Who Would Jesus Torture?

If you have been following the news at all recently, torture has been very much at the top of the front pages. While news of secret CIA prisons surfaces in the wake the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, we have a president who says, “We do not torture”. As he utters those words, his vice president is trying to exclude language from a bill that Senator John McCain is proposing to eliminate ALL U.S. torturing and inhumane treatment against prisoners of war. While this administration tell us that they do not torture, they fight to make it technically not against the law. This behavior from the White House does not surprise me in the least, but what does surprise me is the that of those of us who are actively seeking to live as Jesus lived (better known as “christians”) are not protesting this blatant two-sided dishonesty. For anyone who is a Christian to not be appalled by the fact that our christian president is trying to leave the door open for just a little bit of torture is beyond me. Imagine Jesus inflicting this on someone:

Water Boarding: The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner’s face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.

According to the sources, CIA officers who subjected themselves to the water boarding technique lasted an average of 14 seconds before caving in. They said al Qaeda’s toughest prisoner, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, won the admiration of interrogators when he was able to last between two and two-and-a-half minutes before begging to confess.

This is the CIA’s definition of “waterboarding” which is a practice widely used to torture prisoners in the custody of the United States. In case we may have forgotten, you and I are the United States. Our kids are the United States. I cannot stand by and not hold accountable those in our government that think this is “ok”. If christians truly value human life, then this is an issue we should be speaking out on. Regardless of who has done what or how much pain they have caused, we cannot agree to join in their behavior of terror. When faced with our human reality, we have to accept that we are just as capable of as much terror and destruction as any of those who are being tortured by the CIA.

As a Christian community, we should be propping up John McCain’s effort to eliminate torture as a accepted practice by the United States. This may put us at odds with the White House, but it would be nice to be on the front lines of ALL issues that have to do with peacemaking and loving all others born or unborn.

I’ll let McCain have the last word. This is a portion of his letter to President Bush regarding his proposed ammendment:

Mr. President, let there be no question about America�s character. In deciding these rules, each member of this body has a vital role. Under Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, the Congress has the responsibility for making �rules concerning captures on land and water.� Not the executive branch, not the courts, but Congress. Our brave men and women in the field need clarity. America needs to show the world that the terrible photos and stories of prison abuse are a thing of the past. Let�s step up to this responsibility and speak clearly on this critical issue.

We should do it not because we wish to coddle terrorists. We should do it not because we view them as anything but evil and terrible. We should do it, Mr. President, because we are Americans, and because we hold ourselves to humane standards of treatment of people no matter how evil or terrible they may be. America stands for a moral mission, one of freedom and democracy and human rights at home and abroad. We are better than these terrorists, and we will we win. I have said it before but it bears repeating: The enemy we fight has no respect for human life or human rights. They don�t deserve our sympathy. But this isn�t about who they are. This is about who we are. These are the values that distinguish us from our enemies, and we can never, never allow our enemies to take those values away.”

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Billy Pilgrim’s Story

I’m a pretty big fan of the The Diane Rehm Show. If you’re curious, it plays on our local NPR station KJZZ 91.5 FM. She is one of the best interviewers in public radio and she always has covers very interesting topics. On today’s show she discussed Kurt Vonnnegut’s classic novel Slaughterhouse-5. I read this book about 8 years ago and it was the first Vonnegut book I had read. Immediately I fell in love with Vonnegut’s unique and amazing literary voice. This book is truly a classic and I agree with the sentiment that it’s one of the most moving anti-war books in American fiction. Although this book is fiction, it is very much inspired by Vonnegut’s real experience of the Dresden fire-bombing in WW2.

For an hour on the radio show, she invited several guests to remember, discuss, and relate to this great book. If you’ve read this book, then this would be a very worthwhile program to check out in the Diane Rehm Show archive on her website. If you haven’t read this book, then there is really no reason to bother. This book is pretty much irrelevant today. I mean, it’s not like we are getting ourselves involved in useless violence anywhere in the world. Continue reading

U2 + Vegas = Danger!

Holly and I and a few friends of ours are heading up to Vegas tomorrow to catch the U2 show at the MGM Grand. I’ve seen U2 on every tour since Zoo Tv in 1993 (yes, even the Popmart tour). I’ve got to admit that these U2 ticket prices aren’t in line with the rate of inflation. in 93 my ticket was $30. at the popmart show, late 90s, my ticket was $50. My elevation tour tix were comped so don’t remember the prices then, and the tickets for tomorrow’s show are $200 a piece. tomorrow night will have to be one hell of a show for me to pony up $300 per ticket on the next tour. i’ve got a feeling i’ll be a satisfied customer regardless. U2 tends to have that effect on people, obviously. we do have vip passes for tomorrow so at least the beer will be free. no place like vegas to try and drink $200 worth of free beer. Continue reading