Her story inspired songs, books and even tracts. His story has inspired civil disobedience, looting and violence. Fuzzy facts. Causes in need of heroes… and stories created to make a martyr.
Yes I Believe in God
She was a rebellious teen who gave her life to Jesus Christ. In April 1999 her life was taken in a senseless tragedy. What many do not realize is the Cassie Bernall story that emerged in the days following the Columbine Massacre was a jumble of story parts. By the time all the facts came out, Cassie’s story was legend.
The account credited with starting the Cassie myth was shaky. Survivor Craig Scott told investigators he heard the, “Yes” comment as in Cassie’s voice, yet when he pointed out where Cassie was supposedly hiding his facts lines up with another student, Val Shnurr. Val grew up in a Catholic family. Some sources say she stumbled around when one of the shooters asked her if she believed in God… first, “No” then “Yes.”
“Because I believe, and my parents brought me up that way,” she answered, and crawled away while he reloaded. He didn’t shoot at her again.
Facts now seem to indicate Cassie Bernall exchanged no words with her shooter.
A very anti-climactic, martyr-free ending.
Hands Up, Don’t Shoot
He was a young man who was asked to move over to the sidewalk in Ferguson, MO. Michael Brown lost his life in August during an altercation with a police officer that has stirred national empathy for the cause of racial equality. Many have shared concerns about over-the-top police aggression and racial profiling. Autopsy report facts leaned in Officer Darren Wilson’s favor.
Were Michael Brown’s hands even in the air? Check out this from Daily Mail:
The accounts, released by prosecutors earlier this week and reviewed by the Associated Press, feature a number of variations as to the position of Brown’s hands at the time of the fatal shooting.
While some witnesses claim he knelt on the ground, raised his hands and shouted, ‘Don’t shoot!’, before he was gunned down by Wilson, others insist he was stood up with his arms by his sides.
For those who believe his hands were raised, some think they were pointed toward the sky, others claim were partially raised and several believe his palms appeared out, as if he was surrendering.
And to a number, Brown’s palms seemed open, as if he was glancing at his wounded hand or gesturing with an attitude of ‘What are you going to do about it?’
In both cases folks are likely to say, “The cause is bigger than one individual.” When we have a cause we love so much we don’t care so much about the facts that is dangerous. It also makes us appear foolish to the very people we are attempting to persuade.
Valerie Shnurr and her family had to keep quiet so as not to upset the Bernalls who had already worked with a publisher for the book, She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall. No Christian would dare question a story which would encourage teens around the country to rededicate their lives to Christ. In the same way I can imagine it feeling disloyal for any African American to encourage fact-checking in the Michael Brown story.
People Fail Us
In fact one of the reasons I am in the Christian music industry is because I have always been a fan girl and my job lets me do that and get paid for it. Part of my job that is ugly is believing what cannot be true. Artists are the superhuman equivalent of the Christian I could be. (And I believe this lie is also marketed.) They write amazing music, perform night after night, and share rich truths from the Scripture. I want them to be the super Christians we see on stage. When they divorce, come out or get weird on Tumbler, my heart breaks. I have been around the block enough to know they are not super human, and yet I want to believe they are.
When the truth of our hero’s failings comes out it can be devastating. Unfortunately the reason it is devastating is because it is focused on the wrong person.
We like heroes but any earthly hero will fail us. Facts will come out about even those we see above failings people like Evangelist Billy Graham and martyr-in-waiting Saeed Abedini. We will discover they actually sinned. An A&E exposés will make us want to distance ourselves from the people we fervently followed.
The only hero who will not fail us is a hero whose story cannot disappoint. No facts will be unearthed to tarnish His reputation. His story is certified 100 percent true. The hero and cause and the story are one in Christ. He is unchanging. He is holy. He is the Hero and Martyr whose cause is worth following.
Who are you following?