Monday, June 2, 2008

Behind the Looking Glass

Poor Alice, trapped in a parallel universe . . . but was she now in reality or was her old, Victorian world reality?

One recurrent theme in this blog is dealing with the concept and issues of honesty. My premise, as it comes to modern Evangelicals, most of their lives are lived in pretense. The reason is complicated, and of course it applies to all of humanity. However, Evangelicalism has a higher stake in the charade. The reason is, modern Evangelicalism believes that, while we were scum before we became Christians, we are free of the grips of sin afterwards. Evangelicals believe that, through a fairly simple and quick, process of sanctification . . . we become quite good. It is much easier then to pretend or to orchestrate the illusion of our godliness than live it.

But in reality, we are so deeply fallen, that change comes at a snail’s pace. The reason is that the science of personality is not flippant . . . as a dynamic spirit or soul, but concrete . . . established in neurons that do not change easily.

The most recent event that had me thinking about this, is my favorite TV show, Dateline. I think it is the draw of the mystery (Dateline is usually about a murder mystery, which is sometimes solve and sometimes not). The thing that captures my attention on each episode is how really nice people, often have an amazingly dark side.

A few weeks ago an episode had a story about a girl that vanished from her job at a motel in Holland, Michigan. A couple of days later, her naked, tortured body was found outside town and the case had never been solved.

She was attending Hope Christian College at the time. You can read the entire story and a blog about the case here .

The girl, Janet, was know as a Christian girl, with great Christian friends. Well, to make a long story short, thirty years later, they found out what really happened to Janet.

First of all, Janet was a different person than she appeared on the surface, at least to her family (aren't we all?). She was partying with some older men (out of town workers) who were staying at the motel. It sounds like she was smoking, drinking and having sex with them . . . something very different than her appearance to her family, church and friends. But she certainly didn’t deserve what happened to her. And her secret life was pale in comparison to several of her Hope Christian College friends.

It turns out that her good friend and roommate was behind her death . . . because of jealously. I one pont, I think I heard that her roommate, Laurie Swank, was also a well-respected Hope College student. Laurie arranged for Janet to be abducted, then tortured for two days, being rapped repeatedly by several men . . . all while her "good Christian roommate", and a couple of other friends, took photos of the abuse and cheered the men on. She was eventually raped to death. Actually she was strangled during the rape. So the men tossed her broken little body outside of town.

Janet’s good Christian girlfriends, and the evil men, went about their lives for all this time as if Janet was a bag of garbage that they had tossed beside the road thirty years ago. They lived normal, guilt free (from the way they were acting at the trial) for all that time.

It makes you sick.

A few years ago, Dateline did another series with a hidden camera catching people who thought they were hiring hit-men to kill someone.

One lady I will never forget. She was a Gospel singer, as was her husband. With the hidden camera rolling, she sat in a pick up truck with a man (who supposedly was an ex-con and killer) and was arranging for him to murder her husband for $10K. The “killer” (actually a cop) wanted her to make herself clear on tape so that she would be convicted. Here is how the dialog went (my paraphrase).

Hitman: So what do you want me to do?

Gospel Singer: I want you to kill my husband dead. But make it look like an accident. I would love to see him suffer for a while. Can you like drive over his legs and let him lay in the road and suffer for a while, then drive back over his head and kill him?

Hitman: Why do you hate him so much?

Gospel Singer: I’m in love with Bill. He’s another singer in our group and we are having an affair.

Hitman: Why don’t just divorce your husband and marry him?

Gospel Singer (laughing): Oh, I can’t do that. We are strong Christians and we don’t belief in divorce.

The amazing thing is, this last story makes it clear that Christians often just care about their appearance. The Gospel singer couldn’t divorce her husband in private, but she could have him killed in private and she could marry her lover and continue on with her charade.

This topic will continue tomorrow with some more practical conclusions (more practical than murderers etc.).

More later.


Anonymous said...

Wow. I'm glad to see someone post on this. I, too, was haunted by the story of the young college woman from Holland, Michigan. After I saw it, I couldn't
"shake" it for weeks. I kept asking friends if they saw it and no one had. It truly disturbed me.

I didn't know that her roomate was a Hope college girl, as well. I thought she was a friend, fellow hotel employee, and roomate. Maybe even jealous of her privelege as much as her good looks.

I was most haunted by this story because so many people witnessed this crime and no one "cracked" and said anything for twenty five plus years. I just don't know how that many people could witness something so horrific and live with that secret day in and day out. I was also moved by the faith of her parents. I hope solving the mysteries surrounding her death has in some way helped to heal them.

As for Janet's behavior, I think she was a good person who loved Christ. She was young and made some bad choices. I think sanctification is a journey... longer for some than others.

MJ said...

It is very hard to do blog-type postings and give a real sense of my attitude or the spirit behind my posting. I certainly was not trying to be judgmental about poor Janet. I feel the greatest of compassion for her.

I think the point that I was trying to make, is that ALL (especially me) of us, are different than what we often pretend . . . including Janet. But the real point of the posting, like you said, were these people (claiming to be Christian or not)that can live such an insulated facade from their real self (talking about the ones who did this terrible crime and hid it for so long).

Like you, I have the deepest compassion for her caring parents.

I just hope that I was clear.

I may have got my facts wrong and I will go back and check, but I had the the understanding that it was her roommate, fellow classmate at Hope that was behind thise.

Thanks for your comments.

MJ said...

One other response to what you said and that is I totally agree tht sanctification is a long journey. My premise is that it is much longer than most of us realize. I know that I came to this point when, after I had considered myself as a very "godly man" for 15 years, realized that I was rotten in my secret life. But, it is Jesus plus nothing that gives us favor in God's eyes.