Assorted thoughts (based on bin Laden)
Not sure what to make of the announcement of Bin Laden's death. I didn't lose anyone close to me in either the terrorist attacks or the ensuing years of war, so Bin Laden's personal effect on me has been small. But he was certainly a bad man doing bad things.
This brings me to a curious point: has anyone out there in the media tried to say that he wasn't a bad man? After all, aren't good and bad relative things these days? One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter and all that? My first college roommate had a little book that purported to be about spirituality. It was the kind of book that always seems to be on discount at Barnes and Noble or Borders and is located near the check out...a very happy-dappy pop culture type of thing. On the subject of evil and hell, it had only this to say, "If there is a hell, it's reserved for people like Stalin and Hitler...you know, people who did REALLY bad things." Is Osama bin Laden going to be added to that very short list of people who did REALLY bad things? How many people do you have to kill to qualify for that author's list for hell, I wonder?
I am glad that a person who did lots of evil is not around to do evil anymore. He will face judgment, just like the rest of us. But it's certainly a case of "There (but for the grace of God) go I." There's nothing that different between what we're made of, bin Laden and I. Is it just luck that I turned out not to be an evil genius? Just nationality? Parents? I'm sure those are all factors, but God says that we're all equally capable of murder. Jesus said that if you so much as have a resentful or hateful thought against someone, you've as good as murdered them in your heart.
Last night at home community, we read a short essay by C.S. Lewis (you can find it here...read it!). We got to talking about how a lot of people will say, "Yeah, Jesus was a really good man and a great teacher, but that's all." Someone pointed out that anyone who says that probably hasn't read Jesus' teachings that carefully, because some of them are pretty hard to take. Thinking mean thoughts=murder? Fantasizing about someone=adultery? Jesus talked a lot about hell and the fact that some people were going to go there. He said he was God. People who talk like that usually aren't seen as "just a good teacher." No one says, "Man, that David Koresh guy was such a good teacher," or "The Heaven's Gate dude was a really good man." People who say they are God and make moral pronouncements about who will and won't see God usually make friends or enemies, but not distant admirers. Lewis discusses this here on this guy's blog (he's quoting from Mere Christianity.)
Back to bin Laden. He did horrible things and killed a lot of people. But he was also somebody's little boy, once upon a time. He was human. In the words of Derek Webb, "My enemies are men like me." Here is a moving YouTube video someone made set to this song. I don't know if Derek Webb wrote it specifically addressing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but his song does communicate the tragic reality of our world. Our enemies are people like us.