Friday, November 7, 2008

Cross in the Dirt

John McCain has told the story of how, when he was a POW in Vietnam, one of the guards loosed the bounds a little after one of the torture sessions. Then the guard drew a cross in dirt to represent he was a Christian. Many reports of this sort of identifying of faith have been recorded in history, though Andrew Sullivan doubts McCain's story, since it is very similar to Solzhenitsyn's story while in a Communist prison. Still, both accounts could just as easily be real. And let's add that one of McCain's fellow prisoners remembers McCain mentioning it while still over there. OK.

But let's back up a minute. Let's supposed McCain's story =is= real (or Solzhenitsyn's story, for that matter). Does no one see the bigger question behind that
guard's act? The question would be this: can a genuine Christian torture an American prisoner like that? Could a real Christian torture Solzhenitsyn simply because of political views that Solzhenitsyn had =against= the totalitarian regime of the Soviet Union? Could a real Christian torture anyone at all for political beliefs?

It does raise quite an ethical question, doesn't it? Is the act of torture even an option for a Xian?

How about this question ... many of the Religious Right make the claim that our nation was founded on "
Judeo-Christian" values. OK. So does that mean that those British soldiers that fought for the Crown were not Christian? Or just not Christian enough?

Then we can move into a very thorny question ... what of the German troops that followed Hitler to battle? Could a true Christian follow after the ideals of Fascism? Could a Christian be a Communist as well?

Hmmmm. This could be a thorny topic.

Granted I do see how someone can be so committed to the politics that the ethics of their faith get left out in the cold --- just look around for plenty of evidence on that one. However, on a smaller scale, how does one reconcile things like acts of torture & Christian practice? Killing for a political ideal? War for a mad man? Following orders that intentionally harm people?

I'm gonna have to think on this one some more.

1 comment:

Georgia Mountain Man said...

Yes, this is a difficult question to tackle and one that I have wrestled with during the recent campaign. The Christian right says a real Christian couldn't vote for Obama, but a real Christian COULD vote for McCain. We can look at so many instances in history where so much killing and torture was committed under the cover of Chrisitanity. From the Crusades, to the Spanish invasions of South America to the Native Americans. I recall a U.S. Cavalryman, who was also a minister, his name I don't recall, but I do remember that he massacred women and children in Indian settlements after the Civil War. How do you reconcile Christianity and violent acts such as you have described? I will be waiting to hear comments. I have an answer and I say that you don't reconcile them. It does, however, take great courage to stand up against these acts at the risk of your own life. Occasionally we find that. Then again there are those who believe that they are doing uspeakable things in the name of God.