Why, when almost every major denomination on record opposed unilateral U.S. action in Iraq, did most people in the pews support it? In recent months researchers have begun to address that question by examining knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about involvement in Iraq. The findings reveal a deeply disturbing gap between the facts and the public’s beliefs.
During the war against Iraq an interviewer asked me where I got some of the theological ideas that called more for repentance by “our side” than triumph over “them” and theirs. I told him that they came from Martin Luther—though my views are milder than Luther’s were.
My grandfather was a retired navy officer when he died, so we held his funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. We were greeted at the gates by armed guards. Taps played while my grandfather’s ashes were put into a horse-drawn casket. An American flag was folded and presented to my grandmother. At the funeral we saw how the military gives meaning even to death, shape even to destruction, and an idealistic aura to aggression.
A strange king is likely to have a strange kingdom, and the kingdom of Jesus is no exception. The kingdom of Christ is a multilateral community, marked by a deep mutual love and an ongoing push to ever greater love. Our difficulty is not in envisioning the image of community. Our trouble comes with the necessity of confronting those situations in which community is broken, or worse, in which human beings are attacking other human beings. What are the international implications of these readings?
Though it is hard to imagine the situation in Colombia getting much worse, church leaders and human rights groups are warning that the violence is in fact increasing, and that a “dirty war” like the one in El Salvador in the 1980s and in Chile and Argentina in the 1970s is likely to erupt.
Americans are fearful these days. September 11 snatched from us (forever?) a feeling of invincibility, a sense of being safe and secure from foreign invasion. Now we keep getting homeland security warnings about the probability of another terrorist attack. Besides that, a crazed sniper is on the loose around Washington, D.C.
Never in my life has the violence in the Gospel of John seemed so recognizable. Now it corresponds to the daily news: a man fears going out in public in Jerusalem, as Jesus did on that festival of booths. This simple act can result in either glory or destruction, depending on whether “the street” murmurs disapproval or approbation.
Whatever the motives behind it, the land-for-peace initiative floated by Saudi Arabia strikes a note of reason in the ever-escalating violence of the Middle East. Since September 2000 over 1,074 Palestinians and 375 Jews have been killed in rounds of provocation and counterprovocation.
When she was ten years old, Deora Bodley was in a play called Compukids in which she sang a song written by her father: “My daddy always said / when he’d put me down to bed: / Rest easy, little one, and don’t you cry.