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Monday, August 11, 2014

My Final word on Braxton Caner...

     Seldom do I not know what I want to write. I almost never sit down in front of a computer and wait while hours pass and nothing pops to mind. In fact, I usually have the words flowing before I turn on the device. But this has taken a long time to write and I still don’t know what I want to say exactly. But I have to say something.
     Two weeks ago, the 15 year old son of my friend took his own life. The young man’s name was Braxton Caner. His dad is Ergun Caner, college President, Apologist, author, minister, former Muslim, etc.
     He is, before all that, husband and father. He is a brother and an uncle. He is my friend.
     Five years ago, a storm arose around him. I won’t go into it here, not because I am afraid to, but because it has been five years and the depths have been plumbed...again and again and again.
     Five years ago it was making headlines and thousands were discussing it. But after five years, the players filtered down to the core group who began this facade in the first place. The same old voices, spewing the same old hate, (they’ll say they attack Ergun out of “love” but it takes about 30 seconds of seeing their tactics to throw that out the window) pulling the same old tricks... like total strangers showing up at churches where he would speak, standing up and disrupting the service. They get themselves thrown out, then Tweet about it like drunken frat boys. Meanwhile the puppeteers they desperately want to impress guffaw from behind their monitors. I know of a few churches where if a stranger tried that sort of disruption, they’d be tazed until they smelled burnt hair.
     Five years of this and they are as hateful as they were on day one. Now...for the first time since this began...they are running scared.
They’ll never admit it. They are already in full damage control mode. But it’s going to be impossible to contain the damage this time. Because this time...even atheists say they went too far.

The situation is this... “Baptist pastor” (italics added for cynicism) J.D.Hall has been a capo in the Calvibot crime family (my personal nickname for those secretly pulling the strings of Caner-hate) for a while now. He has gone after Ergun for years, and his tactics have become more vicious, more evil, and more unregenerate in nature with each passing day. Last month, he crossed the ultimate line. He began attacking Braxton Caner...Ergun’s 15 year old son. It was terrible. It was despicable. It was creepy, especially the comments about Braxton’s 15 year old girlfriend. (As father of a 16 year old girl, I can tell you that if that were my daughter, J.D. would have already been dealt with.) It was an obsession fueled by hate and it was sickening. At no point does a grown man, a “pastor” (knowing many real pastors, I struggle attaching that title to this “man” but he is one, none the less) say to himself, “I’m harassing a BOY on Twitter. Perhaps this is wrong and I should stop?”  No sir. Instead, J.D. wears on Braxton. Going so far as to insinuate that his parents are divorcing. (Something he entirely pulled from his backside) and inviting Braxton, through Direct Message, to “email me if you want to know the truth about your father.” Really? Again, if that happened to my daughter I’d email J.D. some photos of the friends of my family. The big hairy friends with similar last names and Mob ties. But I digress.
     This was a psychological blitzkrieg on a 15 year old boy. It wasn’t the first time J.D. tried to wedge Brax against his dad. It was just the most evil.
Tragically, on July 29 of this year...just two weeks ago now, Braxton ended his life. 
Within an hour, the masterminds of the Caner-hate were online, pretending to be sorrowful and demanding that we all behave as THEY want us to. “Nobody should attack anybody else...ESPECIALLY those who have ‘called Ergun to repentance’  i.e.: the ones who hate him the most. Interpretation: “We really screwed up this time and crossed a very big line and this is bad. Now don’t any of you say anything about that, or else.” Imagine this being spoken in the voice of Don Corleone.
The gall it took to demand that those who pushed this matter to this brink, now deserve to be protected from scrutiny is amazing.
But not really...
     They realize that this turns the tables, and it exposes them. Nobody cares about their allegations about Ergun now. The whole world sees a boy who took his life and a PASTOR might have helped push him to that point. One of THEIR pastors. Rut-Roh!
That’s why they have circled the wagons.
That’s why I’m writing this. That’s the point I’m getting to. Here goes...
First, I will state my position on J.D. Hall clearly. It is this:
     I believe J.D. Hall cyber bullied, and harassed Braxton Caner ruthlessly, and without limits, in a effort to harm his father Ergun. Given the content of those tweets, his BLOG about the FIFTEEN YEAR OLD BOY (that in  itself is enough for a 3-day pass to a psych ward for a thorough eval, in my opinion) and subsequent RADIO SHOW about it, it’s obvious Braxton was the Voodoo doll J.D. was using to harm Ergun. Every word was intended to inflict maximum damage. Every insinuation, every accusation, every condemning, hurtful, evil tweet. Death by words...140 characters at a time. J.D. doubtless DID NOT  intend to physically kill Braxton. Maybe worse...he wanted to kill his heart. He wanted to kill his spirit and thus kill the heart and soul of the man he hates obsessively...Ergun Caner.
     I believe that given the FACTS of JD’s actions one cannot avoid drawing a line from his actions to Braxton’s suicide. The only reasonable argument is how bold a line do I draw? A pencil line or a thick, black, magic Marker?
It would be foolish to say “This is entirely J.D’s fault!” but I believe it is at least partly his fault. Braxton left no note, so we’ll never know how big a part this played. But think about what MIGHT (and I admit this is conjecture at this point) have been going ‘round and round in his mind. Not only did JD harass Braxton, he accused his girlfriend of despicable things as well. How did Brax feel about the girl he was in love with being wounded by this man? Did 15, and maybe not ready for this sort of evil attack...feel it was somehow his fault? Did he feel he let his dad down somehow? Did he think maybe this was never ever going to end? I don’t know. We’ll never know. But we DO know what JD hall did, and we can see it had SOME effect. Only a fool would deny this.
Second, I decided this morning, that I am not going to involve myself in this anymore. Not because there isn’t a cause. Not because I’m not fuming and so angry I can’t see straight. Not because I’m less outraged. None of that is true.
But because after watching the Hall supporters over the last two weeks, I see what an unregenerate soul really does. How it really behaves. In my opinion, these people hold their hatred for Ergun and for any who love him, (whether they support him in the prior allegations or not) in a higher regard than they hold love for God. Love for Man. Or love for a deceased boy. They don’t see a shattered family, a broken-hearted dad, a devastated mom, and a bewildered little brother. They see blood in the water and fresh meat on the carcass. And they are just waiting for the crowd to die down so they can swoop in and start picking. They’ve already begun...
Over the weekend, they began the move I knew they’d make all along. They tried to make this Ergun’s fault. They said as much. If only Ergun had given them what they wanted...this would never have happened.
I can’t even put into words what this makes me feel. If your soul can feel nausea...that’s what I feel for them now.
I realized after watching their tactics this weekend, that fighting with them is pointless. Countering them is fruitless. Nothing matters to them except self-preservation and destruction of their enemies.
They don’t care about a family who has to try to deal with the single worst thing a family can face.
They don’t care about the grief that the man they detest is feeling every blistering second of every day. They don’t care about the mom or the brother or the team mates or the friends. They just want to hurry up and get the quarry stuffed and mounted so they can crow about it and move on to the next one.
They are soul-less.
It’s not that I can’t fight them. I’m a smart guy with an acid tongue and nothing to lose.
It’s just that it isn’t worth it. They aren’t worth it. There is nothing amongst them to redeem. Nothing to fight for. No decency to appeal to. No soul to save.
They don’t think they’ve done anything wrong.
You can’t help a person like that. It’s a fools errand.
So this morning I decided I’m not going to try.
My one and only action will be to daily remind the world of the facts we DO know...
“In the days leading to Braxton Caner’s suicide, “pastor” J.D.Hall of Sidney alleged adult...harassed and bullied Braxton online and on a radio show. While I can not definitively lay all the blame at JD’s feet, only a fool misses the connection, in my opinion.”

I knew Braxton. I have a few sweet memories of him, so this hurts more than just the street-level gravity of the events. ...which are horrible enough as it is. This is the fourth young person in my world who died too soon. One was a family member. It’s been two weeks and I can only now, barely begin to shake the gloom from this.
I just can’t bring myself to engaging these evil people. They aren’t going to change. God will have to intervene. I would not want to be them when He does. Any of them.

This is all I’ll say on the matter. For the first time in 7 years of blogging, I will not permit comments on this. I’ve said my piece and I’m done with it. Argue elsewhere.

Here are some more links for other’s input.

God’s Speed Brax.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Just another Saturday morning...

This morning in my house we're preparing for a short trip.
This morning in most houses, Saturday morning will be a ritual of cartoons, and cereal, and shuttling kids to various athletic events, and then maybe to a pool and later on to a cookout.
This morning in Texas, in the home of a dear, dear family that I love deeply, this morning undoubtedly came on the heels of another sleepless night. If there was sleep at all it is only because of the body seeking refuge from the intense pain of the past four days. This morning in Texas, my dear friends will close out one chapter in a book just beginning to be written. They will say goodbye to their son.
People use the term "closure" frequently. We strive for closure when someone has wronged us and we've wondered why for many years. Or if we were left at the altar. Or if our spouse divorced us for no good reason. Or if our luck runs bad, or our lives take a turn.
We seek closure when we lose a child. But this, as my dear friends will discover, is not possible.
Today is a hard day for them, but the hardest day will be tomorrow. And then even harder will be Monday, then Tuesday...
They will never escape the reminders all around them. They will have scant few moments when they aren't thinking of him and what happened, and what might have been. The ache in their soul will not decrease in time. It will grow. There will be even more tears. Even greater pain. Even worse anguish.
They will change, these friends of mine. They will not be the same as they were before. I promise you this. Every Christmas will remind them. There'll be an empty seat at the table and an untouched stocking on the mantle. There'll be a high school graduation with one less young man walking the aisle. There'll be the day when his friends all leave for college and his parents are denied that blessed sorrow. There'll be a college graduation, and a wedding, and grandchildren all denied. Those things are part of the natural order of life and so when they don't don't simply ignore it. The hole left by their absences is real, and palpable.
They will wonder what he would be doing right now, at a million moments over the rest of their lives. They will ache. They will cry. They will relive this week forever. Years will pass and it will be more tolerable, but it will never go away.
This Saturday morning in Texas, some people I love are ending the worst week they have ever known.
And beginning the darkest walk any parent will ever take, and no parent ever should.
I know this to be true...because 18 years ago, my family had their own "Saturday Morning" (ours fell on a Wednesday). I can still feel the chairs in the kitchen. I can still recall every second of the church service. I can still see all the faces, and the line of high school kids extending out the door and into the street...wanting to say goodbye when they never should have to.
It never goes only becomes more manageable with time. I know this to be true because as I write this, and as I think back to that phone call and that long plane ride home, and those faces in the kitchen...I am in tears on this Saturday morning in Virginia. Because it all feels like it just happened all over again.
If you've never endured this, I ask only one thing. Please don't expect your friends to respond the way you think you would. You have no idea what kind of hurt this really is. You can't even imagine.
Just pray for them, and stand near them in silence.
This Saturday morning...wherever you might be.

Praying for Ergun, Jill, and Drake and their family.