In praise of Lisa Schuetz
One of my bus passengers sent me your Nov. 3 article about the Wisconsin State Journal firing Lisa Schuetz for allegedly taking a piece of artwork drawn by the accused killer of the Weston High School principal ('The Price of a Scoop'). As an eight-year Metro driver, I had been fighting to install cameras at transfer points and on city buses. The violence against drivers and passengers by disruptive juveniles had taken its toll. Then along came Lisa with her front-page story on problems at the South Transfer Point.
Lisa brought our plight to media attention. She was my liaison to media coverage. All of a sudden everyone wanted to talk to me: NBC, CBS and ABC, even Mayor Dave got involved. Metro drivers sent a thank-you card to her for all her help. We now have cameras on 15 buses, with more on the way, and at two transfer points, with the other two slated for 2007.
The camera helped bring to justice three of four juveniles who brutally beat a bus driver in front of MATC. Without Lisa Schuetz's 'aggressive' journalistic skills, I might still be fighting for protection. Metro drivers still salute you, Lisa Schuetz!
Mike Mayhak's piece on the Bible and the death penalty is a good example of how not to read the Bible. He missed all those other biblical texts that impose the death penalty for a variety of sins ('The Bible and the Death Penalty,' 11/3/06).
Many are found in Leviticus, chapters 20 and 21. For example, death for those who curse father or mother; death for witches and wizards; death for those guilty of various sexual sins. As for the daughters of priests who fall into prostitution, they are to suffer the atrocious penalty of being burned to death. Deuteronomy 13 calls on all and sundry to kill those who commit various purely religious crimes! (Is this the original source for Taliban-type thinking?)
And there is more, and worse. A number of texts have the God of Israel ' Yhwh in the Hebrew, a proper name, illegitimately replaced in the translations by the title 'the Lord' (probably because it sounded barbaric to Greek ears) commanding his people to visit genocidal slaughter on their enemies, wiping out men, women, children, down to the last infant. Several are to be found in the pivotal Book of Deuteronomy, which, as a consequence, witnesses to a God who has little regard for human life, even that of the innocent.
Perhaps the most disturbing case, because it is woven into the central story of Israel's Election and Guidance to the Promised Land, is the one where Moses is portrayed as instructing the Israelites that when they enter the Land, 'you must not let anything that breathes remain alive. You shall annihilate them [the peoples of Canaan].' (20:16-18. If there is any historical truth here, the invading Israelites would be right up there with the Mongols in the category of 'slaughtering horde.')
There is nothing unique in these genocidal texts. A chance find in 1869 of the Moabite Stone shows that this neighboring people carried out similar massacres to honor their god ' Chemosh. The suggestion is that Yhwh, God of Israel, started off as 'just another' tribal protector God, and outgrew his origins only with difficulty.
For Jesus we might have expected Mayhak to turn to his teaching in the Gospels, but maybe not, for in the Sermon on the Mount it is mercy and forgiveness that we find.
Brian McCarthy, retired United Methodist pastor