Veterans Day Web Round-up

I agree with Jesse Ventura that we can love vets and hate war. With that in mind here are some links on the topic of war and veterans:

Shane Claiborne on Veterans Day

Shane Claiborne posted three items on Veterans Day that I believe are worth contemplating. He shares thoughts on Facebook rather than a blog (as far as I know), so they are hard to link to. Therefore, I’ve decided to copy-and-paste them here. Shane, if this is inappropriate, let me know so I can remove them. Peace

(1) November 11, 2014

I absolutely love that the Church celebrates Martin of Tours, the “patron saint of soldiers”, on the same day as Veterans Day. Ironically, Martin was one of the Church’s first conscientious objectors to war – he refused to fight, left the military, and coined the phrase: “I am a soldier for Christ… I cannot fight the wars of man.” I can’t imagine a better person to remember on Veterans day.

Here’s a little more about brother Martin:

Martin of Tours was born during the troubling time of Constantine’s crusades. He was born four years after Constantine’s legendary conversion to Christianity, when Christians were exchanging the cross of Jesus for the sword of the empire. Into this world of “holy war,” Martin was born. He was named after Mars, the god of war. His dad was a veteran, in fact a senior officer, of the Roman Army. And like many of our kids, Martin entered the service as a young teenager to fight the crusades of the empire.

And then there was an interruption. Outside the gates of Amiens in modern-day France, Martin had a human encounter that would forever change him. He met a scantily-clad beggar and was deeply moved with compassion. With very little to give away, he took off his military cloak and cut it in half, giving half to the beggar. Then he eventually laid down his arms, saying, “I am a Christian, I cannot fight.” Later he would be taken to jail, insulted, and persecuted for deserting the army. He’s great person to remember on Veteran’s Day.

Our veteran buddy Logan Mehl-Laituri released his newest book FOR GOD AND COUNTRY on Veteran’s Day last year. This year Logan and the Centurion’s Guild have been profiling 10 “Soldier Saints” over the past 10 days — check it out on their blog: http://centurionsguild.org/blog/

And while we’re at it… why don’t we give a copy of one of Logan’s books away to the 10th person to email us with “WAR NO MORE” as subject: sc@redletterchristians.org

It’s the perfect book for Veterans Day as we try to honor the soldiers and the dead by putting an end to war.

http://centurionsguild.org/blog/

- See more at: http://www.redletterchristians.org/feasting-martin-tours-veterans-day/#sthash.CEcw9lDd.dpuf

(2) November 11, 2014

One of my favorite Veterans (other than my dad of course) is Charlie Liteky.

In 1968 Charlie Liteky was given the highest award in the US, the Medal of Honor by President Lyndon Johnson. In the movie, “Forrest Gump”, they dub over Charlie to put Tom Hanks in as he is given the award. What is not as well known is that in 1986 Charlie joined some of the most decorated veterans in the US as they returned their Medals of Honor and renounced all war.

Charlie and I got to be in Iraq together in 2003 with the Iraq Peace Team. One of the things he taught me is that veterans often know the horrors of war better than anyone. We can see it in the suicide rate (one a day for soldiers, 22 a day for veterans) and in the rate of homelessness and addiction of vets (there are 50,000 homeless veterans).

When we fight for peace, we are fighting for them. We honor the men and women in uniform by trying to put an end to war. In Iraq, I remember Charlie holding a sign while we were there that said: “I hate war as only a Veteran can.” It reminded me of the words of Ernest Hemingway: “Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime. Ask the infantry and ask the dead.”

Let’s commit ourselves today, as many folks celebrate “Veterans Day” — to honor the infantry and the dead by committing to build a world without war.

In the name of the Prince of Peace. Amen.

(3) November 11, 2014

And finally…

In remembrance of Veterans Day, I came across one of my favorite poems from a veteran named George Mizo. It was handed to me by one of his friends at a vigil for peace:

You, my church, told me it was wrong to kill … except in war.

You, my teachers, told me it was wrong to kill … except in war.

You, my father and mother, told me it was wrong to kill … except in war.

You, my friends, told me it was wrong to kill … except in war.

You, my government, told me it was wrong to kill … except in war.

But now I know, you were wrong, and now I will tell you, my church, my teachers, my father and mother, my friends, my government, it is not wrong to kill except in war. It is wrong to kill.

War and Jesus

[Because I could easily be misunderstood, let me start with a clarification: This post is not against veterans. I have a number in my family. While I do have a problem with the world’s political leaders who keep spinning war*, I don’t have a bone to pick with vets themselves. In fact I think we should take better care of our veterans when they come home (and that we should deploy them much less often). What I am speaking against here is using Jesus to validate war participation.]

One of the Bible verses I see most frequently referenced on Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day is a line from Jesus:

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13, NIV)

Whatever else one believes about war and the Bible, I don’t think this passage is accurately applied to war (possibly in some specific situations like jumping in front of a bullet that would otherwise kill one’s buddy).

Let me explain. General Patton said the soldier’s job is to kill not to be killed. “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.”** Don’t jump in front of bullets for each other; shoot the other guy first!

The soldier’s goal is to kill, not die. Jesus, on the other hand, was willing to die (even for his enemies) but not to kill (gospels + Romans 5:10). I believe this is the meaning of John 15:13.

If this verse applies to people in war, I would think it would be conscientious objectors like Desmond Doss.*** They are willing to serve and give their lives, but not to take life, a rather important distinction. This gets closer to Jesus’ meaning, but even this is conscription (generally), a forced situation. Jesus taught to voluntarily carry our cross; it is an act of free will.

May we nonviolently give of ourselves to care for others. This is love/agape.

*See War Made Easy, Why We Fight, and Manufacturing Consent. (Look for print and video versions)
**See Wikipedia, Patton’s Speech to the Third Army
***See For God and Country (In That Order): Faith and Service for Ordinary Radicals (Logan Mehl-Laituri, 2013).

Random Web Round-up

RANDOM

ENVIRONMENT

Faith, Love & Fear

Whether it’s ISIS, al Qaeda, ebola, H1N1, SARS or nuclear weapons, Christians should be the least scared, it seems to me. We take all of these quite seriously, to be sure, doing all we can to promote peace, reconciliation, health and well-being, but we should not be fearful.

Jesus said there would be war and disease.* We should not be surprised by these realities. Instead we should trust that we are in God’s hands as we serve others and take care of the vulnerable. If we are scared, lets spend less time watching TV and more time (a) reading the Bible and (b) serving in our communities. It is natural and normal to be afraid, but Jesus never said the life of a disciple is “natural and normal.”

*”And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. SEE THAT YOU ARE NOT TROUBLED [emphasis added]; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matthew 24:6-8)

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:28-31)

“Then He said to His disciples, ‘Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on.'” (Luke 12:22)

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)

God, help me to trust you today. Grow love and faith in my heart so fear has no quarter. Use me today to be a blessing to others. And may Jesus return and make right what I do not have the power to change.

NOTE: I’ll add that those verses grew in importance to me during my grad studies in peace. We didn’t learn about daisies and drum circles. We studied genocide, torture, war, poverty and other gross abuses of human rights. I was overwhelmed with the evil lurking in the human heart and the vulnerability of humanity. Jesus knew all of this and more and still said to trust him and not to fear. Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Three Random Bits Pertaining to Atheism

The primary connection between these items is that they all mention views on atheism:

“Have F—ing Beliefs, Not Teams”: Citizen Radio’s Hosts Talk #NEWSFAIL, Advertising, Veganism and More (Macaré, Truthout, 9 Oct 2014)

Tony Campolo’s surprise reaction when his son came out as a humanist (Merritt, Religion News Service,  6 Oct 2014)

The Closed Mind of Richard Dawkins (Gray, New Republic, 2 Oct 2014)

I’m not making a statement here for or against atheism. I am saying these are three articles worth thinking about. I’m thankful for my wide variety of friends who expand my views and horizons.

Bourgeois: Solidarity, Equality & Conscience

Credit: ICPJ

Credit: ICPJ

I really appreciated the presentation by Father Roy Bourgeois last night at an event co-sponsored by the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice (ICPJ) and Veterans for Peace (http://www.icpj.net/2014/resisting-militarizaiton-fr-roy-bourgeois-speaks-out-against-the-soa/). He emphasized solidarity, conscience and equality as he shared his life story, his work against the SOA/WHINSEC, and why he was dismissed as a Catholic priest because of his support for ordaining women.

A table was stacked with copies of Pink Smoke over the Vatican (DVD), Somos Una América (DVD), and My Journey from Silence to Solidarity (booklet).

“With injustice, silence is complicity.”

Nationalism and the Kingdom of God, Three Data Points

Sometimes when I speak with friends about Christian ethics and global politics, I have to clarify where my deepest loyalties lie. Above all, I’m a citizen of another kingdom. Then come other loyalties–humanity, denomination, nation-state, etc. In Resident Aliens, Hauerwas and Willimon speak to these issues. They provide this quote from Lesslie Newbigin.

The nation state, replacing the old concepts of the Holy Church and the Holy Empire, is the centre-piece in the political scene in post-Enlightenment Europe. After the trauma of the religious wars of the seventeenth century, Europe settled down to the principle of religious coexistence, and the passions which had formerly been in rival interpretations of religion were more and more invested in the nation state. Nationalism became the effective ideology of the European peoples, always at time of crises proving stronger than any other ideological or religious force. If there is any entity to which ultimate loyalty is due, it is the nation state. In the twentieth century we have become accustomed to the fact that–in the name of the nation–Catholics will fight Catholics, Protestants will fight Protestants, and Marxists will fight Marxists. The charge of blasphemy, if it is ever made, is treated as a quaint anachronism; but the charge of treason, of placing another loyalty above that to the nation state, is treated as the unforgivable crime. The nation state has taken the place of God. (The Other Side of 1984: Questions for the Churches, 1983, pp. 13-15, in Resident Aliens, pp. 33-34)

As a Seventh-day Adventist, I consider the viewpoint of Ellen White to be worth considering. She spoke about the nationalism at the time of Jesus. She said the following about the religious leaders in context of “the good Samaritan”:

Trained in the school of national bigotry, they had become selfish, narrow, and exclusive. When they looked upon the wounded man, they could not tell whether he was of their nation or not. They thought he might be of the Samaritans, and they turned away. (Desire of Ages, p. 500)

The third bit of data on this topic that has been on my mind is the song A King and a Kingdom by Derek Webb:

Reflection Questions

  1. What is your highest loyalty and marker of your personal identity?
  2. Why did you choose this marker, or how did you acquire it?
  3. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this identity?
  4. What does it require of you? What does it give in return?
  5. What do you think about people who have a different identity?

Random Web Round-up

Miscellaneous Human Rights & Social Policy

Violence, War & Peace

Racial Issues

Immigration

Environment

Economics & Poverty

Media

Three Fracking Documentaries

Over the past month I’ve watched three documentaries about fracking–Gasland 1 (2010) & 2 (2013) and Fracknation (2013). Here are a few thoughts.

1) No single documentary tells the whole story. Even two is insufficient. And three… | Neither talked about the toxic waste that must be dealt with (see Michigan).

2) Every documentary maker can sell his or her side by only presenting supporting info, disregarding anything that counters or complicates the preferred views. | Fox (Gasland) only looks at people who have had wells fail. McAleer (Fracknation) disregards the stats of how many wells are known to fail. Each makes it sounds like they are 100 percent right.

3) I’m disappointed that both sides weren’t more forth-coming and open. | Fox should have acknowledged that methane has been in some wells before fracking started. McAleer should have acknowledged that some wells didn’t have methane until fracking started. | Also, Fox could have used a better prop for his “contract,” and McAleer should have realized the prop doesn’t matter; what matters is the truth of whether or not Fox received a bid for drilling (and this is a minor point, but media people making a big deal out of small points bothers me). | Fox didn’t note the many environmental guidelines that control fracking. McAleer didn’t note the exemptions from certain guidelines that fracking does enjoy.

4) Truth can be hard to find (see the cigarette industry’s extended efforts to confuse the public about the health risks of smoking). | McAleer’s summary at the end of Fracknation attempts to discount every aspect of Gasland, but he does this in too broad of strokes and without considering the info shown in Gasland 2, info he could have known before that film was released. Resorting to claims that Putin is behind the anti-fracking movement is mind-boggling.

5) Every source of energy has negative consequences. I think that was one of the most honest statements in the three films (from Gasland 1). | Fox looks at only the negatives of fracking, while McAleer only looks at the positives. Then McAleer shines a light on the negative aspects of other “clean” energy sources, ignoring the negative effects of fracking and other sources of energy like fossil fuels. We must admit that all energy sources have positives and negatives, and we need to do the hard work of honestly accounting for each. We know that only renewable energy will be with us moving forward; as far as we’re able, let us strive to invest in energy that is both clean and renewable. And let us reduce our power usage as much as possible, knowing that every source has negative aspects.

Filmmakers, I expect more of you!

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