May 23, 2007

See, the problem is secular education...

From the can't make this up category, one of Falwell's students made a bunch of bombs to use on people protesting that late reverend. But I thought that schools like Liberty were superior because they teach the Bible.
"And Campbell County authorities arrested a Liberty University student for having several homemade bombs in his car.

The student, 19-year-old Mark D. Uhl of Amissville, Va., reportedly told authorities that he was making the bombs to stop protesters from disrupting the funeral service. The devices were made of a combination of gasoline and detergent, a law enforcement official told ABC News' Pierre Thomas. They were 'slow burn,' according to the official, and would not have been very destructive."
Yeah, they really teach the basics at Liberty U. And we also see another example of the bias here. Good Christian guy makes incendiary devices, but he isn't called a "terrorist" and the officials note that they weren't that dangerous. If he had been Muslim, I can't help but imagine a different response.

But that may be the lasting memory of Falwell--religious extremism.


Tony said...


I have to call you out on this one. You cannot argue from the part to the whole that just because you have one bad kid that the whole of LU is not a good university.

You do not know that that kid was a Christian. Just because he goes to Liberty does not make him automatically good, nor saved. Heck, I saw grown men get saved in chapel at seminary.

Simply because Seung-Hui Cho went to a secular university does not automatically make him bad. It is their actions you must call to account, not the university.

That being said I find agreement with you on two points.

1. Uhl was wrong to make the bombs and should be treated as a homeland terrorist.

2. Falwell was extreme.

Nevertheless, Uhl is one kid out of over ten thousand, just like Cho was one kid out of about twenty-five thousand.

ubub said...

I agree that its problematic to generalize about institutions based on individual students, but in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings there was a lot of noise made about how secular education was to blame. I read the comment more as a sarcastic response to that line of thinking than a criticism of Liberty U.

In terms of whether he was saved or not (I think I know what that means but honestly don't get it), it might be reasonable to conclude that he is a self-professed Christian based on his choice of universities. I am not sure that we ever know the true hearts of others -- by our acts I suppose, 'by our love by our love," as the old hymn goes.

I wonder if we were to apply that same standard of sincere belief to those who have been labeled as 'Islamic Radicals' or Terrorists' or some such thing. Would we then drop the label? Should we then drop the label?

We rarely hear Timothy McVeigh or Eric Rudolph referred to as domestic terrorists in the same way we hear about Jose Padilla or the Lackawanna Six. McVeigh was involved with Elohim City and Rudolph with Christian Identity.

If Uhl is not held on terror charges, it will fuel the perception that there is a double standard. It shows that perhaps this really is all about ideology, that perhaps the War on Terror is truly, to use the president's own unfortuate words, a Crusade. After all, Crusades do not target Christians.

steve s said...

When I saw this on the news, I just knew that Streak would have an entry on this guy.

As for the terrorist label, I am also confused as to when it can be used. Tim McVeigh was certainly called a domestic terrorist, and I think the label was appropriate, as was 'mass murderer.'

I would agree that the Islamic terrorist is certainly going to generate more fear than the Christian terrorist. Fear of Islam, in general, is certainly blown out of proportion, but it would seem that radical element of Islam represents a greater danger to peace than the radical element of Christianity. I am not letting Christianity off the hook, but I am having a hard time seeing otherwise.

I hope that Uhl is prosecuted as a terrorist. He sounds dangerous.

Tony said...


Yes, it would be reasonable to conclude that Uhl was a Christian based on his university choice, but sitting in McDonald's does not make me a hamburger.

Streak's reasoning may have been against the "secular education is to blame" line of thinking, but his sarcasm and bias against LU is there: I thought that schools like Liberty were superior because they teach the Bible...Yeah, they really teach the basics at Liberty U.

We can know a person's heart by his acts and it would be reasonable to conclude that he is not saved; a good tree bears good fruit, a bad tree, bad fruit (Matthew 7:17-18). And by saved, I mean that he has committed his life to Jesus Christ in repentance (having turned from his sinful ways)and faith (trusting Christ for that salvation).

And if I am following you in regards to "sincerely believing," then it depends on what you believe, therefore, and if Uhl was a committed, Christian then he obviously did not sincerely believe what Christ teaches and he would have understood that blowing someone up, even in the name of the Lord, would be wrong and sinful.

And I agreed that Uhl should be treated as a domestic terrorist.

Streak said...

Sarcasm? Moi? Never.

Tony, I agree completely that my post was an over generalization, but it was so on purpose, as Ubub read it. Every damn school shooting, we saw someone like Tom Delay or Jerry Falwell blame liberals or secularism or evolution or powdered donuts for the shooting. Conservative Christians are never, in this vein, to blame for anything.

Steve, I take it as a compliment that you knew I would have a post on this. :) It was too hard to resist.

Oh, and Tony, "sitting in McDonalds does not make me a hamburger?" Really? :)

Tony said...

I see the generalization. I'm not stupid.

How many times have I agreed with you on issues like this? Yes, conservatives do get off too easily. This boy should be prosecuted to the fullest extent.

But my point was that you cannot paint LU with that brush. There are some sorry kids that go to LU; that is not what I am denying.

I defended Cho, btw. Uhl deserves the same, whether he is a hamburger or not.

ubub said...

Tony's hamburger analogy is a good one, and it got me to thinking.

I wonder if any particular all-beef patty has a choice as to whether s/he will indeed become hamburger and which restaurant might serve him or her. An all-beef patty sitting in a McDonald's seems to be indicating an aspiration to become a hamburger. We do not know the heart of the beef patty, only its actions.

Similarly, a student attending a religious institution of higher learning is likely indicating that such an institution better serves their real or aspirational spiritual needs. Given that 'secular institutions' usually have several active faith communities, it seems that a student choosing a religious institution like Liberty U. is seeking something more. Whether they are saved or not, God only knows, but it seems to indicate that their spiritual needs are best met in a religious institution.

My point about sincere beliefs is that Christians, self-professed, saved, or otherwise, can recognize that blowing people up at a funeral would not be consistent with Christianity. This leads to a double standard because similar acts committed by self-professed Muslims are denounced as the work of 'Islamic terrorists' simply because the average American is largely ignorant of the true teachings of Islam. Such acts are contrary to the teachings of that faith, just as they are contrary to Christianity. They are to Islam what Christian Identity is to Christianity. I am reminded here of the words of the great philosopher-swordsman Inigo Montoya, "I don't think that means what you think it means."

My apologies to you all for the heinous acts of torture committed upon Tony's metaphor. Under these circumstances, it was not only expedient but truly necessary.

steve s said...

I will admit that I only know a few Muslims, so I should probably be included in the ignorant group. That being said, I saw there was a poll that 1 in 4 'young' Muslims supported suicide bombers. I don't know about the sample or how the question was asked, but it makes me wonder how much support there is for extreme acts in the Muslim world versus the support for extreme acts in the Christian world.

I would really like to know. It seems that any time that I have participated in this kind of discussion, it rapidly degenerated into a 'my God can beat up your God.' It would be nice of there was some rational middle ground, as opposed to ignoring what is happening or 'bomb the middle east.'

Yes, Streak, I saw the Uhl story scrolling by on the bottom of the screen. I knew when I saw Liberty U and Falwell funeral that you would be blogging.

Streak said...


I didn't mean to be insulting. Sorry about that. And you are absolutely right that there are many great kids who go to LU or Regent or wherever. I don't doubt that at all. Nor is it LU or Falwell's fault that this kid thought he could do something positive by building home made bombs.

I am merely being churlish because of all the right wingers. You have always been reasonable, so I certainly don't intend to be insulting on this.

Tony said...


In the words of misplaced space-man Buzz Lightyear, "You're mocking me."


I know your aggravation is not aimed at me. I realize I am a very small fish swimming in a deep pond over here and my arguments are not as eloquently stated. I think the hamburger was apt. God help me if I become volfannish.

I am not defending LU (or Falwell for that matter), but all the other kids the post denigrated.

Falwell and Delay and now Chuck Norris spouting off that everything in the world that goes wrong is to be blamed on liberals, the alignment of the planets, or cheeseless burgers is stupid and narrow-minded and fails to account for the true nature of human beings, that we are prone to do evil things and will when given the opportunity.

I do think Steve has a legit point. I heard the story on NPR yesterday, and perhaps you did too, that many young Muslim boys do indeed endorse violence as a means of expressing their faith.

ubub said...

Tony, I am truly not mocking you, just being a little playful with the metaphor, I and apologize sincerely if I offended you in the process. (Admittedly, I was indeed mocking our recent defender of torture, but only because it appealed to my own base needs and not because of its per se effectiveness.) As for Inigo Montoya, that was directed at the Christian Identity types, not any of us engaged in this dialogue.

I did want to comment on the meaning of educational choice and to draw out a distinction there. I belive one is at least representative of aspiration to faith whereas the other is representative of simple presence.

I am indeed troubled by the view of Islam that seems to pervade the American psyche (if you'll allow the use of such abstractions). We hear, as on CNN this morning, that young Muslim boys are being taught to want to blow up schools. Rarely do we get an insider perspective from our news, so there is little real opportunity to contextualize these comments or to ascertain whether they are truly representative.

By contrast, when Fred Phelps pops up with his own unique spin on Christianity, or when the Christian Identity types espouse their hatred for "mud people," I think it is safe to say that most Christians would not say that "some Christians believe that non-whites are sub-human." Your average American (again, please forgive the abstraction) has a cognitive framework based on past knowledge that allows him/her to make sense of that, locate that within a greater context, and evaluate its veracity.

I just think its important to be extremely careful about the descriptors we apply to people and to their practices.

Streak said...

A Buzz Lightyear quote is always welcome here. And you have never been volfannish. It isn't even possible.

I think we can all be concerned about religious expression that is about violence or villifying the other more than it is about peace and some kind of good will.

steve s said...

I agree that bombers are probably not representative of mainstream Islam, but there does seem to be a large number of people that endorse this kind of behavior. I am just wondering how pervasive this is. Fred Phelps and Eric Rudolph are so out there (somewhere between Uranus and Neptune). Even Falwell called Phelps a "nutcase."

Is it possible to have a discussion on this without talking about Phelps or the troubles in Northern Ireland (which also seems to come up frequently)? I am not saying there isn't a disturbing element of Christianity, I am just asking if it is possible to just stick to Islam.

Tony said...


Point received. Sorry if I was a heel. I bowed out of the discussion with the torture defender (I assume we all know who we are talking about without calling names and being ungracious) because it went nowhere and seeing as how Streak's Blog has an able administrator, I thought the best thing was to leave the volfans to him.

I just think its important to be extremely careful about the descriptors we apply to people and to their practices. I think you see that I agree there for the generalization of Streak's post is with what I took issue.

Typically those views are not representative. I am reminded of a church service I took some of the people I serve to at Falwell's church. John Hagee was the preacher (perhaps Streak will remember the post I did on that visit), and Hagee's over-generalization of "turbans" as he called them, had all of the people believing that every dark-skinned individual in America was suspect.

That is my point--we should be consistent in the application of our arguments. If we are going to argue against over-generalizing Muslim people, then we ought to exercise the same generosity toward LU students.

And btw, The Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies.

"Let me 'splain. Ahhh, no time to 'splain. Let me sum up."

Streak said...


ubub said...

It may be a moral failing or a personal weakness or something, but I can't just "stick to Islam" when I see a double standard applied. When I hear on the street, on the news, etc, that 'Muslims are . . . ,' or 'most Muslims are . . . ,' I think of personal friends, family friends, co-workers, fellow students, and neighbors. The generalization rings false.

We recognize that Eric Rudolph, Fred Phelps, and perhaps some others are not representative of Christianity. Their actions, like those of any side in Northern Ireland, or perhaps any side in the Middle East, are primarily grounded in political rather than spiritual matters, despite the rhetoric any of them might use. We give Christians a bit of grace, the benefit of the doubt, and we do not label them by saying 'Christians are . . .' or 'Most Christians are . . . ' I am simply asking that we grant that same bit of grace to those of faiths other than our own or other than those with which we might be familiar. I think of it as erring on the side of mercy.

But then I am a //liberal// so go figure

steve s said...

I wouldn't call it a moral failing or a weakness...maybe it just shows what a difficult topic it is to discuss. The fact that Islamic 'extremists' are very rare in the US and are more prevalent in other places tends to support your argument that politics, rather than religion, plays a huge role in 'extremism.' Having lived in Ireland, I know firsthand that politics plays a mjor role in the conflict.

My desire to 'stick to Islam' is not from any hatred or prejudice (at least I hope it isn't) and I certainly have never supported any double standard. Maybe the media is just picking the bad examples, but when I hear about the 1 in 4 poll or see terrorist Mickey Mouse, I have to wonder.

Jadon said...

Interestingly, the Phelps protesters did not have bombs. The student from Liberty did. There's a sermon in there somewhere. :)

steve s said...

I saw an interview with two Muslim authors last night, Irshad Manji and Ahmed Younis. While the didn't agree on everything, both pointed out that there was a lot of positive things to come out of that survey, but that the media is only focusing on the 1 in 4 that are ok with bombing.

I have seen interviews with Ms. Manji before and I know she has been highly critical of the treatment of women in Islam, but I hadn't seen Mr. Younis. One thing that they strongly agreed on was that there is a crisis in leadership and that the leaders are not doing a good enough job of reaching out to young Muslims and teaching them that bombing is inconsistent with Islam.

I was interested in what they had to say and went on Amazon to get the names of their books so that I could get better informed. I would have to say that the reviews on Amazon are next to useless. If you look at what the 'reviewer' has to say about other books, there seems to be a pattern and many that they have not even read.

Bootleg Blogger said...

Ok, with all of the apologies going on on this post I just have to say- Streak has very little chest hair (i.e. attacking manhood), is only lately an OU fan (i.e. attacking intelligence, sense of history and fandom seniority) and is built much like a stick as in "snap you like a twig" (i.e. attacking physical prowess). There. I've said it and I'm not backing off.

Maybe an assumption of good natured debate would limit the necessary "I didn't mean....'s"