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Stephen (aka Q)

I do have difficulty understanding people who think that either person is less than genuine, or occupies a lower moral ground than you or I.

I don't think that comment was directed at me personally. In any event, I certainly wish to distance myself from it.

I am confident that Daily and Sheehan are both sincere. Whether either occupies a lower moral ground than they might if they had adopted some other position — that's not for me to say. I'm a strong believer in freedom of conscience. I think Paul said it very well:

"Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own lord that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand" (Romans 14:4).

Regarding your two myths:

Myth #1: The stated reasons a government gives for going to war are the ones that really matter.

In your view, the government's reasons don't matter, because it is the Lord who directs the king's heart.

Does that mean we should never object when our government starts a war? We shouldn't listen to their reasons and weigh them in the balance, to see whether the stated justification for war is sufficient? We should just trust that the decision to go to war is God's will, and enthusiastically cheer for our side?

I have summarized the current President's praxis here:

"Fear-mongering, war-making, surveillance, the eclipse of habaeus corpus, widespread administration of torture, obstruction of justice, a pardoning of the President’s friends, denouncing free speech as anti-American …."

I guess your response to that summary is, it is irrelevant — President Bush is just doing what the Lord has directed his heart to do.

In my view, it matters greatly when the President lies to the electorate: when he has a hidden agenda for going to war; when he puts forward one pretext after another to justify the decision; when he claims to be succeeding when any objective observer can see that it isn't so.

I know you are familiar with the prophets, John. You know that the prophets made a regular practice of denouncing the king, on the assumption that he was acting contrary to God's will.

On your view, that isn't possible. The king only ever does God's will. How then were the prophets justified in their condemnation?

Surely our theological reading of history must be more sophisticated than that. Phil says it well here (I think he's quoting Childs):

"… the basic theological point that eschatological history, that is God's time, cannot be smoothly combined with empirical history, nor can the two be cleanly separated. … Prophetic eschatology is not an unmediated derivative of empirical history, but of a different order of divine intervention which is only dialectically related to temporal sequence. … An interpretation which flattens this distinctive, dialectical approach to history can only result in serious exegetical reductionism."

And that is what you offer: a flattening of the dialectic that says, "God directs the king's heart". If only matters were that simple!

Myth #2: Idealists believe war is to be avoided at all costs.

I'm almost but not quite that idealistic. I think war may be justifiable when it is clearly a last resort defensive measure.

But I pay attention to history, and it seems to me the costs of going to war are so great that it must be avoided at almost all costs.

For example, Daily touched on an important consideration when he said, "I would write off war because civilian casualties were guaranteed". Of course, the question becomes, how many civilian casualties are we talking about? And how many soldiers will die? — their deaths are not less tragic than civilian deaths, though they have voluntarily assumed the risk (as Daily did).

Just war theory (which I am dubious about, but it's worth some reflection) says that the potential benefits of war must always be balanced against the potential costs of war. As a liberal, I sympathize with the desire to end tyranny in other parts of the globe. But when we do a cost/benefit analysis, I'm not sure that the scales ever tilt in the right direction to justify starting a preemptive war.

History shows again and again that one evil is deposed only to see another evil rise in its place. What then is the net gain when we go to war? Does it justify the casualties (civilian and military) and the environmental cost?

My answer would be, almost never. That's why war is to be avoided at almost all costs.

And that's why preemptive war is never justified, in my view. If it's preemptive, it was not the choice of last resort.

As I read the evidence, Israel started out believing that YHWH was a war god, and that YHWH was always ready to fight on Israel's behalf. The Hebrew scriptures show the steady erosion of that conviction as history taught them how mistaken they were. And the Gospels show Jesus utterly repudiating this vision of YHWH as war god: and Jewish nationalism with it.

Nonetheless, nations continue to make the mistake of supposing that God is on their side when they go to war. "The Lord is directing the king's heart to do this" — therefore victory is assured if we just stay the course.

I don't think that's the right conclusion to draw, either from history or from scripture.

eclexia

Thank you, John, for this post. I am often touched and taught deeply by what you write, but don't really know what to say in response. So, I wanted to at least say thanks once in a while, so you know that you are impacting me. The last two paragraps of your post are so full of meaning and rich in implication for relationship and for connecting well and with honor to people who stand in extremes. I often find myself embracing extremely opposite and seemingly mutually exclusive views, sometimes at the same time, sometimes flopping inconsistently between them.

The things you write about holding on to tension instead of having to defend one way of looking at things or understanding the mysteries and paradoxes that seem so prevalent in the universe and in my faith--your words give me some stability and hope that I won't go insane living with this tension and these paradoxes. I can continue trust when it doesn't make sense (well, I suppose that is a big part of what trust is, but maybe I'm often tempted to understand and make things make sense or fit consistently into a theologic or philosophic system so that less of my life has to be trust.

And Stephen, thank you for the thoughts that you lead to my own uncertainty on this topic as well.

JohnFH

Stephen,

thanks for commenting here. It's very hard to discuss matters like this without trading insults. My purpose here is to show that we can differ on matters which rile us to no end, and search for common ground in the midst of sharp disagreements.

I'm trying to figure out where we differ on questions of principle. I'm not sure we do. If you were a pacifist pure and simple, that would be one thing; if you held that being a soldier or a magistrate is incompatible with being a Christian (the classical Anabaptist stance), that would mean we have fundamental differences. But you are careful to distance yourself from such positions.

You uphold the right and responsibility of citizenry to denounce its own government and elect another one of an opposing political formation, and you yourself exercise that right at some level by denouncing the Bush administration. I uphold the same rights and responsibilities. As far as I can see, you also uphold the right of the state to use coercion within its borders and outside of them in order to protect its citizens from those who would do them harm.

Perhaps we differ in the following way. I applaud the American propensity to proactively intervene to ensure that those rights and responsibilities and the exercise of other freedoms become and/or remain a prerogative within its own borders and in other nations: for example, in a colonial situation (the Revolutionary War), within the Union (the Civil War); throughout the world (WW II), and in more circumscribed contexts (wars and occupation in the cases of Korea, Vietnam, Iraq-Kuwait, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq). I also applaud the ongoing projection of American military power vis-à-vis North Korea (in favor of South Korean democracy), China (in favor of Taiwan's democracy), Russia (which restrains Putin's hand with respect to the Ukraine and Georgia), Iran (in favor of Israel, Lebanon, and Palestine), Afghanistan, and Iraq (against the forces of terror within both countries).

In the list of wars and occupations just given, unforgivable errors were committed along the way. The destruction of human life and habitat, the amount of perpetrated violence, rape, and torture in the name of stopping and preempting the same from an opposing side - this violence is absolutely overwhelming.

But that is not the same thing as saying that the world would be a better place if the colonies had not chosen to go to war, if Lincoln had sought some compromise short of war which would have allowed states to permit the enslavement of some human beings by others if that represented the will of the majority, if Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, the Bushes, and Clinton had pursued a hands-off policy in the cases mentioned.

Is that what you are suggesting? Probably not. It's more likely that you simply want to tar and feather the Bush administration and all politicians, especially Republicans, who support the administration's policies.

It has become a common rhetorical ploy for those who oppose this administration to suggest that it represents a gross anomaly with respect to previous administrations in the areas of law and foreign policy. I think the evidence points in the other direction. Roosevelt (who did not hesitate to resort to illegal acts to prepare for war against the will of an isolationist Congress, who placed Japanese-Americans in concentration camps, and tried to pack the Supreme Court), Truman (who dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, perhaps on the basis of faulty intelligence, and pursued the Marshall plan), Kennedy and Johnson (who sought to counter Communism geopolitically by holding back the North Vietnamese, and who aggressively fought the Cold War on all continents, at the cost of much blood and treasure), Clinton (who saw fit to bomb the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia, unless you believe that was an accident), and Bush II (who invaded Iraq based on faulty intelligence, and went on to devote enormous resources into nation-building experiments in Iraq and Afghanistan) are more like peas of the same pod.

You seem to agree that locations where the rights and responsibilities we both uphold are denied (China, Russia, North Korea, Myanmar, Iran, Syria, Zimbabwe, Sudan, areas where organizations like al-Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah are in charge, to name only a few) suffer under tyranny. But, unlike old-school socialists and modern-day neocons, fascism (the ideal of perfecting society through a powerful state run by an omniscient elite: the ideal is at least as old as Plato's Republic) does not mean war in your book. I can't tell for sure, but you may be suggesting what amounts to a "live, and let die" policy. Still, I have a hard time believing this.

Perhaps you believe that the US should project military power around the globe, but never actually make use of it. More likely, you wish that other countries, besides the US, Britain, Canada, Australia, and the Netherlands, would agree to engage the enemy militarily, as in Afghanistan. If so, we agree on that as well, but guess what: it's not going to happen. That being the case, the notion of a UN force with teeth of the kind many progressives floated in the run-up to the war that toppled Saddam Hussein, reveals itself to be a pipe dream, perhaps even in the long term.

We also agree that it is constitutive of democracy for aspects of a war, and a war itself, to come under intense scrutiny and criticism, not only at war's end, but in the fog of war itself, though I'm not surprised, as you seem to be, that there is a broad consensus in the US that, in the wake of 9/11, surveillance at the expense of privacy rights, aggressive interrogation techniques, and a curtailing of the rights of people captured on the battlefield or elsewhere are justifiable.

In any case, I applaud your vigilance on these matters, though my instincts tell me that the way you frame the issues may be counter-productive to your purposes. I long for the realization of the prophecy of Isaiah 2:2-5 as much as you do, and see the proliferation of democracy around the world as the best short-term hope for making progress in that direction.

I think the freedom of the Christian and the Jew is broad enough to allow for very different choices in matters of war and peace. My ancestors thought it appropriate and consonant with their faith to take the British on in the Revolutionary War. One even served as a general alongside George Washington. Some of their New England neighbors thought it more appropriate and consonant with their faith to flee to Canada.

I don't expect the Christian faith or the Jewish faith to adjudicate between choices of this kind. I'm thinking that you don't either, though perhaps you are after a theology and an ethos which, if shared by a majority of American Christians and Jews, would prevent them from agreeing to, going to war in, and occupying places like western Europe, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan in the future.

JohnFH

Eclexia,

thanks for understanding my primary purpose. I am not one hundred per cent sure of my own positions on questions like these, and I want to keep it that way.

I would rather be quick to recognize the strengths in a position different from my own than be quick to dismiss that position because the presuppositions which underly it are unacceptable to me.

Stephen (aka Q)

Thanks for the thoughtful reply, John. I have read enough of the academic literature to understand that scholars are not always gentle with one another, but (mostly) they don't stoop to ad hominem attacks. Everyone understands that truth often emerges through a quasi-adversarial exchange of opposing views, and such exchanges are good for the discipline.

In other words, you don't need to worry that I'll take offence when you contradict me. I understand the process we're engaged in here, and I'm comfortable with it — even if the topic is emotionally loaded.

Let me begin my response with this point, because it's one that I want to emphasize:

aggressive interrogation techniques

Call it what it is, John: torture. I have no patience for obfuscation on this point. However much we may disagree on other points, we ought at least to agree that Christians must speak clearly and honestly, and not support our politicians when they utilize bafflegab to mislead the public.

Andrew Sullivan has documented that the techniques employed by the Bush Administration are the same techniques employed by the Khmer Rouge and the Nazis, among other rogue states. I implore you: read this post of Sullivan's if you haven't already done so.

You don't make reference to the "ticking time bomb" scenario which is constantly invoked by Republican presidential candidates. But let me emphasize that the Bush Administration is using torture as a matter of routine, not in extraordinary "ticking time bomb" scenarios. The Christian public seems to think otherwise, but they are guilty of ducking their heads in the sand on this issue.

Second: I don't think the Bush Administration is equivalent to the previous administrations you mention. To my knowledge, Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, et al did not employ torture and claim it is a legitimate tactic of war.

The Christian ideal is, "overcome evil by doing good". That is the ideal embodied by Jesus. To overcome evil by committing similar evils is simply not something that a Christian can support. Torture is an absolute evil that no Christian can ever defend, no matter what good may ultimately result from it, in my view.

Getting back to Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, et al —

Citizens of a democracy must always begin with a careful evaluation of the threat we are up against. Roosevelt saw the awesome military might of the Germans and the Japanese, and saw that they were bent on world domination. Kennedy had equally solid reasons to fear the might and intentions of the Communist USSR.

I am on record as supporting the war in Afghanistan nearly two years ago. I'm not sure I would make the same argument today, because I am increasingly convinced that Christians should stand for peace. (My position is somewhat in flux at this point; I haven't reached final conclusions.)

Nonetheless, I recognize there was a compelling case for going after Osama bin Laden and setting out to disrupt the al Qaeda terrorist network he led. Indeed, one of the many grave consequences of the Iraq debacle is that Osama bin Laden is still out there, a hero to America's enemies, and presumably rebuilding his terrorist organization.

I acknowledge the strength of the various examples you site: i.e., of benefits realized by American militarism. But we disagree fundamentally here:

I long for the realization of the prophecy of Isaiah 2:2-5 as much as you do, and see the proliferation of democracy around the world as the best short-term hope for making progress in that direction.

That's a very problematic statement. We will never fulfill scriptural ideals by political means: much less by military means.

Previously, you reduced the king's actions to whatever the Lord directed his heart to do. Here, it seems to me that your argument is reductionist in the opposite direction. You claim that God's ultimate objectives for his creation can be brought about by the actions of Western, democratic governments. I suggest that you can't get to that destination by any earthly means.

I think Christians (I do not presume to speak on behalf the Jewish community) should stand for a different set of values, and a different set of "tools" for achieving YHWH's ends — ends which are not of this earth.

The use of state power to restrain evil is something I can and do support. But the use of state power to give effect to Isaiah 2:2-5 — I utterly reject that suggestion.

Stephen (aka Q)

I started out to say something, and then I got distracted. Namely: the USA drastically overestimated the threat presented by Saddam Hussein, and therefore drastically overreacted by going to war in Iraq.

Saddam was not a threat on the order of the Germans and the Japanese in World War II, or the Communist USSR during the Cold War era.

Even Osama bin Laden was not a threat of such a magnitude as those others. Here, too, Bush is in a (bush) league of his own, and not to be equated with Roosevelt, Truman, and Kennedy.

Simply put: the Presidet panicked. Or else he used the panic of the American public as a pretext for a decision (to invade Iraq) which he reached on other, undisclosed grounds. Either way, the invasion of Iraq cannot be defended as a "just" war.

JohnFH

Thanks, Stephen, for keeping the conversation going.

I'm not opposed to the use of waterboarding in every imaginable scenario, if that is what you mean by torture. It's a hideous technique, and is effective for that reason, but it is less objectionable to my mind than electrocution and other methods which cause permanent damage and were used by the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies long before the Khmer Rouge existed.

I rely for my opinion on these matters on the reported testimony of Navy Seals, who undergo waterboarding as part of their training. I would also note that there is a broad bipartisan consensus in favor of using torture that does no permanent damage in extraordinary circumstances. For example, Hillary Clinton, before her campaign really got going, came out with this position, though she wasn't terribly specific, and of course her husband and Al Gore had no qualms about extraordinary rendition so long as they were the ones authorizing it.

In other words, your Bush league of torturers includes all US presidents from Truman on, if I'm not mistaken. I recently heard an op-ed by Daniel Schorr to that effect on national public radio.

So far as I've followed the discussion, the main differences of opinion in the Beltway have to do with how to oversee the use of torture of a kind that does no permanent damage to the victim in extraordinary circumstances (and don't blame me if pols avoid the "t" word), and whether it should be authorized on the basis of a law, or on a completely ad hoc basis.

As far as "just war" thinking is concerned, I refer you to Doug Chaplin's recent post. The arguments in the run-up to the war in Iraq that struck a chord with me were not those made by Bush or by Democratic and Republican senators who authorized the president to go to war. They were ones made by Tony Blair and further-to-the-left Labour MPs in British Parliament. But I remember being very ambivalent about the whole thing from the start, and I still am.

For the rest, it sounds like you deny the possibility of divine co-optation of human efforts and institutions in the realization of prophecy.

Or maybe you are just saying that we should not assume that something we do, even the best things we do, are of any use to God. If that's the case, wow! Right on. That's what Zinzendorf said to Wesley when the latter said (I paraphrase), "but surely our good works are pleasing to God." Not so, said Z: (I paraphrase) "They obscure God's grace."

At some level, W and Z are both right, but, to paraphrase someone else, the first (W) will be last, and the last (Z) will be first.

Angela Erisman

"It has become a common rhetorical ploy for those who oppose this administration to suggest that it represents a gross anomaly with respect to previous administrations in the areas of law and foreign policy." (etc.)

John, it seems to me that you are here invoking the rhetorical ploy of "Well, everyone else did it, so why should we single out X?" This type of argument, if I may be so bold as to say, is rather beneath you. (That's a compliment.) Wrong is still wrong. The current administration should be called to account for its actions in Iraq just as much as the Roosevelt administration ought to be called to account for rounding up Japanese-Americans and putting them in concentration camps. This is so no matter what moral up-sides American involvement in these two conflicts may have had. The Roosevelt situation (just one of those you mention) is now a matter for history (and one does wonder what's wrong with our American history courses that so many people are ignorant of this). But we are living the Bush problem and can act to make it turn out better than those previous stiuations did. The focus on Bush is warranted.

What's at issue here perhaps is up-against-the-wall moral complexity. Bonhoeffer's involvement in the Hitler assassination plot had its moral up-sides, but he nonetheless participated in an effort to kill a man. A violation of God's will as we know it from scripture if ever there were. It was a matter of choosing between two evils. Had the Bush administration put forth an argument for involvement in Iraq that grappled with such moral complexities, and had they taken proper responsibility for things such as the torture of Iraqis, I would have more respect.

Casting one's choice in such a complex situation as the only right and patriotic thing to do is hogwash and constitutes failure to take responsibility for one's actions. Claiming that such an oversimiplification is what God would want is even worse. Bonhoeffer didn't resort to such oversimplifications, and neither should we accept them. He understood the nature of his choice and accepted the consequences nobly. Would that everyone acted so.

Stephen (aka Q)

Bonhoeffer understood the nature of his choice and accepted the consequences nobly. Would that everyone acted so.

Well said. This is one of the reasons I insist on calling torture, torture. If the President thinks torture is justified, he should say so and present his argument. (Just as you have done here, John.)

In a democracy it is not acceptable for the President to say "We don't torture" when he knows damned well that his administration does.

I've followed up with a post of my own. And I should make you aware (since I've explicitly responded to your argument) that I posted it both on my biblioblog and on my "secular" blog.

scott gray

john, stephen, eclexia, angela--

can't come out and play right now; i've got a house full of company.

believe you me, as soon as i can, i'll put on my shoes and come play with you all with a thought or two.

shalom (the root of this whole discussion)--

scott

JohnFH

Stephen, Doug (I'm thinking of your post on Metacatholic), Eclexia, and Angela: all of you have made comments I appreciate very much. Some of them serve as necessary correctives to one-sided comments I have made. I will try to summarize what I've learned in a future post. I expect Scott and others will contribute to the debate in the new year.

We are touching on many topics at once: war, prison camps, torture; the prophets, "just war" thinking, and pacifism. It is not easy to address these matters without pain and tears taking over. I have not yet given voice to the amount of shame I feel about specific instances of war in the wake of eyes of suffering that have met mine on more than one occasion in my life. I will, and I will also continue to honor and seek to understand those whose choices and views are different from my own.

eclexia

John, I learn many things from you, but one of the most significant is how you let me see what it looks like to truly and deeply show honor. You show me how rich and multi-faceted it is, and what it really means to show honor to people whom you could have easily disregarded, patronized or responded to arrogantly. You show me how to hold on to tensions lightly enough to be able to honor and understand people, no matter how different their worldviews, philosophies, theologies or politics are from mine. Thank you for this gift. It is making a difference in my life as I long to be this kind of a person.

scott gray

john—

as moral and ethical people, we’d like to think that moral behavior (right behavior) results in ethical (good) outcome. we’d like to think that immoral behavior (wrong behavior) results in unethical (bad) outcome. we embrace moral behavior/ethical outcome and shun immoral behavior/unethical outcome.

but it doesn’t always happen this way. sometimes, moral behavior, with the best of intentions, results in unethical outcome (responses to a perceived injustice that create even greater injustices, for example). sometimes, immoral behavior results in ethical outcome (waging war).

taking the life of a sentient being is immoral. the christian scriptures make this very, very clear (‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’). but there are times when taking sentient life can be ethical (have good outcome; such as removing a charismatic influential person like hitler). this is the tension i perceive when we talk about war. this tension creates cognitive dissonance in ‘thinkers,’ and existential pain in ‘feelers.’

doug is right when he says that just war theory is not a theory. it is not an explanation of how war happens. rather, when used preemptively, it is a set of principles, a model for problem solving and decision-making; a way to discern when ethical outcome seems to require immoral behavior.

at its best, just war decision-making keeps the tension of immoral behavior/ethical outcome at the fore of the process. it calls for surgical action instead of massive military action. it looks to minimize collateral damage. it can be pre-emptive, if it is the path of minimal killing and destruction. the kind of discernment i’m looking for is exactly what we read in the mark jennings daily passage in your post.

at its worst, just war theory becomes a formulaic process that removes any responsibility for immoral behavior. it makes immoral behavior appear moral, or amoral. i think stephen (aka q) is correct when he says that just war principles are used after the fact to justify going to war, which downplays or removes entirely the immoral behavior/ethical outcome tension. i’m not an idealist who says war is to be avoided at all costs. but i do say that war is always immoral. and the immorality of killing others should always be a part of our discernment.

the immoral behavior/ethical outcome tension is responded to in many different ways. some refuse to behave immorally by resisting any killing of others at all (anabaptists and quakers). some hedge the immorality of killing others by placing situational conditions on judging when killing others may be moral. some hedge by saying war is inevitable and can’t be avoided. some hedge by saying the immorality of killing is a personal responsibility, and that nations aren’t bound by the same moral standards and definitions.

some act immorally, for ethical reasons, and live with the existential pain or cognitive dissonance, with strong drink. some become mentally or physically ill. some can’t make relationships work, and are homeless. some commit suicide.

as a member of the u.s. army, i’ve behaved immorally for what i felt at the time were ethical outcomes. for me, the existential pain and cognitive dissonance are always there. i’ve responded to them by engaging in teshuvah whenever possible, by supporting as i’m able those who feel the same things, and now and then, with strong drink.

the folks who make me nervous are the ones who don’t see that killing a sentient being is immoral. the folks who make me really, really nervous are the ones who feel that not only is it not immoral to kill, but it is cause for celebration with parades and medals.

the best response i know how to make is to be preemptive—but with peace, not with war. pope john vi said, ‘if you want peace, work for justice.’ i would add ‘for others.’ hebrew scriptures would include security and prosperity.

if you want peace, work for justice for others.
if you want peace, work for prosperity for others.
if you want peace, work for security for others.

i think this is what the anabaptists and quakers aspire to. i think this is the eutopic vision alluded to by the author of isaiah 2, and especially by the final clause of the same passage in micah 4. i thank the author for the legacy of the vision. but where the author feels god will make this happen, i think we have to do it ourselves. the seduction of a god-driven eschaton is that we don’t have to behave immorally to live in shalom. i am agnostic about this. i think we have to do it ourselves, and that means we can never escape the immoral behavior/ethical outcome tension.

shalom—

scott

JohnFH

Thank you, Scott, for some acute comments.

I agree with you, to use a phrase of Stephen's, that war is intrinsically evil. Always. But the prosecution of a war, including a preemptive action, may still be the lesser of two evils.

eclexia

In a world where the choice all too often seems to be between the lesser of two evils (in that there often does not seem to be a good or right choice, or at least the "best" choice is seldom as pure and right as we might long for), I agree with you Scott, that it is more honest to live with the tension, the cognitive dissonance and the existential pain than to try to "reconcile" the dissonance and "soothe" the pain by talking ourselves out of calling wrong wrong.

This dialogue on war connects in intensely personal ways to some of the dissonance and pain I continue to wrestle with tied into my marriage ending in divorce.

Stephen (aka Q)

Scott:
Thanks for that very moving and very thoughtful comment.

JohnFH

Eclexia,

I think it's helpful to make the connections you are making. War, divorce, marriage itself, which often has the appearance of a perpetual civil war, all share in the fallenness of human life. This, I suppose, is hardly surprising.

What is surprising is that all three, yes all three - war, divorce, and marriage, each in its own way, become, but not necessarily are, a means of grace.

eclexia

I agree, John. There is so much meaning--cognitive, personal, emotional--that resonates with me, packed into your comment. This is part of why I can't neatly separate out the weeping of my heart into the parts that are "broken weeping" and the parts that are overwhelmingly "joyful weeping".

There is a lot more about the implications for theology (of divorce, war, marriage) that I feel when I read this statement, but it is even harder for me to articulate than what I've already said here.

Shawshank Redemption 4

I can't say that I fully agree with your comment of, "What a war means is not something that can be decided in advance by anyone, and cannot be ascertained, if ever, until after it is over, when the war’s consequences are fully known." I believe that war obviously has to be decided on in advance otherwise it wouldn't happen at all. And I found the story of Mark Jennings Daily to be very inspirational. He was 100% correct when he said that people had to problem watching their global citizens fight and die for the war. And the fact that he took the initiative to try and make a difference should be an inspiration to everyone.

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I agree that preemptive war is “extremely objectionable.” It might sound ridiculous, but I feel that no war is really necessary, but I know there are justifiable wars. It is obviously justifiable to fight if you’re being attacked. Who does decide what war means? I think it’s a “to each his own” situation, everyone has their own idea of what war is. No one person can define war. I classify war as any large battle between countries and there are also family wars. I don’t mean parents and kids fighting, I mean rivalries between families, like the Montagues and the Capulets.
Thos who refuse to fight tend to see war as a much worse thing than those who do fight it. People say, “You have to fight for your country.” I am all for patriotism and I have the utmost respect for all soldiers and anyone involved in the army, marines, air force, etc. At the same time, I just wish we didn’t have to get involved in wars that don’t really pertain to us. I understand we must help those people and I’m so happy that we do, I just wish everyone could just be happy. That makes me sound like a hippie, but honestly, everyone just needs to chill out about race, land, religion, and money. If someone has a different religion than you, that’s ok! As long as people don’t push their religious views on other people and respected each other’s traditions and values, everyone would be fine. Unfortunately, I know the world will never be like that.
Myth #1 made me laugh out loud. The government never tells you all the reasons for going to war. I know I just brought up this point but I feel it needs to be revisited, every single war there ever was happened because some people had a problem with another person’s race and/or religion or they wanted more land and/or money. We lose so much money going to war, it makes me sick to think that some of that money is used to put bullets in another human being. It’s almost impossible to say if any specific person deserves to die, who are we to take life from someone? That also presents the question, “Well what if someone killed someone else, then do they deserve to die? They took someone elses’ life so we should take theirs.” Honestly, I cannot answer that question and will never be able to. I’m not God.
I’ve heard myth #2 many times. I don’t exactly know what being an idealist all entails, but I’m pretty sure I could be classified as one. If so, no, I don’t want to go to war. Of course I don’t want people to be murdered, cities to be destroyed, and trillions of dollars to be wasted on killing others, but I also understand the justifiable reasons for war. If another country is attempting to massacre the U.S., then yes, let’s have a war. We must defend ourselves. If a country invades another country and they desperately need our help, they yes, let’s step in, let’s be involved in war.

Truman Show 2

This is a very personal and delicate post. First I want to state that I do believe that war is justifiable. Not every war and especially ones fought for the wrong reasons. However, we do see in 1 Maccabees what can happen to people when they chose not to fight back. Had their kindred followed their lead they would have been massacred. It is also plainly stated in Ecclesiastes 3:8 that there is a time for war and a time for peace. This tells me that God is ok with war so long as it is for the right reason. The question asking who decides the meaning of war is very simple. The people who live it and are haunted by the terrible things they witnessed. The fallen brothers who gave their life, the ones who held their brothers hand as they died on the battle field. The troops that left their families and were forced to kill or be killed. The children who saw their enemies walk on their land and kill their people or entered their house uninvited. These and only these people can tell you what war really means. They lived it and carry it with them forever. Not the people who read about it or watch the news or see a war movie. It simply can’t be imagined or truly experienced unless you are personally there. Yes you might be affected but not to the measure they were. We know what David did to Goliath, but did we see the bloodshed and feel the exhaustion and sleep deprivation they did? Do we look in the mirror and face a person that took the life of another?

The Truman Show 5

When it comes to who decides what war means, it usually falls onto who's fighting the war. It falls onto them because they are the main parties involved in the conflict. But when it comes to war, there shouldn't be any to decide what they mean. Problems should be worked out without the threat of violence just look at Gandhi for example. It's to bad that people usually just jump straight to violence. What they should be doing is consulting the Lord with what they should do for he is all knowing and will lead them to the best decisions to be made.

chariots of fire 3

As for myth two “Idealists believe war is to be avoided at all costs.” It says that this belief is completely false; and the prophets didn’t shy away from war at all, the prophets actually saw war as the will of God. The first time I read this first part I didn’t believe that war was started so willingly, but as I went on to read the rest of the article it became more clear that war was a big part of the era. I thought that the passage for 2 kings in the article was very helpful and appropriate.

chariots of fire 3

This was an extremely interesting article and I really agreed with some of it and other parts of it I don’t completely agree with. I think that myth one is partially correct and partially incorrect. I think that the government does give us real reasons as to why we are going to war, and they are usually reasons that the majority of the citizens would agree with. On the other hand I also feel that there are more reasons that aren’t given to the public, reasons that the government may think that the majority of citizens would agree with.

Chariots of Fire 1

I liked what Mike Daily wrote. Sometimes it’s necessary to go to war to really help people, whether it’s people in another country, or our own citizens in the United States. A lot of people claim to be “humanists” (as Daily put it), but they don’t actually do anything. If you are going to claim that title, then you better back it up by taking your words and making them action. Before you go and complain about the war and stand against it, you better look at the reasons why we are at war and really try to see the good that can come out of it. War can bring peace.

The Truman Show 3

I think that war is a misunderstanding between two cultures, where one culture feels that they are superior to another and they decide to prove it.... or it's to get oil. We can't look at the war in Iraq and say that we went there just to make it a better place. There are almost 200 countries in the world, all with their own issues such as poverty and violence, and we choose one of the largest oil producing countries to "Help the people"? I think it's for the oil and I don't think war is a good way to truly help anyone. A few months ago I watched a talk on TED (Sam Richards: A radical experiment in empathy) about seeing the War in Iraq from the view of an Iraqi and it was eye opening to imagine how they might see us as trying to push religion onto them and how they are just protecting their freedoms.

(http://www.ted.com/talks/sam_richards_a_radical_experiment_in_empathy.html)

Breaker Morant 2

To be completely honest, you are right on the ball with the idea of what a war could/would/should be. There is no right or wrong way to look at a war. One of my favorite quotes from a book goes "There are always three sides to every memory, yours, theirs, and the truth, which lies somewhere in between the two." I believe that this quote accurately portrays what is going on when a war occurs, because neither side is willing to admit that they could be wrong (matter of pride) or that the other side has a chance of being right (because then why would they have gotten into the war in the first place.)

That being said, sometimes its convenient for wars between two different countries or religions, because it becomes the excuse that one side has been looking for to make sure that the other side either pays for it, or becomes wiped out or dehumanized. It is a very cynical way to look at war, but lets face it, there are even stories in the Bible of brothers killing each other because one was jealous of the other. War is just one's convenient use of a partial truth to further their own goals, regardless of the truth or opinion of the other side.

Pulp Fiction 6

If the prophets saw war as the will of God, then I would think that they would not question whether or not they should be having war. They said that their ultimate goal was peace, but why would they want to go against what is supposedly the will of God. War is a topic that I go both ways on. I know that they are supporting our country, but I also do not believe it is their job to have to put their lives at risk for something that chances are they do not even understand. If you ask most people why we are at war right now, they would not even be able to begin to explain why we are doing what we do.

Dead Man Walking 2

The two myths stated at the beginning of the essay sparked my interest. Myth one states,The stated reasons a government gives for going to war are the ones that really matter." To me this does seem like a huge myth. Governments always have other motives for going to war besides the ones stated. A perfect example of this is the Iraq war. When we began the war, it was because they were suspected of having weapons of mass destruction. After a while it was realized that there really wasn't any there at all. I believe their real motive was oil. That one of the main reasons that we went to war and not because of the stated ones given my our government. Myth two states, "Idealists believe war is to be avoided at all costs." This is a fallacy because even though war is a bad thing it is needed sometimes. When change is needed, sometime violence is needed to push the idea along.

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