“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.”
H/T Kait Dugan [Twitter/Facebook]
Being in Pennsylvania, I meet lots of people that either consider themselves Mennonite, or at least were raised that way. One of the most well-known aspects of Mennonite belief is their unwavering commitment to pacifism (or, as a commenter corrected me below, the Mennonite “doctrine of nonresistance”). Hanging out with one of my new raised-Mennonite friends the other evening, she showed me (with pride) the above picture that has hung in one of their family’s houses for a long time. It struck me as beautiful as well, especially the second quote. Here it is, nicely typed out for optimal readability and convenience:
“It is our fixed principle rather than take up Arms to defend our King, our Country, or our Selves, to suffer all that is dear to be rent from us, even Life itself, and this we think not out of Contempt to Authority, but that herein we act agreeable to what we think is the Mind and Will of our Lord Jesus.”
–Thirteen Mennonite Ministers of Pennsylvania, May 15, 1755
As promised, this week’s weekly must-reads tend towards the theological. We do have some political “leftovers” from last week that you all should find interesting. So, as usual, read to your heart’s content and please comment and let me know what you think about these!
More Like Prayer 5 | Jesus Creed
Fascinating and oh-so-brief introduction to a whole new way of looking at the gospel, politics, and the church. Wow.
Mercifully Forsaken | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction
Wow. Simply wow. Such a beautiful and powerful piece of writing on the mercy of God in his forsaking of us. Did not expect this from Christianity Today (front page, no less!).
Last week I experimented with a little feature on my new favorite bookmarking service, Diigo, where it would automatically write up a weekly blog post containing all my bookmarks for the week and the comments I posted and quotes I highlighted. Well, I went in blind and the post last week was a little messy. So, this week, I took some time to clean it up a bit. This week’s articles range the gamut from abortion to blogging. If you click the links, they will take you to a special annotated version of the page where you can even see the little sticky notes I left. Please read any of these articles that interest you and please–if you could–let me know what you think down in the comments. Thanks.
U.S. teenager tortured in Kuwait and barred re-entry into the U.S. – Glenn Greenwald – Salon.com
I really don’t think the Founders wanted us to be terrified of our government. Just think of it: you as an American citizen–with no legal record of any kind–could be studying abroad and have this happen to you. This guy had NO indication that he could end up here. This is like some crazy movie. I’m actually scared of my country.
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.)
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.