I have several topics of interest I hope to post about in the next week or so – health care being at the top of the list and what I had intended to blog about today, but then I read the editorial that Cal Thomas had in today’s paper about torture. I have to be honest, I have been way out of touch with things in the media lately (that must account for the peace that I have felt over the past few days), and have just heard a piece here and there in regards to the big debate about torture and all that has come with that. Just another partisan battle for the ages.
I guess it’s because I am a glutton for punishment, but for the most part, I expose myself to more conservative media personalities and outlets than liberal ones. It seems to me that listening to folks you agree with all the time doesn’t do much to help your critical assessment of the world, so I listen to people who drives me nuts. In that spirit, I spent a few minutes over lunch a bit ago watching videos from conservative discussions on the topic of torture mainly from Fox News. I suppose what surprises me (and disappoints me) most in these discussions is to see publicly confessed Christians (Cal Thomas is a Presbyterian from Washington D.C., and I also saw Glenn Beck following his same lines of argument – he’s a Mormon) offer the party byline when it comes to overt matters of morality.
It would be my hope that something like the possible torture by the United States government would help expose the idolatrous relationship that so many Christians have with their state. Much of the time the patriotism that has invaded the faith of so many Christ-followers sits idly by as they pledge allegiance to their flag, sing the National Anthem before their sporting events, and sport their “God Bless the USA” bumper stickers on the back of their SUVs – seemingly harmless events. I’m the first to say that seeing one’s faith through the cataract of post-Constantinian Christendom, the aforementioned actions are difficult to give much critical attention to. This realm of life espouses such incredible passion and fervor that seldom do these issues ever leave the level of passion to a place where critical self-examination can take place.
Perhaps you don’t see the harm in pledging your allegiance to a flag. Maybe you believe the United States is the great hope of the world (an aside note: I just finished reading Captain America and the Crusade Against Evil which does a great job of illustrating how the “Captain America complex” has dominated the pages of American history where her politicians, leaders, and public-at-large has seen the America in the role as super hero: never guilty, but falsely accused; never the provoker, but always the provoked; never fully appreciated for what she means to the world; always working from the omniscient presence – “I’ll save you even though you don’t realize you need saved.” They do a fantastic job of showing how this fautly logic has driven the country’s foreign policy since its inception and how the current chlallenges faced in the “war on terrorism” are the same challenges that faced the U.S. in the Cold War, Vietnam, and on back through history) but surely the sight or thought of your nation’s government toturing criminals delivers you a bit of an ethical quandry.
Charles Sheldon suggested we ask, “What would Jesus do?” That, apparently, only applies to personal matters of morality. We allow governments to operate under their own rules of engagement. It’s different for them, right? Well, that’s the thing: a lot of folks are having to ask that question now. Is that right? Jesus would never torture anyone. Jesus was tortured. How can we sit back and, even for one moment, for one criminal, allow an exception? When does the Bible ever teach that the end justifies the means – especially when we are at war?
I’m tired of conservatives telling me that I just don’t understand. Sean Hannity told me I suffer from a pre-September 11 mentality. I’m the dumb one. I’m the naive one. It’s one thing for liberals and conservatives to banter this stuff back and forth. It’s entirely something else when I Christian can idly stand by and join the conversation without maintaining their sense of uniqueness – holiness.
My plea for conservative Christians is to acknowledge that fighting violence with violence will not work – it never works. Our government has promised us that greater force is needed to fight off the enemies so that peace will prevail . . . again . . . even though it hasn’t worked before . . . even when we dropped two atomic bombs and killed thousands of innocent people in Japan. The terrorists killed 3,000 people in the United States, and we have killed more than ten-fold in civilians in two other nations. When will it end? We should expect this faith in the empire from those without hope, but from people with faith in Jesus? Those pulling triggers and dropping bombs will always be closer to the soldiers killing Christ than the innocent one on the cross.