Tag Archives: death

Exploding Cars and Point of View

Finally Friday! It was not just any Friday, it was the Friday former apartment Fry C302  had anticipated for about five months. Our ultimate destination was Long Island, New York but Jason and I were going to stop in Philly to break up the trip.  I picked him up around 9:30 PM in Baltimore and we began our journey. Per the usual we discussed everything from girls, to politics, to sports and reminisced on those nostalgic moments that made college so great.

During one of our conversations I noticed a SUV fly past the passenger side in the middle lane. When he made it about three car lengths in front, the back of the vehicle started to shake and entered a fish tail. It then launched perpendicularly into the guard rail and all the lights on the car went black.

“They’re dead…” I thought immediately as I broke anticipating any debris that might ricochet back into traffic.

“Pull Over!” Jason yelled from the passenger seat. I started to pull to the left shoulder, but realized the stupidity of my decision and moved over to the right shoulder as soon as I could. Unfortunately a car in the right lane prevented us from getting over as quickly as we wanted placing us further away from the wrecked vehicle. Jason bolted out of the car and ran back towards the severe accident. I opened my door and braced myself against the car as I realized how close we were to traffic whizzing by. I restarted my car and pulled closer to the rail hoping that our car would not lead to a second wreck.

I’m not sure if it was the fact that I saw other cars pulled over, or that I knew Jason was already down the road, but I wasn’t moving as fast as I’d like. The smoke from the car became thicker, indicating that something was burning. I walked over, preparing myself mentally to see a mangled, decapitated, or impaled form of the human body caused by the vicious crash.  I picked up the pace a little bit realizing that Jason would definitely pull people out if need be, and ultimately I’d need to jump in too if the situation called for it. A little ominous glow rose above the car, signally to everyone around that the passengers inside had to get out.
Luckily, by the time I arrived at the vehicle, the wounded driver (we’ll name him David for now) and fairly unharmed passenger had been pulled out by another bystander prior to either Jason’s or my arrival. The individual that pulled the victims from the car passed the David off to Jason. Blood ran down both sides of his face as he looked up dazed, unsure of what was happening. He only knew that something about 50 ft. to his left was emitting a very, very bright light. We could tell his chest was causing him immense pain as he held on to it, attempting fruitlessly to ease the sensation.  Jason sat him up on the guard rail, and the other passenger from the vehicle held David in a constant embrace, not letting him tilt in any direction.

Jason, myself, and a few other bystanders who pulled over tried to make some conversation to ease the tension and keep David awake (he had an obvious concussion). We were also shocked. As bad as David appeared, he looked better than he should’ve. I was sure no one survived the accident, so anything short of death was incredible.

A few painstakingly long moments passed as we waited for the arrival of the police and EMTs. Jason then looked at me and asked, “Is this really happening?” It was surreal. The car at this point was completely engulfed in flames. A few seconds later, we heard the final pops as the flames reached the gas tank, causing a small, but still startling explosion on the side of I-95. Everyone there was thrilled that these two individuals were on the side of the road, and out of the vehicle.

Minutes later, one of David’s friends showed up at the scene (yes, he beat the cops and EMTs). This was possibly the most difficult part of the evening. The friend (we’ll name him Joseph) ran up frenetically and in a panicked, desperate voice, he cried, “What happened man?!” He repeated those words over and over for awhile, pausing occasionally to look over David’s wounded and bloodied body. Joseph’s world crashed to the ground harder than his David’s car hit the guard rail. I had to look away and gaze back at the burning remains of the vehicle. It was almost too difficult to look at Joseph’s reaction to the entire thing. For some reason, there seemed like a bit of guilt in his voice. I have no basis for understanding why, but Jason sensed the same thing.

That was one of the many things that stuck with me from that night. It wasn’t just the honesty of his reaction, but the contrast from ours. Of course we didn’t know David, but I think there was another major factor at play. For those of us who saw the accident, David was in relatively great shape. I was expecting to come across a corpse, or at least something very close to it. When I saw him assisted to the guard rail, it was a huge relief. It was almost as if David was resurrected in my own mind.

Joseph did not witness the accident, so he could only compare David’s current state with his normal, unharmed state. This, along with all of our collective adrenaline rushes caused us to experience this I-95 scene differently. I’m not sure if Joseph will ever know just how lucky he was to see David in the state he did. Probably best he never does.

In the end both of our perspectives reflected a shared consensus on just how precious life is. Jason and I saw a life almost taken away, so behind all the wounds remained a preserved, and delicate life. Joseph missed the accident, but saw the evidence of how close he was to never seeing his friend again.


Invective: 30 Rock vs. Fox

In popular and semi worthless news today, Alec Baldwin and Michelle Malkin (fox news correspondence and conservative blogger) engaged in a twitter feud regarding the controversial execution of Troy Davis in Georgia. I encourage reading the above link as well as Huffington Post’s coverage with a slight warning that the language contains four-letter words, racial epithets, and sexual slurs (Huffington Post refuses to post the worst on their page and links it to another page). I hope that most people will read the fight and ultimately share my disgust with both parties. While we could discuss a plethora of topics regarding this fight, I’d like to share a few pertinent thoughts on the situation.

First, is both individuals elevate their personalities and sometimes party over the actual issue. While Baldwin appears to sincerely oppose the death penalty in this situation, his rhetoric ultimately places the focus on himself and the right wingers he dislikes, but not towards the supposed plight of Troy Davis. His tweets regarding Bush, Cheney, Malkin, and “hateful right wingers” make it appear that he is merely using Troy Davis as a way to bash conservative figures. I believe that Baldwin’s assumed side (the anti-death penalty stance, not the twitter-rage) on this issue has some valid and important points that must arise in common discussion, but he made a mockery of his own view. By tweeting outrage, he reduced a noteworthy news story and ethical dilemma to a soundbite-filled,  trivial, tabloid-style feud. Now people know more about the fight than the actual trial, and ironically know who Michelle Malkin is (I assume for most people, Alec is more of a household name).  Mr. Baldwin may have true passion for this issue, but creating conservative targets to release ad hominem invective upon does nothing but trivialize the issue. He also loosely throws in the usual conservative is a fascist shtick. He is merely imitating the paranoid-apocalypse is coming-conservatives that use the terms socialism and communism loosely for every democrat that supports welfare but using fascism in its place. For those that actually endured a fascist reign, please don’t insult them with a very loose misapplication of the word.

Michelle Malkin is not an innocent either. Here is an issue where she probably could have done everyone a favor and turned her smart phone off. She carried along a feud and participated in a fight that was dirty from the beginning. There really was nothing for her to gain (I guess with exception of the semi-fame that comes as a result of this incident?) unless she dreamt of dueling the evil liberal Alec Baldwin in a medium so ripe for debate that no more than 140 characters are allowed per statement. She then proceeds to drag the victim of the initial murder into her sound bite arguments. However, at this point in the “debate” everyone is so angry that her use of the murder victim just polarised the situation even more. No, bringing up the initial murder victim in the case should not cause any polarization, but in her line of thinking, she essentially tells Baldwin and any of his subsequent followers that they do not care about the initial victim or the family. This is a handy technique to use, especially when the opposing party is on a verbal rampage. She probably knows (I hope) that people against the death penalty are not inherently anti-justice and pro-murder.  Intentionally misunderstanding a group like that just adds fuel to the fire and sparks more wasteful invective. In the end, Malkin does a pretty good job of making a name for herself while unintentionally making light of a serious issue in need of deeper discussion. In saying this, I have more sympathy for her considering Baldwin’s “twitter campaign” against her led to extremely racist and sexually derogatory language. That was inexcusable and if I were Baldwin, I would be embarrassed that my “tolerant” followers would be so eager to hate.

You might ask why I would write about  a worthless “pissing contest” between two talking heads. I acknowledge their fight because it is very similar to the same invective I see in use every day. Only this time, the argument is not between Jane and John, but between a politically active actor, and a conservative Fox News correspondent and blogger. In arguments and disagreements we have to play a certain way otherwise cooler heads will never prevail (assuming we actually want to discuss and not merely engage in a shouting match. One cannot write off someone because they feel that the individual is intellectually inferior. One cannot write someone off because they feel that he or she is unpatriotic. No! In a disagreement you must:

  • acknowledge and be able to present your opponent’s case in the best possible light so that he or she would recognize it as his or her own.
  • not force a conclusion you have made based on their premises upon them. This holds true even if you believe that their premises logically lead to the conclusion you see (ex. If a person is anti-death penalty, do not label them as anti-justice and pro-murder. It is okay to debate are person and lead him or her to that conclusion, but you cannot force it on the person as inherently his or her view)
  • not force a stereotypical association with a person and/or his position (ex. There is a common perception that Conservative Evangelicals are all pro-life, yet support the death penalty. Many use this tactic to prove hypocrisy and disregard anything else the person says. Other than the fact that the statement above is not necessarily true, it is a weak use of argument to begin with)
  • give your opponent the benefit of the doubt. (By this, believe that the person actually wants to make the world a better place. Building an argument against anything less really isn’t worth your time anyways. If you believe that people who are pro-death penalty just want to vengefully kill people, your arguments will ignore the bigger issues and remain unconvincing to anyone that holds an opinion slightly different from your own.)
  • Don’t assume intellectual superiority. There’s always someone smarter.

There is definitely more advice out there, but I think this is a starting point. Unfortunately I doubt that we’ll actually attain levelheaded conversation on a large-scale. Right now, we have people spouting off on twitter and on tv, getting publicity over two dead men.

Women and the Bible

What role did women have in the Bible?  … wait… before we clam up and fight as to whether women should speak in church, become elders, pastors, or maybe the Pope someday… lets reread, and maybe rephrase the question. What role did women have in the Bible’s construction?  This may sound like an odd question considering that there is no book in the new testament called, The Gospel according to Miriam, or Joanna, but women seem to have a greater role than most realize.

If you read the Gospels, you will notice that named-women appear surprisingly frequently throughout Jesus’ ministry. We also see them at the cross, at his burial, and at the empty tomb. This prompts the question, why and how do we have stories about these women? It seems obvious that some were eyewitnesses, but how much is actually their testimony?

The Gospel according to Luke is the most helpful when examining the testimony of women. First of all, Luke by implication states that he is not an eyewitness. He describes that he has carefully investigated everything from the beginning, and taken an account of the testimonies of the first eyewitnesses (Luke 1:1-4). If you are like me you will wonder,  “who are these first eyewitnesses?”

Scholars such as Richard Bauckham will suggest that there is a good possibility that a substantial amount of Luke’s eyewitness testimony came from women like Mary and Joanna (Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, Gospel Women). There are a few clues as to why: the literary technique of inclusio, and text’s internal evidence regarding Mary and Joanna’s knowledge of the ministry.

Inclusio is an ancient literary technique where similar ideas, or phrases bracket the beginning and end of a section.


Beginning: He is a Champion

He likes to play football

he wins MVP’s

He’s won multiple superbowls

End: He is a Champion

While we see this mainly in literary or rhetorical instances (see Hebrews: Christ as the perfect high Priest), we see this in ancient histories and biographies for eyewitness testimony as well. This means that a section will introduce a person, and fill the inner section with testimony or anecdotes from that person, and then close the testimony off by dismissing the individual in some way. A few biblical scholars today (Bauckham, Hengel) will claim that the Gospel according to Mark is largely the eyewitness testimony of Peter based on an inclusio of his testimony (for a non-Christian example of ancient eyewitness inclusio, see Lucian’s Alexander). In Luke, we seem to have multiple sources at work, but the main inclusio we see is with Mary and Joanna. Luke introduces the two in Luke 8:2-3 and last mentions them in Luke 24:11. While interesting and notable that there are two events (the ministry in Luke 8 and the empty tomb in 24) the women were possibly eyewitnesses for, why give them more credit? This comes from their disciple-like knowledge of Jesus’ ministry described in Luke 24.

The women go to the tomb where they find two shimmering men who claim that Jesus is not there. They tell the women,

Luke 24:5b-8

“Why Do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'” Then they remembered his words.

Pay close attention to “remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee.” The two men move on from this statement, assuming and taking it for granted that these women obviously heard this before. So, let’s go to the original scene in Galilee

Luke 9:18, 21-22

Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him… Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”

The section in chapter 9 shows that this specific teaching of Jesus was given to his disciples in private. The two men in chapter 24 suggest that these women were there with Jesus for this teaching. This means that there is a good possibility, that the women were responsible for the accounts of ch. 9: 18-26. Therefore, it seems safe to postulate that if Mary and Joanna were privy to this private conversation, they were present for considerably more.

Inclusio and the testimony from Luke 8 and 24 lead us to believe that some of the women we find in the gospel contributed a considerable portion of the eyewitness testimony we have.* While we cannot know this for certain, a strong case is available. At the very least we can remind ourselves of a few things today. Women are more than just stay-at-home moms and can play quite an important role in ministry. These women traveled with Jesus, participated in his ministry, served the poor, shared the gospel, and as a result put family life aside. These were not women who simply stayed at home. On the contrary, they were with Jesus through his ministry, and remained with him at the cross when the Twelve were too fearful, and most likely quite active in the rise of the early Church.

For further reading:

Jesus and the Eyewitnesses

Gospel Women

*By implication in the introduction, Luke used multiple sources. I am not saying that these women were authors, or the only eyewitnesses, just major contributors.