‘Devils and Dust’: How We Learned to Torture (by Brian McLaren)

Post by Brian McLaren for Beliefnet: God’s Politics

In The New York Times story about the administration’s secret authorization of torture, one sentence is particularly chilling: “With virtually no experience in interrogations, the CIA had constructed its program in a few harried months by consulting Egyptian and Saudi intelligence officials and copying Soviet interrogation methods long used in training American servicemen to withstand capture.”

Copying tactics used by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the former Soviet Union … what does this say about our nation’s trajectory? Since reading those words last week, I can’t keep Bruce Springsteen’s song out of my head. First, he echoes what many Americans might say in response to the secret authorization of torture:

Well I’ve got God on my side
And I’m just trying to survive.

But then he raises this question:

What if what you do to survive
Kills the things you love?

Springsteen then concludes:

Fear’s a dangerous thing.
It can turn your heart black you can trust.
It’ll take your God-filled soul
Fill it with devils and dust.

Springsteen’s words have me praying for our nation today: Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.


Creating our Own Kingdoms…

I am always interested in how people talk about their church. I am fascinated with how we talk about the kind of community that we say we have…

It gets me thinking about the concept of Kingdom (which is what Jesus would say we are supposed to be about)… or I suppose we could say influence instead. This is not as meaningful of a term for us Christians, but for those who aren’t, I suppose it does come down to influence. So I’ll use “kingdom” interchangeably with “influence.” So I ask myself, and I would love to ask those I talk to, but to avoid unnecessary offense, I refrain. What kind of kingdom are we trying to create?

There is the kingdom of our own church… done often in the name of community. Some pour money into weekly services, high tech media, and fancy buildings. We have the most interactive websites, the flashy publications, and streamlined programs. Everyone feels so good about being “there” and in the midst of the action. But if they aren’t bodies showing up at the program, are they really a part of it? We have great community because we share in this great church life, but is our church the kingdom we are trying to create? I have had this mentality and I still wrestle with it today…

Then there is national, or global kingdom… done in the name of politics and “peace.” We will have peace if everyone is Christian, or if we have Christians in power. Christianity must be defended and I must do my part by voting or supporting or whatever… To not vote is worse than anything else because it means I am not doing my part to promote a government with Christian values. See my previous post on this one! But why do we really believe that going to war or voting or being political is important? I don’t want to say that they are not important or should be ignored. More so, what is at the root of our need to push things? Are we seeking again to establish a “kingdom?”

What I really want to ask people is, “What kind of kingdom are you seeking to grow?” How is it getting out and into your city? How is it becoming more decentralized than centralized? (Not that many would really get what this means… I barely do..) These are the questions I ask myself. These are the things that I struggle with. For me, it is probably the individual kingdom that I am trying to grow… probably the worst kind. My own house, my own dog, a savings account, and on and on…

Pet Finder – Useful and Cruel!

It seems everyone wants a pet but no one wants to be bothered keeping track of them, so GPS and other pet tracking devices have become quite popular lately. The Pet Finder however uses a far simpler approach, but I can’t imagine there are too many pet owners willing to use it.

A relatively small, waterproof tag is attached to your pet’s collar and when activated by an included remote, will sound an 85db audible beep you can use to locate the animal. For comparison, a gas lawnmower or shop tools are rated at about 90db, so I’m pretty sure having an 85db beeping tag hanging around your neck isn’t that pleasant. Particularly when you consider a dog’s hearing is far more sensitive than our own.

You can find the Pet Finder at GadgetsUK for about $40 and it includes 4 separate color coded tags and a special tool for attaching them to a collar.

[ Pet Finder ] VIA [ The Red Ferret Journal ]

Post from OhGizmo!

Red Politics, Blue Politics… what about purple?


Jim Wallis comments on a new publication endorsed by a number of religious leaders called, “Come Let us Reason Together.” I haven’t read the article, and make no claims of agreeing with everything in it. While I am not one to post political stuff and really don’t have much of an agenda myself other than attempting to do what Jesus would have me do… I do really appreciate Jim’s words on this one:

… we need a better understanding of the role of faith in public life. Political appeals – even if rooted in religious convictions – must be argued on moral grounds, rather than as sectarian religious demands, so that the people (citizens), whether religious or not, may have the capacity to hear and respond. Religion must be disciplined by democracy and contribute to a better and more moral public discourse. Religious convictions must therefore be translated into moral arguments, which must win the political debate if they are to be implemented. Religious people don’t get to win just because they are religious (in a nation that is often claimed to be a Judeo-Christian country). They, like any other citizens, have to convince their fellow citizens that what they propose is best for the common good—for all of us and not just for the religious. Clearly, part of the work to be done includes teaching religious people how to make their appeals in moral language, and secular people not to fear such appeals will lead to theocracy.

We have to find a way of living the kingdom and being Jesus to each other that is not offensive but loving. Can we be Christ and live out our convictions from scripture, trusting that the Spirit of the living God will do the transforming? Do we have to start with the wielding of the “Word?”