The Monster at Abu Ghraib

May 12, 2004

[Cross with the words 'kyrie eleison']My heart is heavy, the heaviest it’s been in a year. Whatever you may think about Donald Rumsfeld, you have to agree with his statement that reading about the abuses in Abu Ghraib does not have the same impact as seeing the photos. Time magazine asks, “Are those charged with abuse a few bad apples or are they just like the rest of us?

You don’t hear much these days about the doctrine of total depravity — that people are, at their core, innately evil. Instead, the focus is on finding “the good in everyone.” Those with the either-or thinking of modernity can argue about which teaching is correct. But for postmoderns who can accept both-and, can’t both be true? Leonard Sweet opens his talks with the greeting, “Good morning, saints. Good morning, sinners.”

In a commentary on a Babylon 5 episode we watched last night, Joe Straczynski said that one of his rules of writing is, “The monster never sees the monster in the mirror.” Abu Ghraib demonstrates that we are the monster, the world needs a savior, and that savior isn’t the U.S. As U2 sings:

They say that what you mock
Will surely overtake you
And you become a monster
So the monster will not break you

Which leads to the chorus of the song:

Jesus can you take the time
To throw a drowning man a line
Peace on Earth

++ Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. ++

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

13 responses to The Monster at Abu Ghraib

  1. I happened to wander over to bloggedy blog and found that Andrew Careaga just posted an entry entitled “Original sin and Abu Ghraib”.
    And Bene Diction offers a startling question.

  2. I just wanted to let you know I’ve linked this at the blog for the U2 “Get Up Off Your Knees” book, along with a post on the same topic that also uses “Peace on Earth” by one of our contributors.

  3. “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” Walt Kelly, 1970

  4. My heart is heavy over this as well…ugh.

  5. I watched The Passion yesterday for the 2nd time (first time here in Japan – it just came out here) and the Iraqi prisoner’s treatment was juxtaposed (in my mind) with the way the Roman soldiers treated Jesus; laughing, mocking, beating, torturing. If, as Isaiah says, “By his stripes we are healed” and if that is the stripes of blood from His beating – doesn’t that mean that the beating (and not only the cruxifiction) was part of God’s plan from the beginning? So, I was asking God why that is…I don’t know the whole answer, but I think part of it must lie in showing the depravity of man – how unjust the death of Christ was (at the same moment, Just in God’s eyes). It was no sanitary execution of the justice system (as the thieves’ death seemed to be) Yes, we humans, even us Christians, have evil in us and ability to do the same things, unless we are restrained. God, give us a heart of flesh in exchange for our hearts of stone!

  6. Thinking the same thing today, Jon…

  7. peace

    Heaven on Earth, we need it now I’m sick of all of this hanging around Sick of sorrow, sick of

  8. Hey Jon – Here’s an admittedly random and probably sleep-deprivation-affected free association:
    No Foreign Oil. Think bio-diesel. 100% American-grown fuel. Fewer emissions. More American jobs.
    To whoever this makes sense, be brave and peruse Thomas L. Friedman’s 5-13-04 column, “Dancing Alone”. (Excerpt: “Why didn’t the administration ever use 9/11 as a spur to launch a Manhattan project for energy independence and conservation, so we could break out of our addiction to crude oil, slowly disengage from this region and speak truth to fundamentalist regimes, such as Saudi Arabia? [Addicts never tell the truth to their pushers.] Because that might have required a gas tax or a confrontation with the administration’s oil moneymen.”)

  9. And all this began because of a deceptive rationale. :*( Times like these make me almost hopeless. What’s frightening is this world is dying..
    Even as it had been dead from the beginning.

  10. “I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.” — Romans 7:24-25, The Message

  11. Powerful post, Jon! I’m going to link it to a couple of places.
    *Chanting with you* ++Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison.++

  12. U2, Babylon 5 & Iraq

    Jon Reid’s posted a thoughtful piece about Iraqi prisoners and the monster lurking inside each of us over at blog one another: The Monster at Abu Ghraib. Definitely ++ Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. ++…