Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day 2015: On God and War

On this Memorial Day, I find myself reflecting on the words of Country Joe McDonald, the Vietnam War Veteran turned 1960’s rocker, who said, “Hate the war, not the warrior.” Let me be clear: I support our troops. I believe the best support we can give them is to bring them home. There is plenty to do right here to make America safer. My least favorite people in the world are the ones who invoke God to justify murder. “God is on our side,” they say. “It is God’s will.” “God wants us to punish the evildoers.” “God bless us and be with us as we undertake this difficult task.” We presume to understand the mind of God. We further presume that the righteousness of our cause means that God automatically must be on our side of the conflict, which means, of course, that we presume our cause is righteous and further, that being righteous matters more than logistics. Almost half the world is comprised of “children of the book,” who share a common conceptualization of what and who God is, replete with His teachings handed down centuries ago through Moses to all Muslims, Christians and Jews. He made it clear then where He stood when He forbade us from killing each other all those years ago. There were no exclusions, no fine print, no escape clauses, no ambiguous legalese. Four words: Thou Shalt Not Kill. Article five of the covenant. It would seem to be simple enough. But if it went without saying, He wouldn’t have had to say it. So we must not embarrass ourselves. We must not blame God for what people do. We must not assume victory is guaranteed because God is on our side; He is not. He’s off doing some creation work on a distant moon in another corner of the galaxy. He’s far too busy to go around picking sides among us. He doesn’t even bet on the Super Bowl.

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