Monday, November 06, 2006

Find Me Guilty

My wife and I were watching a movie the other night called Find Me Guilty starring Vin Diesel. It is based on the true story of Jack DiNorscio and the trial United States v. Anthony Accetturo et al, which was at the time the longest trial in U.S. history. It was the trial of members of the notorious Lucchesse crime family. DiNorscio had just been convicted of another crime and sentenced to 30 years in prison. He was given a chance to testify as a prosecution witness in order to reduce his sentence but refused. Unhappy with his lawyer, DiNorscio decided to defend himself in the RICO case.

The movie portrays DiNorscio as a funny and lovable character and it further portrays the other defendants as the heroes of the story. The telling of the story encourages you to root for DiNorscio and his pals to win the case. Then there is a very telling line from the lead prosecutor Sean Kierney, played by Linus Roache.

Kierney and his fellow lawyers are back in the office talking about how the jury is being swayed by the antics of DiNorscio. He has a long rant about how the defendants are not good people, that things are more expensive because of the corruption and ends with, “and, oh yeah, sometimes they kill people.”

It made me stop and think about how these defendants that are being painted in a positive light are guilty of fraud, embezzlement, bribery, drug trafficking, prostitution, assault, battery, rape and murder. They are not heroes or role models. I would not want any child that I know emulating them yet we glorify these types of people all the time in our entertainment. It is very easy to see that in our society good is now bad and bad is now good.

When the foundation of a building is eroded away it is not long before the rest of the structure collapses. With the erosion of our society’s foundation of values, ethics and laws how long is it before the structure of our society collapses?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

California Wildfires

I have experienced the aftereffects of a California wildfire first hand. My wife's parents live in Claremont California and the first time that I visited them was in November 2003. A large fire had ravished the mountains behind their house that October. I still have a stirring memory of looking out their back window and seeing the blackness of the charred mountain side. I have since seen those mountains in every season and their beauty is a sharp contrast from that first image. Last Christmas my wife and I went horseback riding through the mountains. The growth over the two years was beautiful but our guide told us of how the effects of the fire could still be felt.

Every time I see the reports of wildfires in California I always ask my wife how close they are to her parents’ house. Most are not that close but the latest fires are only 60 miles away. These fires were deliberately set and have so far cost the lives of five firemen. The damage to the land and wildlife cannot ever be fully measured. My wife always seems less worried about the fires than I am. While I have experienced the aftereffects of the fire, she has experienced the fires. She and her family have had to hose down their fence and roof while the fires burned in the mountains.

This first hand experience gives her a different view. It is not that she is less concerned about the fires or the ensuing devastation; it is that she knows how close the fire can be without posing an immediate threat. She also knows to be very wary and ready to act because there is a point where the fire is close enough to turn quickly and create a very dangerous situation.

Sometimes as Christians we start worrying too early about the wildfires of life getting too close. This prevents us from living and interacting with those around us as we should. We want to keep certain wildfires from getting too close which, in and of itself, is not bad. We run into a problem when keeping the wildfires at a distance prevents us from helping those in danger of the wildfires. It is a problem when we keep a distance from those that reek of the acrid smoke, those that are covered with the foul ash, and those that are blistered raw from the burns.

Firemen never fight a fire without the proper training, equipment and experience and we should do likewise. We need to get the right training, get the right tools and partner with those that have the right experience and start saving people from the wildfires of this life so that they will also be saved from the fires of the next life.

October 2003 Wildfires.
Claremont is a little more than half way from the Los Angeles arrow point to the San Bernardino arrow point. It is almost straight west from San Bernardino.