December 17, 2014

Dear Friends and Family of the Diocese of Eau Claire,

In my last writing I wrote about the book and film, Unbroken. I had assumed that Angelina Jolie imposed her lack of faith on Louis Zamperini’s story. The piece of Zamperini’s conversion at a Billy Graham Crusade is supposedly missing from the movie that Jolie produced. There is a phrase appropriate to my last writing. The word assume is actually three words. Assume makes an ass out of you and me. While this may not apply to you the reader, it does in this instance apply to me. Tonight I learned Jolie actually wanted Zamperini’s Christian faith to be an important part of the film. It was Zamperini who wanted it subdued. His reasoning was that people of all walks of life might connect with his story. By this subtle approach they may find Christianity in their own way. My objection to the film was that I assumed Jolie was coopting Zamperini’s story. Instead the opposite was the case. I was wrong and now apologize.

There is another topic in this film that demands attention. It is the matter of torture. Zamperini experienced horrific torture in a Japanese Prisoner of War Camp. Last week the U.S. Central Intelligence Committee released a report about that it tortured captured Islamic terrorists. The CIA justified torture to obtain information. Congress divided mostly along party lines. Most Democrats favored release of the report while Republicans objected to making the report public. One Republican Senator, John McCain, spoke openly against torture. His voice is significant in that he probably is the only member of Congress to be tortured, having survived five years in a Vietnamese Prisoner of War Camp.

McCain emphasizes that torture does psychological damage to both victims and perpetrators. He also maintains the information received from torture is often unreliable because it is given under duress. I believe the degradation of other people at any level is an affront to God. We as human beings are created in God’s image. When we fail to respect the humanity of others we harm our own relationship with the Creator. While war is sometimes necessary, torture doesn’t belong as part of it. With my love and best wishes, I remain,

Your brother in Christ,