EVERY WEDNESDAY NIGHT THROUGHOUT THE SUMMER I’M RE-POSTING SOME OLD BLOGS I THOUGHT WERE INTERESTING AND WORTH A SECOND LOOK, OR A FIRST GLANCE FOR MY MANY NEW READERS.
Kevin Fischer takes on the Bible
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Whenever I fill in on Newstalk 1130 WISN, I generally get a fair amount of feedback.
I’ve been flooded with e-mails responding to a topic I discussed recently while filling in for Mark Belling concerning politics and the pulpit that I also blogged about several weeks ago.
To re-cap, at a Sunday Mass at my church this summer, the visiting priest during his homily suddenly launched into a loud dissertation about child abusers and the general attitude most people have towards them. He gestured with his hands and asked everyone in the pews if they wouldn’t like to wrap their hands around the throat of a child abuser. The priest used similar rhetoric about identity thieves and illegal immigrants.
Hmmmmm, I thought to myself in the back of church. I don’t particularly have any affection for any of those groups. I have been quite vocal in my disdain for child abusers and illegal immigrants. And I’m not a fan of identity thieves.
The visiting priest preached on.
“As we forgive those who trespass against us! The Our Father! Oh, the Our Father can be a dangerous prayer!”
Why? Because, the visiting priest opined, the prayer challenges us to forgive the evildoers among us.
“Have mercy for the merciless,” the priest instructed us before slowly walking away from the lectern. Sermon over.
I was not impressed or convinced.
I have no sympathy for a child abuser. None.
I have no sympathy for illegal immigrants None.
I consider myself a devout Catholic, but after hearing this homily, am I a bad one?
Finding it extremely difficult, if not damn near impossible to forgive vicious criminals or illegal immigrants, many of whom are vicious criminals, am I rejecting my faith, neglecting to follow its teachings?
I don’t think so. I am content and satisfied that I can detest killers and other violent criminals and still earn a path to Heaven. I won’t feel a single pang of guilt the next time I recite the Lord’s Prayer.
Not long after that Sunday Mass, there was this story out of Sheboygan. A two-time convicted sex offender is now willing to accept the fate of a lifetime behind bars after confessing to a third assault — repeatedly sodomizing an 11-year-old boy — and pleading guilty in his first court appearance.
Virgil D. Outland, 51, faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison if convicted under Wisconsin’s repeat child sex offender law. He confessed to sexually assaulting the boy more than 30 times in a July letter to a relative, and confirmed the account in interviews with police.
“He asked for forgiveness for what he did and indicated that God commands us to make right all that we have done,” said Lt. David Schafhauser of the Sheboygan Police Department, describing the letter. “The statement was, ‘This is the only way to receive forgiveness from God.'”
Armed with all of this, the sermon, the Sheboygan sex offender, and solid data of the numerous crimes committed by illegal immigrants in America, I took it to the airwaves. I even supplemented it all with selected quotes from the Bible instructing to forgive the unforgivable.
I opened the Mark Belling program that afternoon outlining my feelings. The phone lines exploded. My first caller flat out condemned me, saying there was literally no hope of salvation for me. Others disagreed with me without turning the hour into a Bible-thumping fest. Some tried to “help” or “explain to me” without lecturing. I respectfully stuck to my convictions.
More than a few callers used this argument: Jesus forgives, why can’t you, Kevin? With no intent to make light of the subject, I readily admitted that Jesus was a far better guy than I am.
Many callers also agreed, the best call of the hour coming from a woman taken over by emotion while describing the rape of her young daughter. Unable to keep from breaking down, the woman could not understand how anyone could forgive such monsters.
Her call was so powerful, the next person in line to go on the air had told my producer, Paul that he vehemently disagreed, but once on the air, completely toned down his opinion.
Since the program, I have been hit with e-mails. Remarkably, even though most disagree, their demeanor is that of a soothing attempt to reach out and again, attempt to “help me.” I’ve never had people disagree so respectfully.
For that, I am touched, and grateful.
However, despite all the thoughtful e-mails and passages from Scripture, I have not wavered from my position, fully confident that Jesus understands.
I UPDATED WEEKS LATER… The sex offender I referenced as part of my discussion, Virgil Outland, was sentenced to life in prison. I repeat. I have no sympathy.