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Aug 03 2011

Short cut to salvation

One of the selling points that evangelical proselytizers use to win converts amongst those who are wracked with guilt for past transgressions is to tell them that if only they would accept Jesus as their personal lord and savior, their past sins will be forgiven and that no other religion can promise them such quick absolution. It is a strategy that seems to be somewhat effective (as one might expect) in prisons with some hardened criminals.

The Onion had an article by a mass murderer on how he found this feature of Christianity quite appealing.

It was a stroke of unbelievable luck. Here I thought I’d spend the rest of my life agonizing over that night I broke into a random house and methodically tortured all five of its residents, but Jesus was like, “Nah, you’re good.” He took all those years I expected to wallow in suffocating guilt for having forced a mother to choose the order in which I strangled her children and wiped them away in a jiff.

Which is ironic because the family I murdered in cold blood was praying to Jesus like crazy the whole time.

If it weren’t for the Savior, I’d still be living with a horribly tormented conscience like some chump. I used to think that maybe, just maybe, I could ease some of the unrelenting pain after a lifetime of good works and contrition. But once God’s grace washed over me—and that took, what, maybe 15 minutes at most?—I knew I was in the clear.

Bing, bang, boom. Salvation.

I mean, it’s too bad I’ll never get back those days I squandered on unbearable guilt, but Jesus bailed me out big time, so I’m not going to complain. No sense in living in the past. The man who took five innocent lives in brutal fashion and made himself a glass of chocolate milk afterward might as well be a totally different person. I walk in the Lord now.

Of course, the laws of man will keep me physically behind bars for the rest of my life. But my soul has been set free by the Lord and by the sacrifice of His only son. Despite all my earthly sins, He has redeemed me. He always does.

Had I known that sooner, I would’ve killed way more people.

It would not surprise me in the least if Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer, claims after a few years to have seen the light and found Jesus. He may even become an evangelical preacher, using his own life as an example of how Jesus saves.

Incidentally, via reader Jeff, I received this interesting article by neuroscientist David Eagleman speculating on what might motivate killers like Breivik and how our increasing understanding of how brains work might affect legal proceedings involving such people.

6 comments

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  1. 1
    Tadas

    Here is another journalistic masterpiece from ‘America’s Finest News Source’:

    War-Torn Middle East Seeks Solace In Religion

    The Onion | August 23, 2006 | ISSUE 42•34

    JERUSALEM—As an uneasy truce between Israel and Hezbollah continues, millions of average men and women in the Holy Land are turning to the one simple comfort that has always seen them through the darkest days of their troubled history: the steadfast guidance of their religious faith.
    “I take solace in knowing that my faith is a sanctuary, an escape from the bloodshed and turmoil,” said Haifa resident Yigal Taheri, who last week lost his wife and newborn daughter when a Fajr-3 long-range rocket launched by Lebanese militants struck the synagogue where his family was attending services. “YHWH, Elohim, whatever you wish to not call Him—His love comforts all those who are willing to open their hearts to Him. Praise be to G–d.”
    “Religion is the one thing that has never let us down,” Taheri added over the low rumble of AK-47 fire emanating from the nearby home of a radical Israeli rabbi.
    Taheri is not alone. In a time of seemingly unending conflict between Israelis and Arabs, a growing number of Middle Easterners are fervently embracing the unshakeable wisdom of Judaism and Islam.
    Palestinian Omar Abdel-Malik, a resident of the Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis, credits his Islamic beliefs for preserving his sanity.
    “The Israelis have fired missile upon missile on my neighborhood, but it has only made my trust in Allah that much stronger,” Abdel-Malik said. “I cringe to think where the people of the Middle East would be right now if it weren’t for our steadfast belief in one true, merciful, and loving Supreme Being.”
    Palestinian widow and mother of three Dareen Idriss agreed, citing the healing power of prayer as a way to cope with the relentless slaughter she and her family witness every day. “When the children cannot stop crying because of the bombs, we all gather our families in the rubble of the mosque to pray for justice,” Idriss said. “During this calm meditation, we also pray for the annihilation of the Hebrew race.”

    West Bank settler Ari Chayat, whose neighborhood has also been ravaged by violence, echoed this profound reliance on faith. “The world is so brutal and unfair,” Chayat said. “Many days, my uncompromising belief in a vengeful creator is all that gets me out of bed in the morning.”
    “If it wasn’t for my faith that the God of Abraham has given these lands to Jews and Jews alone by divine decree, I probably wouldn’t even be here today,” Chayat added.
    Lebanese militant Jawad Hamid, who recently lost his best friend to an Israeli helicopter attack while the two men were on their way to pick up a Katyusha rocket, said his faith in Allah was the only way he could cope with the tragedy.
    “Every time I want to give up hope, I just open the Quran to my favorite passage, Surah 2:194: ‘Whoever acts aggressively against you, inflict injury on him,’” Hamid said. “Whenever I read those words, I am immediately filled with inspiration and a renewed sense of purpose.”
    Even political leaders have tapped into the public’s reliance on religion and used it as a way to encourage them to never give up.
    “In this time of strife, the only way to endure the unending suffering is through an unwavering, uncompromising faith in one’s religious beliefs,” Israeli hard-liner Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah went so far as to quote from the Quran in a speech delivered to followers the same afternoon.
    “It’s always frightening to be reminded of your own mortality, as we all were this past Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday,” Hezbollah commander Mahdi al-Zaidi said. “But rather than react irrationally, I looked deep within my faith, consulted the Quran, and by the mercy of Allah, I gained the resolve to oversee a massive airstrike against the enemy.”
    “We will get through this, so long as we have God on our side,” he added

  2. 2
    Joselyn

    Thank you for the laugh! I don’t know how this one got by me. I always check up on the onion :)

  3. 3
    Jeff Hess

    Shalom Mano,

    I think Erskine Caldwell nailed the theme with his oft-saved protagonist Jeeter Lester in Tobacco Road.

    B’shalom,

    Jeff

  4. 4
    Tim

    Great post, Mano! I spent 10 years treating sex offenders. That Onion article wasn’t very far off from a number of actual clinical conversations I had with a number of young men.

    There are people out there who actually think along the lines that the Onion was spoofing.

    Scary.

  5. 5
    Mano

    Tadas,

    Thanks for informing me about that wonderful piece!

  6. 6
    peter

    Holy Crap – that Onion piece is just about the most perfect satire I’ve ever read. It really could be using actual quotes in the correct political context, yet we’re supposed to laugh.

    But it’s really not funny at all.

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