Stream of conciousness semi-rant I wrote on the train coming back from Tokyo.
War is a declaration that God does not exist or at least that he is a passive impotent God �Ethat under no circumstances will he intervene. We take things into our own hands and thus our actions reveal that our true belief is that it is up to us to save us; there is no sense of �acting only in Love and then allowing God to work his will among us�E Old Testament models, which involve shrinking armies and oddball war strategies to show that it is God who wins the battle, are ignored, as is the New Testament paradigm of a sort of Love that is very willing to die but never to kill and coerce.
Example: At the end of WWII Truman delved into grotesque in order to bring about what he believed would be the quickest end to the war. Tens of thousands of innocents were sacrificed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The decision revolved around the notion that up to one million American lives could be lost in an invasion of Japan. So to avoid that, Truman preferred to sacrifice the lives of the innocents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. One might propose that a possible �high road�Ewould have been to follow the dictates of the Just War theorem, avoiding the bombing of civilians and instead fighting the war with soldiers. Bombs can�t discriminate the way a soldier can (same case now in Iraq). The Japanese were ready to sacrifice their lives for their belief in Japan. For all our belief in ourselves as a Christian nation, you would have thought that a determination to do things the �just�Eway (the just war, which of course I think is a stretch) would have led us to accept huge sacrifices of soldiers if it meant saving the lives of Japanese innocents. But the facts of how we actually did things tend to reveal the reality behind the lies we tell ourselves.
I have said before that such talk, in the face of the history of war, is absurd, as history shows war to always be a race to the bottom. It is absurd because no nation has ever considered the teachings of Christ to be relevant to national affairs. But let�s entertain the fantasy for a moment. What would a nation look like that �loved its enemies�E For one, it would have no military. Militaries are for hurting enemies and coercing rather than blessing and freely persuading. Perhaps all military expenditure would be used by the Department of Extreme Generosity toward the active blessing of nations that didn�t have as much. Because of course, a Christian nation would not be satisfied to live in luxury while other nations struggled to feed themselves. Progress itself would be seen more in terms of bringing about the equality that God so desires rather than a race to the top of the comfort ladder.
Fantasy indeed. I don�t think it was ever intended to be a national thing for Christ, that is why he talked, more than anything in the gospels, about the Kingdom of God. We have our own nation to be devoted to, and it plays by different rules than all the other ones. The thing is, Christ knew that no one group of humans could be trusted to carry it out in its fullness, and that is why we pray �thy kingdom come�Eand live lives that look forward to his return. He promises us that his kingdom is advancing (though I admit I sometimes find that hard to believe), and we are invited to join in, but we don�t join in by playing by the old rules of revenge, control, and coercion. Just the opposite.
It�s not a national thing. The metaphors he uses to describe his followers�Esojourn in the world are �salt�Eand �yeast�E We won�t be the over-arching thing until he comes and sets it up, as only he is capable of not screwing it up. Our job is to be transformed by his Love, and serious about acting out his grace, even if they seems as nothing more than mustard seeds. This stance demands the existence of God, because if he doesn�t exist and isn�t giving birth to and driving the advancement of Love to a victorious conclusion, then all our embracing of weakness is just hopeless and pathetic, and will end in our own laughable destruction. But if there is something bigger than just these good ideas, if Christ�s commands for a new way of living can be taken seriously, then all it takes is courage to believe it and act on it. I guess that is why Jesus was always telling us to have faith, because without it, we can�t even take the simplest steps in his direction, whether it is a peace-full lifestyle, radical generosity, healing, etc...