25 June 2012

not American...but much more, not Christian

“What we say about the intentional cruelty of U.S. soldiers, spies, and shadowy ‘contractors’ is what we have said about the same cruelty by others:  it degrades us all, and must be renounced and repented of before the Living God, whose eye sees into every hidden cell and secret budget allocation.  Our basis for speaking:  Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, was tortured to death, first by being flogged, and then by a slow form of capital punishment.  Thus we join countless patriots in saying; ‘This is not America.’  But deeper down we know, too:  ‘This is not Christian.’”

That is a quote from the Resolution on Human Rights in a Time of Terrorism and Torture, which was produced by the 217th General Assembly of PC(USA) in 2006.  Perhaps the Bush administration enshrined torture as policy, but the Obama administration has done little to actually confront the culture of torture.  In some regards, the consolidation of power and lack of transparency needed for such a culture to exist have been strengthened.

The International Day against Torture is tomorrow.  May issues of substance like that be brought to the forefront in the election campaigns. 

As the resolution states:  “‘This is not America.’  But deeper down we know, too:  ‘This is not Christian.’”

14 June 2012

remembering to be aware

“Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.” (Hebrews 13:3) 

The PC(USA) Office of Public Witness has teamed up with the National Religious Campaign against Torture (NRCAT) to encourage us to remember that June is Torture Awareness Month.  The annual focus in that regard is on the 26th, which is the International Day Against Torture.

One of the themes this year is on the terrible impact that prolonged solitary confinement has on prisoners in the US.  The NRCAT website reports that those in solitary “typically spend 23 hours per day in their cells and exercise alone for the remaining hour.  As a result, many experience paranoia, delusions, and other long-term mental harm.  Prolonged solitary confinement destroys prisoners’ minds, denies the opportunity for community, and violates the inherent, God-given dignity and worth of every person.”

In “confronting the culture of torture,” as the image taken from the Office of Public Witness’ blog says, we address a number of mentalities.  Among them would be one that responds to prisoners damaged by extended time in “the hole,” with the comment, “Too bad, that’s what you get!  You give up your rights when you go to prison.”

But that’s looking at it backwards.  No one deserves to be tortured.  When people are tortured, so is the God in whose image they are made.

04 June 2012

relate trinitarially

Two years ago, I quoted Richard Rohr on the topic of Trinity Sunday (which was yesterday).  In today’s Daily Meditation, he says this:

“One reason so many theologians are interested in the Trinity now is that we’re finding both physics (especially quantum physics) and cosmology are at a level of development where human science, our understanding of the atom and our understanding of galaxies, is affirming and confirming our use of the old Trinitarian language—but with a whole new level of appreciation.  Reality is radically relational, and the power is in the relationships themselves!…” 

In my sermon yesterday, I didn’t focus on Trinity Sunday as such.  It was in a couple of the prayers that I noted that the Holy Trinity is the model of the ideal family, the ideal community.  In the Trinity, there is a continuous flow of self-giving, self-effacing love.

Rohr continues, “Great science, which we once considered an ‘enemy’ of religion, is now helping us see that we’re standing in the middle of awesome Mystery, and the only response before that Mystery is immense humility.  Astrophysicists are much more comfortable with darkness, emptiness, non-explainability (dark matter, black holes), and living with hypotheses than most Christians I know.  Who could have imagined this?”

It is interesting, and sad, that many (perhaps most?) Christians are too rigid and unimaginative to see how disciplines like natural science, behavioral science, philosophy, and faith interweave.  The Trinity is the very definition of creativity and ever-creative.