The following piece, “The War Prayer” by Mark Twain, sums up pretty well how I felt on Independence Day as I reflected on the gung-ho, John Wayne, cowboy diplomacy attitude espoused by so many of my fellow American Christians.
Some recent unpleasant interactions between Christians have been weighing on my conscience. As I sat in eucharistic adoration this morning, I asked God what I should have done/be doing. Just before leaving the chapel, I prayed morning prayer of the divine office and the scripture reading was this:
“Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:29-32
I think God wanted me to remind myself and others of this teaching. While I’m on the subject, I’ll throw in the following for good measure.
“[T]he whole law is fulfilled in one word, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another…If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another.” – Galatians 5:15,25-26
“Do not say that you are interested in money for the sake of the poor, for two mites were sufficient to purchase the kingdom of heaven (cf. Luke 21:2).”
“The pretext of almsgiving is the start of avarice, and the finish is detestation of the poor. The collector is stirred by charity, but, when the money is in, the grip tightens.”
“A man who has embraced poverty offers up prayer that is pure, while a man who loves possessions prays to material images.”
“The man who has tasted the things of heaven easily thinks nothing of what is below, but he who has had no taste of heaven finds pleasure in possessions.”
“The man who thinks nothing of goods has freed himself from quarrels and disputes. But the lover of possessions will fight to the death for a needle. Sturdy faith cuts off cares, and remembrance of death denies the body. There was no trace of avarice in Job, and so he remained tranquil when he lost everything.”
September 11, 2001 was indeed a sad and tragic day that will haunt Americans for years to come. I mourn the loss of life and my heart goes out to those who lost loved ones. However, I cannot and will not jump on the rah-rah "Let's Roll" bandwagon of melodrama mixed with hawkish propaganda.
If the lives of ~3000 who died at the hands of terrorist scum mean so much to us, why aren't we doing anything in Darfur, Sudan where tens – perhaps even hundreds – of thousands of people have died, are dying, and will die at the hands of genocidal scum? If we're so gung-ho about kicking Evil's ass, why didn't we do it in Congo , where millions died – not by a swift crash, explosion, or building collapse, but by starvation?
“He’d done it [created WMD] before,” Cheney said. “He had produced chemical weapons before and used them. He had produced biological weapons. He had a robust nuclear program in ’91.”
The U.S. invasion “was the right thing to do, and if we had to do it again, we would do exactly the same thing,” he said.
In other words, even if the intelligence had indicated no WMD, it would have been right to invade anyhow. As Rob points out, such a statement casts doubt on Bush’s sincerity when he claimed to be pursuing every diplomatic option to avoid war. Does it also make the way unjust? Did we have sufficient moral reason or obligation to depose Hussein? John Paul II didn’t seem to think so, even before the intelligence was found to be faulty. What do you think?