PZ offers some thoughts on Edward Snowden from a religious perspective:
‘Edward Snowden’ by Howard Terpning
Viewing the 1968 movie The Shoes of the Fisherman, which was based on a 1963 novel by Morris West, made me think of Edward Snowden. To my mind, Howard Terpning’s theatrical poster for that movie (above) of a good man dressed in formal whites, brings Snowden’s immortal sacrifice bunt into the world of popular art.
Why would I say this?
Well, the hero of The Shoes of the Fisherman, a Russian-born pope and former political prisoner named Kyril Lakota, is a real Christian! That sounds a little strange to me as I write it, but what the Pope in West’s novel and the movie does is so unexpected and counter-institutional that it could break the moral impasse of the world. (You’ve got to see this movie.)
The Pope suddenly starts to stand in the real shoes of the fisherman — the poor, broken and impetuous first head of the Church. In doing so, Kyril kicks the legs out from under the set table of international politics and self interest that permeates the world. This is what I believe Edward Snowden has done — the wonderful illegal sin he has committed. He has knocked the legs out from under a massive set table.
We talk sometimes about “speaking truth to power”. Religious people will speak of the “principalities and powers of this world”. But rarely does a religious person actually go there. What usually happens is that religion “strains out gnats and swallows camels” (Matthew 23:24). Which is to say, religion, in many forms, gets stuck on tertiary things — personal angers and giant nothings.
In Snowden I see a man who has touched a nerve. A really BIG nerve. I say this because a country like ours would not be straining so hard to get him, using client states to force down a president’s plane and threatening every airport and state — every Middlesex village and farm — before he has even taken a single footstep to freedom, if he had not touched a really big nerve.
What is this nerve? It is Power and Control, the truth about Power and Control.
Edward Snowden has embodied George Orwell’s maxim, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
As a religious man, therefore — Snowden himself has said he is an agnostic –I can’t help putting together this operation of personal sacrifice, truth-telling, and hitting the world’s open secret of Power and Control. When I think of Edward Snowden, I can’t help thinking, of Kyril Lakota, and Howard Terpning’s picture.