America's Values? Who Gets To Define Them?

I’m torn — I guess I don’t understand. I’ve been in several conversations across a pretty broad range of the political spectrum, concerning torture and violence and the relationship between kingdom-of-God citizenry and kingdoms-of-this-world loyalty.

Today the President delivered the commencement address at the US Naval Academy, and he offered high praise to the Navy SEAL snipers who executed 3 pirates holding a US commercial shipping captain hostage. During the same speech, he said that the Bush-era “enhanced interrogation techniques” that may have saved the lives of thousands of Angelenos were a “straying from American values.”

I’m not arguing for or against either action at the moment – I’m trying to understand how I’m supposed to differentiate between “lethal force to save one life” and “non-lethal force to save 1000 lives.”

What do you think?

In HIS love,

nick

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About Nick Gill

orphan-poet-adoptee-soldier-prodigal-servant-husband- counselor-desperate seeker after my Father's face "I feel my body weakened by the years as people turn to gods of cruel design. Is it that they fear the pain of death, or is it that they fear the joy of life?" - Toad the Wet Sprocket

Posted on 22 May, 2009, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. There was another instance in the early weeks of Obama’s presidency that he was talking about the deplorable acts of the Bush administration right after he gave orders for a drone to shoot a missile into a house in Pakistan (who is our ally) killing several. He purportedly did this to show he wasn’t weak or afraid to use force. This attack killed multiple innocent people – http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2009125story_25-1-2009_pg1_4

    This political posturing is getting old and I feel your pain and dilemma in how to view some of these things.

    • Matt,

      Thank you for visiting, and thank you even more for not getting really frustrated with me today. I didn’t mean to flood you with comments today, but I just kept babbling.

      And I know that you are likewise wrestling with how to address (or not address) these matters in the context of your ministry and influence. I hope I remain a blessing in our conversations, and not a bore.

  2. Personally I think that politics has overshadowed all of this. What “they” did was wrong and what “we” did was right.

    Blech!

    • AMEN — it kinda makes me nuts, too.

      I’d say, though, that POWER politics has overshadowed all of this. Jesus was no stranger to politics, and neither should we be, in the sense that politics is simply how we identify and operate as socially distinct groups of people.

      The kingdom of God that Jesus inaugurated is inherently political — but its tools are self-sacrificial love and truth-telling.

  3. Nick:

    A fair point. My intitial introspection would be that one was done with oversight, according to the rules set up and approved by the elected representatives of the people. The other was deliberately kept from such scrutiny and designed to avoid it whenever possible.

    Imperfect as the people are who govern us, we still seem to get it right mroe often than not when we play by our own rules.

    • Ray! Welcome back! Hope your assignment isn’t driving you too batty. Has the Aaron Sorkin vibe rubbed off yet?

      Honestly, I wish I knew who to trust anymore. I have a soft place in my heart for Cheney, but he can be a real tool. And while I have very little regard whatsoever for Pelosi, the way she is spinning the oversight issue, it is really hard to know what’s going on out here in the tall grass.

      I do agree that we get it right more often than not; I worry though that sometimes we get too cute and dig ourselves really deep holes.

      Watch your six, bro.

      in HIS love,
      nick

      PS – I’m gonna be in DC one day (not sure which yet) the third week in June. I’d love to see you, even for a few minutes, man.

      • I share all your concerns – it’s become real easy for me to see how people get seduced by the power of this place. It actually makes me glad that I have a definitive date to leave here – keeps me humble and grounded.

        By all means, shoot me a line and let me know when you’re coming. It may be tricky since I have Daniel’s scout camp that week, but we’ll make it work.

        Great stuff on here, brother. Keep it up.

  4. I would say that lethality isn’t a critical distinction between torture and non-torture but severe pain and suffering is.

  5. The following parts of the “American Dream” are no longer in effect:
    A two-party political system
    A fair and secure voting system
    People represented in their government by the officials who “win”
    Laws that are created by the people and for the people
    A private policing system separate from the military
    Acting differently than the people we condemn
    Justice
    Liberty

    Please move along, citizens. There is nothing to see.

    It overwhelms me when I think about how much work there is to do in getting Christians to wake up to what America really is right now, and what it is headed for in the near future. Ask God to open your eyes, and be prepared for what He shows you. For you Matrix fans out there, it’s time to swallow the red pill.

    Hebrews 12:27 says
    The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

    Sounds like end times stuff, but God rarely wastes a prophecy on one event (very cool of Him, by the way.) There are periods where things are shaken, and then there is a final shaking. We are in a time where the Lord is cleaning His bride for the great day, waking her, and returning her sobriety to her. The church is definitely being shaken, as well as this country. Everything in each one of them that can be shaken will be.

    Don’t get caught up in trying to figure out what the bi-factional party is going to do next. Ask God what He’s doing with His kingdom, and what you should do next. It is His country you are a citizen of, for you have been bought with a price.

    You do not have to differentiate anything. The men who lived by the sword died by it, just as the Lord promised (Matt 26:52).

    Those who broke the field manual rules and used torture have broken the law: http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/library/policy/army/fm/fm34-52/chapter1.htm. Those who authorized it and continue to do so are breaking laws and treaties as well. They will reap what they sow. If you look at his entire life, Cheney has to be the scariest man America has ever had in power.

    (Torture has never provided useful information to any country. It has protected no one. It does, in fact, make things worse: http://www.boingboing.net/2008/03/10/fbi-interrogator-tor.html)

    If you value freedom, find out about who took it and why so that you know how to pray. Pray harder if you still think you are free.

    An introduction on what is afoot can be found in an Iraq War veteran named Adam Kokesh. Regardless if you agree with him or not listen to the passion he has for what he says and ask yourself what events would cause a soldier to say these things: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuBv6WhejGQ&feature=related

    Make this memorial day an educational one. Do not get caught up in trying to decide about the morality of decisions made by evil men, no matter how nobly they spin their fallen-ness.

  6. Fallen world.
    Fallen nation.
    Fallen church.

    It would all be conqueringly depressing if not for:

    Loving God.
    Perfect Savior.
    Comforting Spirit.

  7. Andrew J. Bacevich has written some great material regarding this stuff.

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