Tuesday, November 9, 2010

By Her Appearance At The Utah Trial Of Kidnapper Brian David Mitchell, Elizabeth Smart Magnifies The Value Of Her LDS Mission Call

On November 9th, 2010, CNN's Belief blog published a good article entitled, "Elizabeth Smart's other journey". It focuses much less on the trial of her former kidnapper, Brian David Mitchell, and more upon the full-time mission she's serving in Paris, France. Elizabeth Smart was temporarily excused from her mission to return to the United States and give testimony in the trial; she will return to her mission at the trial's conclusion. Some pictures of Elizabeth Smart on her mission available HERE.

Testimony by Elizabeth Smart on November 8th reveals the full horror of her ordeal (the Salt Lake Tribune has published a complete transcript HERE, and her Nov. 9 testimony is being documented HERE). She testified about the kitchen window through which Mitchell entered the Smart home, a window left open to air the cooking smell out of the house. She spoke of how she awoke to the feel of Mitchell's cold knife to her throat, and his threats to kill her if she didn't follow his instructions. She further related how, for the next six weeks, Mitchell tethered her by her ankle to a stationary cable strung between two trees, just as if she was a dog. He forced to her to smoke and drink, and raped her daily.

Elizabeth Smart's mother, Lois, testified on how Brian Mitchell first came into their lives. She encountered Mitchell in the fall of 2001 outside a downtown Salt Lake City shopping mall, apparently down on his luck. Lois Smart said she gave Mitchell $5 after talking with him, as well as her husband’s name and phone number to contact about doing odd jobs at their home. For some reason, Lois' kids, who normally never urged their mother to give money to the less fortunate, urged her to do so in this case. Mitchell phoned the family and was later hired to do odd jobs around the house; he did not appear bizarre or paranoid.

But this is where Elizabeth Smart's ordeal and her participation in the judicial aftermath adds value to her mission. Under normal circumstances, her mission would pass uneventfully, impacting only those in her immediate circle and the investigators with whom she would come in contact. But because Elizabeth Smart's ordeal has received international publicity, thousands if not millions who otherwise wouldn't hear of the LDS Church have learned of it in greater detail. While many will quickly dismiss it and turn back to other interests, a considerable number will follow up. Some will even request information from the Church, allowing other missionaries the opportunity to preach the restored Gospel to them. And some of them will join the Church.

By virtue of her ordeal, Elizabeth Smart may ultimately bring far more people to Christ than she could have without it. This is an example of how our Heavenly Father can transform a negative into a positive. It's proof that Satan cannot win.

And what of Brian David Mitchell? His behavior during the trial, punctuated by random outbursts of shouting and singing causing his removal from the courtroom, clearly indicates his insanity; his defense counsel contends Mitchell was insane when he kidnapped Elizabeth Smart. Mitchell showed early signs of psychosis as a teenager; his grandfather was civilly committed to Utah State Hospital with paranoid schizophrenia and his father, while never diagnosed with a mental illness, wrote a 900-page manuscript as spokesman for the infinite god or goddess. More about Mitchell's road to insanity is published HERE. Did Mitchell ever really have a chance to live a normal life? One interesting metaphysical question: Is it possible that Brian David Mitchell, prior to coming to Earth, deliberately chose the disability of insanity as his life's challenge to advance faster in mortality in the same fashion as DeLynn purportedly chose the disability of cystic fibrosis, as documented in this account?

Of course, while Mitchell's insanity may diminish his responsibility, it does not diminish the danger he poses to society. The challenge here is to strike an effective balance between removing him from society, but treating him in a way that acknowledges his diminished responsibility.

1 comment:

Handcart said...

Deviance, even extreme deviance, is not necessarily insanity. When an individual has been raised in an environment of deviant ideas and/or behavior, he/she may learn to deal with life by applying a distorted comprehension and mis-understood values, and develop deviant responses.
I don't agree with the idea that we may have all agreed to the circumstances under which our spirits would be sent to mortality. That would seem to provide all of us with an excuse for our weakness and sin. I do believe that we are all very fortunate that a loving and understanding Savior and Father will judge us when the time comes, and will take into account the time and circumstances of our earthly lives.