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The Death of Osama bin Laden


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Ryan H. wrote:

: It's not the most pleasant idea, but I don't find it abhorrent.

Um, well, I don't find it abhorrent either.

: There are more difficult Biblical passages to wrestle with than that one.

Yeah, and a lot of THOSE passages ALSO promise rewards and punishments in this life, too. But then there are all the passages that say shit just happens and we shouldn't go around pinning the blame for it on anybody (the Book of Job, the bit in Luke about the tower that fell and crushed some people, etc.). Suffice it to say that my own sensibilities are more in tune with the latter set of passages.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Andy, I know you don't want to go around and around on a lot of this, but I can't help but think that using Jesus' more pacific utterances to criticize government actions (as opposed to individual actions) renders Jesus remarks incoherent. How does a nation turn the other cheek (and how many turns and when does one say "enough"), give its cloak too? I accept that individuals and fellowships can eschew violence and/or retaliation full stop. I cannot see how one must expect a government, who's only real mandate is to protect its citizens ( and a forward defense is infinitely more succesful than a static defense) and to keep the peace among its citizens at bottom can be expected to conform to individual mandates without serious contortions and serious vulnerability to its real purpose. It would seem to me that it was for the individuals in Seal Team Six and their commanders to wrestle with this, not the administration.

Well, there's a reason why most Christians who adhere to the theological traditions I described opt out of government service (or at the very least restrict their government service to non-combatant roles). I really don't want to get into a theological debate here. I realize that most Christians don't hold to the views I'm espousing. But that doesn't mean they haven't been thought through, or that they don't have the weight of history and theological tradition and scholarship behind them.

You're correct, Rich, that there's an inherent contradiction between those theological views and the way governments operate. Yep, that's sure enough true.

On a human level, I get it. I am not the person I would like to be, or the person I'm called to be. I understand the desire to get even, to win. On a governmental level I get it, too. Governments do what they do, and the U.S. government acted in a predictable and understandable way. But these actions are always carried out by individuals, every time, and I simply can't reconcile those actions with how individuals are clearly taught by Jesus to respond to their enemies. I can't remotely understand how individuals who identify themselves as Christians could respond that way in good conscience, although I'm aware that they do. But it's all immeasurably sad, an acquiescence to the fallen world, and I'm idealistic and stupid enough to believe that it doesn't have to be that way. I'd settle for a simple sober acknowledgement that people did what they thought they had to do. It's the gloating and celebration that I find mind-bogglingly incomprehensible. I remain a firm believer in the separation of Church and hate.

Edited by Andy Whitman
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William Saletan on how the narrative keeps changing. It changed some more after he posted this, with a new AP story citing unnamed "officials" claiming that OBL was shot because he appeared to be reaching for a weapon. And here's a Washington Post piece discussing OBL's goal of provoking the United States to bankrupt itself.

Let's Carl the whole thing Orff!

Do you know the deep dark secret of the avatars?

It's big. It's fat. It's Greek.

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Ryan H. wrote:

: It's not the most pleasant idea, but I don't find it abhorrent.

Um, well, I don't find it abhorrent either.

If only in degree, I must have misunderstood what you meant by being unable to quote it in good conscience.

Yeah, and a lot of THOSE passages ALSO promise rewards and punishments in this life, too. But then there are all the passages that say shit just happens and we shouldn't go around pinning the blame for it on anybody (the Book of Job, the bit in Luke about the tower that fell and crushed some people, etc.). Suffice it to say that my own sensibilities are more in tune with the latter set of passages.

I don't know if I lean more toward one point of view or the other.

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But these actions are always carried out by individuals, every time, and I simply can't reconcile those actions with how individuals are clearly taught by Jesus to respond to their enemies.

It may have something to do with distinguishing roles and understanding that to take up a government position is to take on a mantle given to you by the broader society with its own responsibilities and obligations, and that to operate in that role is to operate differently than you would as just another individual. Of course that kind of POV has its own difficulties, but it's not unreasonable.

Anyway, regarding this discussion, I find John F. Hobbins' theses about war and its Biblical presentation to be interesting:

(1) Violent and non-violent responses to violence are held up as models of faithfulness in the Bible.

(2) For the sake of a third party, or in the common interest, the use of violence is commanded in the Bible.

(3) We cannot live responsibly in our era without coming to grips with the problem of war. This fact makes the Hebrew Bible more relevant, not less, to the tasks which hang over us.

(4) It pleases God, to judge from the biblical narrative, for the needs of just one person to trump the logic of war.

(5) The state is expected to be a servant of God, but the Bible is critical of all instances of human authority. Varieties of anarchism grace its pages in more than one place.

(6) Defeat in war, not victory, is the turning point in the history of Israel which leads to renewal.

(7) The Bible knows full well that the one who lives by the sword will perish by the sword.

(8) Peace is not something that can be wished into existence. There is a time for peace, but there is also a time for war.

(9) Peace is God’s ultimate will. It is not only an end. It is a means to an end.

(10) Peace is inseparable from justice, truth, and reconciliation. Peace in the absence of the others is meaningless.

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(10) Peace is inseparable from justice, truth, and reconciliation. Peace in the absence of the others is meaningless.

I like 'em all, but #10. So obvious and elemental, I can't believe I hadn't thought of that.

"During the contest trial, the Coleman team presented evidence of a further 6500 absentees that it felt deserved to be included under the process that had produced the prior 933 [submitted by Franken, rk]. The three judges finally defined what constituted a 'legal' absentee ballot. Countable ballots, for instance, had to contain the signature of the voter, complete registration information, and proper witness credentials.

But the panel only applied the standards going forward, severely reducing the universe of additional basentees the Coleman team could hope to have included. In the end, the three judges allowed about 350 additional absentees to be counted. The panel also did nothing about the hundreds, possibly thousands, of absentees that have already been legally included, yet are now 'illegal' according to the panel's own ex-post definition."

The Wall Street Journal editorial, April 18, 2009 concerning the Franken Coleman decision in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race of 2008.

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Ryan H. wrote:

: If only in degree, I must have misunderstood what you meant by being unable to quote it in good conscience.

I just mean I don't really believe what that particular passage says, so I wouldn't go throwing that particular passage around.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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But these actions are always carried out by individuals, every time, and I simply can't reconcile those actions with how individuals are clearly taught by Jesus to respond to their enemies.

It may have something to do with distinguishing roles and understanding that to take up a government position is to take on a mantle given to you by the broader society with its own responsibilities and obligations, and that to operate in that role is to operate differently than you would as just another individual. Of course that kind of POV has its own difficulties, but it's not unreasonable.

Well, that's the sticking point, Ryan. This is the standard Just War response. I've encountered it many times. And I've never been able to surmount the notion that it essentially calls Christians to lead double lives; not merely acting differently in their different roles, but acting antithetically within those roles. In Situation A, as an individual Christian in your "private" life (whatever that might be), love your enemies and bless those who curse you. In Situation B, as an individual Christian government official or representative of that government, shoot 'em in the head.

The early Church, for what it's worth, could never surmount those obstacles either, and many Church fathers taught that it was unthinkable for Christians to serve in the military. And they taught this not because of the evils of the Roman Empire, but because of the inherent contradictions in the views I stated above.

We all enact different roles in our Christian lives. But nowhere else has the Church acted so schizophrenically as in its espousal of Just War theory. Obviously there are many Christians who would disagree with that statement. But as much as possible, I believe that we are called to live consistently. And that's the stumbling block for me in your argument.

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And I've never been able to surmount the notion that it essentially calls Christians to lead double lives; not merely acting differently in their different roles, but acting antithetically within those roles. In Situation A, as an individual Christian in your "private" life (whatever that might be), love your enemies and bless those who curse you. In Situation B, as an individual Christian government official or representative of that government, shoot 'em in the head.

But if we believe that government, and the function of law enforcement for the protection of the common good, is indeed important, nay, crucial for society, and that it is furthermore God-ordained, it just doesn't make sense to me to believe that Christians somehow need to be wholly separate from something that is a right and worthy purpose.

Edited by Ryan H.
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hey tenpenny, this obviously seems like a subject you feel very strongly about. I'm not trying to offend you.

You're right, of course, about waterboarding not being a secret. What I should have said, then, is that while everybody knows that waterboarding was done, it may very well be that the only thing that keeps the people who participated in it safe from war crimes prosecution, is the fact that the tape of it never got out (if you doubt this, then explain why direct orders to preserve the tape were flagrantly disobeyed). Because if they were ever presented with the visual and audio record of what actually happened in that session of torture, the public might actually believe their own "lying eyes," instead of the bland bureaucratic reassurances of the government press minders, and demand some actual accountability for a war crime. As it stands, there's been zero accountability for our torturing.

I confess that your reasoning on this topic is baffling to me. You say waterboarding is torture, but then you act like it's no big deal, because we've always frowned upon it, so why the huge controversy? It's like the fraudulent post-9/11 legal reasoning used to justify torture never happened. News flash: Torture wasn't frowned upon during a sizable chunk of the years of Bush's presidency. Then Obama came into office and (so he says) he rescinded torture as national policy. Hadn't you heard? It was in all the papers.

To date, over the last 10 years or so, it looks like we have used water-boarding on a grand total of ... 3 suspects. How we got from 3 al-Qaeda suspects to inferring the possibility that we've killed hundreds by harsh interrogation techniques is baffling. After following the debate on torture over the last 6 years or so (in both political and theological circles), it's hard to believe that there has been zero accountability for our torturing, particularly since (1) President Bush banned "torture" by executive order, (2) the proponents of our three instances of water-boarding defended the technique as not "torture" by legal definition and as compared to, oh say, Jack Bauer blowing off the kneecap of the terrorist who knows where the ticking bomb is hidden, and (3) the general consensus of most Americans seems to be that water-boarding is ineffective, because the information gained from that sort of thing has been generally proven to be useless and unreliable.

I'm asking what the big deal is because, if we indeed did locate bin Laden by information obtained by water-boarding, then that still logically doesn't prove that (1) a different interrogation technique wouldn't have been even more successful, or (2) that water-boarding isn't still a generally less reliable interrogation tactic.

If you can't see that by equivocating on our use of torture you are undermining the very thing, the very moral difference, that separates "us" and "them" - then far be it from me to be a candle to your darkness.

In the pursuit of the goal of saving lives and freedoms, I'm not willing to categorically rule out harsher interrogation under special circumstances. The moral difference still constitutes what we are fighting for. While some argued Jack Bauer was just as bad as the terrorists, in order to make that argument, one has to ignore the big picture.

Rather humorous article from Victor Davis Hanson today -

... Furor surrounded the waterboarding of Mohammed that purportedly resulted in valuable intelligence about future terrorist operations. But why was that considered immoral and illegal when we routinely act as judge, jury, and executioner of suspected terrorists through Predator drone attacks inside Pakistan? Mohammed, a confessed killer, was one of just three detainees waterboarded. In contrast, we have executed from the air well over 1,500 suspected terrorists by Predators. President Obama has ordered four times as many drone attacks in the last two years as former president Bush did in eight. Are those killings more constitutionally suspect than Bush’s treatment of the three terrorists at Guantanamo?

... First, it seems okay to assassinate a terrorist kingpin either by air attack or commando raid. But legal and moral problems arise if he is captured, detained, waterboarded, or tried in a military tribunal. A quick death seems to end almost all legal discussions and controversies.

Second, there is also no problem in assassinating a foreign dictator as long as the mission meets two criteria: We must be engaged in some sort of conventional battle with his forces, and we have to kill him through aerial bombing. For some reason, vaporization by a bomb seems to raise fewer ethical issues than execution by a sniper’s bullet ...

Edited by Persiflage
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... and I simply can't reconcile those actions with how individuals are clearly taught by Jesus to respond to their enemies. I can't remotely understand how individuals who identify themselves as Christians could respond that way in good conscience, although I'm aware that they do.

How? Sort of like this.

But nowhere else has the Church acted so schizophrenically as in its espousal of Just War theory. Obviously there are many Christians who would disagree with that statement. But as much as possible, I believe that we are called to live consistently. And that's the stumbling block for me in your argument.

I think what you're calling schizophrenia is the belief of Christians that it is both consistent and praiseworthy to work at a job that uses force, even lethal force, in order to protect the weak & innocent, the poor & needy, and women & children from the murderous designs of evil.

if we believe that government, and the function of law enforcement and protection of the common good, is indeed and important, nay, crucial role for society, and something that is God-ordained

That's a big IF.

You could condense it, however, to simply "IF we believe Romans 13 ..."

Edited by Persiflage
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Andy Whitman wrote:

: The early Church, for what it's worth, could never surmount those obstacles either, and many Church fathers taught that it was unthinkable for Christians to serve in the military.

Some did, yes. But some did not. There were, in fact, quite a few Christians in the Roman army long BEFORE the time of Constantine (to say nothing of Just War theory, which came even later), some of whom were martyred when their faith was discovered, and whose martyrdom eventually led to their canonization. Indeed, the first Gentile convert ever was Cornelius, a Roman officer, and there is no indication anywhere (in the scriptures, at least) that he ever had to abandon his military calling in order to remain a true Christian.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Why wasn't Osama bin Laden armed at the time of his death?

On Tuesday, one of Steve Sailer's readers suggested it was because Osama bin Laden was in a prison, rather than a hideout.

And now, Michael Moore is also putting forth the theory that bin Laden was under house arrest at the time of his execution by Navy SEALs.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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How? Sort of like this.

It's touching and all that, but I don't think the concerns of conscientious objectors can be fully answered by painting them as uneducated bumpkins won over by questionable prooftexting.

I'd be disappointed in Michael Moore if he didn't come up with a conspiracy theory. The administration hasn't exactly done itself any favors with the way it keeps changing the story.

Let's Carl the whole thing Orff!

Do you know the deep dark secret of the avatars?

It's big. It's fat. It's Greek.

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The administration hasn't exactly done itself any favors with the way it keeps changing the story.
Complicating things even further are the eye-raising details that are emerging around these morphing accounts-- the live CIA feed of the Special Forces attack was blacked out during the most vital 25 minutes of the raid, OBL's body was very quickly dumped into the depths of the ocean, pics will NOT be released, only one person at the compound was actually armed... Shit, America.

I generally dislike Michael Moore, but I found his basic points in that interview to be pretty strong.

Edited by Greg P

"The things we enjoy are channels through which the divine glory strikes us, and those who love and delight in any good thing may yet learn to love God." --Gilbert Meilaender

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mrmando wrote:

: It's touching and all that, but I don't think the concerns of conscientious objectors can be fully answered by painting them as uneducated bumpkins won over by questionable prooftexting.

Oh, snap! :)

: The administration hasn't exactly done itself any favors with the way it keeps changing the story.

Kyle Smith ("Military Success, PR Fiasco: This seems to be the conventional wisdom already. Strange but true: the administration has tripped all over itself on a victory lap.") quotes The Daily Caller: "The core conflict is the White House's 'desire to kill bin Laden but also to have the world think we did so respectfully and politely,' said Eric Dezenhall, founder of Dezenhall Resources, a PR firm. 'I'm in the PR business, and I don't think guys like me have the alchemy to persuade the public that something is the opposite of what it is,' he said, adding, 'spin only gets you so far.'"

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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How? Sort of like this.

It's touching and all that, but I don't think the concerns of conscientious objectors can be fully answered by painting them as uneducated bumpkins won over by questionable prooftexting.

Yeah, them's a lot o' words, but they shore went down a might better when the patriotic music started tootin'.

I'm not sure that "Sergeant York" is the best educational tool for the Just War theory.

Edited by Andy Whitman
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Kyle Smith ("Military Success, PR Fiasco: This seems to be the conventional wisdom already. Strange but true: the administration has tripped all over itself on a victory lap.") quotes The Daily Caller: "The core conflict is the White House's 'desire to kill bin Laden but also to have the world think we did so respectfully and politely,' said Eric Dezenhall, founder of Dezenhall Resources, a PR firm. 'I'm in the PR business, and I don't think guys like me have the alchemy to persuade the public that something is the opposite of what it is,' he said, adding, 'spin only gets you so far.'"

Jim Treacher put it cleverly: "Obama Administration Takes Victory Lap in Clown Car"

In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."
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An aside: Every time I see this thread title, I sing it to the tune of "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."

Oh and: Is Bin Laden My Neighbor?

Edited by M. Leary

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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An aside: Every time I see this thread title, I sing it to the tune of "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."

And now every time I see it I shall hear you singing it in the voice of Bill Evans.*

----------------

*Not that I really know what Evans' voice sounds like. I didn't even know who MLeary's avatar was until I asked. I just had to make the joke, though.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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An aside: Every time I see this thread title, I sing it to the tune of "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."

The stories are told in the legends of old

of the compound they call Abbottabad.

Bin Laden was there, lost in plotting and prayer

Feeling safe and secure on his home sod.

“Osie,” said his wife, “please take care of your life,

This is no time for napping and lolling.”

But he slept through the night, unaware of his plight

When the Seals of the Navy came calling

I've got a million of 'em. I could do this all day.

Edited by Andy Whitman
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