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Forum Post: "The Drone and the Cross - a Good Friday Meditation", by Brian Terrell.

Posted 9 years ago on April 5, 2012, 11:04 p.m. EST by shadz66 (19985)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

The Drone and the Cross - a Good Friday Meditation.

by Brian Terrell.

April 05, 2012 --- Were Jesus to preach today as he preached in Jerusalem two millennia ago, instead of a cross of wood the instrument of his passion might be a Hellfire missile fired from a Predator drone.

Over Holy Week, the days before celebrating the resurrection of Jesus on Easter, Christians are called to meditate on Jesus' last days. On Good Friday, in churches and often in city streets, it is customary to retrace the "Way of the Cross," symbolically following Jesus from his trial before the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate to his torture, crucifixion, death and burial. For American Christians in Holy Week, 2012, news headlines of wars in far-away places must not be seen as distractions from our meditations and liturgical observances but rather as a necessary means to realize the implications of Christ's passion for us here and now.

The Roman Empire employed crucifixion as its preferred method of executing suspects deemed threatening to its imperial power and to the "Pax Romana" it imposed on the known world. The history of empires is banal and predictable even in its cruelty. The United States is more clearly than ever the successor of this imperial tradition. Empire will always be on the technological cutting edge, from bronze swords to nuclear missiles, with each advance extending the reach and the catastrophic potential of successive imperial powers, but the history of empires is really one single tragic story told over and over again with incidental variations.

Today those deemed threats to the U.S. Empire and its "Pax Americana" are increasingly targeted by Predator and Reaper drones armed with missiles and bombs. Just as Rome considered Jesus a "high value target" for execution, it is unlikely that today's world empire would view Jesus' life and teaching with any less suspicion. Were Jesus to preach today as he preached in Jerusalem two millennia ago, instead of a cross of wood the instrument of his passion might be a hellfire missile fired from a predator drone.

While the revolution Jesus preached was nonviolent, this did not matter to Rome and such distinctions are equally lost on the U.S. Empire, whose military, Homeland Security and FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force are at least as zealous in persecuting unarmed advocates for economic and political justice as they are in pursuing terrorists. Jesus called for a jubilee abolition of debt, for redistribution of wealth and for freedom to those in prison. His nonviolent stance did not keep him from engaging in dialogue with the Zealots, who advocated violent revolution. This would be all the evidence the U.S. Empire needs to detain an "enemy combatant" indefinitely at Guantanamo or indeed, to put him on a CIA hit list.

Mouthpieces for the present empire defend assassination by drone citing the fact that arresting some suspected threats would be difficult to impossible- they travel the desolate reaches of the empire, passing in and out of porous borders. When they do enter populated areas, they are surrounded by crowds of supporters, which translates in U.S. parlance as despicably using civilians as human shields.

The military and law enforcement authorities of Rome and its colonial client states were likewise frustrated in their attempts to track and arrest Jesus. When things got hot in Judea, Jesus and his disciples were known to slip out of the Roman Province of Judea into Herod's Tetrarchy of Galilee and from there, hop a boat to the jurisdiction of the Decapolis. The mightiest military force on the planet in the year 33 of the current era could not arrest Jesus in Jerusalem "for fear of the crowds," the Gospels tell us.

In order to bring him to "justice," Rome needed to recruit and bribe one of Jesus' inner circle for inside information and then wait to find him alone in a dark garden. That empire required a sham trial before their governor could sentence Jesus to die. Today's mightiest empire uses unmanned drones to find and kill threats to its power with no trial and from long distances. Victims are named by the military or the CIA on evidence that is kept secret from any court. Rather than being hounded by spies and dragged to a cross by mercenary boots on the ground, threats to the U.S. Empire are now hunted by drones high in the sky, scanning the cities and the wilderness, sending high-resolution video feed to their "pilots" thousands of miles away in Nevada, California or New York and it is from that safe distance that the trigger is pulled to launch the fatal missile.

While drones are touted as weapons of precision, their Hellfire missiles and 500 pound bombs are not surgical instruments. Weddings and funerals, when attended by "high value targets," are fair game and hundreds of celebrants and mourners have been killed by drone strikes on these events in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Villages and urban neighborhoods where such "targets" are suspected to be residing or visiting are devastated along with their inhabitants. War is hell, it is admitted in moments of candor, and an empire cannot allow itself to be deterred by fear of "collateral damage" from pursuing its objectives.

With the flexibility that drones offer the present empire, Rome would not have needed to wait for Jesus to surface in Jerusalem at Passover, but could have killed him at its leisure along with anyone incidentally in his vicinity. If they had drones, the Romans might have taken out Jesus at Cana along with the other wedding guests. A hellfire missile might have found him welcoming the children or at the funeral of his friend, Lazarus. The hit might have come as a 500 pound bomb dropped on the upper room, annihilating all at the last supper.

U.S. drones, it is reported, hover over the aftermath of an attack and target rescue workers and those who attempt to give the dead dignified burial. Had Rome the technical capability and lack of compunction of the U.S., Joseph of Arimathaea might have paid with his life for his work of mercy, laying the tortured corpse of Jesus in his own tomb. Mary and the women who later brought ointments to bathe and anoint Jesus' body might never had made it to the tomb; or they might have been burned beyond recognition themselves before they could deliver the good news that the tomb was empty.

Of course this meditation is the result of wild and perhaps irresponsible speculation. I wonder, though, if it is so far off as it seems even to me. More than this I wonder what it means for me as a privileged citizen of an empire, to venerate the holy cross and to worship the tortured messiah who died on it while my government unleashes hellish droves of machines into the sky to spy and to torture and kill in my name.


sic transit gloria mundi ...


Brian Terrell lives in Maloy, Iowa and is a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. He spent Good Fridays of 2009 and 2011 in jails in Nevada and New York after protesting at U.S. Air Force drone operation centers.

[This article is copied under "Fair Use" from : http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30999.htm .]



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[-] 3 points by pewestlake (947) from Brooklyn, NY 9 years ago

Long before Eisenhower issued his now-famous warning about the military-industrial complex, Abraham Lincoln saw the power of private enterprise unleashed during the civil war and said:

"We may congratulate ourselves that this cruel war is nearing its end. It has cost a vast amount of treasure and blood. . . . It has indeed been a trying hour for the Republic; but I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless."

Somehow, some way, endless war profiteering must be abolished for all time.

[-] 4 points by shadz66 (19985) 9 years ago

Thanx for your excellent and timely comment, further to which I append Eisenhower's own salutary valedictory speech referencing "The Military-Industrial Complex", from just over 50 years ago :

caveat : bellum se ipsum alet ...


[-] 2 points by 1sealyon (434) 9 years ago

It is interesting that only time in his entire life that Jesus became violent was when he drove the money lenders from the temple. He actually used a weapon (the scourge). Jesus embraced lepers, soldiers, and tax collectors but could not restrain himself when it came to Wall Street Bankers.

[-] 2 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 9 years ago

Says a lot does it not?

[-] 2 points by 1sealyon (434) 9 years ago

It does, and until yesterday I never heard anyone point out that part of scripture.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 9 years ago

Look into what he thought of the Pharacies.

[-] 1 points by 1sealyon (434) 9 years ago

Yes but he didn't beat them with a whip.

I can't find another verse where Jesus was described as violent. He was even polite to Judas!

[-] -3 points by Freewillnotfreestuff (-5) 9 years ago

But liberals hate religion. They've spent the last 45 years attacking even the most innocous public displays, but now wanna tout religion as a justification for the welfare state and redistribution. Hypocrites.

[-] 10 points by pewestlake (947) from Brooklyn, NY 9 years ago

No, liberals hate hypocrites that use religiosity to justify everything from greed to war. The very people who loudly proclaim Jesus to be America's bestest friend ever are the ones pounding the drums for war, shooting abortion doctors and dehumanizing the working poor as lazy welfare queens. If Jesus were alive today, he would NOT say "pull yourself up by your bootstraps and then go kill Muslims." He'd say:

"Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out demons? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity." ~Matthew 7:21 - 7:23

[-] 3 points by GypsyKing (8708) 9 years ago

It may be that we're going to see a LOT more tornadoes.

[-] 2 points by pewestlake (947) from Brooklyn, NY 9 years ago

heh heh

[-] 3 points by Odin (583) 9 years ago

You hit the nail on the head with that comment.

[-] 2 points by pewestlake (947) from Brooklyn, NY 9 years ago



[+] -4 points by Freewillnotfreestuff (-5) 9 years ago

Liberals also act with such bigotry and intolerance that they go to court to stop even a thirty second prayer at a graduation service. But if they can use religion to justify the welfare state, they're in.

[-] 4 points by pewestlake (947) from Brooklyn, NY 9 years ago

Freedom of religion does not equal State mandated prayer in school, which is what you're really talking about. Nobody is stopping you from joining the Catholic church and moving to Vatican City if it's a theocracy you're looking for.

As for the so-called "welfare state," Reagan emptied the mental hospitals, Clinton passed welfare-to-workfare, Bush passed budgets forcing States to trim Medicaid and homeless assistance, and the only reason food stamp use went up under the first two years of the Obama administration is because the Austrian school supply-side economics that has dominated our economy for more than 30 years has pushed more people into poverty than at any time in American history other than the Great Depression.

And welfare isn't really about religion much at all, though it certainly does have a moral component. It's really about economic policy and keeping the grease of the free enterprise system flowing. You think the free market is free enterprise but it isn't. If this was a truly free market, kids would be allowed to sell methamphetamine in schools. But it's no surprise that a right winger would be totally dense on the subject of the economy. That has been the hallmark of conservative thinking for decades now.

You really don't have a pot to piss in on this one. But if you want to keep getting your ass ground into to dust, I'll be happy to oblige. Keeps Shadz66's fine post bubbling up and that's A-OK with me.


[-] 1 points by pewestlake (947) from Brooklyn, NY 9 years ago

You can use "bigotry and intolerance" all you want. Anyone not drinking your brand of kool-aid knows who the bigots are in American politics.

And, no Jesus didn't ask for a Roman welfare state. He was more likely to call for the dismantling of the entire Roman Empire than an expansion of it. Big difference between an "empire" and a "republic." But I'm sure you would have fit right in with the Imperial crowd in the Roman Senate that sold out their own futures for a temporary gain. Yep, you'd be da man in that group! LOL


[-] 2 points by GypsyKing (8708) 9 years ago

Well, you really touched a nerve here. I posted something about the parallells between modern and ancient republics a while ago on this forum, and I find the similarities between Ancient Greece and Rome, and Modern England and America to be stark, and frankly somewhat depressing.

You probably won't get a lot of feedback from the US for this reason. I think it not only has to do with our image of ourselves (what we think we are, and would like to be, vs. what we have become) but it also implies a kind of fatalism about the ways in which humanity seems to make the same mistakes over and over again. It is this later part that I find depressing, but it is always better to look truth squarely in the eye than to evade it. Otherwise we can learn nothing from history.

[-] 3 points by shadz66 (19985) 9 years ago

Wishing you & all a Good Friday and alas 'GK' to some extent, I have to hope you wrong ... as "those who learn nothing from history are doomed to repeat it" (George Santayana) - who also said : “We must welcome the future, remembering that soon it will be the past; and we must respect the past, remembering that it was once all that was humanly possible”

nil desperandum ...

[-] 1 points by GypsyKing (8708) 9 years ago

Oh, I agree totally! We must be willing to look truth in the eye, no matter how painful, because only in truth is their the key to change and that includes fully owning up to what we, as a society, have done.

What, I wonder, is the death toll from all the meaningless wars we have gone to since WWII? We have to bare responsibility for that and once again practice truth regarding our democratic heritage {and not just USE IT as a cynical cloak to hide the dagger of colonial oppression.} Most Americans, I genuiely still believe neven wanted that, but we have long since passed the point where ignorance can give us an excuse, and in my opinion it never did give us one.

The question is, what now?

[-] 2 points by shadz66 (19985) 9 years ago

"What now ?" Utopia or Dystopia ? We wait to see & ...

respice ; adspice ; prospice ...

[-] 1 points by GypsyKing (8708) 9 years ago

I'm a bit terrified that Americans might stay in denial and apathy regarding the whole situation. People just have this tendency to want to believe the emporer's wearing clothes and you wonder what more it would take to wake them up?

[-] 2 points by shadz66 (19985) 9 years ago

Perhaps no one believes that The Emperor has any clothes any more ... it's just that everyone - from 'Wholly Corporate Owned Media' in particular .. right through to 'Gun-Loving, Human-Haters' and various degrees of 'Randian Psychopaths' ... have all got butt naked with 'The Emperor du jour' !!!

verum ex absurdo ...

[-] 3 points by GypsyKing (8708) 9 years ago

Sobering assessment. There are also the 'apocalypse seekers,' those who have sort of an Old Testament outlook on it all.

E-gads this is getting depressing!

[-] 1 points by shadz66 (19985) 9 years ago

Again True ! Take cheer, comfort and refuge in a tune !! Some folks have money to burn & some folk got 'karma to burn' : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cccwBEsx2f4 ... as there's "healing on my mind" !!!

fiat lux ...

[-] 3 points by GypsyKing (8708) 9 years ago

Great song, thanks.

Well regarding the whole situation, I think Oskar Wilde was right when he said, "We are all lying in the gutter, but some of us are looking up at the stars."


[-] 3 points by shadz66 (19985) 9 years ago

LOL !!! Brilliant and Very True !! verum ex absurdo ... again !

[-] -2 points by Dell (-168) 9 years ago

If you have been voting for politicians who promise to give you goodies at someone else's expense, then you have no right to complain when they take your money and give it to someone else, including themselves. – Thomas Sowell

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 9 years ago

But America does have a different story compared to ancient Rome.

[-] 1 points by shadz66 (19985) 9 years ago

Re. The Best Part of who and what we can be, "Spirit" : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7plNRs5kwgE ... et ad astra ... ~~~ *


[-] 0 points by Odin (583) 9 years ago

All this saddens me very much.


[-] -1 points by 1sealyon (434) 9 years ago

Peace brought to the world by US military power is pretty compelling. War related deaths as a % of world population have dropped by 97% since 1945, largely due to the US led efforts. US soldiers and taxpayers are footing the bill for a peaceful planet.

Years War related deaths per 1000 of the world population

AD 1200 -1300 = 1.1

AD 1300 -1400 = 0.4

AD 1400 - 1500 = 2.1

AD 1500 - 1600 = 3.2

AD 1600 - 1700 = 11.2

AD 1700 - 1800 = 9.7

AD 1800 - 1900 = 16.2

AD 1900 - 1945 = 44.4

AD 1945 - 2010 = 1.2

[-] 3 points by shadz66 (19985) 9 years ago

Re. "Peace brought to the world by US military power is pretty compelling." ---- Oh My Goodness Me !!!

Of all the self-referential, self-absorbed and self-justifying twaddle that I've ever read or heard - you mate have not only 'taken the biscuit' but more accurately, you have just run off with the entire cookie barrel !!

Any thoughts of the connections to and ramifications of - your pseudo-stats (unattributed and unlinked) to the increase in aggregate global population ? IF since 1945 there are 1.2 deaths per 1000 and there are now ~7 billion of us ... what does this mean for the real numbers Actually Doing The Dying Now ?!

For an insightful and somewhat less smug and self-congratulatory analysis of U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II - please see this book (here provided in its entirety) :

Read ; Digest ; Reflect ; Learn ; Get Real !!!

fiat lux ; fiat pax ; fiat iustitia ruat caelum ...

[-] 2 points by GypsyKing (8708) 9 years ago

Bravo! Nil Desperatum

[-] 1 points by 1sealyon (434) 9 years ago

What metric makes sense that is un-linked to world population? Why does anyone bother to collect per-capita data?

Many folks from Malthus to Ehrlich predicted mass starvation and war as a result of population increase. The data above are correct (see below) and refute the predictions. Worldwide stability and the spread of democracy under the protection of the US and the UN (principally fortified by US military) are largely credited for the improvement.

What outcome of WWII would you expect without US military intervention?




[-] 3 points by shadz66 (19985) 9 years ago

Your 3 links deserve due consideration tho' one detects more than a hint of "American Exceptionalism" ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_exceptionalism ) in your comments.

One wonders what current pro-WAR with Iran demagogues and ideologues would make of your fist link and re. the second link and John Mearsheimer's now over 20 year old piece, it is difficult not to see the prescience therein. Furthermore, it can be very cogently argued that The WAR on Terror has by design seamlessly replaced The Cold War to the relief of The Military-Industrial-Security-Complex, who were loath to see any Post-Cold War 'Peace Dividend'.

Mearsheimer (along with Stephen Walt) is of course now famous for a another thesis and would in all probability have a few things to say about where the real and actual sources of international bellicosity are in the world today.

Tho' I share to some degree the cautious optimism of the last link (now over five years old), issues of 'Hegemony', 'Empire' and 'Resource Grabs' - especially for control of Hydro-Carbons, still clearly remain.

fiat pax et cave "bellum se ipsum alet" ...

[-] 1 points by 1sealyon (434) 9 years ago

A pretty good reference ( though not free) is the following link to war related casualties through the years.


This issue smacks more of exploitation than exceptionalism. Much of the western world has been able to sit back and let the US do the heavy lifting required for hostility deterrence. Most Americans would gladly trade the role as world-policeman for a nice fat tax-cut.

It is the presence of deterrents, particularly the nuclear variety, that allow us to presently enjoy one of the most peaceful periods in world history.

A word about the consumer society. Folks complain a lot about how much of the world’s resources that the US uses (keep in mind that we produce domestically 85% of what we consume or export, and we export a lot). Well there is another thank-you-very-much that is in order from the rest of the world. If Americans were like the Japanese and stuffed their money in mattresses much of China, Mexico, and South Asia would be in deep trouble.

Consumerism is one of the most important inventions of the western world. It has driven innovation, modern medicine, third-world development, and a dramatic improvement in the human condition. Evidence for this in overwhelming.

Check this one out:


[-] 5 points by pewestlake (947) from Brooklyn, NY 9 years ago

If "consumerism is one of the most important inventions of the western world," our contribution to humanity is even worse than it's worst detractors surmise. Consumerism depends on endless growth, and while we're all still living at the bottom of the beaker, that's just fine. When we spill over the side, someone has to get hurt and guess what? We've been spilling over the side for thirty years in America, a lot longer than that in most of the Southern Hemisphere. And now Greece and Spain get to know what that looks like.

Ferguson's self-serving thesis is entirely based on a Manichean vision that presupposes a loser for every winner. That's not how the macro economy works in the slightest and methinks it's just a matter of time before we fit Ferguson out for his own John Galt cape and tights. His only "contribution" to our society is the extreme harm he's done to impressionable minds in his classrooms. I don't think he's cornered the market on "moron" but he sure comes close!

[-] 0 points by 1sealyon (434) 9 years ago

Why can't we have endless growth?

How much water have we we used? Any?

How about: air, gold, aluminum, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, have we used up any of these materials?

What about energy? Why are we spending so much time trying to save energy. Energy is the most abundant thing in the universe. It's like a kid at the beach worry about conserving grains of sand.

Even if the population stabilizes (as projections indicate) economic growth is still a positive trend. Economic growth fuels innovation, medical improvements, better foods, healthier lives, cleaner environment, and wealthier people.

[-] 4 points by shadz66 (19985) 9 years ago

Blinkered, self-referential and totemic attachments to past-paradigms antithetical to sustainability, efficiency and indeed peace, are not progressive. We can not walk into the future perpetually looking backwards. Consider, IF we choose to do just this ... we should expect to fall on our collective (x) !!!

respice ; adspice ; prospice ...

[-] 1 points by 1sealyon (434) 9 years ago

Come again?

BTW, what is so great about what we have that all this time must be devoted to sustaining it? I have no desire to sustain for example the 20 billionth reply of any Adele single I can think of.

Instead of just sustaining why not focus on making things better like our ancestors did? An effort for which we should be most grateful?

[-] 1 points by 1sealyon (434) 9 years ago

So you read Ferguson and you're not a fan?

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 9 years ago

Craig Ferguson?

He's a funny guy - late night channel 4.

Yeah I do believe that he has a book out.

[-] -3 points by Freewillnotfreestuff (-5) 9 years ago

Hundreds of millions owe their freedom to us. It's a hard reality for the America haters to deal with. Our model and way is also what's causing China to gradually liberalize. Chalk up over a billion more. We'vre brought peace the world had never experienced. We fight to liberate, not to enslave. It's something new to the world. Liberals, of course, don't notice. They think Norway did it.

[+] -4 points by tomahawk (-21) 9 years ago

Brian Terrell voted for Obama,....right? Now he has a case of buyer's remorse along with the rest of you imbecile's. He's trying to appear smart but obviously voting for Obama pretty much showed the world that many of you pseudo intellectuals are just that,...stupid Drones.

[-] 1 points by GypsyKing (8708) 9 years ago

How the hell do you know how he voted, and what the hell does that have to do with the topic?

[+] -4 points by tomahawk (-21) 9 years ago

Who the hell do you think is the man in charge? Who the hell do you think favors using Drones? Why the hell can't you figure this shit out on your own? Why the hell can't you Leftists ever see beyond the tip of your lying proboscis.

[-] 2 points by GypsyKing (8708) 9 years ago

Wow, I really feel enlightened.

[+] -4 points by tomahawk (-21) 9 years ago

I doubt that will ever happen.

[-] 1 points by GypsyKing (8708) 9 years ago

Not talking to you, anyway.

[-] -1 points by tomahawk (-21) 9 years ago

Good,so why reply?