In Aldous Huxley's 1952 historical novel, "The Devils of Loudon," a 17th century priest is endlessly promiscuous with local non-juvenile females and finally impregnates a local prince's daughter, while he angers a convent of sexually-deprived nuns by refusing to become their spiritual adviser and, worst of all, insults Cardinal Richlieu. As the people he has angered engage in fenzied revenge, the priest finds God -- and the great irony of the book is that the priest has shed his devils, while his haters have become them.
That kind of drama is still with us. On Thursday, May 13, 2010, Ohio's famous Hitchhiker Killer, Michael Beuke, was executed by lethal injection in his prison in Lucasville, Ohio.
Beuke admitted his crime: In 1983, to get a car to rob a bank to get the money to pay for a lawyer in a drug trafficking charge, he posed as a hitchhiker, murdered one driver and badly injured two others, when they stopped and offered him a ride as an act of charity.
He pled, and received the death penalty. He managed to stretch his life more than 25 years with legal process. Finally, he was executed.
At his execution, he apologized to the relatives for his crime more than 25 years before, and died saying the "Hail Mary."
The daughter of one victim, Dawn Wahoff, thought, "You're stalling."
Susan Craig, widow of another victim, said, "Sorry doesn't cut it."
Across the world, bloggers wrote things like, "Welcome to Hell, you bastard."
Question: Does bathing in feelings of revenge while the wrongdoer prays mean that the ones screaming that way for revenge are fellow sinners who, given precisely the same pre-murder background as Beuke, would murder, too, precisely like he did?
Our father used to say, "Pete, do you know what neighbors are like? If they catch your dog crapping on their lawn, they will want you to die, and they will hate you for years."
I think that he may be right.