Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Torture and Eucharist; William T. Cavanaugh

This is a fantastic article, and one which you must read. Thanks to P e r ∙ C r u c e m ∙ a d ∙ L u c e m who posted a link and to theotherjournal who posted the article here. Particular thanks of course to Cavanaugh who wrote it.

What follows are a few of my favorite quotes from the article but I suggest you do read the whole thing:

"The whole Global War on Terror in which many nations participate depends on this type of forgetfulness. Consider what it means to be fighting a war on “terror.” Terrorism is not really an “ism”; it is not an ideology, but a tactic. If we are fighting a war on terror, then there is no need to consider the ideas, the aspirations, the historical grievances of the people who oppose us. We are simply fighting “terrorists”, people who believe in nothing, other than the blowing up of innocent civilians. History is erased. We have no need of examining, for example, the U.S. overthrow of a parliamentary government in Iran and the installation of the Shah’s brutal regime of torture with full U.S. support. Muslim fundamentalism is simply the irrational source of terror. The Global War on Terror is thus inherently amnesiac. When the enemy is imagined as crazy people who believe in nothing more noble than blowing up innocent people, there is no need to examine one’s own historical sins."

"The sacrifice of Christ overcomes the distinction between friend and enemy. We are all enemies of God, and we have been made friends of God through the sacrifice of Christ. As Paul says in his letter to the Romans, “God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us… For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life” (Rom. 5:8, 10)."

"We were present at the cross; we tortured Jesus to death, and we continue to do so. We must be freed from thinking that the only obstacle to peace are the crazy fanatics who mean to do harm to us innocents. We must seek the truth about why they hate us, and we must cease telling ourselves reassuring lies, such as “They hate our freedoms.” In the Eucharist we call to mind our sins and we remember how Christ made us God’s friends despite our best efforts to remain enemies."

"In this reality of shared pain, we see the distance between friend and enemy overcome. For the sharing of pain goes beyond a sharing with other members of the Church. If the Church is the Body of Christ, the sacrament and sacrifice for the world, then we are to be broken and given away as food for others. The Church is, as Paul says, to “make up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” (Col. 1:24), by suffering together with the victims of violence. If it is the case that the Eucharist makes the Body of Christ, then the Church does not simply commemorate God’s “no” to violence, but embodies God’s answer to violence in the world. We ourselves prefer to absorb the violence of the world rather than to perpetrate violence."

"The world did not change on 9/11; the world changed on 12/25. When the Word of God became incarnate in human history, when he was tortured to death by the powers of this world, and when he rose to give us new life—it was then that everything changed. Christ made friends of us who are enemies of God, and He thus made us capable of loving our enemies as ourselves."

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