Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Baptism Electrocution in Waco, Texas

I was reading some news stories on the internet this morning. One that caught my eye was the one about the pastor in Waco, Texas - Rev. Kyle Lake - who was about to baptize someone. While standing in the baptistry with water up to his waist, he reached over to adjust a nearby microphone - and was electrocuted while the congregation watched. He was only 33 years old.

It wasn't a very smart thing to do. However, it WAS the kind of thing that people do when they're in a hurry and not thinking through their actions. It wouldn't have made the national news except that it happened to a minister during a baptism. Fortunately, the woman to be baptized had not entered the baptistry yet. Surely a minister of God, performing a sacred ritual should be exempt from such freakish accidents. It's like when rescue workers are killed while trying to save someone's life. It seems so wrong.

I hesitate to write about religious topics since I'm definitely not knowledgeable about such things, and I have many family members who know so much more than I. However, I believe it all comes down to free will. There are laws of nature and laws of God, and when people don't follow those laws, there are consequences - regardless of who the person is. God didn't hold back the minister's hand from touching the microphone, and He didn't keep the electrical current from killing him. The minister had the free will to forget or ignore the law of electrical currents, and the consequences proved fatal. Does God ever suspend the laws of nature to "save" someone? Those are the miracles we hear about. But are they miracles, coincidence, or circumstance? I don't know. Everyone who has ever touched an electrical appliance while in a tub has not been electrocuted. People run red lights every day and nothing bad happens, and yet someone else can do it for the first time and his/her whole life is changed by the consequences.

I remember a long time ago in psychology class in college, we studied conditioning and positive and negative reinforcement. I don't remember the specifics, but I believe that constant positive or negative reinforcement was less effective in conditioning responses than intermittent reinforcement. I'm not sure how to explain how that applies to the minister being electrocuted. However when I thought of how sometimes people survive such accidents, and other times they don't, it reminded me of it. Perhaps that's a topic for a later post or for someone with deeper thoughts than mine this morning.


Jane said...

I heard this story on the radio and was astounded. It was a freak accident as well as a foolish move. I hope the church takes measures to make sure that something like this cannot happen again.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, this shouldn't have happen. If everything were installed correctly, a GFCI breaker would have eliminated the problem. It may have not been the smartest thing to do (but who of us always does what is the smartest thing), but it still should not have caused a problem. I fear that someone repaird something over the last few weeks and that caused the possibility of this. Hopefully this will open peoples eyes to the importance of safety grounds.

Ruth said...

Median Sib..I think your did a great job of addressing the age old and common problem of untimely deaths. I am no authority on the subject but would like to write about it.

I had not read about the 33 year old being electricuted. How sad.