Thursday, August 6, 2009

Life Inside The Dot

I've just read (via the blog of George Sodoni, the man who shot and killed four women at a fitness club and injured several more before shooting and killing himself. I have a hard time sympathizing with anybody who goes on a killing spree, but a couple of entries stick in my brain.

Sodoni wrote about a Christian acquaintance:
I have been in barrooms and church groups. The worst people by far are the religious types. Especially a right-wing, stiff-faced fundie like Andy. A condescending, demeaning, passive-aggresive person. Frigid, rigid, linear and totally inflexible. Being a very serious person, he cannot hide his frown-lined face. He better not try to smile; lest his face might crack. I knew children of parents who grew up in strict religious homes. Religion has a certain stink to it of guilt, shame, fear, and that moral standard that always contradicts the natural tendencies and desires of a person.
Days before he carried out his so-called "exit plan," he wrote:
Maybe soon, I will see God and Jesus. At least that is what I was told. Eternal life does NOT depend on works. If it did, we will all be in hell. Christ paid for EVERY sin, so how can I or you be judged BY GOD for a sin when the penalty was ALREADY paid. People judge but that does not matter.
Even though these words come from a mentally disturbed person, they remind me of two factors that keep people from getting right with GOD or living right for Him: hypocrisy (real or supposed) and false teachings.

Hypocrisy is that elephant in the room for too many Christians who believe in GOD's principles of love, fellowship, joy, service, and obedience, yet fail to show it in their lives. Some are burdened by religious rules with no Biblical foundation, so concerned with living in the world but not of the world that they forget GOD gives us tremendous liberties, provided we live according to His principles. 1 Corinthians 9:22 (NIV): "I become all things to all people that by all means I might save some." Then we have those who treat Christianity like a social club, shutting people out through religious snobbery. Part of our mission as Christians is to confront and correct sin, but too many times we're alienating people when we should be drawing them to us because we care about their salvation... or at least we say we do.

Then we come to the bigger problem: false teachings, and Sodoni's blog illustrates a whopper: the belief in the "Once Saved, Always Saved" principle, which states that once you get right with GOD, nothing you can do will take your salvation away. I could write myself clear out of town debunking this principle which makes getting saved sound like getting a measles shot. But all I really need to do is remind you of 1 John 2:9-11 (NIV)...
“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.”
...and these scary verses from Hebrews 10:26-31 (NIV):
“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Ouch. If that isn't enough for you, consider the logic: Why does so much of the New Testament talk about how we are to live as believers, if living right doesn't really matter after we've confessed Christ as our Savior and pledged our lives to Him?

Sodini, on the other hand, was pledging his life to a plan of death and vengeance, filled with hate and bitterness over not having a girlfriend or a sex life for more than two decades. He ignored the upward trend in his life to dwell on the negatives, as he graphicly depicts in his blog:
But I got a promotion and a raise, even in this ---- Obama ecomomy. No more grunt programming. Go figure! New boss is great. He tactfully says when you did something wrong or complements on good things. Never confused with him. But that is NOT what I want in life. I guess some of us were simply meant to walk a lonely path. I have slept alone for over 20 years. Last time I slept all night with a girlfriend it was 1982. Proof I am a total malfunction. Girls and women don't even give me a second look ANYWHERE. There is something BLATANTLY wrong with me that NO ------ person will tell me what it is. Every person just wants to be ---- nice and say nice things to me. Flattery. Oh yeah, I am sure you can get a date anytime. You look good, etc. ----. Awwww, wait. I can just start being self-righteous and say I live a good, clean life. I am holy, that's all Rick Knapp stuff. Hear that you ----: I Am Just Good!
A friend of mine whom I consider one of my chief spiritual advisers talks about "living inside the dot:" getting so caught up in our own personal universe that we fail to see the world from GOD's perspective. We fail to notice everything He does for us and why He is so worthy of our obedience and love. Living inside the dot means you don't see opportunities. You don't trust anybody. You barely trust yourself, as Sodini illustrated when he admitted he "chickened out" of an earlier attempt to carry out his deadly mission. You become resentful, bitter, and hardened. Sodini was so into his dot that he couldn't even live with other people's warmth.
Unfortunately I talked to my neighbor today, who is very positive and upbeat. I need to remain focused and absorbed COMPLETELY.
His last sentences invite us to study him, dissect him, perform a mental autopsy on him after he's gone:
Also, any of the "Practice Papers" left on my coffee table I used or the notes in my gym bag can be published freely. I will not be embarased, because, well, I will be dead. Some people like to study that stuff. Maybe all this will shed insight on why some people just cannot make things happen in their life, which can potentially benefit others.
He's right about that, but not for the reasons his warped, lonely mind imagined.

When the life story of Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho revealed several missed opportunities for intervention, I said we owed it to ourselves to intervene against the destructive powers of loneliness. If only Sodoni had used all his exit-plan energy uplifting himself and those around him while trying to woo the right girl, he would have succeeded. GOD does that for people who come out of the dot.

UPDATE: AP writer Jocelyn Noveck points out that Sodnoni's blog likely went unnoticed because there's so many of them out there. True. That's why I hesitate to point fingers into the Internet community. But surely people knew him face-to-face. Did they notice anything wrong? Likely not. You can't blame them, either. A friend of mine once told me, "Don't be lonely!" This is that instance where "be" is an action verb, one that puts the burden back on ourselves for improving our lot in life with GOD's guidance.


Suzanne. said...

I don't think we can wallow too long in the mind of a murderer before polluting our own minds -- the old Friedrich Nietzsche quote: “If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” So the less said about that killer, the better...

But so that we can recognize patterns and learn from them, I will say I have met that kind of mindset before. He hated women, he couldn't forgive them, because of the way HE treated THEM. The worse he treated them, the more they stayed away, the worse he treated them. Of course they avoided him his whole life. To get to the act he committed yesterday, he has probably practiced vengeance his whole life, beginning with some minor slight, growing into larger and larger acts, until he committed this ultimately huge act of vengeance, against people he didn't even know. That kind of self-chosen personality will never attract the opposite sex. I doubt he even had any friends.

BTW - His whole mumbo-jumbo self-talking that Jesus forgives everything, so he may as well commit the horror, is the outrageous sin of presumption.

Nope, our henceforth nameless killer is NOT pleased right now with the results of his actions.

Christopher said...

My Dearest Suzanne,

I don't want to wallow around the mind of a murderer, either -- and let me be clear, I don't condone his actions -- but I DO want to find the teachable moments from his ranting and correct the bogus principles he lived under.

It's clear he saw women as sex objects, and I didn't get into that because people's bloggings in private and behavior in public can be two different things, and I frankly didn't have enough evidence of his public behavior to expound upon that. But you are right: his self-chosen personality likely kept the ladies away.