Revenge, Blood, and the Victimization of Victims

One compelling theology of the Cross is that God in Christ interrupts the machine of blood-for-blood justice by refusing to retaliate. God in Christ suffers, thereby laying legitimate claim to revenge– and then freely chooses to forgive: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” In affirming the divinity of Jesus, Christianity affirms non-violence and redemptive suffering  as being of God’s essence. It follows, then, that to practice Christianity is to practice mercy and forgiveness– in short, to practice ways of being in the world that interrupt the machine of blood-for-blood justice. This can be done in international diplomacy, at New England town meetings, and at home over the dinner table. Wherever people are in relationships, there will be pain and the desire to settle scores.

Neither the security apparatus of the United States, nor Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, will act as Christ did on the Cross. Blood for blood is the way of the world– has been, always will be. Meanwhile, faithful and courageous followers of Jesus will continue to witness to another way– God’s way– and give bodily expression to the possibilities for reconciliation and new life: a life that is stronger than death.

Here is Al Jazeera’s report on Al-Qaeda’s desire for revenge:

Al-Qaeda has confirmed the death of its leader, Osama bin Laden, and said in an online posting that it would continue to launch attacks on the West. The group said it would not deviate from the path of armed struggle and that bin Laden’s blood “is more precious to us and to every Muslim than to be wasted in vain.”

The statement was released on forums sympathetic to al-Qaeda and translated by the SITE monitoring service on Friday. “It [bin Laden’s blood] will remain, with permission from Allah the Almighty, a curse that chases the Americans and their agents, and goes after them inside and outside their countries,” al-Qaeda said.

The message called upon Pakistan, where bin Laden was discovered, to “rise up and revolt to cleanse this shame that has been attached to them… and to clean their country from the filth of the Americans who spread corruption in it.”

via Al-Qaeda vows revenge for bin Laden death – Central & South Asia – Al Jazeera English.

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