Tag Archives: Christ and war

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Pastoral Meanderings On Memorial Day

War is a sin.

Sometimes the greater sin is not to stand against evil.  We live in a fallen world.

The Nation State is idolatrous by nature.  Christians therefore should be very careful when the Nation State tries to convince them of what is evil and who must die for it.

Christ was murdered by and for an empire (the First Century Roman).  Those who fight for any empire need to be aware of the risks of executing Christs.

Those who refuse to fight evil on the principle of peace should be careful that peace does not become a shield for cowardice and at least seriously entertain the notion that a refusal to fight evil because of peace may in fact destroy peace.  No one less than Gandhi –that great soul who coined the term, satyagraha (soul force) and practiced non-violence–had at one time threatened to offer himself as a combatant soldier.  “And this because,” he said, “I see that my countrymen are not refraining from acts of physical violence because of love for their fellows, but from cowardice; and peace with cowardice is much worse than a battlefield with bravery.”

Christ led no army, did not participate in raids or battles.  He said, “blessed are the peacemakers.”

The United States is not a Christian nation.  Christians of all kinds should wake up and accept that as not only a fact but a necessity for pluralistic, peaceful government.  Muslims and others who assert the U.S. is a Christian country often do so in order to conjure up the ghosts of the Arabic Conquest and the aftermath of Crusades.

Seek peace and pursue it.  Wage Peace.

Violence as a strategy for resolution of conflict is innately self-contradictory.  America’s cities are awash in blood because we have accepted the lie of violence.

The world is awash in blood and war in large part because religions have embraced violence and corrupted their holy scriptures, using what is holy for what is most corrupt and horrific. Religion has for too long been and is “a refuge of human savagery” [Whitehead].  Beware then of religion.

The sons of the Enlightenment and science provided the world with efficient tools of mechanized death, poison gas, airplanes that became weapons, the nuclear bomb and many, many other hideous weapons.  Beware then of those who claim science and reason have made them superior.

For those who have given their service and sacrificed their bodies and minds and given the supreme sacrifice of their lives for freedom, we hallow your memory and thank you for your bravery and service.

Memorial Day is the day we remember these sacrifices.  It is also a day we pray that there will be no more wars and no more soldiers added to the list of the remembered because peace has overcome war.

Until that day, we are compelled to live in two realms.  One realm is our own country. The other realm is the kingdom of God.  One will end. The other will never end.  Let this instruct your navigation of these realms.

Refuge in a Profanely Violent World

Charred Cross, Coventry Cathedral

Charred Cross, Coventry Cathedral (Photo credit: SteHLiverpool)

The futility of human endeavors, polluted by profane and violent persons, is never clearer to us than in days like these, when nations war against nations and the leaders of pariah states existing within such nations prefer death to diplomacy.  The 100th anniversary of World War I is upon us.  1914.  This horrific war that introduced mechanized destruction and ruin still echoes through our histories.  Frankly, I have no idea why anyone would embrace what Christopher Lasch (in his book, The True and Only Heaven: Progress and Its Critics) would call “the last superstition”–the idea that human beings are gods and need only visit the self-help aisle in the local book store; that technology will save us; that progress is our telos, our inevitable goal and end.  That is as misguided an anthropology as I can think of.

Another way to say this is:  we enter the sanctuary on Sundays because we know we have participated in the ruin of the world; because the injustice and violence that consumes so much of the world is the result of a pathetic apathy with “the way it is.”  We know we need God’s mercy and grace to restore us.  Frankly, I’m surprised that there is any space for anyone to sit down in our sanctuary so great are the needs in this age, so desperate the longings and greed of the power-crazed, so frenetic our often pointless activity designed to keep us busy but ever failing to bring resolution and hope to our citizens.  Don’t be fooled—this landscape littered with the gods of ideology, blood-soaked by cruel and zealous practitioners of a Truth that only they possess—is not confined to the Middle East or to the Balkans, Ukraine and Russia. Our own government is captured by the most zealous and cynical politicians in a history that has known some very corrupt and profane congressmen.  As I said, I am surprised people are not lined up to enter a church that offers peace, refuge and a call to the love and peace of God in Christ.

Yes, the world is a wreck. That is not new.  Read the prophets.  Isaiah noted long ago that the earth staggers like a drunk.  My encouragement to you is, get yourself to a holy place, stand in the presence of The Other who is Just, ponder the revelation of God in the lowly and crucified Christ.  Pray for yourself. Pray for your world. And then when you’re finished praying, go back into the world and try to love it as Christ loved it.  Stop destroying and ruining the earth and its inhabitants.  May the love of Christ compel us to heal the world and those around us.  May the Holy remove what is unholy and profane in us.  And may we begin to see in the faces of others the image of God in which, we are assured by scripture, they were made.