Posts Tagged ‘Peace’

Peace Is Still the Normal

Posted on November 6, 2011 at 3.59 pm

As we headed to war in the aftermath of September 11, I remember wondering how long the wars would last and when we would return to peace — to “normal.”

In my defense, I was very young at the time.

I offer a defense because arguably peace has never been the normal for the United States.  Depending on one’s opinion of how large a military conflict must be to properly call it a war — and whether or not smaller conflicts can still be considered a breach of the peace — peace has basically never happened since 1776.  Even if we only look at the larger conflicts which nearly everyone would accept as “wars” in a strict sense, it’s only in the latter half of the 19th century that we find more than two decades — a generation — of peace.

The Pax Americana is, to put it mildly, a bit of a misnomer.  Peace has never really been the norm in the United States.

Nonetheless, the easy acceptance of multiple, small, overlapping wars strikes me as something new.  Perhaps this is my youth talking again, but bear with me:

The long saga of invasion in Iraq is finally over — or at least has morphed into a low-profile, largely privatized new phase of nation-building.  In the real world, of course, the American empire is still very much involved in Iraq, but in the mind of the average citizen with more immediate things on their minds, this is one war we can check off the list.  Mission belatedly accomplished.

In Afghanistan, too, we’re told that American military combat will be coming to an end sooner than expected — the original deadline being set all the way in December 2014.  This may never actually occur, but the recent media buzz around the subject may certainly serve to allay some uninformed fears about an overly long engagement in Obama’s pet war.

In Libya, too, NATO has achieved “victory” — albeit victory which in no way precludes ongoing U.S. intervention.

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Peace at Church?

Posted on September 2, 2010 at 2.16 pm

I like the church I attend.  It seems to be doctrinally sound, committed to in-depth exegetical teaching, and populated with friendly people truly interested in serving the Lord and making me feel welcome.

But, as with many American churches, there’s always the occasional hint of — well, “idolatry” seems too strong a word in this case, though I’ve certainly seen my fair share of exactly that — thoughtlessness toward the military.  I don’t mean thoughtlessness as the opposite of thoughtfulness/kindness, but rather thoughtlessness in the sense of a simple lack of thought.

As in many churches, support for the military is taken as a given.  Many services include prayer for the troops and their safety.  Though I have some issues with this practice*, I understand the honest concern church-goers may have for their loved ones fighting abroad.  But, as Laurence Vance writes,

I still see on church signs and church websites the “support our troops,” “pray for our troops,” and “God bless our troops” mantras. It doesn’t matter where U.S. troops go, how many go, how long they stay, or what they do when they are there – support for the military is a fundamental of the faith, right up there with the Virgin Birth and the Deity of Christ.

And that concerns me.  After all, is not Christ the “Prince of Peace”?  Furthermore, as Norman Horn of Libertarian Christians writes in the excellent piece which sparked this post,

[I]f you consider [the Iraqi and Afghan civilians] as we do, that they are innocent victims and have been wronged by their own leaders, by extremists, and by our own military, then may we pray to God as Jesus taught his disciples: to be “delivered from evil.” If we can pray this for ourselves, surely we can do so for others.

But second, if you still consider these people our enemies, then may we do as Jesus said in Matthew 5: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” May this be the beginning of understanding what Jesus said moments before, “Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

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Resolved: The libertarian philosophy is compatible with Christianity.

Posted on February 9, 2010 at 10.19 pm

Several months ago a friend of mine asked me for my thoughts on a resolution she’d shortly be debating:  The libertarian philosophy is compatible with Christianity.  I agreed with her that it is…and then proceeded to agree in rather long form — possibly longer than she would have liked.  But here, edited, are the ideas I had on the subject.

Libertarianism can be roughly broken down into support for peace, freedom, and property.  These three points nicely correspond to the three general areas of public policy:  foreign policy and (breaking domestic policy into its major components) social and economic policy.  So I’m going to use those three categories (out of order) to organize reasons why libertarianism and Christianity are more than compatible.

Freedom

*  An intrusive state allows the church to avoid serving its biblical purpose at best and prevents it from doing so at worst.  Consider, for instance, the damage done to the church by the welfare state.  The church is clearly called to minister to the poor and helpless (James 1: 27 and Matthew 1: 31-46 are easy references for that), but the state’s intrusion into this area is not only unjust because it steals from taxpayers but also because it usurps the church’s authority.  Intrusive government gives the church an excuse to become lazy and lacking in Christian love.

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