A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Burial of a Terrorist

Tamarlan Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bomber who was killed in a shootout with police, was buried secretly a few days after his death. Outside the funeral home where his body was kept, protesters stood outside across the street shouting, "feed him to the sharks!" A plot which was donated in the Al-Barzakh Cemetery in Doswell, Virginia has upset some families who have relatives buried there.

Martha Mullen, a United Methodist helped arrange for the burial and did so based on her Christian convictions. "Jesus tells us to love our enemies, not hate them after they're dead," said Martha Mullen, in a phone interview. "That's why I kind of got this ball rolling."

I understand the anger people have over the great atrocity committed in Boston on that fateful day and I am well aware of the human desire to strike back in every way possible toward those who behave in almost unspeakable ways. But I think the difference between a civilized world and one that isn't is that those who are truly civilized refuse to act in ways that the uncivilized, in this case, terrorists do. It is right to seek justice, but vengeance must be reserved for God. It is good to have a righteous anger, but we must not allow that anger to seethe over into a blind rage that brings more calamity on others and reduces us to the kind of distorted view of morality that justifies feeling pleasure when inflicting misery on others-- even the guilty. Justice does not mean getting even. And in being willing to bury a terrorist who has acted so unjustly, and who did what he did to get revenge acting for his own divine cause, we are not justifying or minimizing his heinous actions. We are simply doing what decency requires.

But decency alone is not sufficient. I am a Christian, and I want to do much more than act decently. I want my life to reflect the image of Jesus Christ in this world. And we must remember that through the decency of Joseph of Arimathea, Jesus was buried when the normal fate of the crucified dead was carrion for birds and wild dogs. And Luke reminds us that in Jesus' death, he was counted among the wicked (Luke 22:37). Martha Mullen says she approached her pastor and informed her as to what she was doing and her pastor was supportive. If I were Martha's pastor, I would have been supportive as well because I think Jesus would have approved of her actions.

And I have much trouble believing that Jesus would feed anyone to the sharks.


Robert Cornwall said...

I agree!

Dennis Sanders said...

Hear, hear. I totally agree!

Allan R. Bevere said...

Bob and Dennis.... I am in good company!

bthomas said...

Burial for a terrorist? Simple. Do it the same way Israel does. Or, do it the same as with Eichmann. Or, bury at sea. No site then available for a shrine, protest, etc. Problem solved.

Allan R. Bevere said...


The problem is already solved. He has been buried.

Patrick said...

I agree with this woman's view. Jesus prayed for His murderers on the cross, He is our role model.

This man did not know what he was doing from the Divine viewpoint and our role as the people of Christ is to love him even if he were alive still as his brother is.

I've prayed for his little brother's conversion and don't discount the possibilities, Ramzy Yusef is a member of The Body of Christ by personal choice after his mass murder conduct.

Forgiven much, love much still applies.

bthomas said...

"This man" along with his brother knew exactly and precisely what they were doing. It is aptly demonstrated by their own statements as well as what the brother scrawled inside the boat before his capture.