It is shocking and brings grief when we hear that a young person in our community has died in an apparent suicide. Grief brings company: intense feelings, lament, panic, guilt, anger, loneliness and even depression.
One other common companion to grief is faith crisis. Why is God not doing something? Does God even care the situation? What is the purpose anyways to life? Each question is legitimate and absolutely okay to voice.
Hard to give answers to such questions. Yet, it is helpful to hold onto the fact that our Lord Jesus experienced pain, isolation and yes, in a way you could say, a faith crisis. On the cross Jesus clearly spoke these words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me (Matthew 27:46b).”
There is no other “god” who acts this way. With Jesus, we know that God is with us even in our sadness, grief and despair. Simple though. Powerful truth.
STUDY AT SCHULZE’S………..We will be meeting at the Schulze’s tonight for Bible Study at 7 pm (January 8th) tonight! All are invited. Come.
TABLES OF PEACE………..Tables of Peace is kicking back up again in February. We come together for dinner, study and discussion. Sign up is on the bulletin board.
OPPORTUNITIES………..Check out the bulletin board as there is information on next week’s Family Night (January 16th), a Love and Respect Class, Grief Share class and Lutherfest (Luther House Ministries).
WIRED WORD FOR SUNDAY………..Below is the topic for Sunday. Brad leads us in another discussion on a timely topic. Time to stretch and grow! We begin at 9:45.
Deceit Detector on Trial for Allegedly Helping People to Lie
The owner of the website Polygraph.com, Douglas Williams, goes on trial this month in federal court in the Western District of Oklahoma on charges of witness tampering, obstruction and mail fraud stemming from his activities teaching people how to prepare to pass polygraph tests.
Williams, 69, is the author of the book From Cop to Crusader, a former Oklahoma City police officer and a well-known critic of the lie detector test, who has testified before Congress as an expert witness and raised his concerns for decades on several network news programs.
For almost four decades, Williams has criticized the test, calling it a “scam,” “junk science,” an “insidious Orwellian instrument of torture” and “state-sponsored sadism.” He points out that Dr. John A. Larson, the creator of the polygraph, which he called the “cardio-pneumo-psychograph,” later described the invention as “Frankenstein’s monster.”
Williams trains clients who want to pass the test in order to get or retain a federal government job. Undercover agents sought out Williams, ostensibly for help with the polygraph tests. They claim he agreed to help them lie on the test, which is what led to the indictment against him. But writing online, Williams emphasizes: “I will not knowingly teach a person to deliberately lie!”
According to Stephen Feinberg, chairman of a 2002 National Academy of Sciences review of polygraph research, sweating on fingertips, breathing or other physiological indicators may suggest the test-taker is lying, but they may suggest other things instead. Using polygraphs is better than relying on chance to determine the truth, but they can also produce “false positives,” branding honest people as liars. And Williams says the opposite can also occur: some liars can figure out how to control their body signals well enough to beat the test.
“My personal conclusion is it has no place in government’s dealings with its citizens,” Feinberg says. But Raymond Nelson, president of the American Polygraph Association, says the test, which has an accuracy rate above 80 percent, is still a better tool for assessing a person’s credibility than any other technology currently available.
Williams points out that the government appears to be applying a double standard, however: one rule for the private sector (no polygraphs allowed) and another for government, which can use the test to vet potential employees, in police interrogations and for other purposes.
“In 1988, with the passage of the Employee Polygraph Protection Act [EPPA],” Williams wrote online, “administering polygraph tests actually became a federal crime! Even the U.S. Supreme Court refused to admit polygraph results into evidence, and ironically it was the U.S. Justice Department who argued that the polygraph results were not reliable and should not be admitted into evidence!”
Williams added that “here we have this diabolical dichotomy — the government protects some people from polygraph abuse and perpetrates polygraph abuse on others! … So what explains this schizophrenia in the government? Why do they outlaw it in one area and expand it in another? … President Nixon told us why the government uses it when he said, ‘I don’t know anything about polygraphs, and I don’t know how accurate they are, but I know they’ll scare the hell out of people, and that’s why I like to use them!'”
James Gruetzner, who works for a federal agency and consults for The Wired Word, comments, “My work with the government subjects me to random polygraph testing. There are two kinds — a basic security polygraph test, where the questions are along the lines of ‘have you ever revealed classified information to an enemy?’ — and a ‘lifestyle’ test, where they pry into all aspects of your life (sex being one significant part). Refusal of the procedure will result in a loss of security access, which is required by my job. I’ve had the security polygraph test (and am overdue for the next one), but not the ‘lifestyle’ test, which, thank the Lord, is fairly rare.”
Gruetzner continues, “To say that these tests — especially the lifestyle test — ‘scare the hell out of people’ is probably an understatement. Most people associated with programs requiring these tests simply don’t trust them, and I’ve been told of people who refuse them and consequently lose their security clearance access, with the consequential negative effects on employment. My understanding is that ‘inconclusive’ is the most common result. Lots of taxpayer money spent for little gain.”
More on this story can be found at these links:
Trial of Polygraph Critic Renews Debate Over Tests’ Accuracy. NPR
Owner of ‘Polygraph.com’ Indicted for Allegedly Training Customers to Lie During Federally Administered Polygraph Examinations. Department of Justice
Truth in the Machine. California
The Big Questions
- Do you think there are always three sides to a story — your side, my side, and the truth somewhere in between? Why or why not?
- Have you ever taken a lie detector test, voluntarily or involuntarily? Describe the experience. Would you do it again? Why or why not?
- Which do you think is more reliable in getting at the truth before judgment is rendered: a polygraph test, an “independent” investigator, a judge or a jury? Upon what do you base your opinion? Can you think of times a polygraph might be used for purposes other than the discovery of the truth? What might some of those purposes be?
- In your own experience, are your guesses as to whether something is true or false reliable? When is the last time you were duped (for example, you bought in to a viral Internet hoax hook, line and sinker)? Have you ever discovered that someone you thought was telling the truth was lying? Have you ever discovered that someone you thought was lying was telling the truth? Give an example. Have these events happened in a church setting? Do you in general trust clergy to tell the truth, or is your default setting skepticism?
- How did your parents handle it when one of their children lied? If you are a parent or guardian of children, how do you handle it when your children lie? Are there times when telling a little white lie or not telling “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” could be the right thing to do? Explain.