Monthly Archives: October 2013

Murder of Innocent Civilians

The chemical execution of innocent civilians by Assad is met with the usual outrage from the international community. Just to pick a fight, I will suggest to a secular audience that Assad is not an evil, murderous head of state, but a misunderstood progressive too far ahead of his time.

Outraged? Let’s take a look at a similar incident in recent weeks that barely made the news.

Nancy Verhelst was euthanized in Belgium according to the local euthanasia laws. Was this person terminally ill? No, unless the law can be contorted to suggest that we are all terminal, it’s just a matter of when. Was this person suffering immense physical pain? No. Was this person at the end of life or over the threshold of life expectancy? No, Verhelst was 44 when the state took her life.

So why did the state kill an innocent, healthy member of its nation? The story behind Nathan Verhelst is certainly tragic. Identifying as a male (Nathan born Nancy), Mr. Verhelst was rejected by her parents and led a confused life. A recent botched sex change operation left Verhelst feeling like a monster, despondent beyond hope and prompting a decision. The state granted Verhelst her wish. She was euthanized. Pizza was promptly ordered, a soccer game was watched and life went on—except for Verhelst.

Life is cheap and human life is the cheapest of all. We live in a progressive world in which the right to choose extends to the unwanted child that lives half a century. Doctors who are charged to do no harm, harm by frivolous operations, plastic surgeries, abortions, infanticide and assisted suicide. Extrapolation of such progress leads one to believe that anyone who is despondent and finds life unbearable should end it all with a barbiturate potion complements of an expanded “healthcare”. This could include post-partum women, love frustrated teenagers and the melancholy. It could easily be applied to anyone in the prison population unable to cope with confinement as the ACLU banes religious material everywhere to remove all hope.

Allow me to personalize this issue. As a 15 year old in prehistoric 1980 I wanted to end my life. I was a short, prepubescent punching bag with no prospects for female companionship. I was diagnosed with lymphoma and underwent chemotherapy that left me a monster: no hair, bleeding mouth sores, extreme nausea and pain. In modern day Belgium I would be of applicable age and able to enroll the state in my rash decision to terminate my life. The consequence would be both temporal and eternal and societal.

My point is this: in form, the resources of the state can be legally used to put to death an innocent, healthy member of its society.  So why condemn Syria?


If Christians read the Bible at all, they are not likely to read the preface of any edition they use. Seriously, what mook reads the preface of any book, let alone that of the Bible?

Apparently, the one writing this blog.

But what is found in the preface is quite interesting. The preface provides background as to when the new translation of the Bible was commissioned, by who and why. The production of a new translation of the Bible is a work, well, of Biblical proportions. A lot of people are involved requiring lots of time and money. And with so many sensitivities as stake, it takes a great amount of delicate work, quibbling and scholarly knowledge.

Some time ago, I read the preface of the New International Version (NIV) which revealed the mechanisms set up to create this very good English version of the Bible. It involved scholars from the United States, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. To “safeguard the translation from sectarian bias”, these scholars came from many denominations: Anglican, Assemblies of God, Baptist, Brethren, Christian Reformed, Church of Christ, Evangelical Free, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Nazarene, Presbyterian, Wesleyan and “other churches”.

Anything strike you? Long ago, I wondered why no Catholic scholars were involved. I supposed those “other churches” could have included them but I think it would have been a tremendous oversight to push the largest segment of Christianity into the also-ran category. No—I sort of conjectured that they weren’t invited or that they would have nothing to do with it or perhaps a combination.

I’ve only owned my thick, red New American Bible (NAB)— a Catholic commissioned translation — for a little while, having bought it at a used book sale in Vienna this year for pennies. I was surprised to see that the translation came after the encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritus of Pope Pius XII in 1943 which set out to summon new editions from original manuscripts. It has a preface too and I expected it to say, rather snootily, that only Magisterial Catholics in good standing were involved in the effort and no heretics other Christians were allowed to help. But now here I quote from the preface:

The collaboration of scholars who are not Catholic fulfills the directive of the Second Vatican Council, not only that “correct translations be made into different languages especially from the original texts of the sacred books,” but that, “with the approval of the church authority, these translations be produced in cooperation with separated brothers” so that “all Christians may be able to use them.”

That surprised me—pleasantly. And let me just add an additional endorsement for the NAB—not only is it a very good English translation for all Christians, it comes with seven extra books!