On not accepting torture

The wheels of justice systems turn very slowly (if at all), but sometimes things happen, or at least promise to happen. Let’s see whether something will happen here:

Foreign Office officials ‘backed Guantanamo detentions’

Classified documents reveal UK’s role in abuse of its own citizens

If we take the torture preceding the judicial murder of Jesus Christ seriously in the context of a theology of the atonement, there cannot be a Christian justification of torture. Of course, for most of our history, Christians have used the instrument of torture, both among themselves and on ‘the other’, abandoning the witness of the scriptures, not to mention the memory of the terrible experience of torture by the first Christian generations.

Literature relevant for the issue of torture and theology is actually relatively limited. Some examples include:

  • Casalis, Georges, 1977. Torture and prayer. International Review of Mission 66 (263), pp. 240-243.
  • Cavanaugh, William T., 1998. Torture and Eucharist: theology, politics, and the body of Christ. (Challenges in contemporary theology.) Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
  • Cavanaugh, William T., 2006. The Sacrifice of Love: The Eucharist as Resistance to Terror and Torture (Newman College Dom Helder Camara Lecture Series, 1 June 2006).
  • Cavanaugh, William T., 2009. Telling the truth about ourselves: torture and eucharist in the U.S. popular imagination. theotherjournal.com .
  • Herbert, T. Walter, 2009. Faith-based war: from 9/11 to catastrophic success in Iraq. London: Equinox.
  • Hunsinger, George ed., 2008. Torture is a moral issue: Christians, Jews, Muslims, and people of conscience speak out. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
  • Kolbet, Paul R., 2008. Torture and Origen’s hermeneutics of nonviolence. Journal of the American Academy of Religion 76 (3), pp. 545-572.
  • Ortiz, Dianna & Davis, Patricia, 2002. The blindfold’s eyes: my journey from torture to truth. Maryknoll: Orbis Books.
  • Rejali, Darius M., 2007. Torture and democracy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Scott, George Ryley, 1940. The history of torture throughout the ages. London: T. W. Laurie.
  • Tombs, David, 1999. Crucifixion, state terror, and sexual abuse. Union Seminary Quarterly Review 53 (1/2), pp. 89-109.
  • Yearsley, David Gaynor, 2009. Bach on Torture: Mr. Cheney, They’re Playing Your Song. Counterpunch June 12-14.
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