Friday, July 24, 2009

Beach Killer Joseph Burgess: A Case of Horribly Warped Christianity

Joseph Henry Burgess is dead. So is police Sergeant Joe Harris.

They died in a shoot-out involving Burgess' efforts to burglarize a New Mexico cabin. Joe Harris was one of two New Mexico sheriff's deputies who were hiding in a cabin, watching houses across the street. Of the thousands of cabins in New Mexico, Burgess chose that one to enter. (ThePressDemocrat)

Sad, But What's That Got to Do With a Catholic Blog?

There's quite a grab-bag of topics here, including the propriety of theft (the Catholic Church is against it (Catechism 2408, 2412, 2534)); and whether or not it's okay to own property (yes, according to the Catholic Church (Catechism 2401), but we're expected to use property for the benefit of our family, and of others (Catechism 2404)).

Instead, I'm going to take a superficial look at Joseph Henry Burgess's religious beliefs, Catholic beliefs, and life issues.

The murders that Joseph Burgess is most clearly linked to happened in 1972, in Canada.
"...On June 21, 1972, the bodies of Ann Durrant, 20, and Lief Karlsson, 21, were found in their sleeping bag, shot multiple times in the head at point-blank range on Vancouver Island.

"Burgess was among hundreds of hippies on the island that summer, setting up their tents on the beach, [retired Royal Candadian Mounted Police officer Dan] Creally [who helped investigate the 1972 murders] said....

"...Creally said a woman on the beach told authorities that she had seen Burgess cleaning a .22 caliber rifle and said Burgess had told her he disapproved of Durrant and Karlsson's relationship because they were unmarried. It was not clear what kind of contact, if any, Burgess had with the couple before the killings.

He was gone by the time investigators arrived at the murder scene, but a police dog discovered his belongings, including an identification card and passages from the Bible he had written out, ripped up and discarded nearby, Creally said. His fingerprint was also at the scene....
"
(FOXNews)
I didn't discover which Bible verses had been written and ripped. It does look, though, as if Joseph Burgess had strong, if warped, religious views.

Having Sex With People You're Not Married to and/or Animals Isn't Nice

The Catholic Church has made no efforts to conform the Bible, Tradition and the Magisterium, to contemporary social fashions. One thing the Catholic Church is rather picky about is restricting people's sex lives to members of their own species - who they are married to. (Catechism, 2380; Leviticus 18:22-) (The Church's concern for animals doesn't end there: Catechism, 24172418, for starters.)

To hear some people talk, you'd think the Catholic Church was against people having any fun at all.

Murder isn't Nice, Either

As I've written before, "murder isn't nice, and you shouldn't do it." (July 23, 2009) Not even if you're killing someone who's doing something you don't particularly approve of.

From the looks of it, Joseph Henry Burgess had gotten it into to his head that pre- or extra- marital hanky-panky wasn't right. Okay, I can go along with that.

So he killed at least two - and maybe more - people who weren't living the way he thought they should. No way can I go along with that.

People who don't live absolutely one-hundred-percent-pure, upright lives are still human beings. Which severely limits what I think I can do with their lives.
"Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person—among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life...."
(2270)
Yes, the Catholic Church does - in extreme cases - allow the death penalty. But it's far from recommended. (October 2, 2008)

As for 'what's the big deal with life issues?' - in one of the televised re-tellings of Agatha Christie's Poirot stories, a dreadfully soulful person asked Poirot, "if one is not alive, what is one?" Poirot answered: "Dead, madame."

The way I look at it, once you're dead your options - lifestyle and otherwise - get narrowed down rather drastically. So I don't have much of a problem accepting the rather definite teachings of the Catholic Church on human life. (November 2, 2008)

Why Pick These Articles out of the Week's News?

What got me looking up Joseph Henry Burgess was the headline: "Christian Drifter May Have Killed Two Couples in Separate Beach Murders, Police Say". I hoped this wasn't the start of another wave of 'Christians as dangerous people' journalism, so I started digging. And, it doesn't look like that's happening.

No "Former Altar Boy" Assumptions This Time

Unlike the old 'former altar boy' news stories (December 26, 2008), Burgess's warped version of Christianity actually does seem to be what motivated him to kill a couple at Vancouver Beach, British Columbia in 1972. There's pretty good reason to believe that he's responsible for another couple's death at Jenner beach, Sonoma County, California, in 2004, and there may be others.

Respecting Life: Even the Life of People Who Aren't Doing Nice Things

Burgess is what some people apparently believe is a typical Christian: a nut job who reacts violently when confronted with people who don't live according to his rules. Equating Christianity - and sometimes religion in general - with intolerance and ignorance was a none-too-rare belief when I was going through college, back in the seventies; and that 'sophisticated' belief seems to still be with us. (August 5, 2008, in another blog)

Over a hundred years ago, Chesterton wrote: "There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions." (G. K. Chesterton, Illustrated London News (January 13, 1906), via "Quotations of G. K. Chesterton," American Chesterton Society) Looks like things have slid a bit since then.

Anyway, back to life issues.

I'm not glad that Burgess is dead. I don't approve of murder, and it looks like he is responsible for the early deaths of two, probably four, and maybe more people. That's wrong, and a loss for all of us. But God gave Joseph Henry Burgess life, too: and now that gift is gone, along with whatever Burgess could have done with the rest of his life.

I'll freely grant that Burgess doesn't seem to have made the best possible set of choices about what to do with God's gift to him: but that's another matter.

I'm also sorry that Joe Harris is dead. It's quite a bit easier to work up emotions of loss and sorrow in this case, but again: that's another matter.

Related posts:
In the news:

I'm not allowed to pick and choose which Catholic beliefs I like and reject those which don't fit my preferences. While I'm on the subject, roll-your-own 'Catholic' doctrines aren't a liberal monopoly in America. (June 19, 2009)

4 comments:

Brigid said...

"There's pretty good reason that he's responsible for another couple's death at Jenner beach, Sonoma County, California, in 2004, and there may be others." Might want to take another look at this sentence.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Brigid,

Right you are.

>< ouch.

Fixed it.

Anonymous said...

I know for a fact that the couple in Jenner had made a vow to stay pure until marriage. That was proven to be true after the police report came back and said that the young lady was totally pure. Burgess made a mistake. Warped is so true and he was so wrong!!!

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Anonymous,

You could be right. My second-oldest daughter and my son-in-law-to-be traveled overland up the Mississippi valley earlier this year. I'm confident that they are remaining, as you put it, pure until marriage. But they could have been victims of someone like this man.

I take teachings of the Catholic Church very seriously, so in my view Burgess made a mistake - both or all times he killed.

The corny old phrase, 'hate the sin, love the sinner,' has some wisdom in it.

Like it? Pin it, Plus it, - - -

Pinterest: My Stuff, and More

Advertisement

Unique, innovative candles


Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store

Popular Posts

Label Cloud

1277 abortion ADD ADHD-Inattentive Adoration Chapel Advent Afghanistan Africa America Amoris Laetitia angels animals annulment Annunciation anti-catholicism Antichrist apocalyptic ideas apparitions archaeology architecture Arianism art Asperger syndrome assumptions asteroid astronomy Australia authority balance and moderation baptism being Catholic beliefs bias Bible Bible and Catechism bioethics biology blogs brain Brazil business Canada capital punishment Caritas in Veritate Catechism Catholic Church Catholic counter-culture Catholicism change happens charisms charity Chile China Christianity Christmas citizenship climate change climatology cloning comets common good common sense Communion community compassion confirmation conscience conversion Corpus Christi cosmology creation credibility crime crucifix Crucifixion Cuba culture dance dark night of the soul death depression designer babies despair detachment devotion discipline disease diversity divination Divine Mercy divorce Docetism domestic church dualism duty Easter economics education elections emotions England entertainment environmental issues Epiphany Establishment Clause ethics ethnicity Eucharist eugenics Europe evangelizing evolution exobiology exoplanets exorcism extremophiles faith faith and works family Father's Day Faust Faustus fear of the Lord fiction Final Judgment First Amendment forgiveness Fortnight For Freedom free will freedom fun genetics genocide geoengineering geology getting a grip global Gnosticism God God's will good judgment government gratitude great commission guest post guilt Haiti Halloween happiness hate health Heaven Hell HHS hierarchy history holidays Holy Family Holy See Holy Spirit holy water home schooling hope humility humor hypocrisy idolatry image of God images Immaculate Conception immigrants in the news Incarnation Independence Day India information technology Internet Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Japan Jesus John Paul II joy just war justice Kansas Kenya Knights of Columbus knowledge Korea language Last Judgment last things law learning Lent Lenten Chaplet life issues love magi magic Magisterium Manichaeism marriage martyrs Mary Mass materialism media medicine meditation Memorial Day mercy meteor meteorology Mexico Minnesota miracles Missouri moderation modesty Monophysitism Mother Teresa of Calcutta Mother's Day movies music Muslims myth natural law neighbor Nestorianism New Year's Eve New Zealand news Nietzsche obedience Oceania organization original sin paleontology parish Parousia penance penitence Pentecost Philippines physical disability physics pilgrimage politics Pope Pope in Germany 2011 population growth positive law poverty prayer predestination presumption pride priests prophets prostitution Providence Purgatory purpose quantum entanglement quotes reason redemption reflections relics religion religious freedom repentance Resurrection robots Roman Missal Third Edition rosaries rules sacramentals Sacraments Saints salvation schools science secondary causes SETI sex shrines sin slavery social justice solar planets soul South Sudan space aliens space exploration Spain spirituality stem cell research stereotypes stewardship stories storm Sudan suicide Sunday obligation superstition symbols technology temptation terraforming the establishment the human condition tolerance Tradition traffic Transfiguration Transubstantiation travel Trinity trust truth uncertainty United Kingdom universal destination of goods vacation Vatican Vatican II veneration vengeance Veterans Day videos virtue vlog vocations voting war warp drive theory wealth weather wisdom within reason work worship writing

Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.