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spotlight: a Peek at Germany

Our wonderful friends Kev and Beck Peek had the amazing opportunity to backpack through Europe for a couple of weeks in late September.  

We know Kev & Beck from our College Station days and after the Peeks moved to Louisville for school, Becky and Beth worked together in Louisville.  Between the work, school, and Monday Night Dinner connections, the Peeks and Wilsons managed to become close, dear friends.

Beck has recently started catching up with her blogging, updating friends and family on the “Viva Europa Opportunity 2008” at their blog, A Peek at the Peeks.  

The second day of the great adventure, the Peeks had the sobering privilege of visiting a place that I think everyone who is able to visit Europe should go to … but I will let Beck explain:

Day two was spent at Dachau Concentration Camp.

We had visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC during the spring, which was a very moving & well-designed museum. But actually being on the grounds of where these terrible things took place was sobering. We couldn’t help but be reminded of the depravity of man (not just the Nazis but all of us) and how in need we all are of a savior in Christ.

This picture is of the entrance gate to the camp. It says “Work Shall Set You Free.”

It was an exhortation to the prisoners to work hard in hopes of earning their release but ended up just serving as a tantalizing mockery.

Beck’s commentary on her visit to Dachau reminds me of one of my favorite songs by Sufjan Stevens, “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.”  

In this haunting/chilling/disturbing song, Steven sings about Illinois’ most infamous serial killer.  The bulk of the song provide some of the details of Gacy’s childhood and also his crimes.

As you listen to the song for the first time, it is about the time that you realize what Stevens is singing about that you shudder and think, “why is this a song?”, that the song’s final lyrics are sung:

And in my best behavior 
I am really just like him 
Look beneath the floorboards 
For the secrets I have hid

The song is, ultimately, an expose of a sinner’s heart – a disturbing illustration of Jesus’ hard teaching in the Sermon on the Mount:

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’  But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”

Stevens directs his listeners’ attention to the atrocious actions of John Wayne Gacy, not to glorify Gacy, or to excuse him, but the remind us that our hearts are guilty, too.  

Beck, thanks for recognizing that even in a place where the most horrific of horrific acts took place, that we cannot justify our own sin.  

Praise God that “the saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15).

 

***Editorial Note: For the sake of clarity, in Matthew 5, Jesus is not making the statement that murder and harsh words are equally evil.  He is speaking to a people who pride themselves on keeping the letter of the Law (“Do not murder”), thinking that they are righteous because there is no blood on their hands, but they have missed the spirit of the Law.  According to the spirit of the Law, they are guilty for hating and reviling.

Recognizing our own sinfulness, our own guilt and unrighteousness according to the spirit of the Law, is an imperative.  

It must be noted (due to the sensitivity of subject matter included in this post) that drawing attention to our violation of the spirit of the Law by considering egregious violations of the letter of the Law, does in no way diminish the horrific nature of Gacy’s crimes or the indefensible atrocities committed against the Jewish people by Nazi Germany.

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