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Art Carney's... Nightmare?, an unfinished entry

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{ Now playing: The Swirling Eddies, "Art Carney's Dream"; Muse, "Space Dementia"
Recent movies: Oedipus Rex****; Prime Suspect 2****;
Recent books: Isaiah; Revelation; Luther, Comm. on Genesis 6-14; Rogers, War Cruel and Sharp: English Strategy under Edward III, 1327-1360; Brunner, Dogmatics Vol. III; Brunner, Dogmatics Vol. II;

[note: title thieved shamelessly from "Art Carney's Dream", a fantastic song by the Swirling Eddies, from the fantastic album Zoom Daddy]

Look at the photo from Abu Ghraib: Lynnie England and some poor sonuvagun on a leash, or a stack of 'em.

Pop quiz: Who in those photos does God love?

Ah, trick question, right? God loves everybody, ergo etc.

Alright, so who in the photo is God for?

No-brainer, right? God is for good, justice, light, ergo, it's not the torturer. End of story.

Bzzzt! Wrong. Dead wrong.

In Jesus, God is for sinners. Not the righteous, but sinners. The saying is well-known, but its meaning is not.

Dead wrong -- and therefore dead -- applies to each one in the picture, and behind the camera, and turning a blind eye.

Tricky question now, then: Who in the photo represents the Gospel?

(Take your time, yes, it's a trick question.)

The answer is: Lynnie England, smirking tormentor.

Yes, the one holding the leash, grinning at the humiliation of the powerless. Without a moral leg to stand on, tarnishing the honor of sworn oaths, and all. Betraying the trust of millions and trashing the lives of those Iraqis.

She represents the Gospel because she represents the ungodly for whom Jesus died. It is for her, for every raving apologist, for every rapist sumb*tch there, for the dishonorable, the wilfully ignorant, the calculatingly shiftless, the ones turning their heads or averting their eyes, those with the wires and hoods, the indifferent, the brutal monsters and the subtle ones, that God says: I love you.

Wait! Isn't whatever is done to the least of these, to the hungry and prisoners, done to Jesus, according to Matthew? Aren't the prisoners, bound before their captors and tormented, practically the image of Christ at the hands of Roman law?

Yes. There's no question of that.

So why aren't the victims the best image of Jesus here?

Because of what the cross and empty tomb really mean: God makes Jesus to be sin -- as vile as Lynnie England and her accomplices' -- and makes Lynnie England to be the righteousness of God, by putting Jesus to death for the sins of {Abu Ghraib + the world}, and resurrecting him for the justification (vindication) of Lynnie England.

And only because he loves her. As he loves me. Knowing how far I'm not from her...

If you, just as Lynnie England, can grasp that the death of the good, just, innocent (Jesus) is out of your own urge to torment, gloat, humiliate (sin), and that if you (as she) can grasp that trusting Jesus' death and life out of death is the whole way to be forgiven, to learn to forgive, to come alive again from sin+death, to grasp the reconciliation of all things, then you will also know that God sees you as just and innocent as Jesus the Victim.

The way I see her face is how God saw Jesus at the cross: despised, dishonored, dead. And I know that God sees her as he does Jesus: loved, reconciled, alive.

A terrible pride tempts us: To despise God's vision, and pry our own damnation from his hands, and clutch it closely to us, gripping it like a leash.

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