Repent, ye sinners, repent

Tortura del agua 

Professor of theological ethics and director of the Martin Marty Center at U. Chicago’s divinity school, William Schweiker provides more historical background on the practice of waterboarding:

In the Inquisition, the practice was not drowning as such, but the threat of drowning, and the symbolic threat of baptism. The tortura del agua or toca entailed forcing the victim to ingest water poured into a cloth stuffed into the mouth in order to give the impression of drowning. Because of the wide symbolic meaning of “water” in the Christian and Jewish traditions (creation, the great flood, the parting of the Red Sea in the Exodus and drowning of the Egyptians (!), Christ’s walking on the water, and, centrally for Christians, baptism as a symbolic death that gives life), the practice takes on profound religious significance. Torture has many forms, but torture by water as it arose in the Roman Catholic and Protestant reformations seemingly drew some of its power and inspiration from theological convictions about repentance and salvation.

Schweiker’s column is worth reading in full, as he explores the unverbalized but plausible religious implications of the use of waterboarding by the U.S. government.

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4 Comments

Filed under Foreign Affairs, History

4 responses to “Repent, ye sinners, repent

  1. 2 Better for him to have had a mill-stone tied about his neck, and to be cast into the sea, than to have hurt the conscience of one of these little ones.

  2. 6 And if anyone hurts the conscience of one of these little ones, that believe in me, he had better have been drowned in the depths of the sea, with a mill-stone hung about his neck.

  3. DONALD TRUMP: “I LOVE THE BIBLE”
    41 And if anyone hurts the conscience of one of these little ones, that believe in me, he had better have been cast into the sea, with a millstone about his neck.

  4. Donald Trump: Torture ‘absolutely works’, says US President in interview with ABC News: Thursday morning briefing
    27 But as for those enemies of mine, who refused to have me for their king, bring them here and kill them in my presence

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