Look Who's Behind Hillary

Hat tip: Born at the Crest of the Empire

The Gospel of Barack

From Mark Shea:

1:1 As it is written in the AP Manual, "Behold, I send my press corps before thy face, who shall prepare thy way." And so it came to pass that pundits went forth into all that country, preaching a vote of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And lo, these pundits spake by the Spirit of the Age, going into all their towns and cities and declaring:
1:2 "He is not operating on the same plane as ordinary politicians. . . . [He is] the agent of transformation in an age of revolution, as a figure uniquely qualified to open the door to the 21st century." -- Gary Hart
1:3 "Barack Obama is our collective representation of our purest hopes, our highest visions and our deepest knowings . . . . He's our product out of the all-knowing quantum field of intelligence." -- Eve Konstantine
1:4 "This is bigger than Kennedy. . . . This is the New Testament." "I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often. No, seriously. It's a dramatic event." -- Chris Matthews

Read the rest
. You won't regret it.

RIP William F. Buckley

I think it was 1982 when I first read National Review. I was a freshman in college and it caught my eye in the library one day. One reading and I was hooked, mainly due to the incisive prose and brilliant reasoning of William F. Buckley, Jr. I proceeded to read several of his books and even his spy novels. He was a major intellectual influence on me. While I've since moved past him on some issues, I continued to admire and respect him.

Buckley passed away last night. He was found where every writer is happiest - at his desk, probably working on another column. After a lifetime of verbal battle, it's fitting that Buckley died in combat, weapon still in hand. May God grant him eternal rest and peace.

Rod Dreher has a good eulogy.

Obama: Just Like Reagan

I know that headline will sound like blasphemy to some of you. Hear me out. Obama is being criticized by Republicans , Clinton Democrats, and a few pundits as an empty suit - someone who looks great, speaks well, but has no real substance. Some Republicans even argue that Obama will be easier to defeat than Hillary Clinton would be.

Here's the problem: people said the same things about Ronald Reagan in 1980. Today's Wall Street Journal had an editorial that explains.

"More than anything else, I want my candidacy to unify our country, to renew the American spirit and sense of purpose. I want to carry our message to every American, regardless of party affiliation, who is a member of this community of shared values . . . For those who have abandoned hope, we'll restore hope and we'll welcome them into a great national crusade to make America great again!"

So Ronald Reagan proclaimed on July 17, 1980, as he accepted his party's nomination for president at the Republican National Convention in Detroit, Mich.

Earlier that day, the New York Times ran a long profile of Reagan on its front page. The author, Howell Raines, lamented that the news media had been unsuccessful in getting Reagan to speak in anything other than "sweeping generalities about economic and military policy." Mr. Raines further noted: "political critics who characterize him as banal and shallow, a mouther of right-wing platitudes, delight in recalling that he co-starred with a chimpanzee in 'Bedtime for Bonzo.'"

Throughout his campaign, Reagan fought off charges that his candidacy was built more on optimism than policies. The charges came from reporters and opponents. John Anderson, a rival in the Republican primary who ran as an independent in the general election, complained that Reagan offered little more than "old platitudes and old generalities."

Republicans who think Obama will be easy to beat are starting to sound a lot like some Democrats did in 1980. They are wrong. They underestimate how vulnerable the voters are to well-spoken people who tell them things they want to hear. This is why advertising works.

It does not matter that some of Obama's basic values are abhorrent to those who think about it. They won't think about it. Moreover, the fact that the GOP could not nominate a more conservative candidate than McCain is strong evidence that conservative values are not as widespread as they used to be.

In other words, people like what Obama says, and they also like how he says it. This is why he is so dangerous. He sounds so thoughtful and reasonable that he can convince people to adopt his ideas far better than Hillary ever could. Consider this little exchange:

At Cornell College on Dec. 5, for example, a student asked Mr. Obama how his administration would view the Second Amendment. He replied: "There's a Supreme Court case that's going to be decided fairly soon about what the Second Amendment means. I taught Constitutional Law for 10 years, so I've got my opinion. And my opinion is that the Second Amendment is probably -- it is an individual right and not just a right of the militia. That's what I expect the Supreme Court to rule. I think that's a fair reading of the text of the Constitution. And so I respect the right of lawful gun owners to hunt, fish, protect their families."

Then came the pivot:

"Like all rights, though, they are constrained and bound by the needs of the community . . . So when I look at Chicago and 34 Chicago public school students gunned down in a single school year, then I don't think the Second Amendment prohibits us from taking action and making sure that, for example, ATF can share tracing information about illegal handguns that are used on the streets and track them to the gun dealers to find out -- what are you doing?"

In conclusion:

"There is a tradition of gun ownership in this country that can be respected that is not mutually exclusive with making sure that we are shutting down gun traffic that is killing kids on our streets. The argument I have with the NRA is not whether people have the right to bear arms. The problem is they believe any constraint or regulation whatsoever is something that they have to beat back. And I don't think that's how most lawful firearms owners think."

He's smooth, very smooth. When he takes office as president, he's going to do a lot of damage. And you know what else? He'll have a majority of the population behind him. I don't like saying this but it's true. We may not get the president we want - but we'll get the president we deserve.

Abortion Regrets

An artist killed herself after aborting her twins when she was eight weeks pregnant, leaving a note saying: "I should never have had an abortion. I see now I would have been a good mum."

Emma Beck was found hanging at her home in Helston, Cornwall, on Feb 1 2007. She was declared dead early the following day - her 31st birthday.

Her suicide note read: "I told everyone I didn't want to do it, even at the hospital. I was frightened, now it is too late. I died when my babies died. I want to be with my babies: they need me, no-one else does." MORE

This is a terrible story. It sounds like the woman was already troubled and the abortion sent her over the edge. No one seems to have tried very hard to help her beyond getting her in for the abortion as fast as possible.

Abortion is a crime with at least three victims: the child, the mother, and the father. Once the deed is done, all we can do for the children is pray for their souls. The parents are another matter. As with Emma Beck, many women are pressured into having abortions or left to feel that they have no other choices.

Abortion providers want us to think that liberated women dance happily into the clinics and come out with a smile on their face, freed from this extra tissue they don't want. Don't believe it. Few women go through the experience without mental, spiritual and sometimes physical scars.

Don't forget the fathers, either. While it takes two to create a pregnancy, the decision whether to abort or not lies exclusively with the woman. If the man wants to save his child, he is simply out of luck. The law is not on his side. Or he may support the abortion initially then have regrets later. The pain can last a lifetime.

Emma Beck needed help and she didn't get it. I know of at least two groups dedicated to helping post-abortive parents: Rachel's Vineyard and Silent No More Awareness. These are people in pain, and they need to know that help is available.

Honeymoon Over For McCain

When John McCain ran for president in 2000 his "Straight Talk Express" bus came to be considered home territory for members of the media. This careful cultivation of various reporters has paid excellent dividends for the Senator; he's always enjoyed good press coverage. This seems to be ending now that he is on the verge of getting the GOP nomination.

The New York Times began the assault this week with a story containing vague, anonymous allegations of a relationship between McCain and a much younger female lobbyist. McCain quickly denied the charges. Many of the same conservatives who were attacking McCain just a few weeks ago leaped to his defense.

I have no problem believing that the New York Times is out to get Senator McCain. Nothing personal, of course; they would do the same to any other Republican. I think the campaign was surprised because they thought the had the media on their side, or at least neutralized. That notion should now be out of their minds. Every word McCain ever said is going to be scrutinized in every possible way between now and November. He's in the big leagues now.

While this particular story appears to be groundless, I think it's resonating because the charges are consistent with McCain's past. Recall that he divorced his first wife - the one who stood by him while he was a POW and almost died while he was gone - in order to marry his much younger current wife, who was herself one of a long line of extramarital affairs. This is well-known and McCain himself has admitted it. So when someone says he seems to be getting a little too close to an attractive young woman, people don't immediately dismiss the possibility.

Is it wrong to bring up these facts? I don't think so. McCain and his supporters want to talk about the honorable things he did in his younger days as reason that he should now be president. That's fine, but if he did dishonorable things back then, those events are relevant as well. He can't have it both ways. Call me old-fashioned, but I think the way a man treats his wife and family says a lot about his character - and his character is one of the things we as voters need to consider.

Likewise, when you build a public image out of cleaning up Washington and taking the money out of politics, then surround yourself with lobbyists and ex-lobbyists, it should be no surprise when people say there is something wrong with the picture.

Now that the dam is broken, the next phase begins. McCain is going to get the full treatment from the media. To some degree this is helpful; he's already using it as a fundraising tool. I still think it won't matter, though. Get ready for President Obama.

Obamania Reaches Texas

In the last few presidential elections, we here in the Lone Star State were deprived of the opportunity to play a decisive role. By the time our March primary rolls around, the deal is usually done for both parties.

Some pundits argue that such will again be the case this year, with Barack Obama having dealt a near-knockout blow to Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin yesterday. I am not yet prepared to write off the Clintons, whose cat-like political survival skills may yet bring them back to life. It thus falls to Texas to finish the job.

Because we do not have party registration here, it is possible that many Republicans will choose to vote in the Democratic primary for the sole purpose of ending Hillary's White House dreams, once and for all. But if the reports of Obama's reception in Texas are anywhere close to accurate, he's going to win anyway.

The religious fervor surrounding Obama is starting to scare me. A new blog is covering this phenomenon: Is Barack Obama the Messiah? Another good summary can be found in this post by Mark Shea.

For instance, consider the following photo. Judging from their demeanor, what sort of event would you say these people are attending? Is it:

  • A charismatic Christian tent revival?
  • A Scientology conference led by Tom Cruise?
  • Meditations with the Dalai Lama?
  • An IMAX presentation of top Reagan speeches?

The answer is none of the above. These earnest young folks would probably not be caught dead at any such events. They are, however, proud to be seen and photographed at a Barack Obama rally.

Pundits differ on whether Clinton or Obama has a better chance of beating McCain in the general election. Personally I think McCain will lose to either one of them. If so, it now looks very likely that Barack Obama will be our next president. Now is a good time to start getting used to the idea.

There is one small advantage: for the first time in 20 years, we will have a president whose last name is neither Clinton nor Bush. It will also be fun to watch Obamania collapse - which it almost certainly will when he starts making hard decisions that actually effect people's lives. "Change" isn't always a good thing. I suspect there will be some mighty long faces among the Obama Faithful by the end of 2009.

Science Replaces Fatherhood

Via Jimmy Akin we get this wonderful news of scientific "progress."

British scientists are ready to turn female bone marrow into sperm, cutting men out of the process of creating life.

The breakthrough paves the way for lesbian couples to have children that are biologically their own.

Gay men could follow suit by using the technique to make eggs from male bone marrow. [more]

As I wrote here and here, I believe it is wrong to create a new life knowing that the child will be deprived of either a mother or a father. Children need parents of both genders. However, for gay and lesbian activists this is the Holy Grail. The one biological function that has so far resisted all attempts at perversion is finally within their grasp. The Brave New World is right around the corner.

Not being a scientist, I don't know if this "breakthrough" is as legitimate as the article makes it sound. I wonder what kind of abnormalities and mutations will emerge as a result of such engineering. Something tells me it won't be good.

It is odd that the same people who thing this sort of thing is just great also tend to be very concerned about the environment. Frequently they think the world is overpopulated as it is. Why, then, is it considered good to develop ways for previously infertile people to reproduce? By this logic, gay and lesbian couples are doing a noble thing by not having children.

The answer, I think, is that personal autonomy trumps all other concerns. If gays and lesbians want children, then by golly the world owes them a way to do it. It's the abortion principle in reverse. People who want to have sex without its natural consequence, pregnancy, need access to abortion so they can continue to enjoy themselves. It's all about us. It's never about the children who get to pay the price of our pleasure.

This Blog Rated E!

Chelsea at Reflections of a Paralytic has kindly tagged Driving Out The Snakes with the Excellent Blog Award. Muchas Gracias! Chelsea, you're too kind.

I am now given the responsibility of tagging ten other blogs that I think should be rated E. Several of my favorites are already tagged so I won't mention them again. Here are ten you may not have seen. Check them out!

And Sometimes Tea
"Red Cardigan" is a home-schooling mom with some great thoughts about family and pro-life issues.

Ask Sister Mary Martha
This is one tough nun. She gives amusingly straight answers to all kinds of questions from all kinds of people.

Born at the Crest of the Empire
I don't know how many news sites Mike reads every day, but it's a lot of them. He aggregates interesting headlines, mainly on political and war-related subjects, and also publishes funny pics of the day.

Darwin Catholic
Darwin and MrsDarwin provide an interesting mix of theology, literature, economics and theology.

Defend Us In Battle
Jeff is a police officer and a recent Catholic convert. He has interesting and sometimes touching stories about crime, culture, and life in general.

Domine, da mihi hanc aquam!
(Don't worry, the rest of it is in English.) Father Philip is a Dominican friar and a professor at the University of Dallas. The blog has transcripts of his homilies, which are also available as a podcast. Listen to a few and you'll see why Dominicans are called the Order of Preachers.

Islam and Christianity
Abu Daoud is a Christian who lives in an undisclosed location somewhere in the Middle East. He talks in his blog about religious freedom, evangelism, and Islamic beliefs from the inside.

Another priestly blog. Father Erik is a pastor in Utah who likes guns, cartoons, and blowing up stuff.

Dr. Steven Taylor is a political science professor at Troy University. His comments on political events are always intelligent and aggravatingly logical.

The Way of the Fathers
Mike Aquilina offers all kinds of news and fun stuff about the early Church. His blog is a patristics gold mine.

The Useful Dead VII

WARNING: This post may be sickening.

In previous installments of this series we discussed how dead humans are being used as organ donors, egg donors, cosmetic products, and museum displays. As if these aren't ghastly enough, the supposedly "developing" Chinese are reported to have taken the final step: cannibalism.

"New macabre manifestations of this conscienceless abortion mentality include the recent opening of five restaurants in the region of X, which began serving 'fetal soup' at the price of 300 Yuan (approximately $40) a bowl! Recent medical publications have praised the exceptional health benefits for the consuming of 'fetal remains' (this jargon allows them to overlook what this really is-unborn baby bodies). Therefore, local entrepreneurs jumped on the opportunity to distribute this new health breakthrough to the chosen few who could afford the price. So evil and scandalous is this fetal soup trade that the Government shut down the Web sites advertising the restaurants, in fear that they would scandalize the reputation of the People's Republic to outside countries and businesses. [source]

That's not all. Chinese women who are lucky enough not to be eaten before birth now face the risk of being married after death.
"Is it possible that the abortion holocaust and its rejection of life's sacred dignity has also contributed to the recent practice of 'ghost wives,' as recently reported in Chinese news sources? This is the practice of providing a woman's dead body to be buried with a deceased man so that the man will have company in the 'next life.' Distributors of the dead bodies of women found that men were willing to pay much more for a 'new' dead body of a woman, rather than one previously preserved. Murder of women from out-of-the-way places ensued to fill the new demand for the fresh ghost wives.

I haven't been able to find any other source for these ghastly stories. I sincerely hope they are not true. I would like to think that humans can't possibly sink so low.

But I know that we can.

Baptist-Catholic Dialogue

Someone drew my attention to this article from Baptist Press about Baptist-Catholic ecumenical talks that are currently underway in Rome. That reminded me of this story from Zenit back in December about the Pope's welcoming address to the same group.

Since the substance and results of the meetings are not yet known, the Baptist Press article mainly quotes other people who are not involved in the current talks. Their opinions generally boil down to this: "Sure, we can agree about abortion and stuff, but we'll never get anywhere on the theological issues. Those Catholics just won't admit they're wrong and we're right." Here is a good example from Steve Lemke, provost of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary:

"First of all, it bears noting that the pope initiated dialogue with Muslims before he did so with Baptists," Lemke said. "Secondly, in the light of Pope Benedict's repeated strong and unambiguous statements that Protestant churches 'suffer from defects' and 'cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called 'Churches' in the proper sense,' genuine dialogue appears to be impossible."

I discussed the differences regarding the term "Church" in this post last summer. News flash: Catholics and Baptists actually believe different things! Why this would surprise a seminary professor is a mystery. No doubt Rev. Lemke thinks the Catholic Church "suffers from defects." That is why he is Baptist and not Catholic. Yet the fact that Catholics have similar thoughts about Baptists seems to aggravate him, enough so that he thinks "genuine dialogue" is impossible. Weird.

The shot about the Pope speaking to Muslims first also needs a response. I feel sure that the Pope would love to reach out to all other religions and the various branches of Christianity as quickly as possible. There are many branches, of course, so he has to prioritize. I can think of at least three reasons why dialogue with Muslims might be prioritized ahead of dialogue with Baptists:
  1. Muslims were first in line. Muhammad died in A.D. 632. The Baptist World Alliance was formed in A.D. 1905.
  2. There are more Muslims in the world than Baptists. Far more, in fact - over a billion Muslims vs. less than 100 million Baptists, depending which of the many sub-groups you include.
  3. Baptists are not currently engaged in acts of violence against Catholics around the world. Various groups of Muslims are. This lends a certain urgency to opening dialogue with Muslim leaders as soon as possible.
I'm sorry if Rev. Lemke feels that the Pope did not move quickly enough to begin these talks that Rev. Lemke has already decided will be useless. As you can see, Baptists are not the only group the Vatican has to consider. The important thing is that dialogue is now underway.

I think the Baptists who fret that such talks are a waste of time are missing the point. The Pope is well aware of the theological differences between Baptists and Catholics. He does not expect the Baptist representatives to compromise their beliefs. Likewise the Catholic delegates will defend their church's teaching.

The fact that Christianity is divided into so many factions is a great scandal. It prevents us from setting an example to the fallen world. If we want to follow Christ, we need to work toward unity, but without compromising Truth. What needs to happen is for all the different groups to come to the same understanding of what the Truth is. The way to accomplish that is to talk about it - not throw up your hands and say "This will never go anywhere."

What would be nice is for Catholics and Baptists to at least understand each other's beliefs. Having been on both sides of this divide, I can testify there are plenty of prejudices and misperceptions by Catholics and Baptists about each other. There are real differences, too. Removing the stereotypes is a necessary step toward discussing the more important issues in a serious way. This is why interfaith dialogue is useful even if no one changes his mind about anything.

Change comes slowly, bit by bit. Christianity was unified for its first thousand years. In that time, the Gospel spread like wildfire through the known world. The Great Schism and the Reformation were the result of human weakness. Putting the pieces back together is not an easy task. It may take another thousand years but it must be done, and the effort cannot be abandoned no matter how hard it looks. We have to keep planting seeds, even knowing that we may not live to see them sprout.

Time For A New Pro-Life Strategy

Several bloggers that I greatly respect - notably Leticia, Chelsea, and C.K. - are trying to rally the troops around Mike Huckabee in a last-ditch effort to stop John McCain from getting the GOP nomination. After playing hard-to-get for months, James Dobson finally endorsed Huckabee this week. A few people who aren't terribly pro-life but can't stand McCain for other reasons will probably do likewise.

Sad to say, it won't matter. Steven Taylor has the numbers. To win the GOP nomination, Huckabee must get 96% of the remaining delegates. Like Huckabee, I believe in miracles. But I also don't expect the Lord to perform one and lead that many delegates to Huckabee. The opposite may be more likely; is He trying to tell us something by allowing events to develop as they have?

One thing we may want to consider is that not as many people share our pro-life views as we would like to believe. This is true even among faithful Christians. Exit polling from Super Tuesday states revealed that most Catholics voted for McCain or Clinton. Likewise, Huckabee has yet to attract much support outside of Evangelicals.

This suggests to me that those of us who are pro-life might want to change our strategy. We can't expect to win the political battles when we haven't even convinced the people who sit in the pews with us on Sunday. Maybe that's where our energy should be directed.

Back in November I wrote about a survey that showed most Evangelicals place abortion far down the list when decided how to vote. The same seems to apply to Catholics. Until we change these hearts we aren't going to change the national consciousness. And until we change the national consciousness, even getting a Supreme Court that overturns Roe. v. Wade will not accomplish the goal of stopping abortion. It will remain legal almost everywhere. Babies will continue to die.

Last month Elizabeth Andrew posted this quote from Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. It's been haunting me ever since.

"Unless souls are saved, nothing is saved; there can be no world peace unless there is soul peace. World wars are only projections of the conflicts waged inside the souls of modern men and women, for nothing happens in the external world that has not first happened within a soul."

Just substitute "abortion" for "world wars" and it remains equally valid. Abortion happens not only because it is legal, but because the souls of the men and women involved in it are lost. If those souls can be converted, if those men and women open their hearts to Christ, abortion will cease to be a problem - even if it remains nominally legal.

I'm not suggesting we ignore politics, by any means. I hope Huckabee and Ron Paul stay in the race and continue to get votes, however small the numbers may be. The politicians need to know we're out there and can't be ignored. We also need to work at the state and local level to build up a generation of principled leaders for the future. And we need to continue all efforts to help and educate the women who have abortions. It may take many more years, but in this way we will ultimately win.

McCain Closes The Deal

With Romney out of the running, John McCain is now a done deal. Today he spoke at CPAC in an attempt to mend fences with conservatives. Good luck, but it doesn't matter. He is now the king of the GOP. I expect Huckabee will fall in line shortly.

I would like to get behind McCain. I really would. He's a genuine war hero and isn't afraid to take unpopular stands. My problem with him is that I cannot figure out where those stands come from. He has no identifiable principles other than a vague, semi-religious "greatness of America." No one can predict what he will do in any given situation. He floats around like a jellyfish, randomly stinging anyone who gets in his way.

At least he is pro-life, some argue. Well, no, he's not. McCain wants the federal government to pay for embryonic stem-cell research, which results in the death of very young humans. He also supports the abortion of babies that have the misfortune to be conceived as a result of rape or incest. Now to some people this is "pro-life." Yet it ignores the fundamental question: as soon as you start to say that some innocent lives must be protected while others can be destroyed, somebody has to decide which lives fall into which group. Next thing you know whole categories of people are being defined out of existence.

Unless the right to life applies to everyone, it is not really a "right." McCain, then, is not really pro-life. He is pro-some lives. In a way, this is worse than being pro-abortion. McCain apparently believes unborn children are fully human and still thinks it is perfectly fine to kill some of them. How callous is that?

As noted above, it doesn't really matter. I am convinced that either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama will handily beat McCain in November. One of those two will be our next president. It didn't have to be this way, but those are the cards we've been dealt. Now we have to make the best of it.

More interesting McCain thoughts here and here.

Ash Wednesday Reflections

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. From now until Easter we are called to meditate on our sinfulness and practice repentance. Here is an informative article on the customs of Lent. Red Cardigan and Teofilo have good reflections about the season. So does Darth Beckman.

Today's Gospel Reading from Matthew 6 is a good primer on what to do during Lent (and the rest of the year, too, but especially now). That is why it will be read out loud today in every Catholic church around the world. For those of other traditions, here it is:

1 "Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

2 "Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,

4 so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

5 "And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

16 "And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,

18 that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Mercy for the Unspeakable

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.

Rod Dreher shared a terrible story on his blog yesterday. In Massachusetts, a 6-year-old boy was raped by a convicted sex offender in the public library. The boy's mother was nearby; the rapist lured the boy behind some shelves and he was too paralyzed by fear to cry for help. Here is more from the NY Times and AP.

When we see stories like this, the visceral reaction is usually to wish pain, suffering, and death on anyone who would do such things to a child. In the rush to condemn we sometimes forget that the offender is human, too. His name is Corey Saunders, and here is a bit of his background.

Court records show that Mr. Saunders’s mother left him when he was 9. At 14 he was found wandering the streets clutching a teddy bear and was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward for a month...

Saunders, 26, was convicted in 2001 of indecent assault and battery and attempted rape on a child for attacking a 7-year-old boy in a foster home where he was placed. He was released about a year ago by a judge even though prosecutors and three psychologists said he was likely to strike again.

Bristol Superior Court Judge Richard Moses denied a motion by the district attorney's office to keep Saunders in custody under what is called a civil commitment... Moses cited Saunders' low IQ, his history of being sexually abused as a child and his lack of sexual offenses in prison as reasons to let him out. Also, a psychologist for the defense said Saunders was not likely to attack again.

Obviously the judge made a terrible mistake, but the rest of us have to share the blame. Such things are the inevitable result of the decision we as a society made back in the 1960s to "de-institutionalize" the mentally ill (which anyone who rapes a 6 year old clearly is, by definition). In most states it is practically impossible to force people like Saunders to accept any kind of treatment against their will unless they are "imminently" dangerous - which usually means gun in hand, finger on trigger. You have a constitutional right to be crazy in America.

A lot of these people would be fine if they just took medicine regularly. Instead of making them do so, we abandon them to their own private hell. They end up living on the streets, in prison, or dead. It is no accident that this crime happened where it did; in many cities public libraries have become de facto day care centers for homeless people, especially when it is cold outside. Since many homeless people are mentally ill, it should surprise no one if they commit crimes in libraries. It will continue to happen until we fix the mental health system.

Both Corey Saunders and society will finally get what they need now: separation. Hopefully he will get some effective treatment as well, but he sounds like a tough case. I would bet that his mother who abandoned him was herself mentally ill. There are strong genetic connections to these things.

I began this article with a verse from the Sermon on the Mount: Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy. Does Corey Saunders deserve mercy? No, he doesn't. None of us do. Yet the Lord expects us to show mercy if we want to receive mercy ourselves. And mercy is something we will all need when we face Him in judgment.

This is a hard teaching to follow. We want vengeance against people who do these things. Yet vengeance has no place in the life of a Christian; God reserves that right to Himself. From us he expects mercy, and particularly toward the weak and helpless.

It is ironic that some Christian "pro-life" advocates turn so bloodthirsty in these situations. People with serious mental illness are not morally culpable for their actions, any more than the unborn babies we fight so hard to protect. The very concept of "punishing" such people ought to be repugnant to anyone who really cares about defending innocent life.

Yes, we need to protect society from such persons. Lock them up for life if necessary. But we owe them mercy at the same time. This is an area where we have failed miserably as a society. Men like Corey Saunders, and a little boy he met in the library, are both paying the price.