So I actually got a comment on my blog last week when I ventured into the territory of current political events. To be clear, I don't do that simply to generate controversy, but I do want to have open and stimulating conversation. If we as Christians who think do not engage the world, those who do will wind up speaking for us in ways we might not appreciate.
That said, I would like to take on another of the conversations that have arisen in the wake of the death of Osama Bin Laden. Much of what I have seen have been comments like "we cut off the head of the snake." Basically, stating that if the head is cut, the body will soon die.
A quick story from my childhood. Playing at a friends farm, I remember one afternoon moving a toy dump truck and underneath it was a baby rattlesnake probably 8-10 inches long. Screaming for my friends father, I ran away and he came with a hoe. In one quick movement, the snake no longer had its head. However, for the rest of the afternoon we watched in horror as its body twitched and shivered. I never came within 5 feet of that shaking snake.
My point is two-fold...
1) Even if you cut off the head of the snake, be prepared for convulsions to follow which will be both frightening and sad. These are the death pangs of the organism. The good news is, the organism finally stopped moving after several hours and died.
2) But ultimately, despite this horror, hope that you have killed a snake. Because in my leadership, I try very hard not to create snakes, but to create spiders. Spiders spin webs. These webs have no clear head, they are strung to many points of contact so that if you kill/separate one, there are others to pick up the slack. The webs are complicated, with many strands that make them confusing, but also resilient and hard to destroy. Good leaders create webs of accountability and authority, so that organizations are flexible and resilient, able to weather even hurricanes, and certainly weather to death of one leader.
For the sake of the world, I pray Osama's organization is a snake, but I worry that it will be a web.