The following text is extracted from two posts by Tarjei Straume to a private anthroposophical email group January 18, 2001:

The president elect has an unprecedented record of executions. This does not sit well with Europeans. As a matter of fact, a nation practicing the death penalty cannot become a member of the EU, and non-member state Norway has made a total ban against the death penalty, even if the country should be at war.

The result of this is that even during the Clinton administration - Clinton supports state killings, but not with the same enthusiasm as Bush - Washington is beginning to feel the cold shoulder in European parliaments because of this. And our newspaper editorials state quite clearly that the U.S. is no moral example for the rest of the world. The U.S. is being compared to Pakistan and Iran when it comes to capital justice. If Americans are concerned with how their country is perceived abroad (beyond fear of their missiles and carriers), they should consider lobbying for a change of policy here.

sanquentinIn the first place, an execution, or a state killing, is colder and more premeditated than any of the crimes committed by the convicts. This is the truth because even in capital cases labelled "Murder One" or "Murder in the first degree," the victim has not been informed about the hour and manner of his or her death long time in advance, watching the calendar and the clock as the moment approaches. This is one point where the state exceeds the convict when it comes to cold-blooded cruelty. It is a process that debases everyone involved from the prosecutor and the D.A. down to the people rattling keys and tying up the legs and the arms of the doomed individual. It is a practice that contributes to the brutalization, the cycle of violence, and the debasement of society as a whole.

I have to confess a certain bias against American conservatives who mock their political opponents as "bleeding heart liberals." I call that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, because what they're referring to - subconsciously perhaps - is the unconditional love and compassion in the heart of Christ, which bled for humanity on Golgotha. This is what the conservatives are mocking with a derogatory expression like "bleeding heart liberal."

Secondly, I wish to evoke a few thoughts by Rudolf Steiner that have made a deep impact on my soul when I have reflected over the issue at hand. At one point, RS says that there is *an irreconcilable emnity* between what Christ calls "the kingdom not of this world" on the one hand, and the Roman element headed by the Caesar and practiced by the soldiers on the other. An irreconcilable emnity indeed, because in his lecture Love and its Meaning in the World, RS says the following about Christ or God:

"Let us think of the meaning and effect of love in the world in the following way. Love is always the reminder of debts owed to life in the past, and because we gain nothing for the future by paying off these debts, no profit for ourselves accrues from our deeds of love. We have to leave our deeds of love behind in the world; but they are then a spiritual factor in the flow of world-happenings. It is not through our deeds of love but through deeds of a different character that we perfect ourselves; yet the world is richer for our deeds of love. Love is the creative force in the world."

Let's think about the above in relation to the death penalty: Love is always the reminder of debts in the past. And who has a greater debt to the past than a convicted killer? The unconditional, healing love of the sun-god is for everyone, but what I wish to get at is this: Fundamentalist Christian bookstores in America carry all kinds of arguments as to why capitalism is compatible with, and even advantageous to, the Gospel of Christ. I wish THIS was a joke, but it isn't. But the same bookstores also carry arguments about the virtues of capital punishment and how it is in perfect harmony with the God of garotteunconditional love and forgiveness. I won't bother to argue that anyone is being misled here. Religion is, after all, a personal concern. But anyone who believes that it is a Christian duty to execute convicts, should read the lecture at hand a little further:

"Besides love there are two other powers in the world. How do they compare with love? The one is strength, might; the second is wisdom. In regard to strength or might we can speak of degrees: weaker, stronger, or absolute might - omnipotence. The same applies to wisdom, for there are stages on the path to omniscience. It will not do to speak in the same way of degrees of love. What is universal love, love for all beings? In the case of love we cannot speak of enhancement as we can speak of enhancement of knowledge into omniscience or of might into omnipotence, by virtue of which we attain greater perfection of our own being. Love for a few or for many beings has nothing to do with our own perfecting. Love for everything that lives cannot be compared with omnipotence; the concept of magnitude, or of enhancement, cannot rightly be applied to love. Can the attribute of omnipotence be ascribed to the Divine Being who lives and weaves through the world? Contentions born of feeling must here be silent: were God omnipotent, he would be responsible for everything that happens and there would be no human freedom. If man can be free, then certainly there can be no Divine omnipotence."

In other words, wisdom or knowledge comes from Lucifer (in this context), might or power from Ahriman, and love alone from Christ. Christ the bleeding heart liberal! The bleeding heart liberal who was merciless against economic crimes (capitalism) and very emphathetic, understanding, and forgiving toward those guilty of sexual indiscretions - the diamterically opposite of the American Christian right!

Steiner continues:

"Is the Godhead omniscient? As man's highest goal is likeness to God, our striving must be in the direction of omniscience. Is omniscience, then, the supreme treasure? If it is, a vast chasm must forever yawn between man and God. At every moment man would have to be aware of this chasm if God possessed the supreme treasure of omniscience for himself and withheld it from man. The all-encompassing attribute of the Godhead is not omnipotence, neither is it omniscience, but it is love - the attribute in respect of which no enhancement is possible. God is uttermost love, unalloyed love, is born as it were out of love, is the very substance and essence of love. God is pure love, not supreme wisdom, not supreme might. God has retained love for himself but has shared wisdom and might with Lucifer and Ahriman. He has shared wisdom with Lucifer and might with Ahriman, in order that man may become free, in order that under the influence of wisdom he may make progress.

"If we try to discover the source of whatever is creative we come to love; love is the ground, the foundation of everything that lives. It is by a different impulse in evolution that beings are led to become wiser and more powerful. Progress is attained through wisdom and strength.. Study of the course taken by the evolution of humanity shows us how the development of wisdom and strength is subject to change: there is progressive evolution and then the Christ Impulse which once poured into mankind through the Mystery of Golgotha. Love did not, therefore, come into the world by degrees; love streamed into mankind as a gift of the Godhead, in complete, perfect wholeness. But man can receive the Impulse into himself gradually. The Divine Impulse of love as we need it in earthly life is an impulse that came once and forever."chair

I have a few more comments about the death penalty, about capital punishment. The first of these is an occult perspective. From the vantage point of occultism, of occult wisdom, capital punishment is nothing short of materialistic ignorance and superstition. It is believed that the perpetrator is done away with and that society is getting rid of this person who "will never kill again."

The truth remains that when an exceptionally dangerous and bestial killer is executed, his demons are released, taking possession of other weak souls. And this is where we get these "weird" situations where the M.O. of a convicted killer - including detalils known only to the police - is repeated by someone else. This is one example only of how capital punishent contributes to the spiritual poisoning of society.

My last comment on the death penalty is that is based upon a system of utter cowardice. The prosecutor says: "We run our case against you and suggest the death penalty, but we are not responsible for your destiny." The judge says: "I convict you to death, but I will not be present and I will not kill you. I just sentence you to death; then I wash my hands like Pontius Pilate." And the executioners who carry out the job say: "We are only earning our living. Someone has to do this job. We're only doing our job, doing what we're told." Well, my friends, the defendents at N├╝rnberg said the same in 1946.
I wonder if capital punishment in the U.S. would enjoy as much support if execution duty became as common as jury duty.

Greetings from a bleeding heart liberal.

Tarjei Straume




A Hanging by George Orwell


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