Torture is Spiritual Depravity [QUOTE]


“Just as the persistence of torture is unnerving, so are the costs of torture incalculable. Torture corrupts. It corrupts everything and everyone it touches. It corrupts them profoundly and often irreversibly. There is a political level to this corruption, but the category of the political is not sufficient. Likewise, there is a moral level to it, but neither does the moral suffice to capture what is at stake. At its deepest level the corruption represented by torture is spiritual.

The category of the spiritual is descriptively required because, as many have observed, torture tends toward becoming an end in itself. That is the deepest horror. As if by some invisible yet inexorable force, torture seeks and creates domination for its own sake, even as it also seeks and creates cruelty for its own sake. It seeks and creates cruel dominion and wanton cruelty toward another in disregard of the other’s inherent dignity as a human being. …

When torture is conducted as an end in itself, and has therefore become demonic—when the purpose of power is power, and the purpose of cruelty is cruelty, when torture’s purpose is tyrannical subjugation and sadistic degradation—then the divinely given meaning of life is unspeakably distorted and destroyed. The relation of the torturer to the tortured, and of the tortured to the torturer, makes a travesty of the most basic relations given by heaven to earth. In so degrading the human being and human community, torture blasphemes against God, neighbor and self.”

–George Hunsinger

H/T Kait Dugan [Twitter/Facebook]

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“What if George W. Bush had done that?” (Opposites Coming Together) [Casual Friday]


Firstly, let me formally introduce “Casual Friday” posts. After all the seriousness in my posts on theology, politics, and such through the week, one could get the impression I can’t have any fun. Well, not so. Whenever I’m able, I hope to take Fridays to write up shorter, casual, and generally more light-hearted posts to talk about news, technology, entertainment, food, or whatever. Probably, it’ll mostly be me sharing some of my favorite things with all of you. Enjoy.

I subscribe to a great service called Summify. It analyzes my social feeds and gives me a reading list each day of the articles that my social graph has most-shared (don’t get too excited. It just got bought by Twitter and they will be shutting down the service shortly).

Anyway, in my email a couple of days ago, there was a link to this great article by Josh Gerstein showing both the (negative) similarities between Bush and Obama, and the blatant and (at times) comical hypocrisy of those that have hated/loved those respective men.

And what do you know? According to the screenshot above, this article was recommended by both Uber-Progressive Glenn Greenwald and Uber-NeoConservative Karl Rove (this was confirmed by each of their tweets). There could not be two more different men coming together to promote the same political article.

But anyway, the article is great, and if it was good enough for both of these guys to recommend it, then it should be worth all of our time and consideration. And as you do, remember all the things I’ve been saying. Like I said then: I promise, I’m not crazy. Other people are saying these things too.

Open Mic: John Yoo, Torture, & Christian Ethics


Yesterday I wrote about how Catholicism views the idea of torture and how a possible response to it and it’s socio-political effects can be found in the Eucharist.  That article was written because the idea of Torture has come front and center in the political discourse once more.  For those not keeping track of the current political climate concerning the previous administration, John Yoo is a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley that was given the charge by the Bush administration and the CIA to define the nature and limits of “enhanced interrogation techniques“. He along with Jay Bybee authored the famous “torture memos” which gave legal justification for the use of waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and other techniques in order to get information from suspected terrorists.

Last year, the Office of Professional Responsibility wrote a report finding the two men guilty of professional misconduct and recommended the Justice Department do a full investigation. Ealier this month, both Bybee and Yoo were officially cleared of all wrongdoing in the eyes of the Department of Justice. Further, the DOJ strongly suggested that no further investigation nor disciplinary action from the bar should be sought. Last week the Department officially closed its investigation. Yesterday, the top ethicist of the Department of Justice said that not only did Yoo and Bybee do nothing criminal, but neither did they even act unethically. (Full summary of the metanarrative of all of this can be found here.)

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Catholicism on Torture, the State, & the Eucharist


I know, I know — this seems like a weird topic to inaugurate this series. Today, in my ongoing series “Catholics Aren’t Crazy” I wanted to put up a post on a Catholic view of Scripture, inspiration, and inerrancy. They have some amazing things to say on these topics that Evangelicals could do really well to embrace. But alas, current events have changed that plan. Tomorrow I’m posting up a potentially controversial article here on a Christian view of Torture. I’m writing it in light of the recent developments, publications, and interviews concerning the legal and ethical exoneration of the “Torture Memo” authors, John Yoo and Jay Bybee. In my research I stumbled upon the following wonderful article by Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic, posted on his blog on Ash Wednesday:

“May the Judgment Not Be Too Heavy Upon Us” — The Daily Dish

The article concerns Marc Thiessen, former speech writer for President Bush. Thiessen is on a tour of every news outlet it seems (I’ve seen him on like four different ones just this past week) to promote his brand new book, Courting Disaster, the point of which is pretty much as follows: Our “enhanced interrogation” techniques were moral, effective, and NOT torture; and President Obama has ended them, thereby “inviting the next attack” and putting everyone in America at risk of being slaughtered by Islamic extremists.

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