rebelling against low expectations

David Ludwig and Kara Borden


Make sure you read the most recent update made at the end of this post (updated Saturday, November 26th, 4:15 P.M. CST).

Big hat tip to fellow blogger and rebelutionary, Agent Tim, for bringing this story to my attention.

After a frenzied, weeklong media blitz by television, radio, newspapers, and blogs, nearly anyone who regularly reads/watches/listens to the news will recognize the names of David Ludwig, Kara Borden, and Lititz, Pennsylvania.

On Sunday, November 13th, following a heated, hour-long argument with 14-year-old Kara’s parents over his physical relationship with their daughter, David Ludwig, 18, pulled out a .40-caliber handgun and shot both parents in the head. As Kara’s 15-year-old sister, Katelyn, hid in the bathroom, and her 11-year-old brother, David, escaped to a neighbor’s house, Ludwig took Kara and fled in his parent’s car. The following day, after a brief, high-speed car chase, police officers in Belleville, Indiana, apprehended the two teens, who had traveled approximately 600 miles from the scene of the crime.

Yesterday morning, it was reported that Ludwig has admitted to two counts of intentional murder, while it has also become clear that Kara was not kidnapped, but fled with David of her own free will. Whether Miss Borden was an actual accomplice in the murder of her parents remains unclear, though her willingness to leave with her parent’s murderer raises questions regarding her loyalties.

However, without going into more detail — as that is not our purpose in bringing the story to your attention — there are several notable aspects of this tragic situation that are of particular importance to rebelutionaries. David and Kara, you understand, are churchgoers, youth group attendees, from Christian families, with Christian friends. They’re also homeschooled.

Both of these facts, particularly the latter, have provoked flurries of heated discussion among those on both sides of the issue. On the far left of the spectrum, a handful of liberal commentators, primarily bloggers, have pounced on the opportunity to demonstrate the “idiocy” of Christian parents who homeschool their children. On the other hand — seeming to have learned their lesson from the backlash that followed the effort two years ago by CBS News to link homeschooling and child abuse — no mainstream media outlet has attempted to draw a clear connection between the teens’ education and the crimes that launched them into the national infamy.

This decision, whether conscious or otherwise, has prompted some on the left to decry the mainstream press as “hypocritical” or “biased,” pointing to the media’s “lack of emphasis,” and arguing that whenever a homeschooled student does something good, like wining a national spelling or geography bee, their education takes front and center. Not to be outdone, some homeschool proponents have taken issue with the media’s decision to emphasize the children’s education at all, claiming that the fact that Kara and David were homeschooled bears no special significance to the story.

Still another viewpoint, courtesy of Paul Chesser of The American Spectator, argues from the goodness of homeschooling to conclude that Kara and David’s education was an appropriate emphasis for reporter’s covering the story:

“[T]he media [should] play up Ludwig’s and Borden’s educational background. The fact that they were homeschooled makes the murder even more significant. Why? Because the nature of the news is that when certain types of people act in ways that are inconsistent with what the public traditionally expects from them, it makes a story more newsworthy. [The media] did the right thing by recognizing the significance that the two teens were homeschooled. This was out of character from what most Americans have come to expect from homeschooled children: that they are mostly intelligent, polite, respectful, well-behaved, quiet, and mind their own business.”

I would agree that David and Kara’s education deserves a reasonable amount of attention — as I am now giving it — however, I would be most hesitant to label the story, as Mr. Chesser seems to do, as nothing more than a “newsworthy aberration.” Is that really all it is? Is that really all we can take from it? I would say not.

As I read through Kara, David, and their friends’ posts and comments on their respective blogs (most which are still available, if you know where to look), I am struck by how un-abnormal they are; how similar they are to people I know; how similar they are to me.

If I may be blunt for a moment: I’ve never had premarital sex, never murdered anyone, or made a decision that resulted in my life falling apart before my eyes, but as I familiarize myself with the now-public “private” lives of these fellow teenagers, I shudder, because I see the same potential in my own life – in my own heart.

My mind is repeatedly drawn back to a post that Kara made on her blog less than five months ago. I’m slightly surprised that no bloggers or news outlets – at least, none that I can find – have mentioned it, but it engrained itself in my mind:

Psalm 28… I would type it out..but I think you guys can read it for yourself…when I read it I broke out in tears…God is truely and wonderful amazing..Hey to everyone if you guys could pray for me..That would be very cool!! Thank you all for your prayers already..And Im praying for you all too!! I love you all! I would just like to say thanks for the support yesterday my brothers and sisters in christ! I love you all! AND THANK YOU MY AMAZING LORD!!! I LOVE YOU SOO MUCH!!But really I have to give all the thanks to my Lord!!!!!SO THANK YOU MY LORD!!

Your Sister In Christ

Or consider the following words by David Ludwig, posted less than four months ago:

Ok people, here it is! The xanga site for The Barn…for lack of a better name I think at least for now we shall call it that. If any of you feel any leading at to what we should call/name this place please voice your suggestions!

Basically we are in desperate need of finances and time right now and although it looks kinda hopeless for a human standpoint I have faith that God is going to work all this out according to HIS good pleasure!!

For those of you who have abosolutely no idea what the heck I’m talking about here is the scoop, basically about 3 weeks ago both Sam Lohr and myself (David Ludwig ) felt led to clean up the upstairs of my (the Ludwig’s) barn to create a place that we could come to after our Monday night and Friday night youth meetings or at anytime to worship and dilligently seek Gods face. The amazing thing about that is neither Sam or I knew the other was thinking/praying about that till about a week later. Since than a bunch of us have gotten together twice to work on the barn and just amazing things have been accomplished…it truely is a miracle!! God has enabled far more to be completed than any of us ever imagined! Glory! So now the need is to finish this project Lord willing before next monday. Anyone is welcome to come once it is finished we only ask that you seek Gods face before you come to see if He wants you to be there. If so, be welcome and come! May God bless you all!!

~ David

Shocking words for two teens facing the possibility of execution or life behind bars for murder? How about for two young, homeschooled teens from Christian families? Not quite so shocking, is it? But which are they?

They’re both.

And that is what’s so important for us to realize, as young people, as homeschoolers, as rebelutionaries, and as Christians.

Being homeschooled did not prevent this tragedy; growing up in a Christian environment did not prevent this tragedy; bearing many signs of apparent faith and an understanding of the Gospel did not prevent this tragedy; these are harsh, but necessary truths that demand humility. Hard to swallow as it is, what happened in Lititz, Pennsylvania, is not an exception, it’s fallen man’s default.

We should all be asking ourselves the question: What is it that separates me from a David Ludwig or a Kara Borden?

And we should all be answering — in the words of Protestant Reformer, John Bradford — “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

“No man’s really any good till he knows how bad he is, or might be; till he’s realized exactly how [little] right he has to all this snobbery, and sneering, and talking about ‘criminals,’ as if they were apes in a forest ten thousand miles away; till he’s got rid of all the dirty self-deception of talking about low types and deficient skulls; till he’s squeezed out of his soul the last drop of the oil of the Pharisees…” — G.K. Chesterton, The Secret of Father Brown

Let us not fail to remember Kara, David, and their families, in our prayers. May God have mercy.

UPDATE (11/23): I am reminded of Noah Riner’s words in his September 20th, convocation speech at Dartmouth College. The universal nature of the truth he shared that night — truth for which he was viciously attacked — is proven valid by its perfect applicability to the story of David Ludwig and Kara Borden. Please read it carefully and notice the parallels. Note that a limited number of these parallels are indicated in brackets:

[I]n the past few weeks we’ve seen some pretty revealing things happening on the Gulf Coast in the wake of hurricane Katrina. We’ve seen acts of selfless heroism and millions around the country have united to help the refugees. On the other hand, we’ve been disgusted by the looting, violence, and raping that took place even in the supposed refuge areas. In a time of crisis and death, people were paddling around in rafts, stealing TV’s and VCR’s. How could Americans [homeschoolers?] go so low?

My purpose in mentioning the horrible things done by certain people on the Gulf Coast isn’t to condemn just them; rather it’s to condemn all of us. Supposedly, character is what you do when no one is looking, but I’m afraid to say all the things I’ve done when no one was looking. Cheating, stealing, lusting, you name it – How different are we? It’s easy to say that we’ve never gone that far: never stolen that much; never lusted so much that we’d rape; and the people we’ve cheated, they were rich anyway.

Let’s be honest, the differences are in degree. We have the same flaws as the individuals who pillaged New Orleans. Ours haven’t been given such free range, but they exist and are part of us all the same.

The Times of London once asked readers for comments on what was wrong with the world. British author, G. K. Chesterton responded simply: “Dear Sir, I am.”

Not many of us have the same clarity that Chesterton had. Just days after Hurricane Katrina had ravaged the Gulf Coast, politicians and pundits were distributing more blame than aid. It’s so easy to see the faults of others, but so difficult to see our own. In the words of Cassius in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, “the fault, dear Brutus is not in our stars but in ourselves.”

Character has a lot to do with sacrifice, laying our personal interests down for something bigger. The best example of this is Jesus. In the Garden of Gethsemane, just hours before his crucifixion, Jesus prayed, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” He knew the right thing to do. He knew the cost would be agonizing torture and death. He did it anyway. That’s character.

Jesus is a good example of character, but He’s also much more than that. He is the solution to flawed people like corrupt Dartmouth alums, looters, [teenage murderers,] and me.

It’s so easy to focus on the defects of others and ignore my own. But I need saving as much as they do.

Jesus’ message of redemption is simple. People are imperfect, and there are consequences for our actions. He gave His life for our sin so that we wouldn’t have to bear the penalty of the law; so we could see love. The problem is me; the solution is God’s love: Jesus on the cross, for us.

UPDATE (11/26):
One of our readers, manthano, commented this afternoon and alerted us to his personal — and particularly meaningful — observation into the past of admitted murderer David Ludwig. Read full post here, selected excerpt below:

I try to keep up with the news while I’m here at school, and it was with sadness and disgust I read the story of David Ludwig and the double murder of the parents of his girlfriend Kara Borden. Then this story hit a little closer to home, when I found out that I had met David 3 years ago. Since then a particular verse from the Bible has taken on a whole new meaning. I Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (ESV). Why this verse basically whacked me upside the head this week, is because of the story of what happened to someone else who knows this verse, David Ludwig, now under arrest for a double murder committed last week. How do I know he knows this verse? Read on…

I know he knows this verse, because of where I met him. Yes, I’ve met an alleged double murderer. We met at a Bible quiz between about 5 churches in our area. The Bible quiz was over the book of I Peter. In order to effectively compete in this competition, you basically had to have the entire book memorized, and be able to quote word-perfect any verse in it. He and I were on two of the top 5 teams that year, so I that’s how I know he had that verse memorized.

So how does a bible quizzer become a murderer? It’s really not as difficult as you might think. To quote our former school president, “Anyone is capable of committing any sin, given the proper provocation.” “Who me,” you ask? “I’ll never murder anyone!” I didn’t say you would, I just said we were capable of it. I pray that no one that’s reading this will do such a thing, but it’s not impossible.

Be sure to read the rest of manthano’s post here.

Read the update by clicking here

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About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.

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rebelling against low expectations

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