Monday, November 12, 2007

A Christian Soldier At War -- And Anti-Christian Bigotry

Marquette alumnus and future Jesuit priest William Blazek wrote a Veterans Day piece for the Washington Post/Newsweek website, just published today.

Among his observations:
One thing that has always struck this veteran about those who serve our nation in the armed forces is the incredible generosity with which they care for each other, the incredible generosity with which they love one another. They do this in sharing meals, in giving burned-out comrades time to catch a bit of sleep, and in simple things like cups of coffee. Although I could not see it as clearly then, God was very present to us in such simple gestures during the First Gulf War. Now that I am a bit more practiced in looking for signs of Him, it is not too hard to figure out. To take care of someone is to love that person, and God is love. Therefore, we can find God’s love in our service members’ care for each other.
A nice sentiment, and typical of American soldiers today as in the past.

But the essay, unfortunately, opened the floodgates for anti-Christian bigotry in the comments section following the article.

Among the typical statements:
Why do Christians call any positive emotion love? It cheapens the word.

What you have here is the concept known as ‘comitatus’. It’s group identity, being a part of a warrior band. Comradeship.

Talk about reaching for the same old towel.

Everything you describe here was done in much the same way by successful warrior bands from time immemorial. The Vikings just didn’t see it as evidence of the presence of Wotan.
And then:
God is very present to us in such simple gestures. . . To take care of someone is to love that person, and God is love. Therefore, we can find God’s love in gays’ care for each other.

I’m not saying all service people are gay but what I am pointing out is that some people who find God in simple gestures of those they approve of somehow can’t find God in the same gestures of those they condemn.
It’s not clear Blazek would disagree with this. It seems this poster can’t accept a Christian sentiment without working homosexuality into the discussion.
And pray tell, didn’t your God have something to say about killing? Oh, yes, I know. You conveniently forgot all those teachings about “love thy neighbor” and “turn the other cheek” and stuff that Jesus said about peace. If you find God in a cup of coffee and can’t figure out that a battlefield is not a tribute to Him or anyone else, then you don’t understand squat.
And then:
This said, to those Wiccan or other pagan soldiers who still serve today, I wish you the best. Stand like the stones, burn like the fires, shout with the wind, and fill your spaces and roles confidently and fully like water. Wherever you may fall, the earth mother waits to embrace you. You are not alone.
And then:
What’s God got to do with anything? There’s no God, or if there is a God, there’s no evidence of his existence in a combat zone.

Do us all a favor will you? Keep God out of a discussion of what goes on in a combat zone. Soldiers help each other out for partly altruistic and partly for selfish reasons.

What keeps men going is comradeship, not God.

That pietistic hogwash your put out has no place in any serious discussion of the business of war.
And further:
Oh, yes!

War is the ultimate expression of love!

Love thy neighbor by blowing his head off! Yes, war is a divine virtue!

Hallelujah and let’s kill in the name of Jesus.
And then:
Regarding Anne . . . I think she is tired of the trail of death that is associated with Christianity. (Before you get your panties in a twist, read a history book or two and you’ll see why the rest of the world is sick of you Christians.)

Most likely, she used small words that Christians can understand.

Of course, she could have explained how the metaphysics and epistemology of a dualisism of Christianity is constantly out of synchronization with its axiology, but she didn’t want to talk over your heads.

Besides, it’s fun to watch you Christians tweak when anybody challenges your beliefs.

Have a nice day.
And then:
2 studies should be done: The Use of Religion for Power and The Use of Power for Money. If you ask: “Is God on the Battlefield?” The answer should be: “No, people are on the battlefield and they were put there by other people for reasons they may not (1) know or (2) agree with.”

Getting people to risk their lives for an abstraction (national identity) requires Demonizing the other side - be they fighters or innocent bystanders. Hence, the illogic - if they are devils, god must be on our side.

From all I have heard of Jesus this was not the sort of logic he engaged in or practiced.
And then:
When (some) Christians want to justify warfare, they always quote Jesus overturning the tables of the moneychangers. Is overturning tables equivalent to shooting people, maiming them, dropping bombs on them? Isn’t there a distinction between violence towards inanimate objects and violence against human beings? Presumably God could have nuked the lot of them to prevent the crucifixion, but he didn’t. I wonder why not?
And then:
You got Bush living down to his own myth of the Antichrist cause that’s the only place his cokehead self can find in the universe... And you have people parroting everything that crosses his fratboy mind, why?

Cause that’s what they’re *told.*

And they know nothing else.
And then:
This is a vile attempt to somehow suggest that God, whatever your theistic bias, is somehow present on the battlefield ------ perhaps in that cup of java. Or, maybe he’s in the next IED.

Tell me, doc: Is it the same God that allowed my friend to blown to bits in front of me ------ while sparing my sorry, sinful a$$? Or, is it the God that high school basketball teams each pray to?

While we’re at it, how does this prayer thing work? If enough people pray about the same thing does God finally take notice ------ as if HE says: “Oh for Christ’s sake, alright already! I’ll save the dying child, the cancer-ridden pregnant mom, and I’ll let your team beat the other guys.”

Exactly what part about “Thou shalt not kill” don’t you fundamentalists get?

Do me a favor ----- don’t pray for me.
It keeps going:
As for the Chaplain, here, well... he thinks it’s special ‘God’ is in a cup of coffee if people are sufficiently-stressed-out.

I don’t get why it’s a big deal, really. I been under siege in America, and, senses get sharp, but ‘God,’ (well, Goddess) was in that coffee in the first place.

Not like I never spent a long night waiting for some Christians to sober up and act on their righteous threats.

Try having a break-action .410 between yourself and a whole lot of Fundie gun enthusiasts that are told you and everyone you love are Satanic agents.
And then:
And I swear to the Gods, Captain, If I could move, instead of being on the Internet all these days, I’d be over there. Not cause I have any faith in the ‘faith-based policy,’ but cause I don’t trust you Christians with guns, never mind in someone else’s country.
And then:
William Blazek sadly reveals the sentimentality mistaken as ‘religious’. A sunset, the fact that someone smiles at you, perhaps getting a parking space in the mall when you’re pressed for time. These become ‘signs’ to the believer. Small ‘favors’ the Catholics would say.

Unfortunately, if the believer is so moved and so attentive to Godliness in life as emotional neediness, much of reality in all its harshness, venality, and violence go unnoticed and unaddressed. It is this immaturity to face life as it is and to face themselves as they are that makes religion and the religious a target of ridicule for those who cannot in honesty agree with the perceptions and conclusions they offer.
And then:
Except Jesus (as) wasn’t a soldier for a world empire occupying and interfering in foreign lands to satisfy corporate greed and thirst for world domination. You gave a scruffy GI Joe some love. But what about the principle of your mission?

Save the platitudes for when you are just a regular person helping another regular person. You were on a mission to kill people so your leaders could get access to 100s of billions in Kuwaiti wealth and a permanent strategic foothold in the Arabian Peninsula like empires have tried to do for eons.

Repent to God for the evils which you have engaged in.
And then:
The “seeing” of God in these experiences is really the act of interpreting what actually happened (meaning, sharing, bonding) within the context of a preexisting dogmatic belief structure. To me, that actually corrupts and pollutes the experience since it is no longer seen for what it is. Instead, it is exploited in the service of superstition.
It keeps going:
People of faith see Jesus and Mary in rust stained highway underpasses, potato chips, grilled cheese sandwiches, and trees that get spared by the California wildfires.
Many of these comments don’t, in fact, begin to address what Blazek wrote.

Some semi-reasonable posters, for example, pointed out that battlefield camaraderie may exist among non-Christians -- like atheists or “pagans” (whatever that means these days). There is no reason to think that Blazek would disagree.

Rather, people who have a deep-seated hatred of Christianity spew forth their grudges.

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Anonymous mickey said...

And they ask us if we question they're Patriotism.
Forgive them father, they know not what they do.

9:47 PM  
Blogger JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe said...

I think many of those comments do address what he wrote. In fact, I'm puzzled as to why don't see that they do. Some were mean-spirited, but most were not. They were just opposed to the backhandedness of the article and the exclusionary parts. At least that's how I read it.

I suppose some of them meet the textbook definition of bigotry, but I think that's an unfair characterization. Condemning Christianity isn't like racism. Christianity is something people think, not something people are.

5:54 PM  
Blogger Billiam said...

JIJARWM, you are wrong. I AM a Christian. It is not something I think, it's something I know. It's something I try to live every day. I don't always succeed, nor do I always fail.

9:50 PM  
Blogger JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe said...

Sorry Bill, that's just not the case. I didn't even mean for this to be a point of contention. I realize that Christianity is a thought that people hold very dear, but it's nothing more than a thought. Nobody is born a Christian. It's something you pick up later. Usually not much later, but it's not something inherent like race or gender. Really, anyone can "become" a Christian just by thinking about it. That thing that defines someone as a Christian is just a thought; a thought that a guy named Jesus is the son of God etc. and another thought that that person "accepts" Jesus as his lord and savior. That's it. Just thoughts.

8:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems interesting that JIJAWM along with many others sadly believe that your thoughts do not make up who you are. A thought may not be tangible but in a very real way it does exhist. If you believe Christ is a part of you, then he is a part of you.

Your beliefs and what you stand for are what make you who you are. Not even an atheist can deny that.

12:00 AM  

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