"What do you think of that man?" the old guy asked in a raspy voice as I settled in next to him on the plane. He pointed to the face of Saddam Hussein on the front of his newspaper with a headline story of the looming execution. I gathered myself, and prepared for what could turn out to be a rather chatty plane ride. I replied gently, "I think that man needs some love." And the rather boisterous gentleman sat still, perhaps not exactly the response he predicted. Then he said pensively, "Hmmmm. I think you're right..." And finally, he whispered in a forlorn tone, "And it is hard to communicate love through a noose."
Sometimes we just need permission to say, "It's not okay to kill someone to show everyone how much we hate killing." As Christian artist Derek Webb sings, " Peace by way of war is like purity by way of fornication. It's like saying murder is wrong and showing them by way of execution." I am encouraged by how many Christians I hear voicing an alternative to the myth of redemptive violence in light of the recent killing of Saddam, folks who love Jesus and have the unsettling feeling that Jesus loves evildoers so much he died for them, for us. I have heard many evangelicals who see Saddam's execution as the ultimate act of hopelessness and faithlessness – after all it is humanity stepping in to make the final judgment, that this human created in God's image is beyond redemption. And for those who believe in hell, executing someone who may not yet know of the love and grace of Christ is doubly offensive.
(The entire post is here)The hippies I read on the internets have been pretty bothered by the absolute fiasco of Saddam's execution: the mocking, the deed being done by Shiite militia members, the shoddy legality of the process, and the President's Orwellian praise for the way this has been carried out have all earned their ire. I merely chalked this up as one more botched and unintentionally ironic act by our leaders and their allies.
Claiborne's work brought me out of my cynicism. I find just a slight whiff of sentimentality in the post, but that aside, the idea of the execution as an act of hopelessness and faithlessness rings true to me.
We humans are called to be stewards of this broken and fallen world, and we are, indeed, our brothers keepers. This task is far too difficult to be carried out with merely human means. Ending violence with violence is an admission of our impotence, and so if Claiborne can really hear a rising tide of Christian voices proclaiming that love is more powerful than hate, and that self-sacrifice is greater than violence, then let me add my voice to that number.