Mike Mayhak's interpretation of Scripture ('The Bible and the Death Penalty,' 11/3/06) is stunningly inadequate. When Jesus says to Pilate, 'You would have no power at all against me, except it were given you from above' (John 19:11), it is a forthright statement that all power comes ultimately from God.
To deduce from this a particular power of execution given to humans is biblical sleight-of-hand. So also the Apostle Paul's statement of willingness to die (Acts 25:11) is simply an acknowledgement of existing capital punishment in the Roman Empire, not an endorsement. Better to turn to Matthew 5:38-40, where Jesus rejects 'An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.'
Actually, this saying from Leviticus 24:20 was meant to moderate vengeance at a time of capital punishment for almost any crime or religious failure. Jesus forbids even proportionate retaliation, in accord with the supremacy of the law of love. Mayhak's interpretation is a disgrace to God, to religion and to biblical fundamentalism.
Fr. Ken Smits
Could you please relay to Pastor Mike Mayhak that I agree with him that his deity, Yahweh, is cruel and spiteful? How many times did Yahweh have Moses attempt genocide?
When not taking time to fight sea monsters or carve into stone that folks shalt not covet their neighbor's oxen, this same deity said it was okay for men to stone their brides to death if they were found not to be virgins.
Similarly, unruly children are to be killed as well, and couples having sex while the woman menstruated were likewise to be 'cut off.'
Mr. Mayhak, your deity is incredibly cruel and petty, and the Bible itself is full of contradictions, which makes it a blatant work of the human hand. It is one of the last places people should go to for moral guidance.
I agree with Mike Mayhak that Genesis 9:6 (Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed...) is justification for revenge, and, by extension, state-sponsored killing, also known as capital punishment and the death penalty.
First we have to accept that to shed blood means to make another man bleed, not just to shed it from our body should we get some on us.
Accepting that, once man B sheds man A's blood, it is God's commandment, according to the author of 9:6, for man C to shed man B's blood, which would make man D have to shed man C's blood, and so on forever. Once a boy becomes a man, he must start looking for shedders to shed.
Oh sure, man A could just shed man B's blood, keeping the shedding more confined, or man B could just shed some of his own blood, but it seems that all men are called.
Since this is a commandment from God, men should not wait around for another man to tell him to shed blood, but should hop to it whenever blood is shed. A man should not wait too long, lest the prior shedder die before his blood can be shed, which would seem to make all men guilty of disobeying God.
So, for all of you men who believe 9:6 to be the word of God, what are you waiting for? Get shedding!
A juror's regrets
Regarding Brian Solomon's 'What's Wrong With the Death Penalty' essay (11/3/06): I felt like I was reading a page from my own life. This past summer I served on a jury deciding the guilt or innocence of a young man accused of a drive-by shooting. I too was the lone juror who did not feel certain about the evidence (which was scant) to convict him of a felony weapons charge.
After being slammed on about every point I brought up, I caved in to my fellow jurors. We voted to convict him. Were we a jury of this young black male's peers? I think not. We were all white, 70% female and mostly middle class.
Did we have enough evidence to convict him? There was no video, no weapon, no fingerprints, only one eyewitness who agreed to testify, and her character and testimony were questionable at best. Did we do the best job we could have? No.
In the real world, fatigue, emotion, preconceived ideas and stereotypes play a large role in the jury system. Wisconsin does not need to bring back the death penalty. None of us can feel certain enough of another's guilt that we can take his life. Do I regret the decision I finally made in my jury case? Every day.
Jenny Paul, Verona
I was glad to see Isthmus calling attention to the disturbing actions of Bishop Robert Morlino in the 'Fortunes' section (11/03/06). Not only is Bishop Morlino advocating his extreme right-wing views (and forcing local priests to go along), but he is also a board member of the 'Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation' in Fort Benning, Ga. ' better known to most of us as the School of the Americas.
The School of the Americas earned its notoriety when it was revealed that nearly all of the high-ranking officials in the military dictatorships in Central and South America since the 1970s had been trained at its facilities.
Why is Bishop Morlino involved in a facility that is responsible for training the torturers and murderers of thousands?
As a crossword aficionado, I want you to know how much I appreciate your new feature, Jonesin', by Matt Jones. It is a welcome addition to your stellar publication.
The puzzle is so well designed, and with such clever clues, that it's a pleasure to solve. How about a feature with some background on your 'Puzzle Guy'?
Dolores K. Sorenson, DeForest