His suffering and become willing to bear in our flesh 'what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ' (Col 1, 24)."
--Joseph Card. Ratzinger, April 18, 2005

Youngblood said...

JAL,

I'm not "smirking at Christians" at all. I actually have a great deal of respect for Christianity.

I do not respect the people behind the Satanic conspiracy movement in the slightest though, and I do not respect the people who popularized their views by inviting them to their churches and seminars.

Whatever my opinions of Christianity may be, a significant body of people within the Evangelical movement of the latter half of the 20th century professed some belief in a massive Satanic conspiracy. This is very well documented, historically, and easily verifiable.

I acknowledged that some of the stuff was fairly fringe, so you pointing that out isn't much of a surprise.

However, at his peak, Warnke was a fairly major force. He was among the most popular Evangelical entertainers of the 1980's. As Paddy O mentioned above, his claims to having been a highly placed member of the Satanic cult conspiracy were a major part of his persona.

When Satan's Underground came out in the late 1980's, it was hyped heavily by the 700 Club, which was (at the time) arguably the most mainstream venue in the Evangelical world.

Yes, Cornerstone took down both Warnke and... um... I think it was Lauren Stratford (the subject and co-author of Satan's Underground). And any rational person would applaud them for it.

Even so, Warnke built his career on the belief in a secret Satanic conspiracy for something like fifteen years before Cornerstone exposed him as a fraud. Satan's Underground was just the last major title in a parade of similar Satanic exposes and confessionals that pretty much hit the mainstream with the bestselling Michelle Remembers.

Which brings us to Kee MacFarlane:

I have no idea whether or not she was an Evangelical Christian. However, she was peddling the same shit that people like Warnke and whoever wrote Michelle Remembers had been peddling in the decade before the McMartin preschool trial debacle.

I also have no idea whether or not every single person who wrote one of those books or who hit the Evangelical lecture circuit was a card-carrying evangelical. But a lot of the books were published by Evangelical publishing companies and pushed by Evangelical churches and in Evangelical venues.

As far as Jack Chick being fringe? I'm down with that.

However, I have a nearly complete collection of his pamphlets that I acquired in the late 1980's and early 90's. I didn't buy any of them, I got all of them either handed to me on street corners or found them in places like phone booths or on bus seats. They are by far the most common type of tract in my collection, and from what I saw, they were a significant proselytizing tool during that time period.

Youngblood said...

Traditionalguy,

Lavenda didn't come up with the theory. He capitalized on it fairly late. The dude who wrote the Manson book The Family (Peter Sanders, maybe?) kicked it off. Mike Warnke, Michael Newton, Terry Maury tied it into the grand Satanic conspiracy theory.

Lavenda picked it up later, after his "non-fiction" writing career started in the 1990's.

At least it makes sense how you picked it up without earlier exposure, thanks.