“I was influenced by Seung–Hui Cho. That’s my boy right there. He got NEARLY double the amount that Eric Harris and Dylann Klebold got…just sayin.'”
Bryce Williams, a.k.a. Vester Lee Flanagan—yes he was a troubled man; yes he blamed everyone who reacted negatively to him in the smallest way for propelling him into murder; yes he was a black, gay man who murdered two white, straight people—killed three people (one of them himself) to free himself from life.
It was suicide by murder, an increasing trend where the suicidal person kills others to move himself (or herself) over the edge, past the point of no return, to a place where it’s either jail or death, with death being the preferred outcome.
There is a malevolence at work here that most would define as “evil.” We’d define it that way because a person who meticulously plans to kill two others while they are broadcasting live television is a harmful individual whose terrible act touched thousands of lives in a profoundly negative way.
But the greater malevolence is not found in political arguments. Williams cited politics as his motive in his “manifesto” (suicide letter), but his own words reveal the “tell” of the lie like a bad poker bluff:
“Yes, it will sound like I am angry,” he writes in his manifesto. “I am. And I have every right to be. But when I leave this Earth, the only emotion I want to feel is peace….”
“The church shooting was the tipping point…but my anger has been building steadily…I’ve been a human powder keg for a while…just waiting to go BOOM!!!!”
“The only emotion I want to feel is peace.” From any world view, that statement is pure nonsense. As a Christian, I believe a man who unrepentantly kills two other people, then faxes a 23-page statement to a television station, then calls the station to validate his own identify before killing himself when authorities close in—I believe that man is not entering the peace of heaven and the rest of Jesus Christ.
No, quite the opposite. Atheists might consider the end of life a form of peace, but not one you can feel—and certainly not justifiable the way Williams accomplished it.
But there’s a malevolence at work here. The malevolence is the lie which begets other lies.
The lie is that a man’s anger is fed like a flame from others’ actions. Williams wrote that he “has every right to be” angry. Sure. Everybody has a right to feel anger, but there’s no right to be angry and hurt others. An atheist or agnostic who believes in morality will be the first to tell you that you can’t let your anger harm others. The Bible agrees on this point: “Be angry, and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.”
But to a large degree our nation has bought the lie that others’ actions cause unquenchable anger which can only find its expression in harming others. We’ve bought it hook, line, and sinker—and this applies to all across the political spectrum. We’ve seen it in the anger displayed by supporters of political candidates: both conservative and liberal alike. We’ve seen it on both sides of the law: enforcement and criminal.
The entirety of Freddie Gray’s experience is one testament to the lie of anger. Police anger at Freddie Gray’s behavior. Rioters’ anger at the police. And political anger at Baltimore’s self-immolation.
It’s also a lie that a man’s race determines his social and economic treatment at the hands of society. Less than 1 millimeter below the surface of our skin, we are all the same. There’s no skin color just a millimeter down.
“As for Dylann Roof? You (deleted)! You want a race war (deleted)? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …(deleted)!!!” He said Jehovah spoke to him, telling him to act.
Dylann Roof is a troubled man, to be sure, but Roof didn’t kill himself, and the preservation of his life allowed his victims’ families to confront—and forgive—him (writing about that supernatural forgiveness was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, fighting back the tears, and also one of the most rewarding). Certainly, “Jehovah” (God) did not tell Williams to act.
There’s a malevolence at work, not a what but a who, who masks himself as Jehovah or an angel of light.
It’s interesting that the political pundits either blame guns, or blame racial tensions, or blame Williams’ sexual preference as a gay man. But nobody takes seriously his claim that God spoke to him, telling him to act.
Roof never claimed that God told him to start a race war. He determined that all on his own, and in fact told police he “almost didn’t go through with it because everyone was so nice to him” while he prayed with his victims for an hour.
So many murders and suicides that invoke “God told me to do it” paint an unmistakable pattern: Somebody is impersonating God, somebody malevolent. The political pundits want to ignore him, and pretend he’s not there; that’s his greatest desire, to operate invisibly and in plain sight with those who see him not believing what they see.
You can say that Williams, or Roof, or Holmes, or Lanza, or any number of mass killers are simply lunatics. And they may well be. But individual cases don’t make a general proof. In other words, the fact that one or more of these killers is insane or suffering real mental illness doesn’t disprove the hypothesis that there’s an outside malevolent force operating.
If you’re a skeptic of the existence of God, you have a confirmation bias, and that’s fine—your argument is that since there can’t be a God or anything beyond this mortal frame, the cause must have a physical condition at its root. I have no problem with that, but if you feel that way, you can’t call Williams’ act evil. If his actions are the logical progression of a tortured and unstable mind, then we cannot condemn him or any killer. In fact, that’s the best argument for blaming the gun itself: the man is nothing more than a faulty circuit pulling the trigger.
The problem for the skeptic is: nobody really believes that—it’s just a straw man argument used for political points. If you really did believe it, you’d advocate for things like mass sterilization and capital punishment—in short, Eugenics. You’d want to weed out these defectives. If that’s you, you have a bigger problem than simply being wrong.
And from the other side of the religious belief spectrum, we have those who would categorize (and judge) Williams as evil because God has abandoned him. They would say God has abandoned gays, or liberals, or (hideously) African Americans, or Mexicans, or illegal immigrants, or whoever that’s not them. Westboro Baptist Church (which is neither Baptist nor a church in any rational application of those words) is a stellar example of these people following a heinous lie. But many who follow that lie aren’t openly bigoted. Or protest at funerals. Or white, for that matter.
For many, it’s just a confirmation bias that God could not be on the side of a people who believe like Williams.
But that’s the biggest lie of all.
Believing that God is on this side or that side, or the whites or the blacks, or the Asians or the Catholics or the Protestants or the Republicans or the Democrats is an enormous, soul-devouring lie straight from Hell. God is on God’s side, and He is all that stands between us and the most significant enemy mankind faces. The devil is like a roaring lion, prowling around looking for whom he might devour. Bryce Williams was devoured, and like many killers he sowed the seeds of his own anger in others before being consumed.
I know a young man who was shot—he had 4 separate “1 percent” injuries, that doctors say have a one percent survival rate—for all intents he was mortally wounded. After shooting him, his would-be killer shot himself in the head in front of him, leaving him to die after witnessing a suicide.
This young man saw one thing, and he heard one thing. He saw the demonic look in the eyes of the one who shot him, and he heard the voice of God saying, “you will live.” Bleeding under a tree, there on a cold December night, in a rural area with no cell signal, he somehow managed to crawl up a long, muddy driveway and call 911. The first ambulance got stuck in the mud, but a second ambulance responded to the call without being dispatched (just in case).
Both ambulances combined all their plasma—you see this man was shot point-blank with a .45 in the back, exiting through the chest, perforating the vena cava, severing the stomach at the duodenum, and grazing a few other organs, missing his spine by a millimeter. In three minutes, he would bleed out. He arrived at the emergency room with no blood pressure, but amazingly conscious—at a hospital with the only level 1 trauma center within 100 miles, with one of the top trauma surgeons ready to scrub.
They wheeled him directly into the operating room. Four days later he almost died again due to the ballistic trauma associated with being shot with large caliber ammunition—even young and otherwise healthy people die from gunshot wounds this way. After 40-plus days in the ICU and a total of 73 days in the hospital, this man left in a wheelchair, minus four feet of small intestine and a belly button. It took months for him to walk again.
Now he is an engineer with a masters degree (after graduating with honors) from a top-10 university, and he has a wife and baby. And he surfs.
God spoke, and this man—who should be dead—lives. It’s a very simple economy. God spoke, and families in Charleston forgave the man who killed their closest relatives. God spoke, and thousands of people gathered to pray instead of burn down a city.
There’s a malevolence at work here, and his name is Satan. He is the father of lies, the enemy of our souls, devoted to perdition, anger, violence and death.
God is speaking now after this horrible event, this numbing tragedy, and He is saying not to listen to the malevolent one. He is saying to walk into the light and not seek the darkness of anger and politics and division.
There is still room for healing, slow, painful and unsure as we are that it will come—but it can come. God is speaking to America and He is saying, “you will live.” But only if you believe.
There’s a malevolence at work here, but there is one greater speaking.
Will you listen?
(crossposted from sgberman.com)