Wednesday, April 29, 2009

More voices on torture

It seems that the torture memos have garnered quite a reaction from across the political spectrum. Some have decried their release, saying that this has made our country less safe. Yeah, nobody knew we were torturing until these memos came out. Right. Others have seen this decision as a cleansing act. Others, even if they're opposed to torture, not so much. I don't know if a "truth commission" is in order, but I do believe that if we're a nation of law then we need to let the law speak. It seems pretty clear that what we as a country engaged in over the last several years constitutes a legally defined war crime. Although it is interesting that even our adherence to that treaty was under attack during the Bush years. Gee, why would they want to change that law? But I digress. The whole reason I'm writing this is because of the several voices raised against torture from religious and conservative voices. Rod Dreher has done a yeoman's job of showing that (my personal favorite) there are conservatives and Christians (the best by far) out there who oppose torture. The truly sad thing is that he even felt the need to do so. I could easily link to hundreds of more left leaning essays concerning the same topic, but of course, they're biased. They hated Bush. They hate traditional values. Therefore they can't be listened to on any topic. But what if our enemies on the left are right sometimes? What if the right is sometimes wrong? Maybe that's where being a Christian comes in handy.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Christianity and torture.

In the past week we've seen Shepard Smith express his own feelings on the issue of "torture", a term that apparently doesn't have any meaning anymore. "Waterboarding" is something that doesn't count anymore as "torture" since we now do it. Even though we prosecuted those who did it (exactly what we recently did) after WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and certain southern American cities in 1983, to say that "waterboarding" is "torture" is to be, somehow, unamerican.

I ask one question: Is it Christian?

Can we as Christians affirm a policy, a behavior, that directly contradicts what our Lord and Savior has called us to? Maybe it's OK for the pagans around us to do it. Maybe we can "outsource" this policy to them so we don't feel so guilty. Maybe we can elect a leadership that will do for us what we're not quite willing to do ourselves. After all, if "they" do it, then we're not "really" guilty.


I know the answer to this question. You know the answer to this question. That's not the question. The question is this: Can we be faithful to Christ while giving support to what our Bible says is murder? Can we be good citizens while giving support to what our Constitution strictly forbids? Can we go along with "effective" policies that make us our enemy?

The ends justifying the means leaves us real mean.

Christ Jesus calls us to something better. Pragmatism leaves us all acting as monsters, the resurrection allows us to serve and suffer.
Please let us live in the light of the resurrection. It's in this light that we can let go of our own petty and provincial powers; powers that convince us that violence is the only answer.

God help us to see a better day.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Sunday

Well, I finally finished the Daniel Tammet book "Embracing the Wide Sky." The author is autistic, more specifically he has Aspergers syndrome, which I am pretty familiar with. His writing is lucid and clear, which isn't surprising of course, since he values logic and clear thinking so much. I could see some of his autism coming through the pages as I read through the book. It's those parts of the book I enjoyed the most. I felt I could "see" him in those parts more than in the other parts. When I worked with the developmentally disabled years ago, I always preferred working with those with autism spectrum disorders (I don't like "disorder", I prefer differently ordered), since I think I thought a little like them myself. I could see a little of what they saw and thus interact with them more appropriately. I hope they liked it too. I know they helped me see better.
After I finished his book I watched Cadillac Records with Beyonce Knowles. I wanted to watch it primarily because of her being in it, but it turns out she doesn't even show up in the movie until halfway through. That's not to say that the movie is any worse for that. All of the characters are strong from beginning to end, not least of all hers, where she plays the legenary Etta James. If you can get past the cussin', which infuses the movie like heaping spoonfuls of sugar in an AA's bitter coffee, and the sexual stuff, which is fairly limited, then you'll find a story bound up in many stories that is the blues. I loved it. It was about the music. It was about race. It was about hope and despair. It's raw. That's why it's good.
So now I'm listening to the Grateful Dead while writing this because of an article in today's New York Times about them reuniting for a tour as the Dead (sans the Grateful). They included links to popular Dead sites that feature their best music, and as a former(?) Deadhead, I couldn't resist checking them out. Needless to say I ended up downloading five shows from May of 77', which is considered by most to be their peak of concert performances.
Ironic that I'm listening to the Dead on the day that commemorates the resurrection of Christ. I guess that's the not yet intruding on the already. Thank God for the already.

Christos aneste

Am I held by that which I hold?
Do I live by a life given?
Can I trust in words
spoken in ages past.
I live in tomorrow.
I live in the hope
of what will be.
Predicated on words already spoken,
in ages past.

Can I trust that
just might be true?

Can I trust
that God
has actually spoken
to them
and to

According to accounts
involving Paul
formally known as
can we say these accounts are

It seems we can.
My faith is not in vain.
I have a hope
beyond my corpse.

Wisdom and Foolishness

Knowledge without wisdom is just as foolish as ignorance without wisdom. Either way, in the end you play the fool.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Lately, I feel like I'm reading about God at best. Thankfully I see His work at work at my work on nearly a daily basis. But in my own time I find that He is an academic exercise, a topic among many to be perused . I want Him, God, to be at the center of who I am. He isn't. At least that's how I feel. Right now I'm reading "A Scandalous Freedom" by Steve Brown. When I'm reminded of what God has done through Christ, fully, then I get a glimpse of what God has won for me, and His glory. I need those glimpses. I don't know why I never seem to really believe in His provision. And yet He provides.