Baby Robins, Blacksnakes, Mr. McVeigh and the Mass Media Plague!
Baby Robins, Blacksnakes, Mr. McVeigh
and the Mass Media Plague!

Monday, June 11, 2001 - 8:00 AM (EDT) -- No, my eyes were not glued to a TV screen and hanging on every word of some zealous news reporter as he or she with head bobbing dramatically spewed forth details of the most highly publicized execution ever in the USA.

I had previously learned through some printed reports that Mr. McVeigh was to be given a lethal dose of drugs at approximately 8:00 AM (EDT) on Monday, June 11th. I am sure I was not the only one who had prayed about this situation and specifically for Mr. McVeigh that he might see His personal need of a Savior in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

And so I logged on to the Internet to do some work on my web site and noted headlines that the execution had been carried out. There were various headlines about the incident -- protesters demonstrating over the issue of capital punishment -- a hoard of interviews with family members of victims of the Oklahoma bombing -- more interviews with supposed "experts" on just about any subject you want to name as the media hounds sought to consume air time in hopes that they were outdoing their competitors! My wife and two of our sons watched some of this media frenzy for a brief period of time. My own exposure to it was brief as I glimpsed at it on the way to the bathroom -- and the approach of those media folks to a tragedy of this kind can make one's trip to the bathroom quickly take on a "red alert" emergency status -- you know, that sudden out of the blue intense nausea in the pit of the stomach!

And so the day proceeded with my thoughts from time to time focusing on Mr. McVeigh along with a gnawing question -- did he before his execution seek God's mercy and forgiveness in a true spirit of repentance and place his trust in Jesus Christ Who by His death on the cross paid the penalty for the sins of every human being, including Mr. McVeigh who had been convicted of murdering dozens of people by means of bomb blast which devastated a federal building?

Suddenly the quiet afternoon and my private thoughts were disrupted as Jean and I were working in our front yard. She screamed -- I quickly saw the reason for the scream -- a few feet away on the open lawn was a blacksnake about 4 feet or more in length heading my way! I "encouraged" him (or her - I never did learn how to tell the gender of these critters!) to move toward the woods to the northeast of our home -- after a few minutes I got the reptile about 50 yards or so into the woods so that it was headed away from us. I also noted that it had in the past suffered a bit of a minor injury -- a piece of its skin about 3 inches long and 3/4 inch wide was missing on its top side near the tail.

I returned to my task of watering our flowers. Jean was sitting on a glider and removing cones from a hemlock branch when she let out another scream! In about the exact same location was a second blacksnake about 5 1/2 feet long, and heading in the same direction as the one I just had ushered into the woods. This one was a little more feisty than the first one, but eventually I got it into the woods and headed northeast as I had done with the first one, presumably its mate!

A bit later I was getting mulch from a pile I had stored on the northeast side of the house. From the extra large bush by our basement entrance came frenzied activity and loud chirps of protest as a pair of robins were expressing themselves. I investigated -- there on top of the nest was a back snake with a baby robin in its mouth -- the youngster was at least 1 1/2 inches in diameter. It was the same snake -- the one with a piece of outer skin missing which I had ushered into the woods some distance away a short time earlier! So I grabbed it around the neck (does a snake have a neck -- anyway, right behind the head!) with one hand, and the tail with the other -- the baby popped out of the snake's mouth and was still alive. I told Steve to put it back in the nest and I took Mr. (or Mrs.) blacksnake for a long walk -- about a quarter of a mile or more through the woods going west from our house to a power line and put it on the limb of a small tree. Not finding a bird nest the snake slithered down the trunk and moved through the bushes, heading in a southerly direction.

I returned to the house and resumed my activities. After a while I went into the house and we talked a bit about the snake episode. Steve happened to look out the window that overlooks the bush containing the robin nest and said, "It looks like there is more excitement out there again!" I ran outside and got to the bush -- I couldn't believe it -- there he (or she) was -- the 5 1/2 footer was all perched on top of the nest with the robins going wild! It must have just arrived because no baby robin was in its mouth yet. So it was a repeat -- I grabbed it by the neck (or whatever that space of 5 inches behind the head is!) with one hand and the tail with the other. And again we took the long walk as we had done with the other one -- again I dumped it on a limb of the same tree as I had done with the other one -- and as with the other, it slithered down the trunk. I must say it was a bit impressive -- the fact that about 4 feet of snake was stretched out on the ground and there was still nearly 2 feet of snake coming down the tree!

Well, things finally got settled down (including the Robin family) and I saw at least 2 little heads with open beaks turned up waiting to be fed. Whether the intended victim of the snake survives remains to be seen.

And so as I thought about the rather bizarre experiences of the afternoon I began to see a connection between the robins and the snake with that of Mr. McVeigh and the media people. As the blacksnake was determined to gorge itself and was caught in the act with its mouth greatly enlarged, so the majority of media people were determined to gorge themselves on Mr. McVeigh and in the process force the people of this republic to gorge themselves as well. And the size of their mouths in this sorry drama? Well, Mammoth Cave is but a small mouse hole in the corner by way of comparison!

There have been voices in recent years that have made no secret of the fact that they would delight in making a public spectacle of executions -- that is, have a live hook up and let all enjoy the actual moment of the execution second by agonizing second! And we have the audacity to point the finger at the ancient Romans because of their lusting after violence and bloodshed in the Coliseum!

There no longer is any sense of respect for privacy or a sense of regret in the conveying of the tragedy of a person's life gone horribly astray with that person now being executed for the murders for which he was found guilty. Some media voices even expressed an assumption that Mr. McVeigh is now in hell -- understandable in a sense because some of these people in their arrogance attempt to create an impression that they are God Almighty Himself!

Just as piranha thrash more violently in the water as they tear pieces of flesh from their victim, so a majority of media people become more ferocious in their desperation to top their competitors -- "I've got to have a bigger piece of flesh than the other guy, and if I succeed, it will mean more bucks in my bank account, and higher ratings which will bring in more revenue for the outfit which has employed me!" So desperate were they in an effort to get as many details as possible that Mr. McVeigh could hardly blink an eye without it being reported by someone. It's a rerun of Columbine all over again in a slightly different setting!

What adds to this disgusting media spectacle has been the exploiting of family members of the victims of the Oklahoma bombing. Again, in the frenzy of outdoing the competition (never forget, mighty big bucks are involved in the media game!) a host of microphones were regularly stuck in the faces of family members in an effort to draw from them how they felt, what they expected, and most importantly, what measure of satisfaction they would experience once Mr. McVeigh was dispatched and pronounced dead!

However, it may also well be that some of the family members of victims were not above exploiting the media and using the same to vent their rage and express their feelings regarding Mr. McVeigh's impending execution -- sort of resembles one blind man trying to lead another blind man across a busy intersection at rush hour with the traffic signals malfunctioning! At least one United Methodist who had been directly affected by the tragedy, and who had been very strongly anti capital punishment (in line with official UMC position on the death penalty) did a switch and made at least one exception -- yep, you guessed it -- the exception was Mr. McVeigh!

In all this media turmoil and the exploitation that stood out like a gigantic sore thumb, there has been the mention of "closure" -- this foggy idea that getting Mr. McVeigh eliminated from life on this planet would finally bring an end to this nightmare -- OR will it?

Some things that must absolutely be kept in mind:

    We live in a fallen world in which all humans are born with a corrupted nature and an inclination to sin in countless ways [1]

    Sin is expressed selfishly, profanely, immorally, unethically, and sometimes very violently, even to the taking of innocent lives. This diagnosis has been made by the foremost Authority on human nature and behavior patterns.[2]

    God's answer to sin was the sending of His Son, Jesus, into the world. Jesus' death on the cross satisfied God's righteous justice by providing atonement for the sins of every human being, with forgiveness granted to all who in humility and a genuine repentant spirit seek God's mercy and forgiveness, accept by faith Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and commit to serving Him obediently. What a majority of persons fail to understand in this is that this is a faith transaction on our part and something we can never fully comprehend intellectually![3]

    Forgiveness is conditional -- not just asking God to forgive us, but our being willing to forgive others who have wronged us, even violently. The prayer Jesus taught us, commonly referred to as the Lord's Prayer, explicitly mentions the condition of experiencing forgiveness -- "…forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…" (or ".. forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.."{NKJV})![4] There is, of course, no allowance for revenge in the Christian faith. Sometimes justice and revenge become blurred. While some may say that justice has been done by means of the efficient execution of Mr. McVeigh, might there be others who have taken the position that "Revenge is sweet, and that McVeigh fellow finally got what he deserved?"[5]

    The reality of "closure" does not exist outside the halls of Christianity. Those who chose to exclude themselves from the claims and call of Jesus Christ can never experience a "closure" from whatever traumatic experience they have undergone. Life for such persons is best described in the words of Isaiah the prophet - "But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace," says my God, "for the wicked." (Isaiah 57:20,21 NKJV)[6] Only in Jesus Christ is peace possible, the assurance of forgiveness of all offenses, healing of the deep wounds of sorrow, comfort in the midst of pain, and the joy of Jesus' presence during our personal journey through the valley of the shadow of death.[7]

The majority of media people (there are a few rare exceptions, but these are not a dominant force of influence) who flood our culture every day with their deficit value system under the guise of news and entertainment know absolutely nothing of what life is really about, much less what God has done to provide purpose, meaning, and hope for the members of the human race. If they did, the execution of Mr. McVeigh would not have been transformed into the Roman Coliseum atmosphere it turned out to be, and which will continue in the times ahead! The reason for this being that these people have effectively conditioned us and brought us to the point that if we were transported back in time we would have felt very comfortable and very much at home in the Coliseum as gladiators battled to the death with pints of blood turning the dirt surface into a crimson carpet and Christians being thrown to the lions! And if it were possible for the media hounds to take their technical equipment with them, imagine what a great sound bite it would make as we would be treated to a close up view of a male lion tearing the flesh and crunching the bones of those fanatic meddlesome Christians! And somehow from now on every time I see a blacksnake I will be reminded of the mass media folks who are so effective in their influence throughout the broad expanse of our republic

A Post Script on the blacksnake adventure...


1. Psalm 32:1-8; 38:1-8; Jeremiah 17:9,10; Romans 3

2. Mark 7:18-23

3. 1 John 1:7; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13,14; 1 Peter 2:21-25; Acts 4:8-12; John 10:7-11; John 11:25,26; John 14:6; John 1:1-13

4. Matthew 6:12-15; Matthew 19:21-35; Mark 11:25,26; Luke 17:3,4

5. Proverbs 24:17,18; Nahum 1:2-8; Romans 12:19-13:5

6. For more on how the those outside Jesus Christ fare now as well as in the future, see: Psalm 12:8; Psalm 32:10; Psalm 36:1-4; Psalm 37:34-40; Psalm 92:5-7; Psalm 119:155; Matthew 13:47-50; 2 Peter 1:18-2:22; Revelation 20:12-15

7. Psalm 23; John 14:27; John 16:33; Romans 5:1,2; Hebrews 13:5,6; Isaiah 41:10

Post Script -- And now a Post Script on the blacksnake episode of Monday, June 11 -- Tuesday, June 12, was another day of working on the back side of the house where the basement entrance is located as well as the bush with the robin nest. In mid afternoon the robins again duplicated the antics of the previous afternoon. I checked -- there it was -- another blacksnake, but this one was smaller than those I had taken for the long walk down to the power line. But it slithered into the rocks before I could get hold of it. Just a few minutes later I spotted another one approaching the nest from the north. I got it and discovered it was the same one (with a piece of skin missing on its tail) as I had taken on a long walk the day before. So I put it in a bucket which was ventilated with holes. No sooner had I done that when I saw 2 more together in about the same location as the one I had just placed in the bucket. I got the big one (same one as the day before) and held my foot on the other one until Steve could get it. Both of those were placed in buckets. Then I asked Steve if he would help me measure the biggest one, putting a fair proposal to him this way -- "Do you want to hold it and I'll measure, or I'll hold it and you measure it?" Guess what? He decided he'd hold the yard stick and do the measuring -- we found we had one that measured about 5 feet 8 inches -- tough to do that because that critter wanted to keep coiling! In the evening on our way to Bible study our cell phone rang and it was Steve informing us that he had captured another blacksnake. Well, that made 4 in just a very short time. Later in the evening Steve took them for a ride several miles away and dumped them out. Hey, it's not fair that we should be the only folks blessed with a blacksnake plague! Even in this I see an appropriate application to the majority of news media people -- just like those snakes, they'll keep coming back and hounding you to death!

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