Unsure About a Surge November 24, 2009Posted by Matt in Barack Obama, war.
Tags: Afghanistan war, Barack Obama, Jon Krakauer, troop surge, Where Men Find Glory
Today President Obama announced an increase in troop levels to “finish the job” in the 8 year old Afghanistan war and for once I find myself questioning the decision. Sure, I know that he has far more information than any of us, including know-it-all pundits, but the idea of continuing a war that has dragged on for so long and cost many American lives and piles of money, just doesn’t seem like a great idea.
I’m sure that part of my reluctance stems from the book I’m currently reading, Jon Krakauer’s latest tome, Where Men Find Glory, which tells the story of Pat Tillman while juxtaposing an account of Afghan history, particularly that which involves the root of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Krakauer makes it quite clear that he believes an Afghan war to be impossible to win and he states his case quite persuasively. So, I can’t help but question a decision to continue trudging along in a war that is likely going to end in failure (if there is such a thing as “winning” a war anyway).
What do you think?
God On Our Side December 2, 2008Posted by Matt in Christian Beliefs, war.
Tags: Bible, Bob Dylan, difficult passages, genocide, god, Joshua, war
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For the past several weeks at church we’ve been working our way through a sermon series on the book of Joshua, in accordance with one of the most un-Christlike programs found within our denomination, Lads to Leaders, which we silently protest by keeping our children at home on Sunday nights…but that’s another blog entry for another time.
The book of Joshua is one that I find to be incredibly problematic in the scope of scripture. It is here that we find the conquest of the promised land, in which the people of Israel are commanded by God to lay waste to the cities in the land, killing all – men, women, and even children – who reside there. This divinely ordained genocide seems to fly directly in the face of the words of Jesus, an embodiment of God, when he said things like, “Love your enemy.” I find it impossible to reconcile these things in my mind and none of the easy, pat answers that are so likely to be given will suffice.
I tend to have a different view on Biblical inspiration, one that would most likely cause many in my denomination’s heritage to label me as a heretic…and they may be right, but that’s a chance I’m willing to take. When looking at the book of Joshua, I see a wartime history of a conquering army, a military force that went to any means necessary to capture the land away from those making their homes there. The years of conquest and genocide proved to be successful, so when composing the record of their victorious invasion, it was stated that this was in accordance with the will of God.
Through the years this same reasoning has been applied over and over again, from the Crusades, to hundreds of years of Islamic conflicts, to the extermination of native Americans, to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and I can’t help but wonder what message we send by focusing on these difficult passages. The words of one of the great prophets of our time come to mind and I think it may do us all some good to think on these things:
With God on Our Side
by Bob Dylan
Oh my name it is nothin’
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
I’s taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And that land that I live in
Has God on its side.
Oh the history books tell it
They tell it so well
The cavalries charged
The Indians fell
The cavalries charged
The Indians died
Oh the country was young
With God on its side.
Oh the Spanish-American
War had its day
And the Civil War too
Was soon laid away
And the names of the heroes
I’s made to memorize
With guns in their hands
And God on their side.
Oh the First World War, boys
It closed out its fate
The reason for fighting
I never got straight
But I learned to accept it
Accept it with pride
For you don’t count the dead
When God’s on your side.
When the Second World War
Came to an end
We forgave the Germans
And we were friends
Though they murdered six million
In the ovens they fried
The Germans now too
Have God on their side.
I’ve learned to hate Russians
All through my whole life
If another war starts
It’s them we must fight
To hate them and fear them
To run and to hide
And accept it all bravely
With God on my side.
But now we got weapons
Of the chemical dust
If fire them we’re forced to
Then fire them we must
One push of the button
And a shot the world wide
And you never ask questions
When God’s on your side.
In a many dark hour
I’ve been thinkin’ about this
That Jesus Christ
Was betrayed by a kiss
But I can’t think for you
You’ll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side.
So now as I’m leavin’
I’m weary as Hell
The confusion I’m feelin’
Ain’t no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
If God’s on our side
He’ll stop the next war.
No Peace I Find… August 11, 2008Posted by Matt in politics, war.
Tags: Georgia, McCain, Obama, Russia, South Ossetia, war
Okay, let me get this straight about the current conflict in Georgia (not the state)
– South Ossetia and Abkhazia are territories within Georgia who proclaimed their independence years ago, but have yet to be recognized by the UN.
- August 7: Georgia claimed that South Ossetian separatists attacked Georgian villages, which South Ossetia denies.
- Georgia retaliates with an offensive to surround and capture the South Ossetian captial, Tskhinvali. South Ossetian officials claim that the Georgian military attacked first.
- August 8: Russia sends troops against Georgia and begins launching airstrikes against them.
- Both sides accuse the other of commiting genocide. Thousands (mostly civilians) may have already been killed on both sides.
- August 9 – Now: Russia continues to pummel Georgia and advance its forces into the country.
- August 10 – Russia rejects Georgia’s call for a cease-fire
Meanwhile, in the US:
Both John McCain and Barack Obama have condemned the actions of Russian and called for an immediate withdrawal and cease-fire. Obama has called for direct talks involving officials from both sides. McCain took his statement a step further, proclaiming that Russia would face “severe consequences” if they did not immediately withdraw.
Get Your Wallet November 13, 2007Posted by Matt in politics, war.
Tags: money, poverty, war
According to this article on Yahoo, the economic costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are currently sitting at $1.6 trillion. The current population of the U.S. is 300 million, so to date the war has cost $5,333 for each American man, woman, and child.
Meanwhile 36.5 million Americans live below the poverty line and 47 million are without health insurance.
And it goes on and on….
Peace in a Violent World October 3, 2007Posted by Matt in god, peace, war.
Tags: human nature, Jesus, nonviolence, peace
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Originally Posted 10/3/07
We are a violent people.
From the first moments our ancestors emerged from the primordial sludge eons upon eons ago, they were involved in single-celled scuffles, struggling with all of their might for dominance and survival. Time and time again, throughout the multitiude of millennia and across our small, insignificant-seeming blue orb, our savage natures have resurfaced. From the Genensis legend of Cain and Abel to countless wars to today’s ever-present street crime, our Darwinian predilection toward self-propagation is ever-present in our thoughts and deeds. Our bend toward ferocity premeates even the smallest cells of our physical body as antibodies engage in battle with whatever pathogens attempt to invade the sacrosanct space they defend from harm. Every part of our being seems whoop out a brutish war cry.
But, regardless of this, we are called to be different.
We believe that God dwelt among us in the form of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, who came not with fists and swords and AK-47s, but with love. We believe in His example, in which he laid down His life without retaliation.
We are called to not just love our neighbors, but to also love our enemies, regardless of the consequences. It may seem naive to those bent on their own subsistence, looking to survive by any means necessary, but it is the way. It is the path to which He calls us and that, by accepting Him, we choose to walk.
Involuntary Support for Death and Destruction October 2, 2007Posted by Matt in god, war.
Tags: costofwar, god, thoreau, war
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Originally Posted 10/2/07
Following Congress’ allotment of $128B this week to continue funding the current war of American imperialism, I’ve found myself in quite a predicament of mind and conscience for which I have no solution. To date, we have spent over $450B on our conquest of Iraq’s fields of black gold and many analysts are forecasting the final cost of this US foreign policy blunder to approach $1 trillion. Therefore, we have contributed about $1,500 per capita with much more on the horizon.
But my concern isn’t for just the vast amounts of American treasure being poured down the drain, my apprehension is directed toward the actions we are funding. As an avowed believer in the nonviolent stand of Christ, it burdens me greatly to think that money from my hand may have paid for the bullets and bombs used to murder Iraqi children and civilians. How can we, as Christians, possibly support such draconian acts of brutality in the hope that things may eventually stabilize and improve?
So, I was pondering my tax dollars and the monetary support I am giving for a cause I don’t support, and the questions continued to nag me like a contentious woman – What, if anything, can be done?
In the book of Romans, Paul talked about Christian support of their governing body –
“1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” Romans 13:1-7
Should we always honor and respect our government, though? As much as I hate harkening back to the founding fathers as so many today do, I can’t help but thing of the American insurgency against the British governing body. If this passage was truly followed, then that time of Revolution would never have occurred. Two centuries later, if everyone had completely submitted themselves, we would never have had the Civil Rights movement. There are several other examples of great men and women who led the charge against overbearing government policies and brought about changes for the better, but, because these were in opposition to policies and laws, were they acceptable in the eyes of God?
So, what is the correct Christian response? Do we act as Henry David Thoreau and refuse to pay our taxes and support our government (his reasons stemmed from an opposition to slavery and the Mexican-American war) or do we humbly submit? When is civil disobedience acceptable?