David Berkowitz--Finding the Story

As The Revealer pointed out, David Harsanyi of the Denver Post took Focus on the Family to task in Monday's paper for offering recordings of a series of interviews with David Berkowitz, better known as the Son of Sam.

Berkowitz has since converted to Christianity--as is, by
all accounts, a changed person.

Too bad, says Harsanyi.

It's a shame that David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz couldn't find Jesus before a dog ordered him to murder six people in cold blood three decades ago.

It's also regrettable that the state couldn't arrange a meeting between the serial killer and
his Savior via electric chair swiftly following his conviction in 1979.

Harsanyi also criticizes Focus for selling the interviews for $9. Focus says they aren't making any money--just recouping cost of recording the interview, making the CDS, and sending them out. You can hear the interviews for free online.

What really makes his blood boil is the claim by Focus that God could forgive Berkowitz. That's going to far, he says, adding this warning.

Associating with a madman is simply bad for the religion business. Or any business, for that matter.

Sounds like a line right out of the New Testament. The scandal of Jesus is that he wasn't too particular about the company he kept. In the book of Act, the resurrected Jesus chooses a murderer, Paul of Tarus, to be the first apostle to the Gentiles. God, it turns out, isn't very interested in what's good for the religion business. Every once in while, that kind of radical Christianity rears its head in the most suprising places.

BTW, as Jon Franklin points out in Writing for Story the most interesting part of the story is the part that doesn't appear in the paper.

A few clicks around the Focus website
leads you to the David Berkowitz homepage

It's not quite what you'd expect.

A fairly plain looking site, it's got links to his typewritten journal I(apparently he mails them to a church in California, which posts them online--you can email the church to complain if you want, a story from a former guard who converted after hearing Berkowitz's testmony, along with a copy of his letter to New York Governor George Pataki requesting that he not be paroled"

Frankly, I can give no good reason why I should even be considered for parole. I can give you many reasons why I should not be. The loss of six lives and the wounding of even more are reasons enough for the latter. In all honesty, I deserve to be in prison for the rest of my life."

That's one thing all of us can agree with. Still, the Berkowitz site brings up th's the unpleasant truth about Christianity. Even people like David Berkowitz can get in if they ask. It's not fair, or not pleasant. But it's the deal we Christians signed up for.

Father Timothy Radcliffe, a Dominican priest in England, described the church this way in the Guardian a few weeks back:

This community embraces saints and sinners: St Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, John Henry Newman, and also the Borgias, the Inquisition, people who persecuted the Jews and who did terrible things in the name of Christ. You cannot make a selection. You cannot pick and choose. It is all or nothing.

BTW, a number of blogs have posts about Berkowitz's site, and most are dismayed or disgusted by it. Planet Jupiter posted a listing of Berkowitz's victims and it's worth posting again:

  • 6/29/76 - Donna Lauria (killed), Jody Valenti (injured)
  • 10/23/76 - Carl Denaro (injured for life)
  • 11/23/76 - Donna DeMasi (killed), Joanne Lomino (injured for life)
  • 1/30/77 - Christine Freund (killed)
  • 3/8/77 - Virginia Voskerichian (killed)
  • 4/17/77 - Valentina Suriani (killed), Alexander Esau (killed)
  • 6/26/77 - Judy Placido (injured), Sal Lupo (injured)
  • 7/31/77 - Stacy Moskowitz (killed), Bobby Violante (injured for life)

There's also a history of the Son of Sam case here. (Thanks to Planet Jupiter)


Will There Be Toys in Heaven

I was lying next to Eli, my three old, trying to get him to fall asleep, when he turned to me with panic in his voice.

"Daddy, I'm scared--what if I die and get to heaven and there are no toys there."

Eli, I should point out, is a very sensitive boy, prone to worry. His bedtime prayer most nights, after "Now I lay me down to sleep" is, "God help me have no scary dream."

When he said, "What if I die," my heart skipped a beat.

Like most parents, my greatest fear is that something will happen to one of my children, and I won't be able to save them. There's a reason why in our house, the kids pray "may angels guide me through the night and wake me in the morning light" instead of "if I should die before I wake." I don't want then to even mention the possibility. (I'm in good company--Studs Terkel doesn't like that line either.)

There's another reason--for as long as I can remember, I've been terrified of death. As a kid I would lie awake for hours, turning over and over, trying to figure out what happens next. I couldn't get my head around it--and I could hardly cope with the idea of letting go of this life. Those terrors are mostly gone, but tonight came the premonition that I may have passed on more than my genes to my son.

Before I could come up with a brilliant answer to his question, Eli came up with one of his own. "Maybe God has a car, and he can come over to my house and get them."

He followed up with 10 minutes of instructions for God on how to play his Power Rangers board game (we got it for a quarter at a neighbor's yard sale.)"God," he said, "first you line up the putty patrollers and the aliens, and then you roll the dice and knock them down."

With that, the problem was solved, and drifted off to sleep. Till about 5 seconds ago, when he rolled out of bed and started calling my name. Time for me to say goodnight.


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