A Currency of Destruction

A friend of a friend, Michael Westmoreland, said something today that slowed me down and made my heart beat a little faster. He said, "64 years ago today, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the civilian city of Nagasaki, Japan. Ironically, while both the pilot and bombardier were Catholics, ground zero was the steeple of the largest Catholic Church and monastic community in Asia. May we use the day for redicating ourselves to a world without weapons of mass destruction and without the insanity of war."

Which reminds me of a song by my curly-haired-pontificating-harmonica-playing-best-friend named Bob Dylan titled “Masters of War.” Which then leads me to another song of his; the chilling re-thought of rhetoric entitled “With God on Our Side.”

And staying within the realms of this post but going along with the theme of homosexuality that’s been swirling around here my friend Alex once suggested that just maybe it’s better to be a Christian homosexual than a Christian soldier. A scandalous thought to some, I’m sure. Your thoughts please.


  1. Hauerwas wrote an article arguing that homosexuals as a group are morally superior to Christians as a group, because homosexuals are excluded from the military and Christians aren't.

  2. I bascially agree with everything Shane Claiborne says in "Jesus for President" about Hiroshima and being a Christian soldier. He says it much better than I can.

    To sum up the general idea, you'd be pretty hard pressed to Biblically make an argument that it's OK to kill other people just because your government tells you that they are bad and you are good. The Bible says to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Turn the other cheek. Walk two miles. Not bomb the hell out of them and make them pay. As hard as it is and as wrong as it sounds to do it, we probably should have prayed for the Al-Queda after 9/11, not murdered them in retaliation.

  3. i used to be unsure about what i thought about war because my parents were (are) for it. but i know Jesus has called us to love, and when i ask myself if that includes killing other people and destroying their lives, i have discovered that love is simply nowhere to be found in that equation.

    to answer your question about homosexuals (not that i really have the ability to, although i'm not sure if anyone does, really), if you are a christian and understand that homosexuality is wrong and you understand that killing people is wrong; if you are a christian who had led a homosexual lifestyle or participated in war and realized that it was a terrible thing to do and went against the will of God, thus becoming changed in his love, both people would be equally saved and equally adored by God. however, if you claim to be a christian homosexual or a christian soldier and indulge in those activities, i hardly think you would truly be able to claim yourself as living for Christ.

    i am a terrible failure at this, but it is stated numerous times in the bible that obedience is proof of loving God. therefore, we are called to obey him at all times, which is of course impossible. but i think it is naive to say that people who join the military are less innocent than people who are homosexual, because we are all terrible sinners and would be condemned to Hell if it weren't for the blood of Christ. we all nailed him to the cross despite the "severity" of our sins. no, i do not think killing people is right. but Jesus calls us to love all people, even those who are dropping bombs or those participating in certain activities with the same sex. not that we have to agree with them, endorse them, or support them in their decisions or actions regarding those categories. but we have to love them.

  4. The law of Moses said that homosexuality was a sin. But it also said that slaughtering certain children and women, including pregnant women, was pleasing to God. Somehow I don't think that the law of Moses quite had its finger on the pulse of God's heart.

  5. Thom, find and link that article I would love to read it. And didn't Hauerwas say something like I'm a pacifist because I'm a violent sonovabitch?

    And I think we can all agree that Bob Dylan, being the good Jew that he is, always has his finger on the pulse of God.

  6. Dylan is a Jew-Christian, so sometimes it's iffy. But Masters of War is definitely on the pulse.

    The Hauerwas article isn't available online, as far as I know. But it's published in his book _Dispatches from the Front_. Maybe Google books will have all the pages available.

    And yes. Hauerwas is a pacifist because he's a violent sonofabitch. Meaning, he knows what he's capable of, so he makes it known he's a pacifist so people will hold his feet to the fire.

    Cavanagh or Kenneson or some Hauerwasian once said that Hauerwas is the pacifist he'd most like to have by his side in a bar fight.

    To be quite honest, I'd rather have Hauerwas's wife in a bar fight. I think she's actually tougher. He just talks tough.

  7. The law of Moses was written by God, so I'm not willing to dis God by saying it was somehow flawed.
    Note that I am not saying the Mosaic Law is in effect for us, because it surely isn't.

    As for being a Christian and a soldier, of course someone can be both. Salvation depends on your belief in what Jesus did on the Cross. That's what makes you a Christian. One can be a Christian and still take opposing views on the things that we encounter in life. To say one cannot be a Christian and a soldier is just as silly as saying one cannot be a Christian and a Republican, or for that matter, a Democrat.

  8. Emily wrote
    "you'd be pretty hard pressed to Biblically make an argument that it's OK to kill other people just because your government tells you that they are bad and you are good. The Bible says to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us."

    I see where you are coming from, and certainly I'd agree with you that there are some unjust wars, including the current one. But even the most die-hard pacifists would admit that a police officer must sometimes resort to violence to defend a helpless citizen.

    In the case of WWII, I cannot make a strong case for dropping the bomb on Hiroshima or Nagasaki. But I am convinced that what our army did in Europe was necessary, and the world is better off today because of it. I liken it to the police example I just mentioned. Now, you may disagree, but I wanted to mention it because it's not a matter of the Third Reich being our enemies. It's a matter of us defending, and freeing, others who could not do it for themselves.

  9. James I think you are missing the point.

    You have commented multiple times on the fact that out of love, if you saw someone engaging in something that was sin (the example was homosexuality) then you would have to bring that sin to light. You said it would be the same as not telling someone that an 18 wheeler was coming at them; it is the loving thing to do to warn them about their impending sin.

    In the same way, according to scripture we are called to love, especially our enemies. For crying out loud the soldier that came to kill Jesus, when Peter sliced his ear off Jesus re-attached it. We are supposed to love our enemies. If you are a soldier, by definition you are not able to love your enemies. Your mission is to destroy them, either economically or physically. Many people would call that sin. I personally do.

    I won't even get started on the whole issue of being a soldier and bascially pledging allegiance to serve two masters, the state and (if you're a Christian) God, but there is something to be said for that. When the government tells you to do something God clearly says is wrong who do you obey?

    It's definitley not "silly" to raise the issue of whether or not you can be a Christian and a soldier, it's just a valid discussion as being a homosexual and a Christian.

  10. something i literally just read a couple minutes ago in a fantastic book called the brother's k by david james duncan:

    (it is a fictious transcript of an account given by a soldier of the vietnam war who was declared insane)

    "how can love ever operate in the Army is what I started feeling. because isn't that the real problem here? it sure is my problem. cause i'm a christian. or was. and christ's love doesn't work, is what we feel in the Army. that kind of shit gets you killed here, it's an eye for an eye here, if Christ's love was real this whole war couldn't be happening. that's how we feel. but after he was gone and i'd so barely tried to stop them, how would i know, is what i started feeling. because how can Christ's love operate anywhere, ever, if some fool doesn't just start to operate it?"

  11. Thom, I know I wouldn't want Bob Dylan next to me in a bar fight...unless of course we were in a gay bar. Can I say that? And yes, "Masters of War" sounds like the plea of a Hebrew Prophet at the peak of his career.

    James, you bring up a common counter but I think you got off track a little and Emily brought you back in.

    Emily, *high-five for pimp comment of the week.

    Lyn, Duncan has my reading list for a while, thanks for the reminder.

  12. Emily, I think you missed my point. You spoke of the command to love our enemies. My point was that some of the US's military action has been not to fight our own enemies, but on behalf of someone else who needs protection but doesn't have the capability to do so.

    And I don't think I used the word "silly". If I did, I apologize.

  13. OK, I went back and did use the word silly. What I meant was, whether or not you are a Christian is dependent on your acceptance of Jesus as savior. Not how you vote, your stance on gay rights, abortion, health care reform, or many of the other items I see people bring up when they say "I don't think someone can be a Christian and think ____"

    That's what I meant. I'm not saying pacifists, or hawks, are silly. I am saying that using non-salvation criteria to define someone as saved is to fail to understand what salvation is.

    Having said what I meant, I apologize for the ill-thought-out choice of words. I should have done better than that.