Friday, January 27, 2006

"The present administration has adopted a sort of official Christianity, and it obviously wishes to be regarded as Christian. But 'Christian' war has always been a problem, best solved by avoiding any attempt to reconcile policies of national or imperial militarism with anything Christ said or did."

The words are from an essay by Wendell Berry called A Citizen's Response to the Patriot Act after September 11th. It's part of a book I suggest every American read, called Citizenship Papers.

Okay, so I realize I have many pieces of work that I say 'every American should read or see', but I'm serious. It absolutely BLOWS my mind that our president received a second term. He invokes 'God' more than any other president in the history of our country, and it is inherently scary. Not because he's a born-again Christian. That's fine. That's great. I want conservatives to understand that all liberals don't hate any kind of spirituality (just as I'm sure conservatives want liberals to understand that not every conservative is a psycho like Pat Robertson).

What bothers me to no end is what happens when a head of state - especially one of a country so enormously powerful and visible as the United States of America - uses God in his speeches and in his actions. All of the sudden, we have someone who believes his actions are God-ordained. That is scary as shit. And I would say that no matter who was president.

And then, all of the sudden, we have made it another holy war. We - and I use the royal "we", which basically means George W. Bush, since he kinda digs that whole 'buck stops here' and unlimited executive authority shit - have begun to see the enemy not as terrorists from Saudi Arabia, but as a huge conspiracy of Islam in general. I love how Islam is now seen as an inherently violent religion, and Muslims who pursue peace are but exceptions to the rule.

Christianity, however, is the message of peace. So, obviously, Christians who commit sickening acts of terror - hmm...let's say...Tim McVeigh in Oklahoma City - are just exceptions.

No matter how you look at it, that is incredibly hypocritical.

So, we continue to pursue war as a means to peace, just like killing people to say that killing is wrong, and we do it under the auspices of God. The Christian God, nonetheless. That is the most inane and sacriligious point of view I have ever heard of.

I want somebody - ANYBODY - to tell me where in the life of Jesus are we taught to kill, not forgive our enemies, not pray for them, and to say "fuck you" to anybody that disagrees with us. There are some stipulations, though:

1. You cannot use the Old Testament. That is neither here nor there, since I am talking about Christianity, and the main figure is pretty heavily illustrated in the Gospels.

2. Don't try and interpret Jesus' apocalyptic statements. You can't do it. No matter how you try and spin them, they are still only what you think they mean. And, I don't mean to be presumptuous, but I'm pretty sure there is only one way to interpret passages like, "Love your enemies."

3. Don't give me 'the God of vengeance' crap, either. God is a God of love. And that's not liberal, whiny, bleeding-heart mumbo-jumbo. It's biblical.

I'm sorry, but I am seriously amazed at the extent to which our government will go to justify its actions and do some serious re-interpretation of the Bible. In the words of Wendell Berry, again,
"The Christian gospel is a summons to peace, calling for justice beyond anger, mercy beyond justice, forgiveness beyond mercy, love beyond forgiveness. It would require a most agile interpreter to justify hatred and war by means of the Gospels, in which we are bidden to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who despise and persecute us."

I'm just tired of having to mourn the loss of innocent lives. And no matter what your political stripe, I think we can agree on that. So how long before we stop going back to war as a solution, time and time again, to the ills of this world? Some say war has been around forever. I don't disagree. But since war still occurs, it doesn't take a genius to realize that maybe it doesn't work. Has peace ever been given a pure and decent shot? Have we ever poured our resources and talents and gifts into peace the way we have for war?

No. Because this world is ruled by those who stand for militarization, violence, and death. Peace is a fanciful idea, one for which only crazy people advocate. Yet we always say that the reason for war is peace. THAT one takes a little stretch of the mind, doesn't it?

And, far beyond that, our administration now fights a war on vague concepts, instead of merely on other nations and people. The war on terrorism abounds. The wonderfully pathetic message the USA sends is simple: If you hold horrible weapons or cause death to others, and you are NOT an agent of our government, then you have gone too far.

And, finally, to those who call this horribly un-patriotic, consider this: I could have just left. Went to Africa again and never returned. But I love this place. And I can't think of anything it deserves more than people to see what it is becoming, before it is too late.


At 11:10 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice Blog :)

At 4:09 PM , Blogger coreyleigh said...

The last paragraph reminds me of something that Dr. Beck said to me once, "We should not leave the church because we do not like how things are done; nothing will be accomplished. Instead, we should stay in the church and help mold it from the inside. Nothing will be done if we leave without trying to help the issues."

Or at least something along those lines.

At 12:26 PM , Anonymous cat said...

You are GK Chesterton's ideal of patriotism.


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