What Happened That Made You Like This?

Since the shooting in Las Vegas last Sunday, authorities have been searching for a motive for why Steven Paddock opened fire on a crowd of people with the intent to kill as many as possible. So far, no leads have turned up. Everyone who knew him seems genuinely shocked. He doesn’t seem to fit any of the expected patterns or usual profiles. People are confused and asking: How does someone get to the point where they would do something so profoundly evil and terrible as this?

The modern worldview is that we are progressing as a society, we are evolving and getting better. Furthermore, it believes that “evil” doesn’t really exist per se, but that “evil behavior” is the result of outside factors:

  1. You have a psychological complex because you were raised improperly.
  2. You did it because of bad sociology: you weren’t educated enough, or you were poor.
  3. It’s a result of bad genetics and/or you are aggressive because of millennia of natural selection which favored aggressive behavior.

There might be some truth to the matters of how someone is raised, but this theory is insufficient. This theory has no category for a Steven Paddock, who doesn’t fit any of these models. He wasn’t poor, he wasn’t uneducated, he was raised in a loving home… It’s interesting to watch reporters grasp at straws to find a reason for what happened to him that made him like this…

It reminds me of a scene from the book, Silence of the Lambs, about the serial killer: Hannibal Lecter. Officer Starling goes in to interview Hannibal Lecter, and she is looking at him and considering what he has done, and she sees his attitude, and she asks:

“What happened to you that made you like this?”

Officer Starling is the quentisential modern person. She thinks: “You are doing bad things, therefore something must have happened to you, something must have come from outside – it couldn’t have come from inside!” This is a philosophical leap of faith, which assumes that people are basically good, and if they do anything bad it is only because of outside influence.

Hannibal Lecter replies:

“Nothing happened to me, Officer Starling. I happened. You can’t reduce me to a set of influences. You’ve given up good and evil for behaviorism, Officer Starling. You’ve got everybody in moral dignity pants – and nothing is ever anybody’s fault. Look at me, Officer Starling. Can you stand and say I’m evil? Am I evil, Officer Starling?” (The Silence of the Lambs, Thomas Harris)

Hannibal Lecter is making a very important point: the modern worldview has no category for evil.

The modern world view has actually been eroding very quickly. In the 20th Century, the world became wealthy and educated, many of the problems of poverty were overcome, and yet wars and violence didn’t end, they escalated. The 20th Century was the most bloody century in history – at a time when the world was more educated, industrialized and wealthy than ever before.

The Christian worldview, however, which is based on the Bible, has no problem accepting these things – because we have a very comprehensive view on sin.

We have a category for Hannibal Lecter and for Steven Paddock. The Bible tells us that within all of us lurks the capacity for terrible acts, because we are fallen and corrupt. The theological term is: Totally Depravity. That means that, apart from God’s work within us, even the good things we do, we do for less-than-pure motives: either to benefit ourselves, bring praise to ourselves, or to justify ourselves.

But the Bible doesn’t just stop there with telling us what’s wrong, and that evil lurks inside of us; it also tells us what God has done to save us and redeem us. It tells us what God has done to destroy evil without destroying us: He took on human flesh, became one of us, and died a substitutionary death, so that through His death He might destroy the one who holds the power of death, and set free those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (Hebrews 2:14-15)

We should pursue better legislation, further education and the eradication of poverty, because we have been given a calling and vocation from God to “subdue the Earth,” i.e. to manage it well and to do all that we can under God to promote human flourishing. But we must remember that such things do not change the heart. We must place our ultimate hope in the redeeming work of Jesus Christ on our behalf.

Longmont Baby Abductor Will Not Be Charged With Murder

I was talking to a friend in Romania the other day and he said it feels like he is always seeing Longmont in the news.

It’s true. Longmont has made national (and apparently international) headlines a lot in the past few years, and not for good reasons: catastrophic floods, carjackings involving kids, and most recently a fetal abduction in which a woman who was 7 months pregnant responded to a Craigslist ad for free baby clothes was beaten, stabbed and had her baby cut from her womb and kidnapped.

For what it’s worth – crime rates in Longmont have actually decreased in the last year, as opposed to Boulder, which has higher crime rates which haven’t decreased, but this kind of stuff, although not characteristic of this fine town, gets a lot of publicity – as it should.

The suspect’s arraignment will be today at 1:30, but the Times-Call reported that the DA has already stated that murder will not be among the charges brought against this woman, the reason being that Colorado law does not count the death of an unborn child as murder, unless the child lived outside of the womb for some time. The issue in this case is that it’s not possible to prove that the child lived outside of the womb, and if so, for how long – so Colorado’s wording of the law will not allow a murder charge in this case.

People in Longmont were protesting this and picketing on Main Street last week when it was first announced. The charges expected to be brought against the suspect are: suspicion of attempted first-degree murder, first-degree assault and child abuse knowingly and recklessly resulting in death.

The problem with those charges are that even all together they will not lead to as strong of a sentence as if murder or manslaughter had been part of it. Since the mother survived, and there is no proof that the baby lived outside of the womb, Colorado law has no way to charge her with anything stronger.

What do you think?  Is this justice?

The sad part of this is that if this attack had not happened, this baby would have lived. The baby’s life was clearly taken by this attack. I find it hard to accept that we have no way to prosecute that.

How Safe Is Longmont?

Longmont seems to be in the news a lot in Colorado, but often for the wrong reasons. A few weeks ago a man stole a car in Longmont and led police on a high speed chase. This week a meth flop house was raided and shut down. There have been fatal stabbings and shootings. One can easily get the impression that Longmont is not a safe place to live.

One of my favorite features in the Longmont Times-Call is Johnny St Vrain, a column where readers can email in questions and get answers about anything Longmont.

One writer recently wrote in concerned about the question of public safety in Longmont. Check out that article here. The long and short of it?: Despite the bad press, Longmont is one of the safest places to live in the State of Colorado.

Here's a highlight from the article:

Longmont is statistically one of the safest cities in Colorado, a fact the Times-Call has reported. In December 2011, the city was named the second safest city in Colorado, based research by the magazine CQ. Last year, the Times-Call reported that major crime rates in Longmont have dropped 48 percent in the past decade, based on Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation numbers.

I have always felt safe in Longmont. This is a city of 90,000 people where if a bicycle gets stolen they report it in the newspaper! That says a lot about the city right there! In other places I've lived, I've had my house broken into, I've been mugged, robbed, assaulted – I even had a bicycle stolen, but those things didn't count as “news” in those places. Safe to say that Longmont's pretty safe.

How safe do you feel in Longmont?

 

Longmont Church Officials Face Charges In Assault Case

What happened at VineLife is grievous, and the worst kind of offense. In a place where people, especially youth, should be safe, an offense like this is especially terrible.
What makes it worse in this case is that pastors and elders were involved in covering up the situation and not reporting it to police.
There is biblical precedent for dealing with things internally rather than going to court, but I believe this regards civil disputes rather than crimes, especially felonies.
The other thing this story brings to awareness for pastors and church leaders is the fact that pastors, like teachers, are mandatory reporters. A friend of mine who works at a school was recently held responsible before the law because he heard a rumor, investigated it himself, was convinced that nothing had happened – yet did not report it to police. That’s against the law. Pastors in America need to keep that in mind – and we must never cover up crimes. This all falls under the category of respecting the authorities that God has placed over us and the laws of the land in which we live (Romans 13).

CBS Denver

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BOULDER, Colo. (AP/CBS4) — Boulder police have issued tickets to two pastors and two elders associated with VineLife Church in Longmont after investigators said the officials failed to report allegations that a youth pastor sexually assaulted a child who was a member of the church.

Police said in a statement Wednesday a fifth church official, who is currently out of the country, will be served a summons when he returns to Colorado.

The victim is now 23 years old. She told police the relationship with her pastor began when she was 15 years old and continued for seven years.

Police arrested youth pastor Jason Roberson in September on sex assault charges after he admitted having a relationship with the victim, who was also a church employee.

The pastors and elders face charges of failing to report child abuse, a misdemeanor. They were issued tickets on…

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