Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


October 29, 2013

Lion and the Lamb: Do we want an eye for an eye?

CROSSVILLE — The front page story of The Tennessean on October 25 read: “Death penalty back on track.” This heading was bordered by skulls and cross bones.

At issue is the method by which Tennesseans kill humans, without pain. If Tennessee can find new “legal killer drugs,” it can begin killing 79 convicted murderers, some of whom have been on death row, enjoying prison life, for over three decades. If these drugs cannot be found, countries which in the past have developed these drugs now refuse to provide them to the United States over moral concerns about their use in executions.

In 1962, I wrote a Resolution for the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) meeting in Los Angeles, which was passed, concerning The Abolition of Capital Punishment:

“The Christian gospel is a redemptive gospel and lifts up the ideal of forgiveness. Punishment, when meted out with justice, should provide a means of discipline, reform and rehabilitation. The possibility for rehabilitation is eliminated by the death penalty. There is evidence that the death penalty is unequally applied, falling mainly on the poor, friendless, mentally unstable, ignorant, and minority groups. There is always the possibility (as has been proven) of executing the innocent. Capital punishment is not a deterrent for capital crimes.” 

In 1962, I wrote from theory, not practice. In 1994, I experienced this issue from a very different viewpoint. In that year, my younger brother, Jim, was murdered in Topeka, KS. The Shawnee County District Attorney said it was “one of the most brutal murders ever in this county.” At the trial, the county coroner testified that Jim received 63 blows with iron tools, and that he was “still alive” when he received those blows.

Jim grew up in a loving family. He was happy, yet reserved. He lost the sight in one eye early in life, yet read everything. Jim was the person you wanted on your side when you played Trivial Pursuit. After his college days, Jim moved to Topeka where, for 15 years, he served as the Messenger for the Governor. At the time of his death, he lived alone, kept mainly to himself, continued reading, ate too many pizzas, enjoyed sports, collected stamps and bothered no one. The New Testament would call him “meek,” one of God’s special creatures.

During and after the trial, my brothers and I, and our parents, strongly said we were against the death penalty, and I still am.

So, do we continue to adhere to the old statement: “We kill people who kill people, to prove that killing people is wrong”? 

If we who live in Tennessee still want to execute people, our legislature can approve of electrocution, the gas chamber, firing squad, or hanging. However, is this what we want? 

I feel the pain of family and friends who have lost a loved one by murder. Yet even as I weep every year on the day of Jim’s birth, I try to live above my feeling, and leave the rest to a forgiving and loving God. 

• • •

This column is sponsored by Cumberland Countians for Peace and Justice and dedicated by the local writers to the theme that the lion and the lamb can and must learn to live together and grow in their relationship toward one another to ensure a better world. Opinions expressed in “Lion and the Lamb” columns are not necessarily those of the Crossville Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. For more information, contact Ted Braun, editor, at 277-5135.

Text Only
  • Lion and the Lamb: A promised land?

    Back in biblical times there was a group of people who believed that God had promised them a segment of land on this planet that would be theirs forever. Who could have known back then that this ancient promise and territorial justification would be used by their descendants today to claim the same segment of land?

    July 29, 2014

  • We the People: Bring back the American dream

    Our economy continues to expand. The stock market is at record levels, yet many ask why so many of us are struggling?  Barely half of us believe the American dream is attainable.

    July 29, 2014

  • Tidbits: Taking a low-tech break

    Feeling increasingly strangled by my electronic leash, with phone, text messages, email, social media and a variety of other forms of communication always at my side, I took the weekend off.

    July 28, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Governing before and after mass corruption

    Laws in America were originally written simply. Every citizen could read them quickly and understand their meaning. The founders wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Northwest Ordinance and the Constitution of the United States, none of which was longer than 4,500 words.

    July 28, 2014

  • We the People: The last dance

    Charlie Hayden’s last recording session with his early partner, Keith Jarrett, was in 2007.  The songs they played were mostly melancholy.  The second album coming from that session includes Weil’s “My Ship” and Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye.” The dark ballad “Goodbye,” by Gordon Jenkins, was the final track.

    July 22, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Living in a pressure cooker

    The Gaza Strip, a small Palestinian territory about the size of Washington, D.C., has been in the news almost every day.  Its key location at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea has attracted a number of occupying powers over the years, and it has  been at the center of much Middle East history.

    July 22, 2014

  • Tidbits: The excitement of election day

    On March 12, 1996, there were 427,183 votes cast in the presidential primary election. Among those votes was mine, the first vote I cast in an election, just two days after my 18th birthday.

    July 21, 2014

  • Raising the minimum wage

    My first job from which FICA was withheld was a minimum wage job, seventy-five cents an hour. And yes, even then no one could live on that little money. However, I was a high schooler living at home where my father provided room and board. The job gave me pocket money to buy gasoline, to take my girlfriend out for movies and burgers, and to buy tickets for baseball games.

    July 21, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Children on the move

    The news this past week has focused on the humanitarian crisis developing on our southern border. Thousands of unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras seeking to escape from the violence, human trafficking and extreme poverty in their countries have been entering the United States.

    July 15, 2014

  • We the People: Memo to gun rights groups

    The recent incident in California helps us understand why we cannot rely on mental health services alone to solve the problem of gun violence.

    July 15, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014