Friday, December 12, 2014

Christianity's Bedrock Commitment To Torture: Remaking "The Faithful" In God's Image

G.K. Chesterton held that "All wars are religious wars."

And so it is with The War on Terror.

Although its power is waning, traditional Christianity still informs national values and thus encourages the use of torture as a means of waging that war.

How can this be?

How can Christians - famous for generosity, sweetness and light - be responsible for Uncle Sam's determination to inflict (or at least delegate to "Black Sites") the most exquisite torments imaginable?

Oddly, the real question is this: "How can it be otherwise?"

At bedrock, we become what we perceive.

And most Christians perceive God as an all-powerful being who relies on Hell as His personal Black Site without which there can be no final enforcement of Law and Order.

Love? Mercy? Compassion? Forgiveness? 

Or, if these real virtues are not adequate to the task, perhaps "Hell" could be conceived as a transitional purgation for wrongdoing? 

Ah! For the good old days of Purgatory! 

Or, if purgatory is not a poker hot enough to jam in "the dark place," how about "the cessation of a soul's existence?" 

Putting it out of misery. A rudimentary act of compassion.

Surely "un-creation" is no more problematic than "creation." 

Here is The Sea Change that mainstream Christian churches have yet to grok: Young people no longer accept eternal torment as part of a loving God's design. 

This generation - and those upcoming - are pellucidly clear that an "unquenchable lake of everlasting fire" is outside the domain of any deity they would want to worship. 

According to traditional Christianity, the fate of "the ill-fated" is always -- forever and ever, in saecula saeculorum -- eternal torment in The Torture Room.

A Torture Room with neither escape, nor hope of escape. 

As Dante emblazoned the Gates of Hell: "Abandon hope all ye who enter here." 

Americans, Especially Catholics, Approve Of Torture

"The Catholic Voice In The Torture Debate," John A. Coleman S.J.

"Faith, Hope, Charity And Divine Desperation"

Divine Desperation: Feeling Hopeless Makes People Stop Doing What They Can

To create a Universe in which torment serves no reformative purpose -- and, furthermore, the torment NEVER ends -- is not, in the view of many, the work of a God whom John describes as Love itself. 

Even the good Mercy Sisters who formed me from kindergarten through 8th grade taught that Hell exists as a construct but there is no persuasive reason to believe any human being "ends up" there. 

The merciful sisters went on to emphasize our Christian obligation to remain ever hopeful, and -- in service of that hope -- we must pray for mercy and the salvation of all souls - even Hitler's. (Notably, Hitler was a cradle Catholic, heir to a "Christian" tradition of rabid anti-Semitism so deeply ingrained that it was taught to my youngest brother as part of his "Catholic upbringing." Eventually, I suspect all of us must throw ourselves on "the mercy of the court." Eventually, I suspect all of us must throw ourselves on "the mercy of the court." As Jesus says in The Beatitudes“Happy are people who show mercy, because they will receive mercy.")

"Sisters: Catholic Nuns And The Making Of America"

At some point it is necessary to abandon blood lust; to say NO to Christianity's foundational horror; to stop delighting in the agony of "the damned," and -- as Chesterton did -- hold out hope for Universal Salvation, a phenomenon that one early strain of Christianity called  apokatastasis.

G.K. Chesterton On Charity, Hope And Universal Salvation

I understand the argument that God does not condemn "the damned" but rather "the damned" take the task on themselves by refusing to turn to  The Light

What I do not understand is how human beings -- particularly avowed Christians -- expect "personal salvation" while drooling after the torture of other human beings.

The cognitive dissonance embedded in this wish is as discordant as the crazed cacophony of Hell itself.

If the Early Church taught anything, it was "willing acceptance of martyrdom;" never the strategized killing (or even injury) of others, not even in self-defense. 

No doubt some early Christians killed and injured their fellows and probably justified spilt blood as self-defense -- a posture common to pagans and "demons" alike. 

But there is nothing specifically "Christian" in self-seeking defense of violence. 

Killing and injuring other humans is "the way of the world," a way Christianity's central focus on "loving one's enemies" sought to change.

"Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Traged," A Glimpse Of True Christianity

(The Amish are biblical fundamentalists and absolute pacifists.)

"Love Your Enemies. Do Good To Those Who Hate You," Luke 6: 27-42

Yeshua Excoriates Fellow Pharisees: "The Woe Passages"

"Do You Know What You're Doing To Me?"
Jesus of Nazareth

The United States Is A Singularly Cruel, Vengeful Nation. Solitary Confinement For Kids

In any event, the early church never taught the "rightness" of bloodletting. 

Similarly, the propriety of carnage was never systematized. 

Just War and other forms of killing were never became orthodox doctrine.

Christian "Just War Principles" Established c. 500 A.D. Vs. America's "just war" Tradition

"Pope Francis Links"

Killing of any kind was never deemed a necessary defense against evil, a fact that recalls the most seldom-sermonized verse in Scripture...

"Resist not evil; do good to those who persecute you; turn the other cheek."

The early church -- the church closest to Yeshua's living inspiration -- considered "this life" a Vale of Tears, a fleet pilgrimage before eternal bliss. 

Indeed, the sooner we get there, the better!

Martyrdom was not only accepted as characteristically Christian sacrifice -- modeled on Yeshua's culminating example -- it was even welcomed, and welcomed with such warm embrace that Church Fathers actually discussed whether eagerness-for-martyrdom transgressed the forbidden boundary of suicide.

The Last Time Christians Had Balls They Believed In Martyrdom

Without detailing the theological steps that ended in Christianity's love affair with torture (starting with the Council of Nicaea and its corrupting fusion of Church and State) Christendom soon conjured The Inquisition, an institution that warranted God's blessing on terrestrial torture, the Vatican's sine qua non mechanism for moral (and political!) enforcement.

"The last execution of the Inquisition was finally carried out in Spain on July 26, 1826. This was the execution of the school teacher, Cayetano Ripoll, for the teaching of Deism in his school."

"Trial By Ordeal: The Bloody Old Testamental Roots Of Modern Justice"

For many Christians, belief in the efficacy -- indeed the necessity -- of divinely-ordained torture serves as foundation for the "fundamentalist" Credo.

If a God of Punishment does not sit on The Divine Throne, then the foundations of Universe give way and everything crashes in wrack and ruin.

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." 
1 John 4:18
"The Christian Paradox: How A Faithful Nations Gets Jesus Wrong"
Bill McKibben

"Pope Francis Links"

As the Inquisition demonstrated - and as today's "faithful" still clamor - torture is indispensable for saving "the strayed." (Note that the Inquisition partakes a general rubric which ratifies violence as the default solution to every problem.)

Astonishingly, the Inquisition -- the theological precursor of War on Terror "Black Sites" -- proclaimed its unfailing ability to determine exactly who deserved damnation-and-torture, the same theo-philosophical conviction that puts hubris at the epicenter of conservative Christianity.

Santayana famously observed that "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Uncle Sam's resurrection of torture is fraught with the selfsame hubris that typified Christianity's longstanding engagement of this inhumane, inhuman, ungodly practice, replete with the fatal flaws of self-corruption, presumption and self-righteous "witch-hunting." 

Yeshua Excoriates Fellow Pharisees: "The Woe Passages"

God forbid your own child - or any innocent child - be caught in "the wrong net."

Can't happen here?

It's happening here! 

Once we "get over" our "exceptional whiteness," we see it everywhere.

"Bad Black People." Why Bill O'Reilly Is Wrong Even When He's Right

I understand the motivation behind torture - chiefly the desire to be "safe."

At any cost. 

But whatever useful information might be gleaned from torture, the presumed benefit is overshadowed on three fronts.

1.) There are more effective ways to elicit information through kindness, companionship and solidarity. It is an unpalatable fact that conservative Christians do not want loving kindness to work. They want goodness to fail. Then, they can renew their subscription to platitude, heedless of any virtue beyond family and tribe. Rather than goodness, right-wing Christians want assurance that punishment dwells in the very heart of God. Only then will The Enforcer have the necessary tool to keep them safe. 

The Torture-Free True Story Of The Best USMC Interrogator In WWII

2.) Torture is a self-degrading crime against humanity. Those who participate - even by indirect authorization of Black Site torture - dig the world's hellhole deeper, unleash unintended consequences and provoke catastrophic blowback as the only certainties.

3.) Uncle Sam's participation in torture has become a linchpin recruitment tool for organized terror. The ineffable stupidity of The Iraq War -- a needless, counterproductive "crusade" (to quote Bush's original characterization) -- has infused Hydra-headed thousands with nihilism and despair. Not only did Bush deliberately kick "the hornet's nest," he kicked the wrong hornet's nest! And he kicked it because Osama bin Laden, pining for an American invasion, seduced The "Born Again!" Dimwit into war.

"Bush's Toxic Legacy In Iraq"

Bin Laden's Stated Goal: To Bankrupt The United States
(He knows he cannot take us out. But with Uncle Sam's spendthrift help, he can make us collapse)

If the fellow pictured below were one of thousands of Americans held captive by Islamic organizations, would your own "young buck" not feel irresistible urge to enlist.

"Bush's Toxic Legacy In Iraq"

Cheney's Lucid 1994 Rationale For NOT Invading Iraq. 
Conservatives "must" see this video.

We now know that conservatives are unusually prone to alarmism. 

Subsumed by panic and claustrophobia, their snouts draw so close to "the trees" that "the forest" cannot even be imagined, much less seen. 

"Conservatives Scare More Easily Than Liberals"

Combine conservatives' penchant for self-terrorization (remember Ebola?) with the emotional catharsis of pummeling people to bloody pulp and it is soon apparent to anyone more attentive to history than their self-inflamed outrage that the ongoing Iraq debacle has always been a masturbatory fantasy, pounding to quick climax over pornographic images of counterproductive violence, reveling in the horror-cathected sexuality of torture.

"The Politics Of Horror In Conservative Evangelicalism," '09 Outstanding Academic Title"

"God Enjoys The 10 Plagues Way Too Much"

The Evangelical Persecution Complex (Projection's Finest Hour?)

Central to conservatism's championship of torture is bedrock belief in theo-philosophical absolutism, a brittle, rigid, unforgiving system that obliges "the faithful" to subscribe to The Official Story (or what they perceive as The Official Story) whatever the cost. 

Even at the cost of one's own soul.
The Thinking Housewife: Marriage, Divorce And Absolutism

When you view these photos, remember: 
This kind of abuse is a "struck match" compared to the "nuclear detonation" of Black Site torture.

You cannot imagine.

Your tax dollars paid for Black Sites... but you can not imagine what goes on there.

"On your dime."

"On Balance, Torture Is Massively Counterproductive And Self Destructive"

The Iraq War was all for nothing.

Less than nothing.

Burnt offering on the altar of Bush-Cheney's chest-thumping ego.


"For misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 B.C sent his legions into Germany and lost them, Bush deserves to be impeached and, once he has been removed from office, put on trial along with the rest of the president’s men. If convicted, they’ll have plenty of time to mull over their sins."
Israeli War Historian, Martin van Creveld, the only non-American whose writings are required reading for the U.S. Military Officer Corps.


"Faith, Hope, Charity And Divine Desperation"

Divine Desperation: Feeling Hopeless Makes People Stop Doing What They Can

"Self-Terrorization Is The National Pastime"

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