Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Murder Will Out

           “You know, Alfred,” said Mother, “I really love reading English Mystery stories, certainly Agatha Christie and her stories about Hercule Poirot, and the inimitable Miss Marple. On a more erudite level I enjoy reading the Lord Peter Wimsey stories by Dorothy Sayers. Lately I have discovered P. D. James and her detective Adam Dalgleish.

The odd thing is that the Church of England forms the background for each of these writers. Not only that, but they breath the very air of England. But there is something about each of these mystery writers and their stories that leaves me a little unsettled.”

“Why is that, Mother,” asked Alfred?

“Well, Alfred, it’s this. Often you can tell just who is going to be murdered. You might not know who the murderer is, but to borrow a word from one of these mysteries, you can tell who the “murderee” is going to be, you know, the one who is about to be murdered. I find myself thinking, ‘That person is so nasty and troublesome they really deserve to be killed; and sure enough they are.”

“I know what you mean, Mother,” said Alfred, “but that raises a moral question. Is it right to say Mr. X is such a bad fellow that he ought to be done away with? But then, on the other hand, Mr. X really is a bad fellow who is destroying the lives of others and making everybody else miserable.”

“That is exactly my point, Alfred,” said Mother. “I’ve been reading ‘A Certain Justice,” by P. D. James. The murderee is a brash obnoxious woman who is just nasty to everyone. When she is murdered I think, “Well, she won’t cause any more trouble, and there is no end of people who have a motive to murder her. On the other hand I’m aware that someone will have to pay for murdering her. It’s odd. It seems to be an act of justice that she is killed, but at the same time someone will have to be hanged for it.”

“One of the benefits of these stories, Mother,” said Alfred, “is that each of these writers has a strong sense of moral accountability that not only affirms that there is right and wrong, but that justice ought to be done. I might point out Mother, that accountability is not very popular today. We have quite a few people who are of the opinion that a savage murderer ought to be treated with mercy, and perhaps even be paroled back into society.”

Alfred continued, “Jesus, Himself, embraces the law and at the same time makes us look deeper at its meaning.”

"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 Matthew 5:21-22].

“Ouch!” said Mother. I guess that means that I had better lighten up on the antics of that magic mouth Moana Crutchley! Murdering her with my mouth really only makes me upset. ”

Alfred sighed, “You are probably right Mother. When she starts her stuff, I suppose that the appropriate thing to do is ignore it, or tell her forthrightly, but kindly, that we disagree with her.

“Not only that, Alfred,” said Mother, “but I think I had better add her to my prayer list instead of getting angry.”

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