Sunday, December 28, 2008

Onward Christian Soldiers

Marching as to war....
Tony Blair:
Religious faith will be of the same significance to the 21st century as political ideology was to the 20th century.
George Bush:
I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, 'George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.' And I did, and then God would tell me, 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq ... ' And I did.
What is this God thing, and what is it good for?

The crusades are back. After taking a century and a half off or so, religion is staging a comeback as the number one reason for war. Larry Beinhart is asking, Why did faith re-emerge as the driving force in America and in the politics of many Islamic countries?
A serious conversation about faith and how it works should have become one of the leading topics of our national conversation, in the press, on television, in books and in academia, instead of a public parade of politicians on television competing to prove how much faith each of them has.

God, religion, faith, spirituality -- whichever face of the prism we are looking at -- runs like a vertical pillar through all the levels of our lives. Our international policies are fixed largely around this war on terror. Our most volatile domestic political issues -- regulating our sex lives, abortion, birth control, homosexuality, separation of church and state -- are rooted in our religious views. Our social circles, our family structures, our individual lives, our world views, how we live and die, our health and happiness -- are organized around our spiritual views, or lack thereof.
I have been remiss in not researching and writing on these issues. The insidious force of God-driven impulses still distort the definition of our national interests in terms of foreign policy.

Barack Obama is about to anoint Rick Warren as the next evangelical-laureate, the next Billy Graham.

And look what Warren said just the other day about Iraq:
We've got this compassion fatigue in America. It's why we have a slow genocide going on in Darfur.

. . . . . we must do all we can. People say America is not the policeman of the world. We may not be, but the Bible says, if you have been blessed, then you are to care for people who can't care for themselves, you are to speak up for people who can't speak for themselves, and to defend the defenseless.

That's why whether or not they found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is beside the point. Saddam and his sons were raping the country, literally. And we morally had to do something. If you have a Judeo-Christian heritage, you have to believe it when God says that evil cannot be compromised with. It has to be resisted, it has to be overcome.
Mystery solved: It was not the Joker, but the God-Card that provided the inside straight allowing America's anti-terrorism hand to be trumped by Bush's crusade against tyranny. I had always been puzzled by that.

But the joke is that anyone can claim or kidnap any one else's god, just to make a point. In the United Kingdom, Channel 4 broadcast an Alternative Christmas Message by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who said, in part:
Upon the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, Son of Mary, the Word of God, the Messenger of mercy, I would like to congratulate the followers of Abrahamic faiths, especially the followers of Jesus Christ, and the people of Britain ....

All Prophets called for the worship of God, for love and brotherhood, for the establishment of justice and for love in human society. Jesus, the Son of Mary, is the standard-bearer of justice, of love for our fellow human beings, of the fight against tyranny, discrimination and injustice.

.... All the problems that have bedevilled humanity throughout the ages came about because humanity followed an evil path and disregarded the message of the Prophets.

..... Now as human society faces a myriad of problems and a succession of complex crises, the root causes can be found in humanity's rejection of that message, in particular the indifference of some governments and powers towards the teachings of the divine Prophets, especially those of Jesus Christ.

..... If Christ were on earth today, undoubtedly He would stand with the people in opposition to bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers.

If Christ were on earth today, undoubtedly He would hoist the banner of justice and love for humanity to oppose warmongers, occupiers, terrorists and bullies the world over.

If Christ were on earth today, undoubtedly He would fight against the tyrannical policies of prevailing global economic and political systems, as He did in His lifetime .....

Once again, I congratulate one and all on the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ .....
Of course Her Majesty's Government and the Church of England rebuked Channel 4 for broadcasting Ahmadinejad's Christmas message. After you have been taught - for centuries - that God's on your side, to be told that He's switched sides is intolerable.


  1. To Bush and Blair, God seems to be a member of a church, or a member of the choir in a church, saying "Amen" to any crazy idea that comes into their mind.

    Nice to have a God like that, huh? You can screw up for 8 years and still get an amen with hands raised to the sky.

  2. If Christ were on earth today, undoubtedly He would hoist the banner of justice and love for humanity to oppose warmongers, occupiers, terrorists and bullies the world over.

    These words of Ahmadinejad ’s could have been spoken from many a pulpit in America. Sadly, it is true that under Busheney’s “leadership”, we have become warmongers, occupiers, terrorists and bullies.

    Granted, those adjectives accurately describe many other countries inhabiting this fragile planet with us, but that fact does not excuse nor justify the crimes committed by this ideologically driven cabal whose actions have so damaged our international reputation.

    Ahmadinejad’s words remind us that our hypocritical and narcissistic Emperor wears no clothes.

  3. I will probably butcher it a bit but I think the famous theologian-preacher William Sloan Coffin had it right when he said: "Arrogance is the fundamental sin because it invites you to play God."

    The distinction between attempting to follow God and playing God seems to also distinguish the good and bad sides of any faith, religion or spirituality. The problem is the notion that people get that they can know God and what God commands down to the details and so perfectly as to master or harness God's power.

  4. That second quote from GWB is the simplest and most effective refutation of theistic practices yet. Perhaps it should be juxtaposed with Matthew 7, 16-20

    “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

    Bush is one rotten apple, for sure.

  5. A quote in response to Colleen's comment:

    "I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires." -- Susan B. Anthony

  6. You can't literally rape a country. It's a figure of speech.

  7. From my position in the Bible Belt much of the "renewed" faith in God seems to stem more from fear of how fast things are changing. Just twenty years ago a mixed race couple wouldn't have dared walk down the street in public in many parts of South Carolina.

    Add the various other aspects of modern life that upset those more inclined to stay with the standard nuclear family. Fear of the bogeyman amplified by political hyenas along with a dose of sheer might-makes-right attitude and the churches in America seem to become comfortable with torture, massive foreign civilian casualties, and violations of civil liberties in this country.

  8. I've been anti-Bush since he defeated Ann Richards for Gov. of Texas. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I don't believe he won either election.

    All your comments resonate with me, particularly SadButTrue's Susan B. Anthony quote. And Beach's comment hit me particularly hard.

    Americans forgot James Madison: I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. I Think of those signing statements and shudder.

    Obama and Biden have their work cut out for them since Busheney did such a good job destroying our country and then saying "Amen," as MacDaddy wrote.

    You each expressed everything I feel. And, at this moment, we're almost to 21 days until the end of the eight-year nightmare.

  9. This, too: They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Benjamin Franklin.

  10. This is a good discussion and I do not disagree with the general comments here from vigilante or theose who have added remarks.

    However, it is extremely unlikely that George Bush ever made the comments you've quoted at the begining of this essay. The actual quote comes from Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath who was, at best, paraphrasing comments he claimed were made by Bush.

    Frankly, if Bush tried to be this cute in a statement he would likely have botched the line.

    None-the-less, I'm certain it does properly reflect George Bush's view of religion and his leadership role.

    In my experience, the Susan B. Anthony quote offered by SadButTrue is simply always true "I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires."