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On the Cover of Rolling Stone

July 19, 2013

knew there was a song about this!


I admit, when I first saw the newspiece of Rolling Stone’s decision to feature a photo of the Boston Bomber on the cover, I was repulsed.  I was thinking, “Wow, what has this country come to? Terrorists are now celebrities.”

Whether that’s true or not, a new line of thinking entered my head – granted, what this guy did was terrible, horrible and awful, but while this may be particularly difficult for folks directly affected by the young man’s actions – as evidenced by the release of photos of Tsarnaev’s capture by the Boston PD – this actually seems to be effective journalism, and moreover, an alarming display of grace, though I wonder about the editors’ intent regarding the latter.

Anyway, we’re quick to say that the guilty have no voice except for their day in court.  And in this particular instance, and instances like it, where it seems pretty obvious about the suspect’s culpability, we’re even quicker to say something along the lines of, “Shoot him where he stands.”  And if I remember correctly, many people did vocalize that sentiment at the time of his capture.

And understandably so.

Tsarnaev and his brother are responsible for terrorizing hundreds, if not thousands of people in the greater Boston area when you take into account the following lockdown of the city in the search for him, not to mention just the fact that they turned a wonderful event such as the Boston Marathon into a place of tragedy that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

But what about when we do hear his side of the story?  About him perhaps being strongly influenced by his older brother?  How many of us have done stupid things under the influences of older siblings?  I remember occasionally debasing myself as a kid for the approval of my older sibling.

But we don’t want to hear that, do we?  He’s guilty, he made our lives miserable, string him up and be done with it.

Well, last night as I saw more news coverage of the cover controversy something else struck me, along with all the preceding thoughts: who would Jesus put on the cover of His magazine?  Would He feature someone like Tsarnaev or someone like Joel Osteen?  And then why?

Maybe He’d feature Tsarnaev and have a story run about his troubled past and would urge His followers to pray for Tsarnaev’s soul. After all, hearing leads to understanding and understanding to compassion.  But compassion?  FOR THIS GUY??!  And forgiveness?  Well…anyone who says they’re a Christian, a little Christ, is commanded to forgive.  And isn’t there some popular cliche going around about how not forgiving someone only hurts yourself?  I mean, it’s basically true but I’ve lately seen it appearing in my Facebook newsfeed as one of those annoying platitude pictures.

Anyway, I’m not at all suggesting simply absolving this guy of what happened and I’m definitely not suggesting just naively forgiving.  But isn’t this the kind of guy Jesus came to save?  That is to say, someone with who lives and breathes on the same planet as us?  Does He not tarry in His return that all may be saved?  All may be saved?

Just tilting my head, looking at it all from a different angle…


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