Friday, February 26, 2010

I Just Don't See What's So Implausible About This.

In his new book about how the wonderful CIA is "keeping us safe" from terrorism, Marc A. Thiessen makes the claim that waterboarding is supported by the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Catholic intellectuals from all over the political spectrum are recoiling in horror, because not one of them agrees with him.

Of course Thiessen's right, if you go back to the Malleus Maleficarum.


D. said...

Well, the Malleus Maleficarum tarnished (to put it mildly) the reputation of the Catholic Church for centuries. Perhaps this contemptible prat wishes to repeat the experience.

However, it is not sound doctrine.

Also, if you want to see what kind of jello Mr. Thiessen is, check out Scott Horton's column in Harper's.

Paul Muller said...

Sheesh. Thiessen is making excuses for those in power whose actions are driven by fear.

The only useful thing torture can provide is getting someone to confess whatever it is that you want him to admit. And then you can convict him of his "crime" by his own confession. If the tortured victim is guilty, he will ever after be the innocent martyr because his confession was forced - if innocent, then the actual guilty party escapes.

The chances of obtaining actionable intellegence under torture are practically zero.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I'm not sure it was the Malleus that tarnished the Church's reputation so much as the actions of the Inquisition.

I hope no one thinks I support the CIA, torture, or Marc Thiessen, but then again, maybe my posting doesn't read like pure sarcasm to everybody.

Osbert Parsley said...

The comparison is apt, since both the Malleus and Thiessen's book clearly contravene the Catholic Church's official doctrine. The historical record shows that Catholic clergy were keen to suppress the witch hunts, and that the worst incidents occurred in far-flung rural areas, where Church authority was most tenuous. Say what you like about the Inquisition, but without its authority there would have been no-one to condemn the witch hunts, or reprehensible treatises like the Malleus Maleficarum.

Joe Barron said...

Oh, thank God the Inquisition was there to protect the witches. If only someone would have helped the Jews.

Thye great thing about theology, of course, is that it's so malleable. Words change meaning overnight, depending on the intellectual fashions of the day. One day, the church was saying unbaptized babies were born to misery and perdition. The next, it was saying that "misery and perdition" really meant a state of "perfect natural happiness," ie., limbo(Kaufmann, Faith of a Heretic, 114-15). Theology is a game of words, which can be turned inside out like a glove, and it can justify just about anything. Waterboarding is out, of course, but hell still seems to be in the cards.

Osbert Parsley said...

I'm sorry - perhaps my comment was unclear. I certainly did not mean to suggest that the actions of the Inquisition were uniformly admirable - no reasonable person would do that. I merely meant to clarify a point of fact about a complex period in history.

The historical truth is that the Roman Catholic Church is the single most important and lasting institution in Western history. We have the right to whatever opinions about that Church we please, but we need to inform ourselves about its actual history and doctrine before we can intelligently comment on European history. One-sided, ahistorical criticisms of the Church, however cathartic, reveal nothing so much as a lack of imagination.

Joe Barron said...

My history is pretty good, thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

I have to go with Joe here on the merits.