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A killing, a life sentence and my change of heart
Jeanne Bishop, left, and her sister Nancy visit Scotland in 1990, the year before Nancy's murder.
February 2nd, 2013
10:00 PM ET

A killing, a life sentence and my change of heart

Editor's note: Jeanne Bishop is the sister of Nancy Bishop Langert, who, along with her husband and their unborn child, was shot to death by a juvenile. Since the murder of her family members, Jeanne Bishop has been an advocate for gun violence prevention, forgiveness and abolition of the death penalty. She is a criminal defense attorney in Chicago.

By Jeanne Bishop, Special to CNN

(CNN) - I have been paying close attention to the changes coming since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down any mandatory life sentences for juveniles who kill.  A teenager killed my sister.

He killed her dream, too. She wanted to be a mom.

My sister Nancy married young.  She was overjoyed when she got pregnant at age 25.

That dream died three months later, when she and her husband walked through the front door of their home and found their killer waiting for them.

He was a 16-year-old with a history of violence.  He wanted to see what it was like to kill someone. He found out when he broke in and shot Nancy, Richard and their unborn baby and left them to die on a cold basement floor.

When the killer was arrested, details emerged that turned my stomach. He had joked about murdering my family members, even attended their funeral.

When he was convicted of the murders, he was remorseless. When he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, I was glad.

After sentencing, my mother turned to me in the courtroom and said, “We’ll never see him again.” I was glad of that, too.  I wanted to wipe him off my hands like dirt.

I never spoke his name. I wanted his name to die and Nancy’s to live.

When a coalition of people (including law professors such as Bernardine Dohrn and Randolph Stone whose advocacy on behalf of children I have always admired) launched efforts to abolish juvenile life sentences, I was appalled. The last thing I wanted was to attend parole hearings year after year, to beg bureaucrats not to release the person who had slaughtered my loved ones.

So I publicly fought any change in the sentence.  I told myself that fight was not just for my family, but for other family members of loved ones murdered by juveniles who would be affected.  I was like Saul early in the Book of Acts, the righteous one with a zeal for justice, before he was struck down and humbled and given a new name: Paul.

Then, I repented.

My road to Damascus moment didn’t come in a blinding light or a voice from heaven. The voice that changed my heart was that of a Mississippi-born, Vietnam veteran, Yale-educated  Southern Baptist pastor and academic named Randall O’Brien.

O’Brien told me something true - that Nancy’s killer and I are both children of God, equally beloved and equally fallen. O’Brien reminded me of Jesus’ example on the cross of what to do with those who have harmed us: pray for them.

I had never prayed for the person who killed my loved ones; I had never even uttered his name.

I say it now: David Biro. I began praying for him in the only place I could: the garden where Nancy and Richard and their baby are buried. I dropped to my knees and asked God for something I never could have imagined, that Nancy’s killer get well enough to get out someday.

I don’t know that he will; he is not there yet.  But I do know that no one, including him, is beyond the forgiveness and redemption and purpose of God.

My two young sons taught me that. We were talking about loving your neighbor as yourself.  Stephen asked, “What about the person who killed Aunt Nancy?”

Brendan replied, “We can’t love what he did. But we have to love him, because God made him for a purpose.”

Brendan is right. God made each of the juveniles serving life sentences for a purpose.  I can no longer support a sentence that says never.

Repenting privately would be cowardice, since my past support for locking up some juveniles forever has been so public.  So when lawmakers in my state of Illinois consider bills next month that would abolish juvenile life sentences, I will be there to speak in favor of the mercy of a second chance.

Dr. Marcus Borg, a biblical and Jesus scholar, notes that the roots of the Greek word for “repentance” mean “to go beyond the mind that you have.”

My mind is changed; my heart is remade, and a new task lies ahead.

- kramsaycnn

Filed under: Belief • Guns • Violence

soundoff (1,981 Responses)
  1. Jacob

    This was sick to read. Belief in Deities is madness of the brain. The gods of man should be gone, and I wait for the day when we are old enough not to need new ones...

    February 4, 2013 at 3:44 am |
  2. HeyStella

    How do YOU know that it was not God's plan to have this person in prison? Really, HOW???

    February 4, 2013 at 3:41 am |
  3. HeyStella

    How do you know that it not God's plan to have this person in prison? Really, HOW???

    February 4, 2013 at 3:16 am |
    • Austin

      she doesnt know that. i think this guy chose his own road , not God. God has just consequences.

      February 4, 2013 at 3:19 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Austin: You're not living in the real world if you're foolish enough to think that your imaginary friend has consequences that could potentially matter. Religion has nothing to do with any of this.

      February 4, 2013 at 5:13 am |
  4. Mary nelson

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    February 4, 2013 at 3:15 am |
  5. vgs1895

    AMEN to what you say, Ms. Bishop!

    February 4, 2013 at 2:37 am |
    • dike

      the last thing you want to do is to add religion and faith to our justice system... you know about Muslims right??? and do you want to be like them...

      February 4, 2013 at 2:57 am |
  6. Topdecker

    Christians are such suckers.

    February 4, 2013 at 2:01 am |
    • Austin

      does anyone have any prayer requests? ill pray for you.

      February 4, 2013 at 2:27 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Austin: While you're praying and being lazy thinking you're doing something worthy, the rest of us will think for you.

      February 4, 2013 at 5:14 am |
  7. itsme

    OH MY GOODNESS!
    What an amazing person you are! Thank you for sharing! I always hoped if I was ever personally hurt as you were that I would be able to forgive the person who did it. (I have not been hurt to such a degree). What a beautiful and inspirational story. You gave your self a beautiful gift. To forgive another person is a gift we give ourselves. Otherwise we also become the vitim of the crime! May God continue to bless you abundantly and give you peace!

    February 4, 2013 at 1:29 am |
  8. Chris M

    You're "equally fallen" with a person who murdered your family members? Religion really F's people up!

    February 4, 2013 at 1:09 am |
    • Saraswati

      It's like a creepy form of Stockholm syndrome.

      February 4, 2013 at 1:11 am |
    • Mary K.

      TOTAL Stockholm syndrome weirdness!

      February 4, 2013 at 3:45 am |
  9. Saraswati

    This is the flip-side of the people who think they know who god wants to punish. Those who think they know god has a plan for someone and it isn't. in jail (despite murder) are every bit as nutty as the folks protesting at funerals of dead soldiers. They may be kinder, more hopeful, and less full of spite, but their inclination to favor religion over science makes them very nearly as dangerous. Perhaps as dangerous, because they spin a tempting but untrue view of the world.

    February 4, 2013 at 12:46 am |
    • Austin

      ya but you and the non god science leave an unattended realm of evil, ran by the devil, cloaked and free to mingle in the vulnerable minds of who ever thinks he isnt real. is that responsible?

      February 4, 2013 at 12:56 am |
    • Saraswati

      Since I don't believe in the devil your question doesn't have meaning. But do I think my actions are reasonable? Yes. However note that I never asked others to give up their god concepts, only to hold concepts that are compatible with science and are capable of the flexibility to be compatible with a rapidly changing science.

      February 4, 2013 at 1:04 am |
    • Austin

      God is science, and there is no reason that science should encounter any dishonesty.

      February 4, 2013 at 1:09 am |
    • The Truth

      The only "unattended realm of evil" I know of is the sick imaginings of the religious and the frivolous way they throw around their disgusting doctrine of slavery, murder and inc est. Religion imagines evil incarnate so that it may fulfill it's own prophecies of saving mankind from itself.

      February 4, 2013 at 1:21 am |
    • John

      Science's biggest flaw is not that it's inaccurate at times, but that the claim is made that God can't be mentioned while describing what he made. That is an insult of the highest order, worse still that saying all the energy God expended to make his creation, could be duplicated by... nothing, in an instant... when nothing has never made anything, ever.

      February 4, 2013 at 1:26 am |
    • The Truth

      It isn't that God can't be mentioned, it's that God is unproven and untested so any scientist doing actual research but multiplying times the "X" factor of God to come up with their results and conclusions will be laughed out of the building.

      February 4, 2013 at 1:33 am |
    • I wonder

      John,

      What if we had stopped with the dove's blood cure for leprosy (as recommended by the LORD)?

      What if we had stopped with "Goddidit" regarding lightning and electricity?

      What if we had stopped with The Bible's estimate of pi (as inspired by the LORD)?

      February 4, 2013 at 1:39 am |
    • John

      IW, I have no problem with science investigating what God made and trying to describe how it all works, that is not the issue. The issue is that science classes demand God not be mentioned when in the same breath, they say it's OK to say "nothing" made everything. Like most people... well... all people, I've never seen "nothing" make anything, so I'm concerned that given God has proven himself to me too many times to think about while typing this reply, those proclaiming "nothing did it", have not proven to me that "nothing" can do anything. I can look at the desktop here for years and guess what, no universe appears, no galaxy, no solar system, planet, moon... nothing is a lame god. "nothing" has never given any texts, speech, or visual indication that it does anything. Meanwhile, God has.

      February 4, 2013 at 2:14 am |
    • Saraswati

      @john, Science classes are about science and religion classes are about religion. Since there are thousands of religions in the world with a huge number of creation myths if we taught every one of the thousands of religious creation theories in science class we wouldn't have time for any actual science. If you want your kids to learn religion enrol them in a religion class. If you want them exposed to world religions in an academic setting, get such a class in your school. If you want them exposed to your religions teaching, take them to Sunday school.

      February 4, 2013 at 2:19 am |
    • End Religion

      John, you've never seen god make anything either.

      February 4, 2013 at 2:37 am |
    • I wonder

      John,

      I don't think that scientists say "nothing did it". More likely it's something like, "we don't know, yet". You, on the other hand, fill in the blank in knowledge with fantasies (primitive ones at that), with no evidence whatsoever, and call it a day.

      If, to you, "we don't know yet" = nothing, I just don't know what to tell you.

      - and -

      If "nothing has never made anything, ever", what or who made "God"?

      February 4, 2013 at 2:37 am |
    • John

      Sara, it is their contention that "nothing" is the source. The basic claim is: 1-1=0 now separate the 1 from the -1 and now you have a universe and a negative universe with no god required and/or nothing was able to make a universe. It's basically separating God from his creation description, and then saying "nothing" made it instead. That is blasphemy to do that, and given that I know God is there, I also know he doesn't like it, and he won't put up with it much longer. He does have extreme patience though... but what they're saying in saying that, is very hurtful, and he doesn't deserve such being said about him and what he made. I've seen the picture of the earth in comparison to a single solar flare, it's immense what he's made from just that, but to then consider our galaxy, and then the universe's extents.... it's impossible for me to think on those scales, or imagine how he feels about being slighted so horribly, for "nothing" as the source of it all.

      February 4, 2013 at 2:43 am |
    • John

      ER, the gift of life is from God, babies he's made... they're a miracle, so obvious too, how did you miss them?

      February 4, 2013 at 2:51 am |
    • John

      IW, read the bible. God said there is no god before him, no prior god. Basically God is it, he is the one, the creator of it all.

      February 4, 2013 at 2:56 am |
    • End Religion

      John you're no different or better than any other lunatic who arrogantly claims to know the mind of his god. You realize you're sinning left and right, don't you? i hope you packed your flame retardant swim trunks.

      February 4, 2013 at 2:58 am |
    • End Religion

      Ah, John I am beginning to get the picture. Not only are you insane but you have the IQ of a door knob. You're not quite sure how babies get made, are you? You may want to stick with a career in say, hamburger sales, or possibly working in a circus as the fellow who follows the elephant around to scoop up afterward.

      February 4, 2013 at 3:01 am |
    • Austin

      He came clothed in a robe dipped in blood and they called His name the Word of God.

      In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word waswith God, and the Word was God. All things were made through Him. ..........................to those who believe in His name, to them He gave the right to become children of God, who were born not of blood, but of God.

      for the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it upon the altar to atone for the soul, for it is the blood that atones for the soul.

      February 4, 2013 at 3:06 am |
    • Austin

      end religion. hang in there bud im passionate about my Lord, and i dont hate you i respect you deeply in love.
      have a good night homey.

      February 4, 2013 at 3:11 am |
    • John

      ER, I have never claimed to know the mind of God, that would be impossible. He does know all our minds though, and he knows I know who he is: the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the one that sent Jesus to die for our sins. That is the only God there is, and it is an honor to know him.

      February 4, 2013 at 3:11 am |
    • Science

      @austin
      (UPb) dating NO GOD(S)

      February 4, 2013 at 6:34 am |
    • Science

      Oops thums (U-Pb)dating tells us no god(s) required

      February 4, 2013 at 6:38 am |
    • End Religion

      @John: "I have never claimed to know the mind of God, that would be impossible"
      You said: "given that I know God is there, I also know he doesn't like it, and he won't put up with it much longer."

      Please ask forgiveness for your lying. That is a Top 10 Sin...

      February 4, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • John

      ER, if you are suggesting that a single thought is all that can be contained within a mind, then I now undestand why you can't fathom God being there.

      February 4, 2013 at 11:34 am |
  10. Austin

    i believe in the rapture and tribulation!

    And you all have a soul and He came clothed in a robe dipped in blood and the called His name the Word of God.
    John 1:1-14
    New International Version (NIV)
    The Word Became Flesh

    1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.
    6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
    9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
    14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

    February 4, 2013 at 12:07 am |
    • End Religion

      Morganucodon "Morgie" is an early mammalian genus that lived during the Late Triassic. It is our ancestor, a survivor of the meteor strike which decimated the dinosaurs and allowed us to take over the planet. Thanks, Morgie!
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morganucodon

      February 4, 2013 at 12:12 am |
    • lol??

      Sorry pal, you lose.

      February 4, 2013 at 12:13 am |
    • Austin

      that looks like your mom but it isnt your ancestor.

      February 4, 2013 at 12:17 am |
    • Pete

      The Rapture?!?

      Why not fantasize about Oz, Wonderland or Neverland? They're a lot more cheerful, at least.

      February 4, 2013 at 12:20 am |
    • John

      My mom is the best mom ever, funny, intelligent, but she's got this persecution complex.

      February 4, 2013 at 12:36 am |
    • ¿¿lol

      I suppose no one ever told Austin about those early Christian apologists who claimed the reason the gospel stories were so much like earlier pagan writings is that Satan had made a pre-emptive strike! LOL.

      February 4, 2013 at 1:01 am |
    • Austin

      John what do you mean by the persecution complex?

      February 4, 2013 at 1:01 am |
    • Austin

      no actually satan started in the days of Adam, as the fallen angels were given permission to civilize the earth. they knew the messiah and they lie. false religion is a war tactic

      February 4, 2013 at 1:04 am |
    • ¿¿lol

      What in the world is Austin talking about? Is he apologizing for the apologists? Hmm. Sounds reasonable.

      February 4, 2013 at 1:17 am |
    • John

      Austin, my mom is the most wonderful woman, but even so, I feel people don't treat her as well as they should. She deserves the the utmost respect, love and caring. Some day I think she will have that. I pray to God that will be soon.

      February 4, 2013 at 1:57 am |
    • Austin

      John is she elderly? I will pray for ya tonight and her. Stay true and great delivery.

      February 4, 2013 at 2:15 am |
    • John

      Austin, tbh, she looks much younger than she is, and with a smile that can melt ice bergs. Her grasp of science and current events is awe inspiring. She believes God too... so I think she's the best.

      February 4, 2013 at 3:39 am |
    • End Religion

      Imagine that, another Oedipal Jesus freak.... how original.

      February 4, 2013 at 10:44 am |
  11. Austin

    the one i am talking about was Israel. don't waste your time 1972 i am not worked up about it.

    February 4, 2013 at 12:00 am |
    • Marianne

      all the gods of man are false.

      one primate species risen slightly.

      you have no soul. There is nothing after deaf. do not be so afraid. good night.

      February 4, 2013 at 3:48 am |
  12. Russ

    Forgive him if that makes it easy to go on with your life, since they say harboring hate only harms the hater. But, there is no purpose for that kid, except to take up space at the taxpayers expense. He committed an act that only makes sense to him. I do not believe in God as I believe that man created him to answer all the unanswered questions. Therefor, the killing of your family members was truly a waste and senseless.

    February 3, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
    • Austin

      I think the devil puts thoughts into vulnerable peoples heads. like if the get on meth, then they go across the street and burn the neighbors house down, I suspect that there is a door opened to evil within a person.

      I have experienced demonic revelation and i hate to see people going around saying there is no god, because they are hindering a battle against an invisible realm of evil.

      February 4, 2013 at 12:12 am |
    • Just Facts

      In these situations, there is a need to understand crriminal psychology and figure out wha is the nature of their illness. Unless we figure out whether their mental state is treatable and they can be allowed to live in society with harmony, it would be unsafe to pardon them and let them loose again to unleash more terror.

      February 4, 2013 at 12:22 am |
    • David

      Now this is the problem with Christianity, I am a Jew in our bible there is no forgiveness like Christianity, there is a freedom to chose between good and bad and there is a reward and punishment! And that's the balance of a perfect fair God! If you forgive and love evil than what stops you from punishing good?? Oh and by the way, knowing my God what is waiting for this individual after this dimension is beyond anything a one would even be willing to imagine! If you read this lines, Do good in your life, do not fall behind your animal behavior, you will not stay here forever, your time to check out of here will come sooner than you think, take as many good deeds out of here as you can. Your animal and possession stay here you can't take them with you but a strong good Saul will continue for ever....

      February 4, 2013 at 12:26 am |
    • Austin

      yes true criminal behavior needs just and consistant consequences.

      February 4, 2013 at 12:39 am |
    • Thomas A. Hawk

      That "proof" only works if the premise that everything you think causal to nature. Therefore, the proof only works if you are omnipotent (which would make you God).

      You aren't actually trying to prove that God doesn't exist by telling us that you are God, are you?

      Being serious, how about you learn more math?

      February 4, 2013 at 12:42 am |
    • Austin

      Tom, i dont get it. explain that.

      February 4, 2013 at 12:51 am |
    • The Truth

      "they are hindering a battle against an invisible realm of evil." No, you and your foolish religious brethren are hindering the proper diagnosis mental disorders. These people could get real help but instead you reinforce the already unstable persons mind with thoughts of ultimate evil and Satan's attacks and demons climbing out of the darkness. The mind is powerful, and what you put in, you get out. Dump in tons of fiery torment and a convenient place to lay the blame for any immoral behavior and you have the perfect storm for any budding sociopath.

      February 4, 2013 at 1:29 am |
    • Saraswati

      @The Truth,

      "No, you and your foolish religious brethren are hindering the proper diagnosis mental disorders. These people could get real help but instead you reinforce the already unstable persons mind with thoughts of ultimate evil and Satan's attacks and demons climbing out of the darkness."

      Thank you, well said.

      February 4, 2013 at 1:35 am |
    • Beloved

      I am with you, forgiving the person who killed her sister and her family in cold blod can make her feel better, but if he gets out, he will do it again. He was old enough to know the right from wrong.

      February 4, 2013 at 1:38 am |
    • Austin

      no today i am just randomly speaking. and i have not wagered a single opinion on mentally ill people. killers need to stay in prison especially if they are mentally ill. and i could see also see how thoughts of spiritual warfare would be a rough go for someone who was schytzophrenic. that would be a nightmare.!

      February 4, 2013 at 1:48 am |
    • End Religion

      austin, i bet you know more than most what it might be like for a lunatic to deal with delusions of demonic battle.

      February 4, 2013 at 2:41 am |
    • Austin

      you wish i was a lunatic but Im not, and the things I have told you have not been altered or fabricated .

      the first one of all the experiences was the one with the cat, the demonic revelation, and the dead cat. ok I think from there that as i started writing my dreams down , that i know beyond the shadow of a doubt what i was dealing with. and my data reveals that spiritual life is alive and real.

      The Holy Spirit is a sanctifying spirit that bears the truth of God's word on a persons heart. This is the glory lf the living God. and it is for your glorification as well, this baptism of the Holy Spirit into life, and regeneration. He is risen.

      For it was the God, who commanded the light to shine out of the darkness, who shines in our heart, to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ, and we beheld His glory full of grace and truth.

      February 4, 2013 at 2:59 am |
    • Thomas A. Hawk

      Austin, Russ said "I do not believe in God as I believe that man created him to answer all the unanswered questions. Therefor, the killing of your family members was truly a waste and senseless."

      Rearranging but maintaining meaning, that boils down to "the killing of the family members is a waste BECAUSE Russ doesn't believe in God." That is, Russ' belief determines if killing of people is a waste or not.

      If Russ' belief has that kind of influence on the world, then Russ is all powerful. That would mean Russ is God (were the statement to be true). Of course, the statement is false. But it's Russ's statement which means he asserted (I believe in error) that he's God. But he also asserted in his statement that he believes God doesn't exist.

      Russ' statement is false on the surface in that it contains a contradiction.

      Hope that makes sense.

      February 4, 2013 at 6:52 am |
  13. Weston Liveit

    It is wonderful that Jeanne Bishop through her faith is willing and able to forgive the murderer of her sister, and sister's family. Not that the bereavement is any less simply because the killer was 16. Now had he been 18 would life without parole been ok then? Maybe he already would have been executed for his crimes. Does the God she believes in view the killer as a minor or a mere killer? Can't one be productive from prison even if they'll be spending the rest of their days in there? What if after he's released he then kills again? What would be his purpose then? Most 16 year olds will not commit such a heinous crime. That the book is thrown at such a vile creature if only to make an example of him to other youths is to me perfectly appropriate. I really feel the age to qualify for the death penalty ought to be rolled back to 14. I would be perfectly comfortable with a remorseless 14 year old who committed a brutally heinous crime being executed. I am pretty sure if human beings between the ages of 14-17 knew that they could be executed then they probably would not commit such dastardly crimes.

    February 3, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
    • lol??

      Bishop is an ill pol. Think about it on Valentines day. Courtesy of the commies in da WCTU.

      February 4, 2013 at 12:08 am |
    • ¿¿lol

      You've been on good behavior today inverse lol. Usually by now you've described most members of the opposite s ex as "tramps" and "harlots" by now. I know you can't resist applying the commie with great frequency. You must be a hoot in the grocery store.

      February 4, 2013 at 1:36 am |
  14. jennifer leanne

    absolutely ridiculous! when you kill the way that this criminal did, you deserve no less than life in prison. he took 3 lives. you don't get second chances after that in our society. this criminal has committed a crime against society and society decides the punishment. thank goodness victims and their families don't get to choose the punishment. keep your soul searching to yourself, lady.

    February 3, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
  15. poostain

    God made those juveniles for a purpose? What purpose is that? Solely to grow up to be 16 and kill your sister and her family? And don't give me that "Oh, but God gives us free will so we can make our own choices" nonsense. If a being wanted us to ultimately, pray, worship and love Him, then there is no justifiable reason he would give us free will. He would just create us to be slaves to Him without an option.

    If there is a God, then he is comparable to a fat kid with a magnifying glass, and we are his ants.

    February 3, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
    • Chad

      do you know what the bible says about free will and how humanity came to be in this current state?

      February 3, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
    • Pax

      How unpleasant you are. How sad...

      February 3, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
    • kenny

      God giving people free will to worship him I can understand, but torturing those who choose not to is like the mob leaning on business owners in their neighborhood for "protection" money. It's not really free will when God is holding a gun to your head, is it?

      February 3, 2013 at 11:50 pm |
    • John

      Kenny, take a peice of paper and write on it, "you're the best, I love you immensely". Now look at it and think about it. Do you honestly think that paper cares about you? Does it love you? You wrote that it does... but the reality is, it doesn't. Now add free will, that the paper can say anything it wants about you, and so can billions more similar papers. Which papers would you want to keep, the ones that love you, or the ones that reject you? Sure it's a lame example, but it's basically the same thing. God is looking for those that care about him and love him, for real, of their own free will. The rest he's not interested in.

      February 4, 2013 at 12:23 am |
    • kenny

      John
      Why send those he's "not interested in" to hell then? Seems that he has a definite interest in punishing those who do not bow down to him.

      February 4, 2013 at 12:28 am |
    • Austin

      because you love pride, and sin, and evil too much to love Him,. bacause you are a slave of sin. but a slave does not abide in the house forever. but a son abides in the house forever. therefore if the son sets you free, you shall be free indeed.

      February 4, 2013 at 12:34 am |
    • John

      Kenny, honestly, would you keep papers around that said of their own free will, "I hate you, I don't want to know you, I reject you, I don't like anything you want...". Really, I doubt you or anyone else would keep them if they said that about the person they were for. This is a lame paper example, but really, that's what going on. You can also look at it as a harvest of fruit, some being great tasting fruit, and some being spoiled, or even non-existant fruit, nothing there to keep. Do you expect a farmer to keep what he can't harvest?

      February 4, 2013 at 1:11 am |
    • Saraswati

      John, the problem is that you're using "free will" to fill a gap, to justify God's supposed behavior. But this free will concept has no content when examined more closely...it's sole purpose is to justify an outrageous punishment of beings the god himself created.

      February 4, 2013 at 1:21 am |
    • I wonder

      John,

      I don't know how you can believe in that fantasy god of old-time Middle Eastern Hebrew men, and all of their superst-itions. There isn't a shred of evidence that any of their supernatural stories are true.

      February 4, 2013 at 1:25 am |
    • ¿¿lol

      You didn't think it would be easy for the early snake oil salesmen to control others without fear-inducing rules did you, Kenny? They should have made it a smoother transition between part one and part two of that story to be at all believable.

      February 4, 2013 at 1:29 am |
    • John

      I actually love how God set it up, he had the accounts done such that if you, as in YOU, do not want him to be there, or don't care for what he wants, you will get nothing out of it. For YOU, you won't find him and it will seem like nonsense that has no value what so ever. For me, I read it, and I see people simply saying what happened then, describing it as best they could, and being chastised for saying it, then rejected over and over again throughout history... as nonsense. The reality though is that the prophets, the apostles, Jesus, Paul, all the ones filled with the Holy Spirit, they were all telling the truth, and that truth happens even today, because God is still there, and has been for billions of years... he didn't go away, just because people wanted him to, or thought he couldn't exist if they didn't believe ANYONE he sent to tell them. Read and understand, or don't. It is your choice.

      February 4, 2013 at 1:43 am |
    • End Religion

      John, your god couldn't go away since he was never there. It's nice you're beginning to see this finally.

      February 4, 2013 at 2:49 am |
    • John

      ER, you can never say that you weren't told, by someone that knows God is there. You can claim I didn't tell you properly, or that I wasn't very good at it, but really, you have an entire book, well written, thought out, with the best God felt you needed to hear from, and with a balance that is difficult to duplicate. Because in that one small book, you can find the most incredible being in existence, or you can completely miss the opportunity of a lifetime to know him, and call him a friend. Thrill of a lifetime, or an unspeakable tragedy... it's your choice, it was always your choice which it would be.

      February 4, 2013 at 4:04 am |
    • kenny

      Austin

      "because you love pride, and sin, and evil too much to love Him,"
      Many people don't "love" him simply because they don't believe that he exists. They certainly don't have to be prideful or evil in this case; they just aren't convinced that he exists. Perhaps you mean that they simply aren't willing to ignore their common sense?

      February 4, 2013 at 8:14 am |
    • kenny

      John
      God has the ability to save everyone, yes? Instead, he supposedly picks only those who he personally prefers, ones who give him something in return: worship. Instead of acting out of love, as many Christians contend, God is actually acting selfishly. Besides, if someone rejected you that wouldn't mean that you wouldn't save them from going over a water fall if you could, and God can save everyone who rejects him, right? So, all we can conclude is that God is being vindictive in not saving everyone. He doesn't have to keep us with him in heaven. I can understand that. All he has to do is save us from being tortured; just let us die and be gone, like we believe. He could do that, right?

      Atheists, actual atheists, do not "hate" or reject God any more than you hate or reject bugs bunny or Dracula. You have to believe in God to reject him, or have any emotional response to him at all. Many of us don't like him as a character in that book he's in, the Bible, but good villains can sometimes find a place in your heart, but God isn't even a good villain. Nothing loveable about all that genocide and baby killing. Awful character.

      February 4, 2013 at 8:33 am |
    • End Religion

      @John: "you can never say that you weren't told, by someone that knows God is there. You can claim I didn't tell you properly, or that I wasn't very good at it, but really, you have an entire book, well written, thought out"

      Same goes for Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. Don't let it be said I never told you he exists, after all he is in a good book.

      February 4, 2013 at 10:47 am |
    • I wonder

      John,

      Do you know that, according to ancient Egyptian belief, after death your heart will be weighed in relation to the goddess Ma'at's feather. If it is found to be heavier than that feather, you will be eaten by Anubis?

      You must declare:
      I have not committed sin.
      I have not committed robbery with violence.
      I have not stolen.
      I have not slain men and women.
      I have not stolen grain.
      I have not purloined offerings.
      I have not stolen the property of the god.
      I have not uttered lies.
      I have not carried away food.
      I have not uttered curses.
      I have not committed adultery, I have not lain with men.
      I have made none to weep.
      I have not eaten the heart [i.e I have not grieved uselessly, or felt remorse].
      I have not attacked any man.
      I am not a man of deceit.
      I have not stolen cultivated land.
      I have not been an eavesdropper.
      I have slandered [no man].
      I have not been angry without just cause.
      I have not debauched the wife of any man.
      I have not debauched the wife of [any] man. (repeats the previous affirmation but addressed to a different god).
      I have not polluted myself.
      I have terrorised none.
      I have not transgressed [the Law].
      I have not been wroth.
      I have not shut my ears to the words of truth.
      I have not blasphemed.
      I am not a man of violence.
      I am not a stirrer up of strife (or a disturber of the peace).
      I have not acted (or judged) with undue haste.
      I have not pried into matters.
      I have not multiplied my words in speaking.
      I have wronged none, I have done no evil.
      I have not worked witchcraft against the King (or blasphemed against the King).
      I have never stopped [the flow of] water.
      I have never raised my voice (spoken arrogantly, or in anger).
      I have not cursed (or blasphemed) God.
      I have not acted with evil rage.
      I have not stolen the bread of the gods.
      I have not carried away the khenfu cakes from the Spirits of the dead.
      I have not sn'atched away the bread of the child, nor treated with contempt the god of my city.
      I have not slain the cattle belonging to the god.

      Now, don't say that you haven't been told...

      February 4, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
  16. peacebeginswithus@yahoo.com

    This type of forgiveness seems impossible to me and I think 99% of most people....but I admire someone who can do it. I remember seeing a story of a middle-aged couple who became friends of the 20-ish man who killed their same age son. They had not known each other...it was a random robbery or such....but the parents decided they needed to know more about the killer. After years, they are very close to him and he has learned the meaning of love and bettered himself greatly in prison. I was flabbergasted and yet, rather envious that they could do what they did. I feel I would never be able to do it...but then, we can never predict how we will react to horrible and heart-wrenching times. God bless those who can follow Jesus' in that respect.

    February 3, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
    • John

      Think of the worst painful event in your life and the person you forgave afterwards, now stop forgiving them. If you're like many people, you will feel physical pain from the emotional hurt when you stop forgiving. Now forgive them again... and the pain is gone. Forgiveness removes the misery, and allows the bliss to return in your life. Let the stuff go, forgive like Jesus said to do... 490 times if thats what it takes.

      February 3, 2013 at 11:51 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I have no issues with coming to love and forgive someone, and agree it can be for the better for the involved parties in some cases. But this doesn't mean you lose objectivity and turn someone out onto the street who might kill another innocent person. I felt bad for Jeffrey Dahmer, but it doesn't mean I ever wanted to see him released. Those are very different things.

      February 4, 2013 at 1:16 am |
    • Jen

      You felt bad for Dahmer Sara?Why?

      No need to worry about him. He's dead.

      February 4, 2013 at 1:38 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Jen, I feel bad for anyone who is unhappy, at least as long as I have the luxury of distance. If Dahmer had killed my own friends or family I would most likely have wanted to see him suffer in pain, as is human nature. But all people are products of their biology and conditions, and to me it is sad when anyone turns out in a way that brings misery to themselves or others. Doesn't mean I want them walking the streets; it's just sad. I don't waste too much time on it, and certainly didn't cry for Dahmer when he died...I just felt his life was a sad waste, and certainly not a part of some sick god's plan.

      February 4, 2013 at 1:44 am |
    • Jen

      Agreed about the God's plan part. I usually can feel some sympathy for those that commit crimes too (ex. A lot of them had horrific childhoods). But sometimes I have no sympathy (like with Dahmer). Or those two men that killed that mother and her two daughters in Connecticut. I just can't get there.

      February 4, 2013 at 1:52 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Jen, yeah, I can't get there with everyone, and I don't think it's healthy to force yourself to. But I think too that it is important to remember that all people are conscious enti'ties to are products of their biology and environment...and then to lock them away as needed. But remembering helps us to remember to looks for the causes, rather than blaming a fake scape goat cause like "free will" or "the devil".

      February 4, 2013 at 2:26 am |
    • Austin

      God isn't sick.

      some "sick God's will" is i trick in your mind it just means you have a bad attatude, it does not have any bearing on God.
      all men will always be found as sinners. Is God the minister of sin? certainly not.

      February 4, 2013 at 2:35 am |
    • Austin

      because there are mentally ill people, does that invalidate the devil? there are so many different situations, and no ones actions can be blamed on anyone else. but you have to be able to guard your heart and mind from the schemes of the devil.

      i would not want to have to explain that to a schytzophrenic person or see them suffer.

      February 4, 2013 at 2:39 am |
    • End Religion

      austin, devils don't exist; sick or not; schizophrenic or not. You have to understand you're nukkin futz, don't you?

      February 4, 2013 at 2:52 am |
  17. Reality

    Only for the eyes of Jeanne Bishop --

    Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con/

    From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15: 14, Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

    Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

    To wit;

    From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

    "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
    Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

    Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

    Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

    The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

    Only Luke records it. (Luke mentions it in his gospel and Acts, i.e. a single attestation and therefore historically untenable). The Ascension ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers.

    The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

    "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
    http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

    The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

    With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

    An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

    p.4

    "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

    p.168. by Ted Peters:

    Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

    So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

    February 3, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
    • grant

      i didnt know that catholic /christian teachers are questioning the bodily resurrection of Jesus. are you sure, where did you hear that?

      February 4, 2013 at 12:21 am |
    • Austin

      i relate this post to a rotten opossum on the road. and then its babies come up to see and they get ran over too.

      I have never heard of the Assumption of mary, and the fact that you are talking about it in the same breath as Jesus resurrection being symbolic,in my opinion this is sick and disgusting.

      then again I have personal evidence that I have a soul, and a God who loves me. The living God, who became flesh as the Lamb of God to spill his blood in atonement, and is resurrected, who's Holy Spirit testifies within me of His life and presence

      February 4, 2013 at 12:29 am |
    • Tom Hagen

      Christianity involves an ABSURD LEAP OF FAITH...not your proofs and explanations

      February 4, 2013 at 2:42 am |
    • Thomas A. Hawk

      If the bones ended up in a mass grave, then the Romans and Jewish Aristrocracy could have used that information in the early days of Christianity to quash the movement. Clearly, that quashing didn't happened as Christianity exists today.

      Doesn't mean your perspective isn't correct. It does mean that your argument is incomplete.

      February 4, 2013 at 7:02 am |
    • Reality

      Some of the refernces used to prep The Infamous Resurrection Con:

      o 1. Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htm – the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the ti-tles of their over 100 books on the subject.
      o
      2. Early Christian Writings, earlychristianwritings.com/
      – a list of early Christian doc-uments to include the year of publication–

      30-60 CE Passion Narrative
      40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q
      50-60 1 Thessalonians
      50-60 Philippians
      50-60 Galatians
      50-60 1 Corinthians
      50-60 2 Corinthians
      50-60 Romans
      50-60 Philemon
      50-80 Colossians
      50-90 Signs Gospel
      50-95 Book of Hebrews
      50-120 Didache
      50-140 Gospel of Thomas
      50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel
      50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ
      65-80 Gospel of Mark
      70-100 Epistle of James
      70-120 Egerton Gospel
      70-160 Gospel of Peter
      70-160 Secret Mark
      70-200 Fayyum Fragment
      70-200 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
      73-200 Mara Bar Serapion
      80-100 2 Thessalonians
      80-100 Ephesians
      80-100 Gospel of Matthew
      80-110 1 Peter
      80-120 Epistle of Barnabas
      80-130 Gospel of Luke
      80-130 Acts of the Apostles
      80-140 1 Clement
      80-150 Gospel of the Egyptians
      80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews
      80-250 Christian Sibyllines
      90-95 Apocalypse of John
      90-120 Gospel of John
      90-120 1 John
      90-120 2 John
      90-120 3 John
      90-120 Epistle of Jude
      93 Flavius Josephus
      100-150 1 Timothy
      100-150 2 Timothy
      100-150 T-itus
      100-150 Apocalypse of Peter
      100-150 Secret Book of James
      100-150 Preaching of Peter
      100-160 Gospel of the Ebionites
      100-160 Gospel of the Nazoreans
      100-160 Shepherd of Hermas
      100-160 2 Peter

      3. Historical Jesus Studies, faithfutures.org/HJstudies.html,
      – "an extensive and constantly expanding literature on historical research into the person and cultural context of Jesus of Nazareth"
      4. Jesus Database, faithfutures.org/JDB/intro.html–"The JESUS DATABASE is an online annotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings of Jesus that have survived from the first three centuries of the Common Era. It includes both canonical and extra-canonical materials, and is not limited to the traditions found within the Christian New Testament."
      5. Josephus on Jesus mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm
      6. The Jesus Seminar, mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/seminar.html#Criteria
      7. Writing the New Testament- mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/testament.html
      8. Health and Healing in the Land of Israel By Joe Zias
      joezias.com/HealthHealingLandIsrael.htm
      9. Economics in First Century Palestine, K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman, Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998.

      Added references provided upon written request.

      February 4, 2013 at 7:49 am |
    • Reality

      "The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven, informally known as The Assumption, according to the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and parts of Anglicanism, was the bodily taking up of the Virgin Mary into Heaven at the end of her earthly life."

      Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/assumption-of-mary-1#ixzz2Jw0Ujq1T

      February 4, 2013 at 7:56 am |
  18. splassher6

    liberal blindness... its never pretty

    February 3, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • Akira

      Yawn.

      February 3, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
    • Pete

      This has nothing to do with being "liberal"; it has to do with being a bleeding heart. The two are not the same thing!

      February 4, 2013 at 12:23 am |
  19. Doug

    lets all get naked!

    February 3, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • Akira

      Yawn.

      February 3, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
    • Akira

      Sorry; that was meant for splasher above.
      Not that I'm gonna get nekkie.

      February 3, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
    • Doug

      Akira? common.

      February 3, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
  20. Austin

    didnt you all hear the story about the Israeli soldiers who were trying to sneak through a mine field a while back, and it was nice and calm, and suddenly a gust of wind going eighty miles an hour ripped through the desert and blew an inch of sand off all of the mines? the dust settled and there was a field full of exposed mines.

    February 3, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Citation, please, from an accredited news source.

      February 3, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
    • Austin

      you can find it on google.

      February 3, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
    • midwest rail

      So you don't have one. Thank you.

      February 3, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      http://www.snopes.com/glurge/sandstorm.asp

      Doofus doesn't even have the details of the phony story right.

      February 3, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Care to retract, Austin ??

      February 3, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
    • Chad

      Here's a real miracle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six-Day_War

      February 3, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
    • midwest rail

      I believe it is safe to assume that Austin knew full well that he was posting a lie. Also safe to assume there will be no retraction.

      February 3, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
    • Austin

      oh come on, i was busy for a while. i heard about this a few years ago. what is phony about it?

      February 3, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Other than it's a complete bullsh!t made-up story ? Gee, nothing.

      February 3, 2013 at 11:45 pm |
    • lol??

      Get out of the rapture cult. Those people are lost. You don't have any respect for your born again birthright? Esau must be singin' a sweet song in your ear.

      February 3, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
    • Austin

      lol

      who are you talking to ?

      February 3, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
    • lol??

      You Austin.

      February 3, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
    • John

      I think Jacob bit the angel's ear, and then the angel hit him in the leg.

      February 4, 2013 at 12:03 am |
    • kenny

      Chad
      That makes Hitler's survival of Claus von Stauffenberg's attempt to kill him with a bomb is also a miracle then, right? An amazing number of small things all had to go wrong with the plan it just couldn't have been by mere "chance".

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Valkyrie

      February 4, 2013 at 12:06 am |
    • lol??

      Kenny, Hitler's survival was a history lesson for the Christians. His warmup wickedness was stealing from the Jews. Americult will steal from the Christians. Get your name OFF any gubmint church membership list. Get back to the original in home gathering.

      February 4, 2013 at 12:31 am |
    • kenny

      lol??
      I'm sure that the pastors of mega-churches all see their monster chapels as their "homes" too. Besides for that, you know that you come off sounding nuts, right?

      Kenny, Hitler's survival was a history lesson for the Christians. His warmup wickedness was stealing from the Jews. Americult will steal from the Christians. Get your name OFF any gubmint church membership list. Get back to the original in home gathering.

      February 4, 2013 at 8:07 am |
    • ??

      Wow-did you hear about the thousands of times that didn't happen,and people were blown to bits?Man you religious folks are truly nuts.I mean C'mon !!

      February 4, 2013 at 9:24 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.