I find it very disturbing that there are faithful Christians who get deeply offended, and at times angry, when you posit the idea that war is bad, even morally wrong. And I'm not talking about veterans. It is pretty breathtaking when you think about how deeply ingrained war is in our national psyche.
And with that this youth minister has hit on one of the reasons I have distanced myself from organized Christianity of late. There are several reasons, but chief among them is the overwhelming support of American Christians for the imperialistic behavior of our nation. This behavior manifests itself as our government currently killing people in other countries. I mention this not just to point out what I believe to be a morally inappropriate position by many Christians but also to let the Church know that it is missing at least one member who is actually interested in following the teachings of Jesus Christ. Of course I know there are plenty of anti-war Christians, but their objections are far from deafening. There exist both sins of commission and of omission. More from my friend,
Someone in the workshop made a very interesting point about arguments about just war. When we talk about war, we are usually using models of geopolitics that are about 50 years out of date.
He mentions that the notion of 'just war' is out of date but I'll go further and say that such arguments aren't even necessary in the case of Iraq. That country and its leader did not have weapons of mass destruction. That country had nothing to do with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and yet still I hear mostly silence from the Church about an attack on Iraq that has killed thousands of American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, including many children. He finishes the thought from above.
The idea of the nation-state is rapidly being superseded by the reality of the multinational corporation. I've read somewhere that WalMart represents the 7th largest economy in the world.
And this is what really piqued my interest. Here’s a Christian minister making the connection between war and big business.
Theologically speaking, we are presented with a new set of questions. The old questions (that we are still grappling with) focus on church-state issues. These are important questions, but we as the church have yet to really explore church-corporate relations. And if you want to talk about systemic sin, greed, and oppression in our world, look no further than your local walmart/taco bell/mcdonalds/exxon...etc. This is a deep, difficult, and important question because it implicates all of us in America. I'm reminded of Jesus' conversation with the rich young ruler about how to get into the Kingdom. Would I be willing to get off of the grid for the sake of the call of Jesus? Would I get rid of my tv? Internet? My car? How far would I be willing to go? I don't like that line of thought because it calls into question some very ingrained parts of my life.
I was excited to hear him address this issue because I think there has been a real failure of leadership in the Church to address the issue of war and its motivations. I have been waiting to hear not only a strong Christian call to end war but also a condemnation of a way of life dependant on war.
It's completely appropriate in my opinion that this minister raises the issue of corporate domination in an age where Nation States are losing hegemony. It's not enough to slap on a bumper sticker that says, "What Part Of 'Thou Shall Not Kill' Don't You Understand." Most anti-war activists support American Imperialism every day. When we drive our cars we support the war. When we eat processed foods we support the war. When we shop at Mal-Wart we support a way of life that is predicated on oil which we are now killing people to acquire. Here in lies a whole host of action points for Christians but largely I see nothing from greater Christianity but support for a lifestyle of consumption; a life style that requires war and so I question the sincerity of a religion that preaches one thing and practices another.
I would expect the Church to point out that we have abandoned our former ways of meetings wants and needs largely though local, even homegrown means. Now we buy everything at Mal-Wart. We don't eat homemade bread, we eat Pop-Tarts. We don't walk to work, we drive our SUV's. And in doing so we support a small group of people who make lots of money selling us what we used to do for ourselves in our own communities. This way of life is not only very insecure and unjust but requires incredible amounts of energy, which comes to us mainly in the form of fossil fuels; most notably petroleum. Petroleum production peaked worldwide in July of 2006. Less oil will be available to us each year from now until forever. Two thirds of the oil that is still in the ground lies under the sands of the Middle East. There is little wonder why we attacked Iraq without real cause. It is a shame that the American business interests mentioned above mean to keep us consuming, or as John Michael Greer recently put it, “turning resources into pollution”, as fast as possible until those resources are gone because that is how those in power acquire wealth. But it is our shame that we continue to let them.
It really doesn’t even have to be about our over consumptive culture supporting an empire driven to war. Our consumption, our greed and gluttony themselves should be enough to turn our Christian stomachs. I know of another bumper sticker on the car of a Christian friend that says, 'Live Simply So That Other May Simply Live,' and I want to ask her why not give up the car itself? Sell it and use the money to help others “simply live.” Why not walk? Why not bike? Why not abandon the idea that more, bigger, faster is an appropriate national mantra? Why not reject the idea that stuff is more important than people? Why not imagine a better American dream? Why not step outside of a culture that has replaced its citizens with consumers? Doing so would not only be in keeping with the teachings of Christ. It would also make us healthier, happier and a better nation- truly evangelical and patriotic ideas!
Let me end by saying that more than one person has already labeled me a copout because I don’t engage directly with my congregation on these matters or at least find a more peace-friendly church. These are legitimate criticisms of my distance from the church. But anyone who has struggled with faith knows that such efforts are complex. And I wrote this not as an indictment of all Christians. I wrote it because I think my friend raises some good points. I wanted to share them and the fact that at least one disillusioned Christian is missing from the fold because he is dismayed that those of fellow faith are not leading the way back to a life of balance, of simplicity; a way of life that wouldn't require war or the use of so much oil on which the current war is based. I'm looking to the Church and the majority of Americans, who claim Christianity, for leadership on issues of energy and the environment and I am mostly disappointed.