Engaging the Torturous

Liam forwarded Mark Shea’s latest essay on the pro-torture crowd. I have to confess my surprise the heat this is generating among conservative Catholics. Mark correctly identifies the cowardice inherent in abusing other human beings for one’s own ends. Even a pseudo-generous end. Torture is of a kin to child abusers, sex offenders, and playground bullies. Only that Popular Television Shows aren’t usually made on the subject.

Mark pierces to the heart of the false faith:

When you point out that he has not only the whole civilized world, but Holy Church against him, he falls back on a diabolical inversion of moral values which identifies grave sin with courage like Milton’s Satan:

let’s say that I lose my soul to save innocent lives. Then so be it.”

This is the *real* heart of the matter. When all is said and done, the coward is saying, quite nakedly, that he will commit a sin for which God would be perfectly right to damn him to the everlasting fires of hell–and pridefully congratulating himself for it.

I can’t add much of significance to this, except to suggest that to me it reveals something of a false activism, a sort of neo-pelagianism. It’s an easy trap to fall into. There is so much wrong with the world, so much mess nobody’s bothered to call the maid about–I guess I’ll have to clean it up myself. The implication is that there is no room for patience. The implication is that there is no place for trust in the agency of God. The implication is that God has empowered me to be a Messiah, and even if it means going beyond what I can do well (like caring for my own soul’s good health) I will do it, because nobody else, including God, seems to care.

Do I have it about right?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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4 Responses to Engaging the Torturous

  1. Yes, I believe you have it correct which the “right” does not, in my could-probably-be-more-humble opinion.

  2. crystal says:

    I agree with you, Todd.

    What’s odd about that quote – “let’s say that I lose my soul to save innocent lives. Then so be it.” – is that it could also express the feelings of someone like Deidrich Bonhoffer. I think what he did was wrong too (conspiring to kill Hitler) but I wonder if most people see that the same way. Maybe I’m just off on some weird tangent :)

  3. John Donaghy says:

    What is appalling and sad is that a EWTN featured Marc Thiessen basically supporting torture. Read the Commonweal blog http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=6843 for more information and links.

  4. Zippy says:

    I’ve said before that a lot of the “ticking time bomb” hypothetical pish-posh reflects a lack of belief in Providence. Perhaps we are saying the same thing, Todd.

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