Sunday, October 07, 2012

Books: Killing McVeigh, Moral Deficit & God-&-Love

The title encapsulates the book. That is not my way of saying that the book is not worth reading! Indeed, I give the book 5 stars for what it does provide - and how it does explore its content! Just don't expect the book to give answers to questions about McVeigh - nor to give insight into how killing McVeigh brought resolution and hope to those who were his victims - or family members of his victims.

The book is a somber reflection on the fact that - for some healing to become reality for victims - other ways of narrating their lives, re-membering [sic] their identity and reconstituting their future need to become viable - set over against the myth that taking another life brings life back for those who have lost a loved one!

This book confirms with its case-study - and with keen insight from Jody Lynee Madeira, what she has learned about the inability to find closure, as she says, "this side of the grave" (page 43). For Madiera, closure must include many things including, "learning to live with new, gaping, painful holes in one's life . . . . pulling together a new self-identity, the yearning to move from victim to survivor" (page 41).

Madiera achieves her purpose. The book is good. And, for an attorney presenting the "facts" - the book is helpful. And yet, I was left frustrated with her full analysis and her final paragraphs. I have a vested interest in issues of remembrance, reconciliation and peacemaking - with work I engage in University, Counseling, and Pastoral settings in Oklahoma City. I lived in Oklahoma City in 1995 - and heard the bomb explode from miles away, April 19, 1995. Like many others in OKC, I was engaged in community work & conversation about what happened & how we could process healing. I lived in Colorado 1996 & 1997 - when McVey was on trial there - since the court agreed a fair trial could not be given in Oklahoma. I have lived again in Oklahoma for the past 15 years.

After careful analysis including her own prescriptions much earlier in the book (she includes an entire section on forgiveness, page 191ff), Madiera's perspective ends with her belief that closure cannot come "this side of the grave" and the fact that "never again" is a "fairy-tale." For me, while Madiera's review of the data is clear - her assessment of the future is bleak - and lacks possible options for forgiveness that can bring closure and open up new possibilities for individual and social wholeness and healing THIS side of the grave. In this respect, for example, I felt Madiera's presentation of Bud Welch (as one example) was lacking, given the ample evidence of his story made available elsewhere, but presented without great nuance by Madiera. Bud's statement, for example, demonstrates that he did come to certain "closures" after the bombing, "I was opposed to the death penalty all my life until my daughter Julie Marie was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing. For many months after the bombing I could have killed Timothy McVeigh myself. Temporary insanity is real, and I have lived it. You can't think of enough adjectives to describe the rage, revenge, and hate I felt. But after time, I was able to examine my conscience, and I realized that if McVeigh is put to death, it won't help me in the healing process. People talk about executions bringing closure. But how can there be closure when my little girl is never coming back. I finally realized that the death penalty is all about revenge and hate, and revenge and hate are why Julie Marie and 167 others are dead." ~ Bud Welch.

Fixingthe Moral Deficit – by Ron Sider.  This book helped give me extended perspectives on the complex issues involved in the U.S. economy  - such a complex series of numbers involving so many agencies, persons, powers, and other nations!  What I think is must helpful about the work of Sider in this book – and other powerful books he’s written – is that Sider reminds us that spending is a moral issue.  Economies are Christian issues because God cares for people – and money shapes lives of people.

With praise from Jim Wallis, Shane Claiborne & Tony Campolo – the “bent” for the book is quite clear – and I’m perfectly fine with that!   I’ll let their words say more here.

"Ron Sider always brings together rigorous policy analysis and sound biblical principles to address political, social and economic issues. . . . He believes that Christians and other people of goodwill can work together to end the crisis in a way that is both economically sound and morally just." (Jim Wallis, president and CEO, Sojourners )

"Thank God for this book! It gives the best survey of America's disastrous debt crisis, along with biblically based critiques of the options to resolve this crisis that are being proposed on Capitol Hill. What's more, Ron gives morally workable alternatives to these proposals." (Tony Campolo, professor emeritus, Eastern University )

Godof Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity and Islam by MirabaiStarr.  With my own vested interests in the issue of Lovethat is central to Christian faith – and with my own work with Inter-Religious Dialogue & Interfaith hopes for peace for our world -  I wanted to love this book.  I did not.  It is not that it was “bad” – nor that it was “false.”  I just found that the reflections simply did not connect internally – in a logically cohesive way – and that the reflections were not as “deep” as others seem to have experienced them.  I might come back to the book – as the reviews of others suggest that I missed something.  For now, though, I remain un-moved.

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