Colonel Jessep did indeed order the code red. The punishment was excessive and the outcome tragic. But the instinct was essentially correct. Discipline and suffering stretch Marines to their maximum capacity. It works the same way for Christians who understand that their bodies proclaim the mysteries of the gospel.
Colonel Jessep was right about something else. He told Lieutenant Kaffee that Santiago’s death, “while tragic, probably saved lives.” In scripture, suffering and salvation share a connection. Seeing it requires a deep and wide understanding of salvation.
Colonel Jessep was right about a few things. Setting aside his gross arrogance, Jessep was correct in correcting Lieutenant Kaffee. There is a luxury in not knowing some things. There is truth we cannot handle. For Christians, the question of why God allows suffering is one of those truths. The practice of Lent helps us recognize this.
American Christians are generally a happy lot – but don’t act very holy. Surveys indicate American believers behave about as badly as those who don’t attend church. There are all sorts of contributors to this calamity, but how many consider architecture’s role?