Posts Tagged ‘War’

Two weather fronts collide

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

Churches face a call – a call to have something to say.  That is not easy.  And I for one certainly would prefer, many days, to have nothing to say!

In offering words, we are tasked with being loving, bold, and clear.  We are tasked with saying it with words and actions.  We are tasked with making such offerings from a spirit of grace and reconciliation not bombast or hubris.  We are asked to be joyously dangerous!

Some days, I feel woefully under-equipped to do any of it.

And then God offers His notoriously not-so-subtle wakeup calls.  Reading on the Air Force’s website that the Reaper drone employs “… a unique capability to autonomously execute the kill chain” was one such moment.

Those words chill.  The role of church is not to direct votes a certain direction, nor to become captured by easily demarcated political poles of right or left.  We have to find the humility and courage to consistently follow Christ’s “Third Way.”  And so trying to find that neither-nor ground of the Third Way, and speak boldly from that place at the same time, I struggle deeply and painfully with someone using such chilling words to reference the efficacy of the Reaper’s “kill chain.”   I think Christ would have something to say.  And I think he would say it to all sides and to all of us.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”  (Matt. 23:23)

Those words are not soft and are frankly more easily left unsaid.  But I do believe, despite all my immense fears and anxieties, that we are called to say something as a church.   At times weather fronts do collide.


Please parents …..

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

This week a group of Israeli teenagers, including a 13 year old female, beat an Arab youth unconscious on a Jerusalem street.  The same day, another group attacked an Arab taxi in Israel, throwing a firebomb through the vehicle’s window.

It was interesting reading the legitimately concerned reaction in Israel as citizens expressed worry about their own form of homegrown terrorism.  One commenter offered this insight.“This is directly tied to national fundamentalism that is the same as the rhetoric of neo-Nazis, Taliban and K.K.K.,” Mr. Aloni said. “This comes from an entire culture that has been escalating toward an open and blunt language based on us being the chosen people who are allowed to do whatever we like.”

Such attacks, as he saw it, were an inevitable and logical outgrowth of escalating intolerance.  Given the saber rattling around what appears to be a fall attack on Iran, he is correct.  Just last week, I read an article in the same paper of a hero’s welcome accorded to 100 some odd young Americans returning to Israel to enlist in the Israeli army for the upcoming showdown with Iran over the development of atomic weapons.

Shame on Israel right.   Easy for a Pastor in the states to point to the Middle East in condescending judgment about how wrong they are as the cycle of violence churns, and churns, and churns.  Were it that easy to press the issue “out there.”  But the fact is it is “in here.”  So the shame is rightly on us, me included.

Thomas Merton famously wrote how the “sane ones” are the most dangerous.   Sanity without a moral compass endangers our soul. Much of violence is “sane” in the simple math of retribution and protection.  We live a sail in dangerous waters.  And where is the voice for the evolution of the human soul?  Nothing soft about stands around non-violence.  God’s call: “Blessed are the peacemakers.”  God’s gifts: Not “a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love, and self discipline.”  (2 Timothy 1:7)


Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

“Peace on earth, Goodwill toward men” – the core of the Christmas message.  Peace finds forms.  This Christmas, there is the obvious form of Peace that Christianity calls us to – peace as in an end to war, as in “beating swords into plowshares.”  This level of peace is of no small consequence and of no small responsibility.  “Peace” and “Goodwill” are connected in that regard.  By practicing one, we practice the other.  By feeding one, we feed the other.  By creating the space for one, we create space for the other.

In that regard we must be mindful of not using theology as excuse making.  Christianity, as an institution, over the ages has advocated for certain wars based on “just war theory.”  Deciding which wars are justified and which are not may well not be a topic to be addressed from pulpit.  Yet, as Christians, at the very least, we must remain uncomfortable with any war, justified or not.  When theology confirms the justification of war, we should be fearful of getting too comfortable with a bedfellow we must remain leary of.  To put it simply, Jesus was never comfortable with violence.  Neither then should we be.

None of this mitigates the great sacrifices of the military and military families.  None of this says that there are not real threats out there in the world that call us to legitimate self defense.  As a former history teacher I shudder to think of what the Nazi war machine would have done if it went un-confronted.

And I believe Christian pastors need to constantly remind all of us (including me) that if we simply start to accept war as a comfortable “status quo” we are missing a key to the Christian message.  If Jesus’ message does not unsettle us at least in this area, we arguably missed part of the Christmas message, a message of hope and comfort, but a message also that should confront us with something that maybe is just a bit more than a triumphal proclamation of “Peace on earth and Goodwill toward men.”  That proclamation may just be a command.

Aggression, War, Violence

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Viewing the North Korean attack on a South Korean island this morning saddened me.  War and violence continue to be part and parcel of the human experience.

Important for us to remain mindful of the Christian call to a different way.  Jesus clearly said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”  Likewise the Old Testament spoke of the coming of God’s kingdom as being a time when men would “beat their swords into plowshares.”

War and nations function under a logic not far removed from the individual.  In the New York Times, a reporter noted that this provocation by the North followed a well rehearsed script – “…a pattern of aggressive actions by the secretive government when it feels under stress or threatened.”  Individuals often lash out when they feel under stress or threatened.  Nations and their leaders do the same.

This is where the Christian New Church path should give us pause.  Into that pause must come not only the words of Jesus but His actions.  As a church and a culture, we need to do the same, really looking towards arresting the insidious logic of aggression.

That is the work.  The Bible states it well … forging their swords into plowshares.   That takes fire, heat, shaping with a hammer – there is little “soft” in sticking to Christian roots.

In my humble opinion, technology, while wonderful, has not necessarily made us safer.  There is a safety out there but it will not be arrived at through technology but through the redeployment of consequential faith.  As Deitrich Bonoeffer noted, “Peace is the great adventure.  It must be dared.”  My prayer is that the warring parties find peace, especially given the presence of nuclear arms on the Korean Peninsula.  My prayer is that there be a reflective moment to create a space where the crazed logic of “eye-for-an-eye” can be seen for what it is.  Peace in its deepest form is one of greatest blessings one can be thankful for.