On page 45 of Joshua Casteel‘s book Letters From Abu Ghraib he writes, “It is a myth and an illusion to suppose that political freedoms can ascend to the level of the Gospel- it is also a form of blasphemy and idolatry.” What does this mean many people wonder? Is he criticizing the state or praising religion? Just what does he mean by this statement?
First one must decide what he means by political freedoms. It is sensible to assume that he is referring to our rights as Americans, specifically the ones given to us by the Constitution. Even more specifically, those given to us in the Bill of Rights. Those rights allow us to speak our minds, gather as we choose and hold whatever beliefs we desire. They even allow us to make our own religious laws as long as they do not interfere with state laws.
Next follows the confusing part, “to the level of the Gospel.” Gospel seems to be the wrong word for the statement. Gospel is commonly thought of as religious law, but that definition does not clarify much in this instance. Perhaps he is referring to God himself, which can be made into a somewhat logical explanation.
If political freedoms, or basic American rights, cannot ascend to the Gospel, or God, maybe he means that man made rights cannot give us unlimited power, like God. No matter how many rights and freedoms we have, humans will never reach the level of power held by God. We will never have unlimited control of the world, a task American leaders are seemingly trying to undertake.
Since Casteel seems to disapprove of this Iraqi war and the policies followed at Abu Ghraib, maybe this interpretation is his reason for condemning it. He may be indirectly saying that the war is not winnable and America is overstepping her boundaries, trying to act in place of God. Maybe he feels America is fighting a battle that is not hers to fight, all the while losing miserably.