A Welcomed Interrogation

John le Carré knows spy craft. A master of espionage fiction, he also once served […]

Larry Parsley / 9.18.17

John le Carré knows spy craft. A master of espionage fiction, he also once served as an intelligence officer in Britain’s MI5. In a recent interview with Terry Gross of NPR’s “Fresh Air,” while promoting “A Legacy of Spies,” le Carré discussed the art of interrogation. He expressed his firm conviction that the “rough stuff” we hear about today (say, waterboarding and torture) is “quite useless,” not to mention immoral. Why? People under such pressure and pain will basically say anything to make the pain stop.

“I’ve found that trying to understand people, trying to befriend them, trying to indicate that you’re their one hope and those things—patience and actually indicating that you’re a human being is quite helpful and that most people who’ve got something on their conscience, one way or another, would quite like to confess it if the weather was in the right direction and the circumstances were right and—at least, that was my own private conclusion.”

In Psalm 32, it appears that David would readily agree. For a time, David “kept silent” about his transgressions, and it was hell. He felt guilt deep down in bones that “wasted away.” The conviction he labored under (God’s heavy hand) sapped his strength like a July drought. Then, when David was able to stop hiding and actually voice his guilt to God, forgiveness rushed in, along with the sublime experience of being “blessed.”

Le Carré’s point is well taken—we wouldn’t want to confess to just anyone. The average interrogator, whether harsh or gentle, seeks to use us and our secrets for some national or personal good. But the God who patiently befriends us already knows our secrets. God does not need our useful information. What God desires for us is that blessed state when our pockets are emptied, each contraband transgression laid out upon the altar, so that each one might be “covered” over from here to eternity.