Good Friday

I’ve told my kids to say no to a lot of things that might hurt them. I never thought about this.

Yesterday, as soon as I saw my 14-year-old, he immediately tells me about a video one of his teammates at school played for him and a friend. Kids see a lot of sh*t on-line and on their smart phones (though mine still does not have a smart phone), so you know they get exposed to a wider range of things at an earlier age than we did.

This video was different. It was a snuff video, and I honestly didn’t know a video of this sort could be accessed on-line. Naive, I guess. I thought they were illegal. I’m writing this now so you can forewarn your children, if you don’t know, and save them the horror of seeing man at his most evil. The kids call it “three men and a hammer,” but the killers are also referred to as the Dnepropetrovsk maniacs. Tell your kids if someone wants them to watch, say no thanks. Or, if your kid is like mine, you ask, “Do you want those images forever stuck in your memory? What do you think you should say?”

My son was disturbed by it. Throughout the rest of the day, he kept returning to the same questions: Why would “those guys” do something like that? Why do people murder? He said he couldn’t get the awful images out of his head. “It’s not like when you watch a movie. This was real. This guy was really being killed.” He told me it was the worst thing he’d ever seen. His friend, who my son had never seen get upset, was troubled by it, too.  This was a good thing: the more kids disturbed by evil, the better.

How do you explain wickedness when you have no devil to pin the blame on? I remember asking a college professor about the problem of evil, and he told me that evil was a necessary contrast to know good. This might be true, but it still is not an answer to the fundamental question of why evil exists. If you’re Christian, how do explain that those three guys, given the chance to repent and accept Jesus as their savior, will be saved by God? Just like that. Or, if man is created in God’s image, what does that say about man’s creator? I know, some will say that’s a simplistic way of looking at God, but it seems to me, if it’s a simple question, there must be a simple answer. (Mine would be, it’s yet another nail in God’s coffin.)

As in an earlier post, when bad things happen, you have to tell kids that bad occurrences are few and far between, that most people do not harm others. It’s important for kids to know that evil is a choice. They can always choose to do the right thing. A campaign at Northern Illinois University showed that college students who thought their peers drank in moderation, drank less, too. Rather than tell kids that binge drinking is the norm and that they should avoid it, researchers presented students with evidence (and made it known on campus through a campaign) that most of the students drank 5 drinks or fewer at parties. (Still seems like a lot of drinks to me—I’d be hugging the porcelain goddess at that point.) This idea has other applications. If we tell our children most people do the right thing, perhaps we can raise the next generation to believe that they live in a world where most people choose good, and maybe the world will become that. Wishful thinking? Perhaps. (I say this as Kim Jong Un is throwing a hissy.) But if you have a better suggestion, I will follow.

And so, on Good Friday, we are reminded that people, for thousands of years, have ganged up on and killed a lone man or woman. Where someone had the power to step in and stay, stop, no one did.

As much as things change, they stay the same.

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39 responses to “Good Friday

  1. In the words of Joseph Conrad, “Oh, the horror! The horror!” I am so sorry that your son was disturbed in this way.

    I’m reminded of the film, The Passion, in which anti-Semitic and maniacal Christian Mel Gibson made it a point to show the death of Jesus in the most graphic manner possible to our edification.

    Why is the glorification of the brutal death of a man who allegedly professed peace (though he had some less admirable things to do and say as well) something that we are supposed to behold with awe and gratitude? Why would an omnipotent god sacrifice his son to convince of us his ultimate goodness?

    That just sounds like a sadist to me, and that’s exactly what those three men are in that snuff film.

  2. The best thing you can do is be blunt and age appropriate with your kids. My ten year old and I were discussing Nazis the other day because he just read a book about the Hindenburg.

    “What made the Nazis so bad?” I asked him.
    “They killed Jews,” was his straight forward reply.

    We went on to other topics since he seemed to get the rub. We’ll talk about it more as it comes up.

    Our job as parents isn’t to create this bubble around our kids, but to prepare them for life.

    • @Andrew Hall I agree. Age-appropriate discussions are good and helpful. Not sure a snuff video will ever be age-appropriate though.

  3. I have to agree with the other osullivan (surprise!) that graphic displays of the death of Jesus are problematic. I remember being disturbed as a kid by the bloody Christ hanging in church and in every room, including the bedrooms, of the homes of pious Catholics. The bible itself is an incredibly violent book. Jesus is not the only human sacrifice and, though he was an adult when he died, it was his father who sanctified his death. Lots of children die in the bible. This is still Passover week, which commemorates the freedom of the Jews from bondage (good thing) even though this freedom came at the cost of hundreds of innocent children murdered by God (the 10th plague). How do you teach peace to people raised on these stories? The problem is not the stories, but how we glorify them or gloss over the questions they raise. If God is good, why did he harden Pharaoh’s heart? If God is good, why did he ask Abraham to kill his son? If God is good, why did he allow so many innocent children and animals to die in the flood, the plagues, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and so many other instances of his ‘justice’? Mel Gibson’s film douses the viewer in the blood of Jesus, but cartoons like Veggie Tales reduce the most violent passages in the bible to food fights. Each of these extremes demonstrate how uncomfortable Christians are with their own stories. Biblical violence is not presented as a way to teach people compassion. The violence is justice: necessary, deserved, and unflinching. The lesson I hear over and over about Good Friday is that Jesus did not deserve what he got, but you did. It should have been you being flogged and up there on the cross. You are a sinner and this is what God does to sinners. The torture and murder of Jesus was not wrong, just carried out on the wrong person.

    • @Patricia O’Sullivan Some excellent points you made. I had never thought about Veggie Tales like that. I, too, was always disturbed by the image of Christ on the cross. Growing up, we had to sit for an hour and stare at the poor guy. How painful to be hung like that….Now I know what Martin Luther was so pissed.

  4. Two things bother me here–one, no one ever mentions the other 4,800,000 people killed during the Holocaust. Apparently Gypsies, gays, mentally ill people don’t matter. The second thing is that too many people act as though the Bible is recorded history, it isn’t. In fact, not one word of it was written until at least 70 years after ‘Jesus/Yesua/Joshua supposedly died. What is written in the bible is nothing more than a poor re-telling of the life of Mithra whose name appears in Vedic texts that are 3,500 years old. Remember, every time you shake hands you do what his followers did in those days. FYI the biblical Peter is really Petra, in Jordan, and was the holiest site for the followers Mithra.

  5. @ pir faqir I agree that the non-Jews killed in the Holocaust need to be remembered–they do matter.

    Yes, the accounts of Jesus are written many years after his alleged death. It’s not unusual in early cultures for oral traditions to survive long before records are committed to writing. The same goes for the writings of many philosophers and thinkers of those days. Even into the Middle Ages, this holds true: the sole manuscript to preserve Beowulf dates from the 11th century, though some of dated the poem to the 8th. William of Poitou was a troubadour who composed around 1100, but the earliest copies of his poems survive from the 13th century.

    The correspondences between Jesus and Mithra are too close to be coincidental, as you point out. It is just as likely, however, that the life of Jesus is not a strict retelling of that story as it is a story using certain mythic structures common to the retelling such stories. Jesus may very well have lived, but when it came time to tell his story, it was infused with mythemes from the Mithra story or, even more plausible, both were cast in those structures because that was what made sense to the people reading/listening.

    The bible is certainly not history in the modern sense, but I find it hard to believe that everything in there is pure fiction. It’s a mixture and certainly not divinely inspired.

    • @deosullivan3 Thanks for stating that so well.

      @pir faqir Every murder matters.

      I thought we’d had this discussion about the Bible before (how inaccurate it is, how it’s a collection of old myths, folk tales, some history). You gotta think, even though the Bible was written long after JC died (and JC might have existed and he might have existed as several people according to some), there’s still a historical element to it in that it’s a reflection of the hopes, dreams and fears of the people who wrote it. So, it’s more of a social history than anything….

  6. It really scares me to think what is out there on the internet. There should be ways of controlling sites such as the one your son viewed. Have you thought to talk to the parents who showed him this video? With the technology we have being able to spy on other countries or trace a hacker surely video sites like these should be tracible back to the source and stopped not to mention people arrested! As far as wondering how any person could perform an act of killing, I believe some people are just wired wrong. Their genetic makeup may just be they don’t have the capacity to empathize or feel pain inflicted on others. Drugs too alter a persons way of thinking so that could be in the mix of their evilness.

    If you think about it the religious are indeed fixated with death.As deosullivan3 mentioned about Mel Gibsons film he did go out of his way to make it as bloody as possible because THAT is what sells! I remember watching a segment in Bill Mahers Religulous where they go to see the live performance of the story telling of Jesus’. When they get to the part of him being beaten and crucified, the people in the audience where in awe and WOW did the cameras come out and picture taking galore start!

    I don’t believe in God or the Devil, but we do associate God as being good and the Devil evil. I liked the comment LanceThruster made in your previous segment which is….:Jim Jefferies said we should not make assumptions about the devil because all we’ve heard is God’s side. He said the devil is taking the moral high ground by not talking bad about God.

    • @mtprairiegirl Yeah, I loved that comment, too, from Jim Jeffries.

      It’s sad that violence (and sex) is really what sells. That’s why “artsy films” don’t go mainstream, it seems. I think all the violence in movies is just a way to distract viewers from the fact that a movie has shitty dialogue and no story line. I guess people just don’t care about that; they only want “entertainment.” But it really speaks to their intelligence if that’s all it takes to entertain them…Sorry, if I offend anyone with that, but it doesn’t take much thought to make a lot of the films that are out.

      I wondered if I should contact the coach or the parents. Parents get too defensive, and this kids parents don’t speak English very well (they are Vietnamese). The family has a lot of other issues. I actually started typing up an email to the coach, but then I thought, what can she do? Kids are going to share stuff like this with other kids in other places. I told my kid never, ever to show or tell another kid about it, and he promised he wouldn’t. I also told him to be care with the stuff he puts in his mind–it’s like bad food.

      Do you think it would be a good thing to let the coach know? I can’t decide….

  7. pir faqir: Excellent points.
    22 million Russians died during WWII as well, many of them starving to death and many more being murdered outright. We should never forget that.
    And yes, the Bible is not history or science. However, it’s power over history and science is profound. Simply dismissing the Bible as fiction is not enough. People should question modern-day acceptance of Biblical tropes such as ‘traditional marriage’, gender roles, genocide, violence against women, slavery, and human sacrifice.

  8. @pir faqir…..just curious if you have watched the movie Zeitgiest Part 1? It too mentions Mithra along with other Gods that were once worshiped. It also talks about the span in time after Jesus’ death when the writing actually began. 70 yrs.

    If anyone has not viewed that movie it is one worth viewing. It made more sense to me than any religious mumbo jumbo I was taught in my earlier years.

    Make it your Easter family movie to watch ;)

    • @mtprairiegirl Great idea!!! I’ll see if I can pick that one up!

    • I just got this study in my Inbox and thought it was relevant to our discussion. Future Criminals Can Be Identified as Early as Age 6 http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/781279?nlid=29725_825&src=wnl_edit_medn_ peds&uac=89227CJ&spon=9

    • No, I have not and would not watch any movie involving religion. I watched something done by National Geographic on TV once and even it seemed to think the bible was 100 per cent recorded history. Those who portray crucifixion always get it wrong. The Romans always used the Tau cross and it was not perfectly flat on all four sides. There is a skeleton in the catacombs (in Rome as I recall) that shows the nails were driven through the wrists (the hands would not have supported the weight of the body, and between the bones in the ankle, not through the foot. Jesus is always shown with something wrapped around his groin though the bible says thieves stole his clothes. And he’s shown with brown hair and sometimes with blue eyes. One of my books says that even the ancient Persians sometimes crucified people and that Jews once crucified 600 Jews.

  9. “It’s important for kids to know that evil is a choice. They can always choose to do the right thing.” That’s what stands out here. We can’t change the fact that there is evil in the world. What’s important is for our kids to know they always have a choice.

  10. Humor is a way of holding off how awful life can be. ~ Kurt Vonnegut

  11. @dam When I click on this link, it says I need a password.

  12. First off I say keep fighting the good fight. i was successful raising two wonderful daughters who never knew faith. They plod their way through life knowing that all of us humans are in this together. Which leads to my second point.
    Most all of us do not do horrific things because we live in a social world and we know that all humans are better off by looking out for each other. We do not do the “right” thing for fear of damnation but because we live socially.

    • @Mike Stahl. Yes, I agree. (As do most of the readers here.) Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    • We, at least some, parents may create criminals by abusing children. I have a note in my files from BBC on-line that says 68 per cent of those in jail in Britain were abused as children. And, strangely, I remember reading once that 40 per cent of all US men who choose to become cops were abused as children. The following notes are from something I read but didn’t save the source: ” Every 6 minutes a child dies from abuse in the US, the highest rate of any industrialized country and equals the rate in Mexico. In the past 10 years, more than 20,000 children have been killed at home by family members with 75 per cent less than 4 years old and nearly 50 per cent under the age of one.”

  13. You are not the only naive one. I was unaware that something like that was out on the internet. Then, I have to wonder where this child got the video…. Who presented it to him in the first place, did they google something to get them to it? I can’t imagine what would put in a child’s head to think it was okay to watch this. I’m sad that your son had to be subjected to that!

    • @Rachael Fortunately he told me so I could warn others. He asked me to look at the video, and I did Google the words 3 guys and a hammer to see if his story checked out, and it did bring the video up. I didn’t watch it though. I just can’t stomach stuff like that, even in the movies.

      • Yes, my kid isn’t old enough for that and who knows what will be out there by the time she is old enough. Technology is rapidly increasing and humanity is rapidly decreasing – so glad you warned me though! I can’t bring myself to go watch that, I’m not even going to look!

  14. You seem to talk about evil, and good and bad the same way christians do, in terms of absolutes. It’s no surprise you’d make that error. We have have residual programming left over from the abrahamic religions, even if you weren’t raised christian, those programs come from other environmental influences all around us. I think it’s very important to point out there are no absolute good and bad, and there is no evil. There is no “law of good and evil”, those are concepts we’ve created to describe the way things affect us personally. Religion would have us believe there is an absolute good and evil, but they are wrong. Nothing is evil. http://intentionallyoutside.blogspot.com/2011/07/new-perspectives-good-vs-bad.html

    • @TB Bikeman The universe is indifferent. “Evil” is our symbol, and we define it, together as a culture, society, family, individual…It is not the same for everyone, so it is not an absolute, and it is changes over time. But I, personally, would not take it so far as to say “nothing is evil.” (Though I do understand what you are saying.) If we were to continue with your path of reasoning, we would also say, “nothing is good,” “nothing is love,” “nothing is fun.”

      I probably seem to talk about evil in similar terms as Christians do because you and I and our Christian neighbors all grew up in the same nation, where we have all agreed that murder is wrong, stealing is wrong, etc.

  15. The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.

    Joseph Conrad, Under Western Eyes, 1911
    English (Polish-Ukrainian-born) novelist (1857 – 1924)

    • @LanceThruster I liked that essay by Chris Floyd, especially this: “Goodness can lose, but it cannot be defeated. It can be balked, but it cannot be quelled. In every single moment of existence, the choice for goodness is there. Every single moment – the choice. And you can make it at any point, you can begin the process of accepting, enacting, igniting goodness at any point, even the darkest and most degraded.” Very nice.

  16. @dam…….for me I would ask the question of whether or not I as the parent would want to be notified about the video. Maybe talking to the coach if you feel close enough and see how he/she would handle the situation.

    @pir faqir…..the reason I asked if you had seen the video was because you mention Mithra often. This video shows the correlation between religious beliefs and astrology and mythology. Much of what is shown comes from the book written by Acharya S titled The Christ Conspiracy – The Greatest Story Ever Sold.

  17. @dam – I wanted to toss that out there in relation to the question of good and ‘evil’ as many claim their absolutes only make sense with a revealed knowledge giver/enforcer in the mix. In the absence of any God or gods, all ethics are human derived and even though without a claim of absolutes (logically determined or handed down), and even on a sliding scale (so called ‘situational ethics’), it is still preferable and possesses more possibility for justice and goodness than the absolutes whose interpretations change with the time. Any time some god -botherer wants to argue for their absolutely perfect guidebook on ethical behavior, I remind them that not that long ago, or even in some parts of the world today, I/we could be tortured and murdered merely for expressing the view that I/we sincerely hold. They did not give up this power willingly, but had it wrested from them when people got largely fed up with it.

    Your approach as shared with you children, is a beacon of hope in a world otherwise huddling in darkness and ignorance. Thank *you* for your contribution to rebirth and renewal.

    Sincere best regards,

    LT

    • Hi LanceThruster So true that, as we evolve as humans and as a society, our ethical needs and standards change. We should be flexible, open, tolerant to these changes. As you’ve pointed out, we nonbelievers are in the process of “wresting” power from the majority as we grow in number. Will we be more tolerant when we are the majority?

      Thanks for those kind words. I really appreciate that, and I appreciate your insights and great sense of humor.

  18. “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

  19. Thank you for the heads up about the snuff film. I was able to ask my high school age son about it, and am happy that he had not seen or heard of this, so I was able to warn him away in advance.

  20. For what it’s worth, there is no such thing as a snuff film.
    http://www.snopes.com/horrors/madmen/snuff.asp

    That said: the murder in the video is apparently real, at least according to online references. It’s not a snuff film; it wasn’t created to sell or distribute, but it was evidence used in a murder trial where the serial killers involved were (obviously) found guilty and given life in prison, partially based on the fact that they filmed themselves murdering multiple people. They were convicted of killing 21 people, including children and a pregnant woman. I mention this only because these people were serial killers: like all other serial killers, their acts are real and horrifically shocking but they have to be put into a context.

    The video was leaked online in 2008, and the fact that it took 5 years for it to get this far is pretty good. Apparently there is also a documentary about the murders that uses some of this video and some others.

    • @someone Here’s what wiki said about the motive behind making that video:

      Motivation

      The prosecution did not establish a motive behind the killings. Local media reported the killers had a plan to get rich from the murder videos they recorded. One suspect’s girlfriend reported that they planned to make forty separate videos of murders. This was corroborated by a former classmate who claimed he often heard Suprunyuck was in contact with an unknown “rich foreign website operator” who ordered forty snuff videos, and would pay lots of money once they were made.[14] Regional security chief Ivan Stupak rejected the claim that the murders were committed to make Internet snuff videos, saying that there was no evidence of this.[34] Detective Bogdan Vlasenko stated: “We think they were doing it as a hobby, to have a collection of memories when they get old.”[35] Deputy interior minister Nikolay Kupyanskiy commented “For these young men, murder was like entertainment or hunting.”[32]

      At the trial, it emerged that Suprunyuck collected newspaper cuttings about the case.[22] Some photographs of the crimes had captions added, including: “The weak must die. The strongest will conquer.”[
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dnepropetrovsk_maniacs#Murder_videos_and_photographs

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