There have been two stories dominating my Facebook feed the last day or so [I’m not even going to touch on the Renee Zellwegger face thing – we created that circus!] and they are both ones I have tried to keep largely clear of. Until now.
OSCAR GOES TO…
The Oscar Pistorius sentencing saga [because if the Twitterer is to be believed, it WAS that] which has been lurking on news headlines stuck to lampposts, Tweet Hashtags and Facebook status updates, meant that the whole trial soap opera [because it really became that – I imagine that so many of the people glued to their screens might have forgotten at some stage that they were watching a murder trial] from a year or so ago, was brought back ‘for a new season’ complete with media attention and a cliff hanger.
Soon there was commentary happening all over the place on how just or unjust the sentencing was and comparisons of this case to other ‘less serious’ cases with bigger sentences, with focusing on how soon he will be able to get off and so on.
In the midst of it all there was a much forgotten woman and murder [or culpable homicide] victim named Reeva Steenkamp. Who, in many stories had simply become ‘the girlfriend’.
This article by Kat Lister on the Huffington Post provided helpful commentary in terms of reminding us that as much as the media [and many of us] made the whole thing about Oscar, the famous guy, the celeb, the international athlete, at the heart of the story was a woman who was killed – people lost a daughter and a sister and a friend. How this has “ruined Oscar’s career” should not even be up for discussion.
Within minutes of the sentencing there were jokes happening all over the Internet, with the delightful Twitterer tag #ThingsLongerThanOscarsSentence leading the way, because ‘humour helps us deal with tragedy’ or some other crap like that.
The reason I avoided [as much as was possible] the trial from the beginning was because of the vile fact that because Oscar Pistorius was a celebrity meant that his case was going to be treated differently. Because, having lived through O.J.Simpson and other celeb murder trials, it was obvious that it was going to become entertainment from early on. Entertainment. A murder trial. Can we just take that in for a second?
THE MARK OF GRACE
Meanwhile, across in Americaland, Mark Driscoll had finally been relieved of his position heading up one of the larger church congregations over there. Another celebrity, with less serious but still completely significant crimes and misdemeanors. There had been a number of incidents over the past couple of years and more so in recent months, and eventually someone saw fit to pull the plug on his ministry.
Then today a mate posted this videowhere Mark was attending a conference and was called on to stage by Robert Morris, who is one of the pastors helping him through this difficult time, with Morris saying, “We’ve always got two reactions to someone in the spotlight falling…. crucify them, or forgive them, like we’ve been forgiven.”
Having followed a little bit of the Driscoll story, mostly through different articles people post or tag me in, that statement really concerned me to some extent. I finally got to watch the video clip this evening and they basically call him on stage, to a standing ovation, and give him the mic, so he can talk about how badly his family has it at the moment [which is a really tragic thing on the one hand, but after announcing that Mark was humbly attending the conference just like a normal person, they then allowed the spotlight to once again be put firmly on him].
My friend Micah J. Murray summed up my thoughts really excellently in his statement that reads, “When Jesus said: ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,’ he was talking about protecting vulnerable people from abusive religious leaders. He was NOT talking about protecting abusive religious leaders from accountability.’”
Yes, there absolutely must be grace and forgiveness for anyone who messes up [and especially one of our own, regardless of how ‘our own’ some of us might want to see him] but that does not mean giving someone licence to unrepentantly do the same things again.
Because really, the only person I have any control over in this situation is myself.
With scenarios like the Oscar Pistorius trial, do I allow myself to be caught up in it until it becomes an entertainment thing? And is that okay? I don’t think so.
Am I sharing, liking or retweeting the jokes that are being made at his [or maybe more accurately nameless Reeva’s expense]?
Do I get caught up in the mistaken belief that this case should be more important than any of the other hundreds [thousands?] of murder cases that are being brought to court in South Africa [some that were presumably delayed so that Oscar’s could assume center stage]?
With a situation like Mark Driscoll, am I baying for his blood [not okay] or am I screaming that he should be forgiven and shown grace to the exclusion of any form of accountability, repentance, consequence to his actions [also probably not okay]?
Am I getting caught up in judging Mark Driscoll for his actions as if he was any worse than me? Or perhaps judging those who are judging Mark Driscoll and refusing to just let him be?
Both Oscar and Mark will stand before God one day and account for their actions. And I will do the same.
Brett blogs to provoke laughter and challenge and inspire and encourage and share ideas and wrestle and celebrate and mourn – as his tagline says, to really ‘suck the marrow out of life’. Follow him on Twitter – @BrettFishA