Monday, January 12, 2009
Thursday, January 01, 2009
Monday, December 08, 2008
Friday, December 05, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Happy 60th Dad (you too Prince Charles)
I was sitting here trying to think of a single story that would serve as a wonderful analogy to my relationship with my father. A story when he passed on some profound truth about our Heavenly Father. There are no shortage of stories. There is canoeing down the Guadalupe River and injuring my foot only to have him tell me that I should not have hung my foot out of the canoe. There is him telling me that I cannot have dinner until I have hit the punching bag 200 times. There is boxing matches that we had at the house on Riverview. There is climbing onto the roof at Riverview with the fisher price telescope to look at the moon. There are family trips in the travel trailer and riding through the mountains outside Red River. There is going to the shop as it was being built. There is him swinging the ball on a rope in the front yard. There are little league games, basketball games, ski trips, mission trips, the trip to Colorado in junior high, the trip to Mozambique, hunting, fishing, wrestling, preaching, teaching, him giving away my baseball cards as prizes to kids at Sunday school who had the right answer. There are solemn moments like after I was injured in Junior high and hysterical moments where there were no deer anywhere near us because we were laughing too hard in the stand. There is him yelling his approval over all the other parents at my elementary play. He is there consoling me after our loss in the playoffs my senior year in high school. He is there preaching my wedding. There when I graduated from College and Graduate school. He is there to give me my first job outside of grad school. He is there telling me how neat my tiny cubicle at SAIC was. He is there holding my firstborn daughter and proclaiming her to be 100% Jeffrey, and doing the same nineteen months later with Brylee. He is there for my job changes. He is there on the phone to talk me through car problems or life problems. He is there holding my son, the next generation of Jeffrey. I started to realize that there is not a moment in my life where he is not there. There has never been a moment where I doubted his love for me. I have never considered a doubt that he would always be there for me. He has always been slow to anger and quick to bless. He readily reminds me that this world is not my home and to remember that all things worldly will pass away. I slowly came to the understanding that while I am sure there were those profound moments filled with wise sayings spoken as the sun set, that is not how my father taught. He was always there. He sought a relationship with the eternal God of unending love, and just happened to model to me what that love is like.
As I raise my own children, I know that there are struggles that will inevitably come. There will no doubt be questions to which I do not have the answers. One thing I will never struggle with is knowing whom to turn to in those moments. Countless memories of my father show him turning to the Lord and putting his trust in Him alone. That is who I will turn to and who I will seek. That is the legacy of my father.
Friday, November 07, 2008
Rough Men Stand Ready
A while back I told myself and a few others that I was done blogging and I still have every intention to stick with that, but there are certain issues that seem to call me out of retirement. I have recently repeatedly run into one that simply boggles my mind: pacifism. Obviously I have known about pacifism for many years, but only as a universally recognized antecedent to war (World War II), but I have recently come into contact not only with people who believe that this is a viable foreign policy, but much more dangerously, believe it should be preached from the pulpit of the churches of Christ. I could not disagree with either more. What I would like to do is discuss my views on the subject. I recognize the limited size of both my intellect and my audience but nonetheless feel the need to speak out. I will be honest in saying that I hesitate to say this because to espouse a political philosophy or take on a doctrinal topic is to take on an Ivory Tower issue. These are issues that are largely regulated and spoken of by people who have nothing better to do than sit in their office and think up witty comebacks, do research, or listen to others tell them how great they are. I have a day job and therefore will speak my piece and fade back into oblivion.
In the military, another word for Ivory Tower is "Snipers Nest" a relatively safe place from which the enemy can take shots at you. There are only a few ways to deal with a snipers nest:
1.) The Counter sniper
2.)Call in artillery or air support and level the whole place.
I choose option two. My plan is to take on the two movements individually. First I will speak to the political philosophy of pacifism and then speak about the dangers of speaking it from the pulpits.
The political philosophy of Pacifism
Pacifism, which comes from the French pacifisme (that should be your first clue), saw its greatest heyday in post World War I and pre World War II Europe, as excellently chronicled by Winston Churchill in his book, The Gathering Storm. Following the incredible carnage of trench warfare and heavier than air chemical agents that the world had witnessed during the war to end all wars, entire countries were scared to allow themselves too many weapons in the thought that someday they might have to employ them. There was constant talk of dreaded arms races and the general feeling was that if the victors of WWI quit while they were ahead, the losers would quit once they achieved arms parity with the victors and all would be at peace in the world. During this time of peace between wars, or as Marshall Foch called it at the signing of the Treaty of Versailles that concluded WWI, "a 20 year armistice," new leaders arose around Europe. Among these leaders was a man that saw nothing wrong with pacifism and sought to establish an order under which it could flourish. At a time when Europe was in turmoil this man sought to establish order and was jailed for his efforts, from his dank jail cell he wrote a book about his struggle, in fact he titled the book, "My Struggle," or in German Mien Kampf. On page 288 of this pathetic book, Hitler wrote that:
"In actual fact the pacifistic-humane idea is perfectly all right perhaps when the highest type of man has previously conquered and subjected the world to an extent that makes him the sole ruler of this earth… Therefore, first struggle and then perhaps pacifism."
Now obviously Hitler was no champion of pacifism, but he is the perfect example of why this is a failed political philosophy. While well intentioned men Like Neville Chamberlain fought to limit both the British and French military, Hitler and Mussolini threatened war. In an effort to make peace with these men, pacifist governments around Europe ceded entire countries to them and yet nothing could stop the gathering storm. While noble men in pretty suits argued about how best to limit their own capabilities, Germans in military dress that showed their allegiance to a military 6 times larger that those allowed by the Treaty of Versailles, circumvented treaties and openly sought superiority. Once this superiority was gained they would eventually use it to bring the whole world into war once again, at the cost of millions of lives. Now perhaps this all seems like a foregone conclusion to the uninitiated, but consider this, in March 1936, Hitler made his first military move by sending German troops to reoccupy the the French controlled Rhineland. We now know that every German soldier was under orders to retreat at the first sign of resistance. Pacifist governments in Paris and London offered no resistance and Hitler would later say he knew at this point his dreams of the Thousand Year Reich would come true.
There are those, I suppose who would argue that this is a poor use of historical reference in that this time and that one are so dissimilar, and I suppose there are others still who would listen to them. Perhaps they would be partly right, back then America had spent much of its military resources fighting unpopular wars and battles in Europe and the Middle East. Back then there were rogues as well as rogue nations that sought to do harm to the US. Back then a resurgent Russia, under the flag of the USSR, was looking menacing and dangerous. Back then the American economy was in the worst downturn since...well...it was the Great Depression. Yeah, good call guys, none of that applies today.
So, as we have established, this is a bankrupt philosophy that is mostly espoused by people who will never go near a front line if war ever breaks out. To a smaller extent it is a high ideal set out by equal but more practical men in between wars and abandoned at the first sign of war. As has been said, "Being a pacifist between wars is like being vegetarian between meals." But yet there are those still who do not care about this as a political philosophy, but see it as a moral one, a biblical one that cannot be compromised. Let us now deal with this lunacy.
Pacifism in the Church
Again we must lay the groundwork, delineate who we are talking to and who we are not. There is a line of thinking that preaches non violence to a ridiculous level. These are the people that say under no circumstances would they ever use any kind of violence to solve anything. The first and most obvious question to these people is, "Would you defend your wife or your child, should someone try to harm them?" Watch the news and hear some of the horrible things that people do to one another and to children and if you would stand by and watch or just gently tap someone on the shoulder who is harming your child and ask them to stop, then my only feeling is one of immense sadness for your family. This is not a post that is meant for you. To engage in a debate with someone of this crazed mindset is to add legitimacy to it. It would be akin to debating a schizophrenic about the accuracy of what the voices are telling them. To do so you must ignore the larger problem, namely that they are crazy!
I am also not talking to the host of people that do not care to take part in military or law enforcement actions personally, but do not feel that those who do are wrong. This is a perfectly legitimate feeling.
The people that I take issue with are those that believe that it is wrong to engage in any sort of violence (military or law enforcement actions) or to participate in groups that do. I disagree with these people for a host of reasons. I will attempt to convey the most obvious ones.
It is not biblical
The first and most serious of deficits in this line of thought is that I can see no sound scriptural basis for it. I have listened and have never heard a competent argument for this line of thinking. Images of warriors and commands for battle are found throughout scripture.
- In Exodus 17:16 we read that "The LORD has sworn; the LORD will have war against Amalek from generation to generation.
- In Judges 3:10 we hear about what happened to Othniel when the Spirit of the Lord came upon him : The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, so that he became Israel's judge and went to war. The LORD gave Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram into the hands of Othniel, who overpowered him
- In 2Chronicles 6:34-35 Solomon is praying at the dedication of the temple and prays-
"When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you send them, and when they pray to you toward this city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name,then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.
- In Psalm 144:1 David, a man after God's own heart says "Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle."
- In the ever popular chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes we learn that indeed there is a time even for war.
Now no doubt, there are those who would read this and give the tired argument that the scriptures I have listed are in the Old Testament and that we are now under the New Covenant and so none of this applies to us. At the risk of sounding technical, this is such a lame argument. Nothing is more risky than cherry picking the parts of the Old Testament that you like and claiming that the rest is outdated. Obviously this kind of trash doctrine is more than a little subjective. Thanks to Christ, the way in which we approach God has dramatically changed, God HAS NOT! But lets go along with the argument for a while
Even a brief Recon of the New Testament reveals many scenarios that are hard to move past for the pacifist.
- The first of these is found in John 2 when Jesus, in his righteous anger, makes a whip out of cords and drives men and animals out of the temple. There are many sermons that could be taught on this scripture, but having one on pacifism would certainly be a stretch.
- In Acts 10, we rejoice as we see the Holy Spirit given to the first gentile, the Centurion Cornelius. In modern times he would be referred to as a Company Commander in the military. He was a respected, God fearing man whom the Lord revealed himself to. Certainly the Lord had Cornelius' attention but at no point do we see Cornelius instructed to leave his job.
- In Ephesian 6 the apostle Paul uses the analogy of weaponry to explain how we prepare ourselves as Christians. No doubt there are those that would say that this is an analogy and therefore does not count. I challenge you to show me where the Lord instructs us to do something using the analogy of the commission of a sin.
- In Revelation 19:11 we hear John's description of Christ when he says "I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war." Again, it is an analogy. Again, show me an analogy where Christ is described as doing something sinful.
To believe in pacifism and not preach it is disingenuous
Perhaps the most startling aspect that I have witnessed in ministers that espouse this view, is that it is not talked about from the pulpit, but rather in hushed circles of close friends. This is patently disingenuous. If you believe that war is murder, that would make people that engage in it murderers. If this is your deeply held conviction, you should be screaming it from the rooftops and making sure that everyone knows this. I would think that as a leader of a congregation or students at a Christian college, keeping the flock away from murderers would be a top priority. Yet what I see is people celebrating Memorial Day, Veteran's Day and Fourth of July. You simply cannot have your cake and eat it too. It is like those people that feel that abortion is wrong but it is not a big issue for them. IT IS EITHER BABY MURDER OR IT IS NOT! PICK A SIDE!!! If you believe in pacifism and are a minister or a college professor, I encourage you to preach it to the fullest!!! Make every July fourth, Memorial Day and Veteran's Day a day of mourning. Don't you dare eat apple pie! Weep for the useless violence committed to end the Holocaust, Slavery, and Tyranny. Preach it from the mountaintops, see how many people come to join you. Anything less would be cowardly.
Another astonishing thought among those that I have talked to, is that they hold up as wise and honorable, Christians who when drafted served only in non combatant roles. This is ridiculous on its face. I ask you, "what difference does it make if you are the one shooting the enemy or the one passing ammo to the one shooting the enemy?" If you serve as a non combatant medic because of your pacifist belief, how do you justify patching men up so that they can go back out onto the battlefield and get back in the fight? Even as a non combatant chaplain, how do you live with praying for good weather so that the Army can fight better (As Patton instructed the 3rd Army Chaplain to do in WWII)? A man of his convictions could have nothing to do with the military. A pacifist should flee from it and speak of its supposed evils to whomever will listen. I suggest trying San Francisco, lots of listeners there.
Sadly, we also have to understand how preaching this viewpoint looks to the average Joe Visitor off the street. Many of them will undoubtedly look at the men preaching this belief and see them as men who probably cut their own underwear in the back to keep the wedgie from hurting too bad. Regardless of whether or not this is true, men do not come to church to be domesticated. We know that most women do not want to be married or date someone that would sit back and watch them get beat up or worse. Men want to be called to action. Men want to get into a fight for something that they are willing to die for. Don't believe me? Why do you think that Islam is male heavy in its population and it is the fastest growing religion on the planet. Men who pay attention to the world do not feel comfortable taking cover behind Swiss cheese philosophies. They want to rise and fight. They are not looking to have emotional experiences, they are looking to make a difference. We know that the battle belongs to the Lord, but so do we and we want to fight that battle with Him.
I know that there are those who will read this text and think that I sound like some war monger. Nothing could be further from the truth. I know the nature of the subject and how terrible it is. I have been motivated to write this because I know too many good Christian men and women who put their life on the lines for us day in and day out and I will not have them disparaged by ignorant men and women ensconced in the sniper's nest. I also care too much for the body of Christ to let another (yes, there are more) scripturally unfounded tradition cause some to turn away and still others to never come in. I will not peaceably stand by, I choose to fight.
So what do you think? Mission accomplished? For me it has been. I have spoken my piece into the ether and feel better for it. I know that there are some out there that when they read this will lose sleep over it, but do not worry. To paraphrase Orwell, you should sleep peaceably in your beds at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on your behalf. They stand ready. They stand able. The blanket of cover that they provide you gives you peace and solace so that you can quietly sip your Starbucks and judge if what they are doing is right.
Tilling the Soil
Below are a few quotes that I will use to soften the ground for my upcoming blog post on a topic that I have run into more than I care to:
"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." -- George Orwell
“Do you know what a soldier is, young man? He's the chap who makes it possible for civilized folk to despise war.”- Allan Massie
A young man who does not have what it takes to perform military service is not likely to have what it takes to make a living. --John F. Kennedy
Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier. --Samuel Johnson—
My chief concern is to try to be an humble, earnest Christian. --Robert E. Lee
“The pacifist is as surely a traitor to his country and to humanity as is the most brutal wrongdoer”
Why can't I just eat my waffle?
-Pres-elect Barrack Obama
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. - Jack Handey