Saturday, May 2, 2009


A recent survey concluded that the more often an American goes to church, the more likely she is going to support the torture of suspected terrorists. Well, almost. Breaking down this generalization by tradition, the report indicates that over 60% of white evangelical Protestants advocate torture, in comparison with 40% of the religiously unaffiliated and just over 30% of 'mainline' Protestant denominations. The study's undeniable limitations in terms of breadth and scope leave us with more of a suggestive gesture than any reliably 'empirical' truisms. That being said, on my view the findings point beyond a mere political impasse to some significant differences in ethical reading styles. The Hebrew Bible and New Testament (especially) are replete with calls for merciful justice. What does this report tell us about differing encounters with and interpretations of the parable of the unmerciful servant, for example (Matthew 18:23-35)? If taken seriously, what role does the story advance for humans in the acts of mercy and forgiveness (Matthew 18:35)?

I cannot help but think to Micah 6:8 - "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"

God of All,
God in All,
Minister of magnanimity,
Provider of patience,
Endower of empathy -
Please shower us with Your Mercy,
And carry us across the terrifying world-ocean.

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