Life: Virtual and Otherwise.

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“Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention. They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are, but more often than not God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and is summoning you to where, if your soul is to be saved, you should go to next.” Frederick Buechner.

When a story moves you to tears pay attention to it.

I was moved to tears by a gruesome story in the Bronx. 50-year-old Jose Stable murdered his 12-year-old autistic son, Ulysses, by slashing his throat.

Such a magnificent name, Ulysses is the Latin name of Odysseus, the main character in Homer’s epic poem, the Odyssey and plays a key role in Homer’s Iliad. He is renowned for his guile and resourcefulness. Perhaps the name was chosen at birth in hopes that the son would transcend the father and achieve greatness. Instead this Ulysses suffered the severest form of autism. Weighing 280 pounds at 12 years of age, his vocabulary consisted of grunts and groans.

By all accounts father and son were inseparable, with Jose home schooling Ulysses, then recently putting him in private school at the recommendation of New York’s’ Administration of children’s services. Some people commented on observing the father’s anger. I suspect he reached the place where he could no longer sustain the boy alone. His choice was a bad one and perhaps an avoidable one.

Alone. Could you raise a 12-year-old autistic boy alone? I wept at this story because when I was ten my brother was born with cerebral palsy. I too had Ulysses-like hopes until I learned my brother would never walk or talk. My mother and father dedicated themselves to raising Timmy, but by age 16 he was 6′ tall and beyond mom’s physical ability to handle. Timmy’s essential nature is a sweet one. Ulysses was big, strong, mobile and socially out of control. Each day Joe faced the prospect of escalating social situations should he take Ulysses out in public. People can be cruel and such daily encounters can wear even a good man down.


People ask why I am so concerned about this generation’s withdrawal into virtual reality. If 1/10th of today’s youth, who are currently couch-potatoed in front of a virtual game, would get off their butts and volunteer to help people like Jose, who are facing a hellish real world alone, what a different world this would be.

Joses are everywhere.

Our therapeutic, what’s in it for me Christianity has walled us off and made the Jose’s of this world an avoidable reality.

We may differ about doctrine and finer points of theology, but one aspect of Jesus life and teaching is indisputable. Jesus expected his followers to love and serve the “least of these.”

The story of Jose and Ulysses is a tragic one. I cried because I think people like me share some of the blame every time a tragedy like this unfolds. How is the loving, transforming presence of Jesus to enter this world if not through us?

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in November 23, 2006 by | No Comments »

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