Archives For Indonesia


I wonder what C.S. Lewis would have made of our twisted world in which some adherents of a globe-spanning “monotheistic tradition” believe they can enter heaven by spilling the blood of innocents.

Not long ago, a husband and wife in Indonesia, simultaneously attacked three different Christian churches. Yes, three. There, in the world’s largest Islamic nation, they killed all four of their own children to work ISIS-inspired jihad.  

The father blew himself up at one church in a car bomb. The two teenage sons exploded at a second congregation. And the woman who had given birth to these willing murders, ushered her 9 and 12 year old daughters into a Christian sanctuary and . . . 

CNN has some video related to the incident, accompany their article on the attacks. 

I’ve written about suicide in the past from two perspectives. This discussion considered the question in a general sense, and this piece was inspired by my own encounter with a suicide situation.

The horrific event describe above—the mass murder accomplished by a single family—leaves us speechless. How can this be? How can a group of people be so deceived as to think the suffering of others will purchase their entrance into heaven? How can they wantonly sacrifice their own children on that altar of hatred?

The only answer to these questions is that it is caused by evil. Not confusion, evil. And not even merely evil—but Evil. The precedent for such vile acts go all the way back to humanity’s first family.

We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. (1 John 3:12)

A dozen victims died that morning. More than forty more were wounded. And this murder/suicide will surely not be the last of its kind.

C.S. Lewis’ View

Lewis was acquainted with evil. He recognized it bears many faces. Yet, it seems to me, that he too would find this murderous abomination incredible. Incredible in its most naked sense—impossible to believe.

I believe Lewis would be stunned. Just like we are. 

This is true, despite the fact that Lewis was prescient about the decay of the life-affirming core of civilization. In the words of an insightful article by Richard Weikart:

Many Christians recognize that we are living in a “culture of death,” where—especially in intellectual circles—there is easy acceptance of abortion and increasing support for physician-assisted suicide, infanticide, and euthanasia. . . . 

When C.S. Lewis cautioned about the dangers of dehumanizing secular ideologies in The Abolition of Man and his science fiction novel That Hideous Strength . . . on the whole, the intellectual world paid little heed, careening further down the fateful road against which Lewis warned. 

Few of us, by God’s mercy, see this sort of evil face-to-face. Military personnel and first responders are more likely to encounter it.

Despite our personal insulation from this violence, we too are targets of the Evil One. However, the tactics he employs against us are usually far more subtle and insidious. 

Lewis recognized this well. The Screwtape Letters is his masterful exploration of the way the Devil attempts to corrupt even those among us who do not believe in his existence. 

It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts . . .

No one who reads Mere Inkling will be tempted to immolate themselves. Much less to steal the life of innocents. Still, the more conscious we become of this world’s self-destructive inclinations, the better equipped we should become to consciously become life-affirming influences in our cultures. 

This, I believe, is our common prayer.

Trusting Serpents

February 11, 2014 — 4 Comments

snake massageI try very hard not to be overly critical of foreign practices that initially strike me as rather odd. Instead, I attempt to understand what these activities mean in the culture where they are practiced.

Yet, for the life of me (as my mother would say), I can’t fathom why Indonesians want to have snakes give them “massages.” And, even though only a fraction of their people submit to this peculiar activity, there are apparently enough candidates for spas to offer the serpentine service.

I imagine that the snakes do indeed rub, flex and squeeze their clients, since pythons are “constrictors,” and it’s in their nature to want to circle—suffocate—crush—and devour their prey.

Ironically, this fact, compliments of Ripley’s Believe It or Not, follows in the wake of a recent news report about another man who thought he would be fine getting a shoulder massage from an apparently “undomesticated” python.

BALI, Indonesia (AP) — A python strangled a security guard near a luxury hotel on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali on Friday, and then escaped into nearby bushes following the deadly attack, police and a hotel employee who witnessed the incident said. The incident happened around 3 a.m. as the 15-foot-long python was slithering across a road near the Bali Hyatt hotel . . .

The victim, Ambar Arianto Mulyo, was a 59-year-old security guard at a nearby restaurant. He had offered to help capture the snake, which had apparently been spotted several times before near the hotel . . . Mulyo managed to secure the snake’s head and tail and put it on his shoulders, but the python wrapped itself around his body and strangled him . . .

People watching the incident were unable or unwilling to help and called the police, who came but failed to save the man. The python escaped into nearby bushes, and police were still searching for it.

The Associated Press story ends with the lame attempt to calm those who are inclined to suffer from ophidiophobia. “Deadly attacks on adult humans by pythons are rare, but have been documented before.”

Pardon me, but that’s not quite sufficient reassurance for even those of us without a snake phobia. I remember hearing from my wife about my young daughter’s class being introduced to a sizeable serpent some years ago during a fieldtrip. As everyone watched the handler manipulating its head and frontal coils, it was surreptitiously beginning to caress my little girl with its tail!*

If the Indonesian practice of python-massage crosses the Pacific, you won’t find me visiting the spa for a back rub. I understand they probably only employ well-fed, six-foot-long “baby” pythons, but I still choose to pass.

C.S. Lewis has a wonderful comment about trust. He says the true test of how deeply we believe something is the magnitude of the risk we are willing to take related to our trust in it.

You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose that you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it? . . . Only a real risk tests the reality of a belief. (A Grief Observed).

I don’t care how many herpetologists or masseuses assure that pythons can safely massage my bared body . . . I’m learning from the example of that poor Balinese guard who fell for the python’s trick, thinking that he held the upper hand.


* Yes, snakes actually do have tails. It’s only one of their slithering secrets.