Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Where Rage Has Lease: Lessons From Chris Benoit

"Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil."

Ephesians 4:26-27

Chris Benoit gave place to the devil.

For reasons that may remain unknown, WWE wrestler Benoit (and you couldn't pay me enough money to do him the fundamental courtesy of referring to him as "Mr. Benoit") chose to turn himself into a monster. In 2003, Benoit's wife Nancy filed a restraining order against him (later rescinded), fearing for her family's safety--and, evidently, rightly so. In 2003, their son Daniel was a toddler.

Fast forward to 2007, when their son Daniel was a 7-year-old with needle tracks in his arms from what were most likely injections designed to increase his height and weight. There's been no evidence that Daniel was abnormally slight, or otherwise dealing with medical problems, just evidence that his monster of a father wanted to bulk him up, even as his monster of a father bulked himself up through chemistry. But I digress.

This past Friday, Benoit strangled his wife to death. Then he made a few phone calls.

This past Saturday (or early Sunday), Benoit smothered his son to death. Then he sent a few text messages.

Some time after that, the coward Benoit killed himself.

Rage does not always equate with volcanic emotional displays--sometimes rage can be intensified by a slow burn, a simmer, cooking under pressure over time. Benoit was slow and methodical in murdering his family. From the evidence released so far, the coward was not acting in wild-eyed fury but in a slower, more measured pace.

Do we blame steroids? No, we do not; whether or not they were a contributing factor, they were not an excuse.

Do we blame "professional" wrestling? No, we do not; however, the blithe, egocentric behavior of Vince McMahon and other pro-wrestling personalities in the wake of Benoit's murders and suicide (lionizing the man even as the evidence available at the time suggested Benoit was the perpetrator) has earned any WWE, ECW, or other wrestling presentation a ban from my home. Over the years, as televised wrestling has become more brutal and bizarre, it was less and less frequently a judicious choice, but now it is gone.

We blame the culprit--Benoit. Not for being a wrestler, nor for taking performance enhancers, but for giving place to the devil. We blame Benoit for not making the choice to spare his wife and his daughter; if you are foolish enough to end the life God has graciously given you, that's one thing, but allowing your mindset to bleed onto your family is another matter entirely.

Benoit indulged his wrath through more than one sundown. As a result, his surviving family members (including two other children) must deal with the reverberations from his evil acts, from his sins.

"Hey, you're finally judging somebody, Mike! Way to go!" Not in the slightest. Did Benoit have a saving relationship with Christ, then suffer some sort of breakdown? Though I have never seen evidence to suggest that, ultimately I have no idea--and unlike so many who are eager to pronounce the Benoit is "rotting" in Hell right now, we should all pray that somehow, some way, such is not the case. Judging his actions is another matter entirely, however, since they are the components of a cautionary tale, vividly demonstrating the dangers of allowing rage, hatred, bitterness, or any other sinful mindset to ferment in one's own life.

As I write this, my son is patting my arm, watching me write and asking questions about why the words are moving around on the computer screen. There is no power on this earth or elsewhere that could cause me to do harm to my son, my daughter, or my wife. Not because I'm such a paragon of virtue, but because Jesus is my Lord. In the lives of those of us who are Christians, we have the conviction of the Holy Spirit to guide us in understanding when we give Satan a beachhead from which to exert undue influence in our lives; apart from God's protection, there is no defense from that influence becoming a pervasive one. (Keep in mind that in Ephesians 4, the apostle Paul--through the leadership and inspiration of the Holy Spirit--was addressing fellow Christians, not the lost.)

As Christians, we should be grateful to God that we have a refuge in Him from evil influences. Let us have the humility to run to Him in our times of need, and the discernment to know when we are under attack from the enemy.

Ephesians 4 finishes out this way, in verses 28 through 32:

Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.


EDITED TO ADD: Reports are surfacing that Benoit used a variant of his signature submission "finishing move" to kill Daniel, his son; the name of the move is the "Crippler Crossface."

Again, I urge you to ban broadcasts of so-called professional wrestling, and anything else having to do with what has turned into this barbarism of "sports entertainment," from your home.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A word to the unwise

If you've read much of anything I've written online over the past ten months or so, you have gathered that one of the most frustrating things I can think of is when people engage in gossip, rumor-mongering and attempted character assassination whilst hiding in the tall grass of anonymity (as opposed to the tall grass at Oakmont, site of this year's U.S. Open).

This morning The Drudge Report (no relation) linked to a Reuters story regarding a precedent-setting lawsuit filed against people who used online anonymity to spread vicious threats, including "career-damaging rumors" and threats to do harm, against other people. The alleged--ahem--perpetrators were, surprisingly or not, regulars at a site designed for law school students.

As I read the piece, I could not help but think of the misguided few who regularly, and unfortunately, dispense anti-Bellevue bile. If you are one of that bitter minority who makes online attacks your weapon of choice, whether or not you sign them, the Reuters article should be sobering reading.

It is one thing to behave in such a way when one has a professed affinity for the law. When one has a professed affinity for God's grace, however, such behavior is even more out of place.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Consider this, part 2

As I've reminded you previously, Islam is a totalitarian worldview. For some insights into that, this New York Times article makes for interesting reading.


P.S.: Forgive me for not being here so much, please. I have a lot on my plate these days, but I will be back in the regular swing of things soon.