An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2009-05-01 05:05
Subject: [sale] "Testaments" to Book of Dreams
Security: Public
Tags:fiction, sale, stories
Short story "Testaments" to Book of Dreams, ed. Nick Gevers, forthcoming from Subterranean Press.

Originally published at jlake.com.

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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2009-05-01 19:53 (UTC)
Subject: post in a wrong place
Saw your link and post on Dave Raine's LJ and wanted to comment to both of you, but he doesn't allow anonymous comments, and I didn't want to make a LJ account just to drop my 2 cents. (So apologies that this is posted to the wrong place. You can erase it or share it with Pastor Raines as you see fit.)

Both you and Pastor Raines are ignoring part of Christian theology that goes back at least as far as Augustine: Just War Theory. In short, a Christian person can't decide "guy X is bad, I'm going to kill him". To do so is murder, a mortal sin. BUT, governments are allowed to go to war, and though there are serious natural consequences to soldiers who do the killing (PTSD, etc), it is not a sin for soldiers to kill during war. As Martin Luther said, "Divorce and war are the concessions the Lord made to the hardness of human hearts." God doesn't like war any more than he likes divorce, but in a fallen world, both are inevitable and sometimes better than the alternative. This even squares with Jesus' own words. Jesus was asked by a Roman centurion to heal his daughter--and Jesus did. He didn't tell the Roman to "go and sin no more," (that is, to stop being a soldier) because the Roman soldier, in serving Caesar, was "rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's". It should be noted that Jesus wasn't shy about confronting sin or averse to angering people.(There are of course, completely pacifistic Christians like the Quakers, who are intellectually and theologically coherent, but such pacifists represent a tiny minority of Christians now and always have been.)

So the pastor ignores a very basic distinction that most of us--even Evangelical Christians--understand: states can morally do things that citizens can not morally do. (As a private citizen, I can't kidnap and imprison a thief in my house.) Thus, the civil disobedience analogy makes no sense.

Of course, the arguments about whether torture works, whether the mere fact that we waterboard ends up causing us more grief than it saves, and whether it was illegal are all totally separate. Even the question of if THIS war is a just war under Christian Just War theory is separate. Just pointing out that all those redneck Christians might not be as ignorant as you and your pastor friend seem to believe. I think you were both unfair--and in being eager to agree to the "ignorant Evangelical" stereotype, you're both displaying your own ignorance instead.

-Redneck Simpleton
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-05-01 20:16 (UTC)
Subject: Re: post in a wrong place
It's pretty hard for me to credit conservatives with intellectual and spiritual consistency after the last 30 years or so of my political life (Moral Majority, anyone?), but your point is well taken. I'll post a link to this over on Dave's blog.
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User: daveraines
Date: 2009-05-01 21:48 (UTC)
Subject: Re: post in a wrong place

I reread my post and I really don't think there's anything in there about ignorant evangelicals. Mainline Protestants are less likely than evangelicals to accept torture, in which, as a mainline Protestant, I do take some comfort. (My group agrees with me!) But the stunning thing is that ALL church groups surveyed are more accepting than the Unaffiliated.

Re: just war theory - as far as I know, just war theory doesn't allow torture. Or rape, another classical tactic of war. In fact, as I recall, just war theory frowns on using force on the helpless.

Re: soldiers. Your point about soldiers is true. However, John the Baptist told the soldiers who came to him to give up one of the perks of being a soldier--extortion--if they wanted to see the salvation of God. So not everything goes. - Of course Jesus was not averse to confronting sin, but he didn't do that via torture! And I always have to remind myself that mostly he confronted the good religious people, church leaders like me, scribes and elders.

Jay, sorry to hijack your thread--for a Bible discussion, no less! I wasn't aware that I locked out anonymous posters. I'll try to correct that.
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