Sunday, April 22, 2007

"Indian Country"- Beyond The "Green Zone" In Iraq

The old tales of the conquest of "Indian Country" are sobering reminders of human folly, delusion, tragedy and hubris that may provide an ominous foretelling concerning the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I have in the last few years, since the invasion of Iraq heard a term of military slang or jargon that disquiets me deep down to where the spirit meets the bone. Most people have heard the "safe" area in Baghdad where Americans and their allies have created forts referred to as the "Green Zone". I have also heard or read accounts of the area outside the "Green Zone" referred to as the Red Zone- or sometimes "Indian Country".

During the first Gulf War, Brigadier General Richard Neal, briefing reporters in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, stated that the U.S. military wanted to be certain of speedy victory once they committed land forces to "Indian Country." The following day, in a narrowly publicized statement of protest, the National Congress of American Indians pointed out that 15,000 Native Americans were serving as combat troops in the Gulf. Since General Neal's comment, however, the term "Indian Country" has become military slang that is often used by troops and leaders on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was also used in the Viet Nam war. I have heard it occasionally used in T.V. news interviews and documentaries with and about military personnel.

You see, beyond the "Green Zone" one encounters a "terrorist"-infested territory- a wilderness as dangerous to the "justice bearing liberators" as the lands inhabited by by "Redskins" with the resistance they offered during the Indian wars- wars that opposed the conquest, the theft, rape, murder and cultural genocide and treaty breaking mendacity of the allegedly Christian colonizers.

This linguistic use of the term "Indian Country" speaks volumes about the intellectual ignorance and dishonesty of many in the United States' self image of the soul of America. It reveals an often willful ignorance of the perception of the rest of the world. It bespeaks of arrogance, hubris, and self imposed paternalism, exceptionalism and imperialism.

On Monday, March 24, 2003 Christian Broadcasting Network's news program CBN reporter Paul Strand, traveling with the Army's Third Infantry Division in Iraq, stated in a dialog with Pat Robertson:

"Everywhere we've gone we have seen artillery ahead of us and then artillery behind and we're getting reports that there's fighting in all of the cities that we've already been through. So I guess if this were the Old West I'd say there are Injuns ahead of us, Injuns behind us, and Injuns on both sides too, so we really don't want to give the enemy any hints about where we are."

As recently as August 26th, 2007 ex- miltary author and commentator Ralph Peters, AKA Owen Parry penned an article entitled:



As an American Indian I can state unequivocally that this telling catch phrase that projects the warzones of the "wars on terror" as "Indian Country" is as deeply offensive as it is counter-productive to the stated mission in Iraq. My immediate thoughts- the first time that I heard the reference to the war torn streets of Baghdad as "Indian Country"- was that after 515 years of conquest- in the minds of Imperial America- the First Nations of the "Americas" are still regarded as enemies, hostiles, obstacles to progress... as terrorists. "Indians" then, in the American mindscape are yet sub-humans with no intrinsic value and no redeeming qualities and no contribution and/or partnership in contemporary society save as cartoonish sports mascots and fodder for the myth making propaganda of manifest destiny and fantasies of the "master race" as portrayed in Hollywood western movies and literature.

Take heed that this collective psychosis, this self adulation and lack of self criticism that plagues America is well noted by those who oppose us in the bloody streets of Baghdad and in the "Indian Country" of Afghanistan. One can accuse voices such as mine as emboldening the enemy by offering critical analysis of the situation in America's wars in the "Middle East" ("Middle East" being another colloquialism coined from the Western perspective of the planet). But- with these not so subtle attitudes couched within the phraseology of "Indian Country"- is it any wonder that they have resolved to fight us to the death- there in their home territory? Is it any wonder that American forces are seen as invaders, as imperialists and controllers rather than liberators? Indian country they call it? Isn't it more likely that the attitude that lies behind colloquialisms like this are what emboldens our enemies and gives them the resolve to oppose the American agenda as they perceive it?

During the conquest of the "Americas"- Indians were reviled as a species that could not be reasoned with and that their extermination was necessary to progress and order. Don't you think its at the least imprudent for Americans to tacitly refer to the people that they are allegedly trying to liberate as "Indians"? The experience of "American Indians"- on their own ancestral ground is a testament, to this very day,to the often racist, dehumanizing and marginalizing power of the blight and rot in America's self indulgent soul. Why would the Arabs in the "Indian Country" of their own homeland desire a status resembling anything like what "American Indians" have experienced?

In 1779, George Washington instructed Major General John Sullivan to attack Iroquois people. Washington stated, "lay waste all the settlements around...that the country may not be merely overrun, but destroyed". In the course of the carnage and annihilation of Indian people, Washington also instructed his general not "listen to any overture of peace before the total ruin of their settlements is effected". (Stannard, David E. AMERICAN HOLOCAUST. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. pp. 118-121.)

In 1783, Washington's anti-Indian sentiments were apparent in his comparisons of Indians with wolves: "Both being beast of prey, tho' they differ in shape", he said. George Washington's policies of extermination were realized in his troops behaviors following a defeat. Troops would skin the bodies of Iroquois "from the hips downward to make boot tops or leggings". Indians who survived the attacks later re-named the nation's first president as "Town Destroyer". Approximately 28 of 30 Seneca towns had been destroyed within a five year period. (Ibid)

Though America has forgotten, ignored or never internalized the fact that much of its history and many of its god-like heroes like George Washington, the so called father of "our" country are constructed out of pure propaganda and balderdash- the rest of the world is quite painfully aware. Despite Washington's sentiments that the American nation could not be put together so long as the "Indians" existed as "Indians"- it was built... and in case one needs to be reminded... we are still here.

Now, critics of this article will be quick to point out that "American Indians" don't have it so bad these days- what with the casino industry booming and all. Fair enough. For the record, as an "Indian" traditionalist, I do not approve of the smoke shop, tourist trap, bingo parlor/casino culture that is erasing our spiritual legacy and replacing it with the value system of our colonizers and thus detracting from our voice of moral authority and stand upon moral principles. Nobody understands the fallibility of human nature, the power of money, propaganda and politics better than one who maintains their identity as an "American Indian" and also a believer in the true Christ of the Gospels as opposed to that of opportunistic political operatives.

"Indian Country" indeed. The analogy does bring one event from American history to mind. There is another tale of arrogance and hubris that is a sobering and perhaps ponderous and foreboding omen concerning the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Revisit and contemplate the tale of General George Armstrong Custer and the battle of Little Big Horn. Pride of the kind considered one of the seven deadly sins can carry a heavy toll in "Indian Country".

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Dispensational Origins of Modern Premillennialism

Photo: John Nelson Darby- known as the father of dispensationalism.

Dispensational premillennialists claim that their unique doctrines have been held since the early church, but these claims have been soundly refuted. Far from being the historic position of the church, premillennialism was described in 1813 by David Bogue as an oddity of Church history. Postmillennialism was the dominant eschatology from the Reformation until at least 1859.

Thus, the doctrine of the separation of Israel and the Church, the foundation of dispensationalism, was born out of Darby's attempt to justify his newly fabricated rapture theory with the Bible. Dispensationalists believed justification for carving up the Scriptures came from 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV) "rightly dividing the word of truth." Subsequent dispensationalists divided the Scriptures in terms of categories of people: Jew, Gentile, and Christian. Chafer taught that the only Scriptures addressed specifically to Christians were the gospel of John, Acts, and the Epistles! Pettengill taught that the Great Commission was for the Jews only.



another bonus:

Christian Zionism: Dispensationalism And The Roots Of Sectarian Theology

A History of Dispensational Approaches

By John Scott:

Why We Fight- Jarecki Documentary

click on the small arrow at the corner of the screen to stay with this page while watching or listening.
pt. 2

pt. 3

pt. 4

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Does God Love War?- Redux

Here is another, longer and admittedly stinging excerpt from the audio links in the post "Does God Love War?" Found HERE.

*note: This missive is not an assertion that all war is inherently wrong and that there in no distinction between the administration of justice and the return of evil for evil. It is an assertion that aggressive militarism, the glorification of warfare, the failure to recognize that it is born of sin and human failure and the pimping of it by religious and political institutions is misguided at best and possibly disastrous, damning heresy when not discerned and/or allowed to go unchecked by Godly, moral reflection.

I will acknowledge that there are certain realities that are in fact inevitable. War will happen. Sin is an inevitable reality of the human condition. Does that give me the endorsement and permission to rationalize and participate in it joyously whenever it seems unavoidable?
Wars will happen. Yet, I will not glorify them, spiritually assent to them, mentally bestow upon them the power of redemption, allow them a position of idolatry in my life or seek ways to religiously validate them through tortured interpretations of the Gospels or the book of Revelation- from battle stories in the Old Testament. No I will not.- S.S.

And now for the excerpt:

"We make our heroes out of clay. We laud their gallant deeds and give them uniforms and put colored ribbons on their chests for acts of violence they commit or endure. They are our repositories of glory and honor- of power, self righteousness, patriotism and self worship - all that we want to believe about ourselves. They are our plaster saints of war- the icons we cheer to defend us and make us and our nation great. But they are part of our civic religion- our love of power and force. Our belief in our right as a chosen nation to wield this force against the weak and rule. This is our nation's idolatry of itself- and it has corrupted our religious institutions just as it has corrupted religious institutions in other nations- fusing the will of God with the will of the State to create a potent and deadly form of idolatry.

When those who return from war find the courage and the honesty to disrupt our festivities and our love affair with ourselves- our worship of this idol- we cast them out like lepers. We condemn those who return from war for their own mutilations. we listen only when they speak from the script we hand them. If they speak of terrible wounds- visible and invisible- of lies told to make them kill- of the false civic religion and idol we worship- we fill our ears with wax. "Not our boys", we say "not them- bred in our homes endowed with goodness and decency- blessed by our god." For if it easy for them to murder and kill- if the nation is not blessed and righteous and glorious- what does this mean about us? and so it is simpler not to see. We do not listen to the angry words that pour forth from their lips- wishing only that they would calm down, be reasonable, get some help, go away.

We the deformed, brand our returning prophets as madmen and cast them into the desert. Wars come wrapped in religious and patriotic slogans- calls for sacrifice, honor promises of glory. They come wrapped in claims of divine providence. It is what a grateful nation asks of its children- it is what is right and just. War is waged to make the nation and the world a better place- to cleanse evil. And war is touted as the ultimate test of manhood- where young men can find out what they are made of.

War from a distance seems noble. It gives us a feeling of belonging, of comradeship, of power, a chance to play a small bit in the great drama of human history. It promises to give us an identity as a warrior, a patriot, a believer- as long as we go along with the myth- the one the war makers need to wage war. But, up close, war is a soulless void. The world of war descends to barbarity, perversion, pain and an unchecked orgy of death. It is a state where human decency and tenderness is crushed- where those who make war work overtime to reduce all love and sensitivity to smut and filth.

In war the moral order is turned upside down. All that is repulsive and feared in peacetime is lauded and cheered in war. The noise, the stench, the cries of pain, the eviscerated bodies, the bloated stinking corpses spin us into another universe. And in this moral void, often blessed by the church or the mosque or the synagogue- the hypocrisy of our social conventions, our strict adherence to religious edicts and virtues and utter refusal to honor others comes unglued. War, for all its horror, has the power to strip away the trivial and the banal, the empty chatter and self righteous obsessions that fill our days. It lets us see."- Chris Hedges

"The failure of religious institutions, whose texts are unequivocal about murder, to address the sinful state of war has left them unable to cope with the reality of war. These institutions have little or nothing to say in wartime because often the god they worship is a false god- one that promises victory and blesses violence. Wars may have to be fought for survivlal- but they are always tragic- always sinful and always bring to the surface the worst elements in any society." - Hedges

Why We Fight? See about the Military Industrial Complex HERE. Don't miss it.

See HERE also.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

What Would Jesus Really Do?

"Last week, CNN contributor Ronald Martin caught our eye with a provocative web-piece entitled, 'What Would Jesus REALLY Do.' Martin started by asking, "When did it come to the point that being a Christian meant only caring about two issues,­ abortion and homosexuality," and took it away from there.

Last Friday evening, while Christians observed Good Friday and waited for Easter, Martin hosted an hour-long CNN special of the same name. His interviews included T.D. Jakes of The Potter's House, Jerry Falwell, Paula White of Without Walls International Church, Rick Warren of Saddleback Church and author of the best-selling book "The Purpose Driven Life," Rabbi Shmuley Boteach of Shalom in the Home, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and Freddie Haynes of Friendship West Baptist Church.

Each of the clips is worth a look, but be sure not to miss Martin's commentary that opens and closes the show"

Go HERE to examine the video links.

This is an awesome conversation.

Testify- Rage Against The Machine

Click the arrow in the lower left hand corner of the screen to stay with this page while listening or viewing.


The movie ran through me
The glamour subdue me
The tabloid untie me
I'm empty please fill me
Mister anchor assure me
That Baghdad is burning
Your voice it is so soothing
That cunning mantra of killing
I need you my witness
To dress this up so bloodless
To numb me and purge me now
Of thoughts of blaming you
Yes the car is our wheelchair
My witness your coughing
Oily silence mocks the legless
Ones who travel now in coffins
On the corner
The jury's sleepless
We found your weakness
And it's right outside our door
Now testify

Now testify
It's right outside our door
Now testify
Yes testify
It's right outside our door

With precision you feed me
My witness I'm hungry
Your temple it calms me
So I can carry on
My slaving sweating the skin right off my bones
On a bed of fire I'm choking on the smoke that fills my home
The wrecking ball rushing
Witness your blushing
The pipeline is gushing
While here we lie in tombs
While on the corner
The jury's sleepless
We found your weakness
And it's right outside your door
Now testify
Yeah testify
It's right outside our door
Now testify
Now testify
It's right outside our door

Mass graves for the pump and the price is set
Mass graves for the pump and the price is set
Mass graves for the pump and the price is set
Mass graves for the pump and the price is set

Who controls the past now controls the future
Who controls the present now controls the past
Who controls the past now controls the future
Who controls the present now?

Now testify
It's right outside our door
Now testify
It's right outside our door

War: Realities and Myths by Chris Hedges

War: Realities and Myths
by Chris Hedges
June 11, 2005

The vanquished know war. They see through the empty jingoism of those who use the abstract words of glory, honor, and patriotism to mask the cries of the wounded, the senseless killing, war profiteering, and chest-pounding grief. They know the lies the victors often do not acknowledge, the lies covered up in stately war memorials and mythic war narratives, filled with words of courage and comradeship. They know the lies that permeate the thick, self-important memoirs by amoral statesmen who make wars but do not know war.

The vanquished know the essence of war -- death. They grasp that war is necrophilia. They see that war is a state of almost pure sin with its goals of hatred and destruction. They know how war fosters alienation, leads inevitably to nihilism, and is a turning away from the sanctity and preservation of life. All other narratives about war too easily fall prey to the allure and seductiveness of violence, as well as the attraction of the godlike power that comes with the license to kill with impunity.

But the words of the vanquished come later, sometimes long after the war, when grown men and women unpack the suffering they endured as children, what it was like to see their mother or father killed or taken away, or what it was like to lose their homes, their community, their security, and be discarded as human refuse. But by then few listen. The truth about war comes out, but usually too late. We are assured by the war-makers that these stories have no bearing on the glorious violent enterprise the nation is about to inaugurate. And, lapping up the myth of war and its sense of empowerment, we prefer not to look.

We see the war in Iraq only through the distorted lens of the occupiers. The embedded reporters, dependent on the military for food and transportation as well as security, have a natural and understandable tendency, one I have myself felt, to protect those who are protecting them. They are not allowed to report outside of the unit and are, in effect, captives. They have no relationships with the occupied, essential to all balanced reporting of conflicts, but only with the Marines and soldiers who drive through desolate mud-walled towns and pump grenades and machine-gun bullets into houses, leaving scores of nameless dead and wounded in their wake. The reporters admire and laud these fighters for their physical courage. They feel protected as well by the jet fighters and heavy artillery and throaty rattle of machine guns. And the reporting, even among those who struggle to keep some distance, usually descends into a shameful cheerleading.

There is no more candor in Iraq or Afghanistan than there was in Vietnam, but in the age of live satellite feeds the military has perfected the appearance of candor. What we are fed is the myth of war. For the myth of war, the myth of glory and honor sells newspapers and boosts ratings, real war reporting does not. Ask the grieving parents of Pat Tillman. Nearly every embedded war correspondent sees his or her mission as sustaining civilian and army morale. This is what passes for coverage on FOX, MSNBC or CNN. In wartime, as Senator Hiram Johnson reminded us in 1917, "truth is the first casualty."

All our knowledge of the war in Iraq has to be viewed as lacking the sweep and depth that will come one day, perhaps years from now, when a small Iraqi boy or girl reaches adulthood and unfolds for us the sad and tragic story of the invasion and bloody occupation of their nation.

I have spent most of my adult life in war. I began two decades ago covering wars in Central America, where I spent five years, then the Middle East, where I spent seven, and the Balkans where I covered the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo. My life has been marred, let me say deformed, by the organized industrial violence that year after year was an intimate part of my existence. I have watched young men bleed to death on lonely Central American dirt roads and cobblestone squares in Sarajevo. I have looked into the eyes of mothers, kneeing over the lifeless and mutilated bodies of their children. I have stood in warehouses with rows of corpses, including children, and breathed death into my lungs. I carry within me the ghosts of those I worked with, my comrades, now gone.

I have felt the attraction of violence. I know its seductiveness, excitement and the powerful addictive narcotic it can become. The young soldiers, trained well enough to be disciplined but encouraged to maintain their naive adolescent belief in invulnerability, have in wartime more power at their fingertips than they will ever have again. They catapult from being minimum wage employees at places like Burger King, facing a life of dead-end jobs with little hope of health insurance and adequate benefits, to being part of, in the words of the Marines, "the greatest fighting force on the face of the earth."

The disparity between what they were and what they have become is breathtaking and intoxicating. This intoxication is only heightened in wartime when all taboos are broken. Murder goes unpunished and often rewarded. The thrill of destruction fills their days with wild adrenaline highs, strange grotesque landscapes that are hallucinogenic, all accompanied by a sense of purpose and comradeship, overpowers the alienation many left behind. They become accustomed to killing, carrying out acts of slaughter with no more forethought than they take to relieve themselves. And the abuses committed against the helpless prisoners in Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo are not aberrations but the real face of war.

In wartime all human beings become objects, objects either to gratify or destroy or both. And almost no one is immune. The contagion of the crowd sees to that.

"Force," Simon Weil wrote, "is as pitiless to the man who possess it, or thinks he does, as it is to his victim. The second it crushes; the first it intoxicates."

This myth, the lie, about war, about ourselves, is imploding our democracy. We shun introspection and self-criticism. We ignore truth, to embrace the strange, disquieting certitude and hubris offered by the radical Christian Right. These radical Christians draw almost exclusively from the book of Revelations, the only time in the Gospels where Jesus sanctions violence, peddling a vision of Christ as the head of a great and murderous army of heavenly avengers. They rarely speak about Christ's message of love, forgiveness and compassion. They relish the cataclysmic destruction that will befall unbelievers, including those such as myself, who they dismiss as "nominal Christians." They divide the world between good and evil, between those anointed to act as agents of God and those who act as agents of Satan. The cult of masculinity and esthetic of violence pervades their ideology.

Feminism and homosexuality are forces, believers are told, that have rendered the American male physically and spiritually impotent. Jesus, for the Christian Right, is a man of action, casting out demons, battling the Anti-Christ, attacking hypocrites and castigating the corrupt. The language is one not only of exclusion, hatred and fear, but a call for apocalyptic violence, in short the language of war.

As the war grinds forward, as we sink into a morass of our own creation, as our press and political opposition, and yes even our great research universities, remain complacent and passive, as we refuse to confront the forces that have crippled us outside our gates and are working to cripple us within, the ideology of the Christian Right, so intertwined with intolerance and force, will become the way we speak not only to others but among ourselves.

in war, we always deform ourselves, our essence. We give up individual conscience -- maybe even consciousness -- for contagion of the crowd, the rush of patriotism, the belief that we must stand together as nation in moments of extremity. To make a moral choice, to defy war's enticement, to find moral courage, can be self-destructive.

The attacks on the World Trade Center illustrate that those who oppose us, rather than coming from another moral universe, have been schooled well in modern warfare. The dramatic explosions, the fireballs, the victims plummeting to their deaths, the collapse of the towers in Manhattan, were straight out of Hollywood. Where else, but from the industrialized world, did the suicide bombers learn that huge explosions and death above a city skyline are a peculiar and effective form of communication?

They have mastered the language we have taught them. They understand that the use of indiscriminate violence against innocents is a way to make a statement. We leave the same calling cards. We delivered such incendiary messages in Vietnam, Serbia, Afghanistan and Iraq. It was Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara who in the summer of 1965 defined the bombing raids that would kill hundreds of thousands of civilians north of Saigon as a means of communication to the Communist regime in Hanoi.

The most powerful anti-war testaments, of war and what war does to us, are those that eschew images of combat. It is the suffering of the veteran whose body and mind are changed forever because he or she served a nation that sacrificed them, the suffering of families and children caught up in the unforgiving maw of war, which begin to tell the story of war. But we are not allowed to see dead bodies, at least of our own soldiers, nor do we see the wounds that forever mark a life, the wounds that leave faces and bodies horribly disfigured by burns or shrapnel. We never watch the agony of the dying. War is made palatable. It is sanitized.

We are allowed to taste war's perverse thrill, but spared from seeing war's consequences. The wounded and the dead are swiftly carted offstage. And for this I blame the press, which willingly hides from us the effects of bullets, roadside bombs and rocket-propelled grenades, which sat at the feet of those who lied to make this war possible and dutifully reported these lies and called it journalism.

War is always about this betrayal. It is about the betrayal of the young by the old, idealists by cynics and finally soldiers by politicians. Those who pay the price, those who are maimed forever by war, however, are crumpled up and thrown away. We do not see them. We do not hear them. They are doomed, like wandering spirits, to float around the edges of our consciousness, ignored, even reviled. The message they bring is too painful for us to hear. We prefer the myth of war, the myth of glory, honor, patriotism and heroism, words that in the terror and brutality of combat are empty, meaningless and obscene.

We are losing the war in Iraq. We are an isolated and reviled nation. We are pitiless to others weaker than ourselves. We have lost sight of our democratic ideals. Thucydides wrote of Athens expanding empire and how this empire led it to become a tyrant abroad and then a tyrant at home. The tyranny Athens imposed on others it finally imposed on itself. If we do not confront the lies and hubris told to justify the killing and mask the destruction carried out in our name in Iraq, if we do not grasp the moral corrosiveness of empire and occupation, if we continue to allow force and violence to be our primary form of communication, if we do not remove from power our flag waving, cross bearing versions of the Taliban, we will not so much defeat dictators such as Saddam Hussein as become them.

Chris Hedges has been a war reporter for 15 years most recently for the New York Times. He is author of What Every person Should Know About War, a book that offers a critical lesson in the dangerous realities of war, and the critically acclaimed War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning.

War is a force that gives us meaning?

War is a force that gives us meaning
by Chris Hedges
Amnesty International NOW magazine, Winter 2002


War and conflict have marked most of my adult life. I have been in ambushes on desolate stretches of Central American roads, locked in unnerving firefights in the marshes in southern Iraq, imprisoned in the Sudan, beaten by Saudi military police, deported from Libya and Iran, captured and held for a week by Iraqi Republican Guards, strafed by Russian Mig-21s in central Bosnia, shot at by Serb snipers and shelled with deafening rounds of artillery in Sarajevo that threw out thousands of deadly bits of iron fragments. I have seen too much of violent death. I have tasted too much of my own fear. I have painful memories that lie buried most of the time. It is never easy when they surface.
And yet there is a part of me that remains nostalgic for war's simplicity and high. The enduring attraction of war is this: Even with its destruction and carnage it gives us what we all long for in life. It gives us purpose, meaning, a reason for living. Only when we are in the midst of conflict does the shallowness and vapidness of our lives become apparent. Trivia dominates our conversations and increasingly our news. And war is an enticing elixir. It gives us resolve, a cause. It allows us to be noble. And those that have the least meaning in their lives-the impoverished refugees in Gaza, the disenfranchised North African immigrants in France, even the lost legions of youth that live in the splendid indolence and safety of the industrialized world-are all susceptible to war's appeal.

I learned early on that war forms its own culture. The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug, one I ingested for many years. It is peddled by myth makers -historians, war correspondents, filmmakers novelists and the state-all of whom endow it with qualities it often does possess: excitement, exoticism, power, chances to rise above our small stations in life, and a bizarre and fantastic universe that has a grotesque and dark beauty. It dominates culture, distorts memory, corrupts language and infects everything around it, even humor, which becomes preoccupied with the grim perversities of smut and death. Fundamental questions about the meaning, or meaninglessness, of our place on the planet are laid bare when we watch those around us sink to the lowest depths. War exposes the capacity for evil that lurks just below the surface within all of us.
And so it takes little in wartime to turn ordinary men into killers. Most give themselves willingly to the seduction of unlimited power to destroy, and all feel the peer pressure. Few, once in bottle, can find the strength to resist.
The historian Christopher Browning noted the willingness to kill in Ordinary Men, his study of Reserve Police Battalion 101 in Poland during World War ll. On the morning of July 12, 1942, the battalion was ordered to shoot 1800 Jews in the village of Jozefow in a day-long action. The men in the unit had to round up the Jews, march them into the forest and one by one order them to lie down in a row. The victims, including women, infants, children and the elderly, were shot dead at close range.
Battalion members were offered the option to refuse, an option only about a dozen men took, although more asked to be relieved once the killing began. Those who did not want to continue, Browning says, were disgusted rather than plagued by conscience. When the men returned to the barracks they "were depressed, angered, embittered and shaken." They drank heavily. They were told not to talk about the event, "but they needed no encouragement in that direction."

The most recent U.S. conflicts have insulated the public and U.S. troops from both the disgust and pangs of conscience. The Gulf War-waged from bombers high above the fray and reported by carefully controlled journalists-made war fashionable again. It was a cause the nation willingly embraced. It exorcised the ghosts of Vietnam. It gave us heroes and the heady belief in our own military superiority and technology. It almost made war fun. And the chief culprit was, as in many conflicts, not the military but the press. Television reporters happily disseminated the spoon-fed images that served the propaganda effort of the military and the state. These images did little to convey the reality of war. Pool reporters, those guided around in groups by the military, wrote once again about "our boys" eating packaged army food, practicing for chemical weapons attacks and bathing out of buckets in the desert. It was war as spectacle, war, if we are honest, as entertainment. The images and stories were designed to make us feel good about our nation, about ourselves. The families and soldiers being blown to bits by iron fragmentation bombs just over the border in Iraq were faceless and nameless phantoms.
The moment I stepped off an Army C-130 military transport in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, to cover the Persian Gulf War, I was escorted to a room with several dozen other reporters and photographers. I was told to sign a paper that said I would abide by the severe restrictions placed on the press. The restrictions authorized "pool reporters" to be escorted by the military on field trips. Most of the press sat in hotel rooms and rewrote the bland copy filed by the pool or used the pool video and photos. I violated this agreement the next morning when I went into the field without authorization. The rest of the war, most of which I spent dodging Military Police and trying to talk my way into units, was a forlorn and lonely struggle against the heavy press control.
The notion that the press was used in the war is incorrect. The press wanted to be used. It saw itself as part of the war effort. Most reporters sent to cover a war don't really want to go near the fighting. They do not tell this to their editors and indeed will moan and complain about restrictions. The handful who actually head out into the field have a bitter enmity with the hotel room warriors. But even those who do go out are guilty of distortion-maybe more so. For they not only believe the myth, feed off of the drug, but also embrace the cause. They may do it with more skepticism. They certainly expose more lies and misconceptions. But they believe. We all believe. When you stop believing you stop going to war.
I knew a Muslim soldier, a father, who fought on the front lines around Sarajevo. His unit, in one of the rare attempts to take back a few streets controlled by the Serbs, pushed across Serb lines. They did not get very far. The fighting was heavy. As he moved down the street, he heard a door swing open and fired a burst from his AK-47 assault rifle. A 12-year-old girl dropped dead. He saw in the body of the unknown girl Iying prostrate in front of him the image of his own 1z-year-old daughter. He broke down. He had to be helped back to the city. He was lost for the rest of the war, shuttered inside his apartment, nervous, morose and broken. This experience is far more typical of warfare than the Rambo heroics we are fed by the state and the entertainment industry. The cost of killing is all the more bitter because of the deep disillusionment that war usually brings.

The disillusionment comes later. Each generation again responds to war as innocents. Each generation discovers its own disillusionment-often at a terrible price.
"We believed we were there for a high moral purpose," wrote Philip Caputo in his book on Vietnam, Rumor of War. "But somehow our idealism was lost, our morals corrupted, and the purpose forgotten."
Once again the United States stands poised on the threshold of war. "We go forward," President George W. Bush assures us, "to defend freedom and all that is good and just in the world." He is not shy about warning other states that they either stand with us in the war on terrorism or will be counted as aligned with those that defy us. This too is a crusade.
But the war on terrorism is different in that we Americans find ourselves in the dangerous position of going to war not against a state but a phantom. The crusade we have embarked upon in the war on terrorism is targeting an elusive and protean enemy. The battle we have begun is never-ending. But it may be too late to wind back the heady rhetoric. We have embarked on a campaign as quixotic as the one mounted to destroy us. As it continues, as terrorist attacks intrude on our lives, as we feel less and less secure, the acceptance of all methods to lash out at real and perceived enemies will distort and deform our democracy.
And yet, the campaign's attraction seems irresistible. War makes the world understandable, a black-and-white tableau of them and us. It suspends thought, especially self-critical thought. All bow before the supreme effort. We are one. Most of us willingly accept war as long as we can fold it into a belief system that paints the ensuing suffering as necessary for a higher good; for human beings seek not only happiness but also meaning. And tragically, war is sometimes the most powerful way in human society to achieve meaning.

Chris Hedges is a reporter with the New York Times where he was part of the team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for reporting on global terrorism. He won Al's 2002 Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. This article was adapted from War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning (Public Affairs, Perseus Group, 2002).

Buy the book HERE

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Does God Love War?

Wow, you gotta listen to this audio presentation. Man that is strong stuff. Make sure you listen til Chris Hedges the journalist starts to talk after the intro.




Hedges' Website

"Very often, pacifism is equated with passiveness, even though there is no linguistic link between the two words. Therefore, the application of pacifism, or anything approaching pacifism, is regarded as disastrous.
In a certain sense perhaps pacifism and passiveness are similar. To be passive means to receive or be subject to an action without responding or initiating an action in return. But passiveness also implies that one is not participating, that one is inert. In this sense nothing could be farther from the truth. A pacifist relies upon the power of his heavenly Father who is all-powerful. Therefore, he has greater influence on the events that effect his life than the non-believer because he can call upon his God who hears his cry and can move the mightiest of mountains. Certainly the prayers of a Christian for his nation have more effect upon the country than any political or military activity he might participate in."

READ THIS ARTICLE about pacifism vs. passiveness

"Right now we have most overtly religious government in a lifetime and also the most corrupt and violent - Is this a coincidence- or is there something terribly, terribly wrong the way "religion" is used to validate human power structures?"

"We make our heroes out of clay. We laud their gallant deeds and give them uniforms and put colored ribbons on their chests for acts of violence they commit or endure. They are our repositories of glory and honor- of power, self righteousness, patriotism and self worship - all that we want to believe about ourselves. They are our plaster saints of war- the icons we cheer to defend us and make us and our nation great. But they are part of our civic religion- our love of power and force. Our belief in our right as a chosen nation to wield this force against the weak and rule. This is our nation's idolatry of itself- and it has corrupted our religious institutions just as it has corrupted religious institutions in other nations- fusing the will of God with the will of the State to create a potent and deadly form of idolatry."

The Apocalypse Code and Dispensationalism

“Throughout the history of the church, wrongheaded teachings have appeared that
temporarily attracted a large following, only to become fading fads once the light of proper biblical interpretation illuminated their error. A current example is dispensational pretribulational rapture theology promoted by such prophecy pundits as Hal Lindsay, Tim LaHaye, John Hagee and others. For years now, I’ve been
wondering what might convince such prophecy specialists to recognize that the
eschatology they are foisting on the world is simply embarrassing to the church,
and so prompt them to back out of their dispensational cul-de-sac. Hank Hanegraaff’s The Apocalypse Code may well be the answer. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!”
-Dr. Paul L. Maier, Professor of Ancient History, Western
Michigan University, and coauthor of
The Da Vinci Code:Fact or Fiction?

“This book is a withering and unrelenting critique of the positions of apocalyptic enthusiasts such as Tim LaHaye and Hal Lindsey. Hanegraaff not only demonstrates the tenuousness of their views on the rapture, tribulation, Israel, even Armageddon, but he shows us the hidden anti-Semitism at the heart of early dispensationalism. Every fan of LaHaye’s Left Behind series or Lindsey’s Apocalypse Code owes it to himself to read this book. The fog will clear and common sense will return to our reading of the Bible.”
-Dr. Gary M. Burge, Professor of New Testament,
Wheaton College & Graduate School

“The Apocalypse Code is at once a manual on responsible hermeneutics and also a cogent refutation of the bizarre system of end-times speculation that has become the benchmark of orthodoxy in the minds of many evangelicals. Thus Hank Hanegraaff has given the body of Christ two valuable books in one—both greatly needed in this age of biblical illiteracy and eschatological naiveté.”

-Steve Gregg, Host of The Narrow Path radio broadcast and
Author of Revelation: Four Views: A Parallel Commentary


Dispensationalism Defined

Dispensationalism A Return to Biblical Theology or Pseudo Christian Cult?

"The Grand Old Party is more religious cult than political organization."

Dispensationalism and world politics

Dispensationalism teaches that Christians should not expect spiritual good from earthly governments, and should expect social conditions to decline as the end times draw nearer. Dispensationalist readings of prophecies often teach that the Antichrist will appear to the world as a peacemaker. This makes some dispensationalists suspicious of all forms of power, religious and secular, and especially of human attempts to form international organizations for peace, such as the United Nations. Almost all dispensationalists reject the idea that a lasting peace can be attained by human effort in the Middle East, and believe instead that "wars and rumors of wars" (cf. Matt 24:6) will increase as the end times approach. Dispensationalist beliefs often underlie the religious and political movement of Christian Zionism.

Some dispensationalists teach that churches that do not insist on Biblical literalism as they deem appropriate are in fact part of the Great Apostasy. This casts suspicion on attempts to create church organizations that cross denominational boundaries such as the World Council of Churches. (See also ecumenism.)

Dispensationalism and United States politics

Some political analysts have argued that dispensationalism has had a major influence on the foreign policy of the United States. This influence has included strong support for the state of Israel.


How hype, fear, and mindless flag-waving are supplanting informed debate, commitment to democracy, and real patriotism.

City Lights Books, 2004

“In this skillfully argued book . . . with wit and humor and penetrating analysis, Parenti invites the reader to connect the dots.”

— Rufus Browning, co-author of Protest Is Not Enough

“Michael Parenti has done it again. By dissecting the imperial worldview of the people running our country, Michael provides us with all the intellectual tools we need to engage them in democratic debate and give them the spanking they so desperately deserve.”

— Kevin Donaher, Co-Founder, Global Exchange

Superpatriots are those people who place national pride and American supremacy above every other public consideration, those who follow leaders uncritically, especially in their war policies abroad. Superpatriotism is the nationalistic hype propagated by officialdom, the media, and various flag-waving groups.

Michael Parenti demonstrates how superpatriotism attaches itself to religion, sports, the military, the schools, and big business. He questions whether its top politico-economic propagators are themselves really patriotic, given how they evade taxes, export our jobs, pollute our land, and plunder the public treasury.

With incisive probing, fine style, and humorous touch, Parenti treats such urgent questions as: What does it mean to love one’s country? Why is it so important to be Number One? What determines America’s “greatness?” And are we really God's gift to humanity? He examines how US leaders and the corporate media fan the flames of fear to win support for huge arms budgets, global aggrandizement, and the suppression of political dissent at home and abroad.

Finally, he poses an alternative to superpatriotism, arguing that the real patriots are those who care enough to educate themselves about our country’s history and its present plight. He reminds us that it is not “anti-American” to criticize unjust social conditions at home or oppose global policies pursued by our rulers. Rather it is our democratic right and patriotic duty to do so.
Table of Contents

1. What Does It Mean to Love Our Country?
2. “America—Love It or Leave It”
3. The Importance of Being Number One
4. Military Patriotism: For Flag and Missile
5. “USA! USA!” Sports for Superpatriots
6. The Divine Politicos
7. Messianic Nation
8. Follow the Leader
9. Patriotic Fear
10. The Menace Within
11. Are the Plutocrats Patriotic?
12. Support Our Troops (Cut Their Benefits)
13. Rulers of the Planet
14. “Why Do They Hate Us?”
15. Real Patriotism


This should be required reading.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Ten propositions on political theology


7. Still, calling governments to account and repentance, the critical component, and praying and working for a community of shalom and an economy of grace, the positive component, are essential elements of the political vocation of the church. Strategically Christians should work for a world that asymptotically approaches the kingdom of God. Tactically Christians should form ad hoc alliances with all people of good will in pursuit of a more just society. Indeed, as Bonhoeffer discovered, we may well find more saints among the pagans than the pious. Jesus said, ?Whoever is not against us is for us? (Mark 9:40). We should not fear dirty hands but bloody hands.


God and Country- Hauerwas urges Americans to become less hawkish and more holy


"Hauerwas said American Christians are "more American than we are Christian." In a Duke Magazine cover story, Hauerwas says the current identification of God and country is very troubling.

"Let me be as clear as I can be, the God of 'God and country' is not the God of Jesus Christ," he said. "Yet this is not a development that began with Sept. 11. One of the issues before American Christianity is whether the God we worship is the God of Jesus Christ.

"American Christians simply lack the discipline necessary to discover how being Christian might make them different."

While the resurrection story, being retold this week, is one of triumph for the Christian, Hauerwas doesn't want people to forget allegiance to Jesus also includes being "united with him in his death."

Hauerwas understands that true Christian pacifism may carry a heavy price.

"Christians must be ready to die, indeed have their children die, rather than betray the Gospel. ... Christians are not called to be heroes. We are called to be holy."