Monday, May 22, 2006


Have been a bit quiet this week on the blogging front. Not quite sure what caused all the distractions.

Enjoy is not quite the right word to describe the experience of watching the drama based on the story of the Moors murder screened last week on ITV. It was, however, both gripping and harrowing viewing. Apparently they received quite a lot of cooperation from the families of the victims, as well as from Myra Hindley's brother-in-law, who reported them to the police, but was also held under suspicion for a period.

The story raises a whole variety of issues. The obvious one is the question of forgiveness. I quite understand that all the families cannot forgive Hindley and Brady for what happened. The question for me is whether I believe that they could be forgiven. This is especially relevant for Hindley, who became a practising Catholic again in prison. One way of seeing this is that it was a cynical attempt to get parole, but what if she was sincere? Do I believe that she should be forgiven? Do I believe in a God who would forgive her under those circumstances? I expect for many the response would be that she should "rot in in hell", but that can't ultimately be a Christian reaction. If we start putting limits on God's grace and forgiveness, where's the threshold - how bad is too bad? And it starts to make God limited in what he can do - who he can redeem. If some redemption jobs are too big for God (assuming penitence, genuine intent, etc), he can't still be God?

The second one for me was the iconic nature of Hindley. Over the decades since, plenty of people have been cruel and sadistic to children (sometimes even their own children), yet haven't become a photo that the tabloids print at every available opportunity. Maybe it was something about being a woman involved in all that stuff, maybe she was the first in a TV/media age. Maybe it was something about that bleached hair in the police mugshot. It's not that I want to mitigate anything that she did - it's just she wasn't the first woman to be cruel to children or the last. She may not even have been the worst.

It would be a tough sermon to preach: "I believe in a God who would forgive Myra Hindley if she genuinely turned back to Christ". Trouble is, it's what the Christian gospel has been for 2000 years. Not sure the Uk's ready for it yet


Matthew McMurray said...

Interesting comments Mike!

I think our thoughts might be a lot different if we were in the victims' families. But I guess we can only really write as "objective thinkers", thinking theoretically.

I think I always remember the story of the woman caught in adultery. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone". I know that I cannot cast any stones. I mean, what if somebody found out all of my sins? Part of me, no matter how much it makes me feel sick on the inside, has to find myself in my heart of hearts saying, "There but for the grace of God go I." In a lot of ways, being outside of the situation make this seem like pie in the sky. I can't imagine what must go on in a person's heart to make them commit the crimes that they did. But I know the dark places of my heart - you know, those places that nobody else knows about.

I don't think that there is a single one of us who cannot be forgiven by God. On the flip side of that, not one of us deserves or has a right to God's forgiveness. There is no way of knowing whether Myra Hindley had a genuine conversion in prison. Who are we to judge that? I think it is one of those questions to which we cannot know the answer.

All this is pie in the sky. I must admit that even as I have been typing this, my flesh crawls when I see a picture of Myra Hindley or even when I write her name.

Mike said...

Absolutely, that's the dilemma. It's trite, but it's a good job God has to sort those questions out and not us!