I didn't write the following, but I wish I did. You can complain to me if you don't like it, or blast the author, Judson Heartsill. Either way, this piece rocks.
War is on my mind.
I am a Christian, but I am not a pacifist. I am a dual citizen of the kingdom of God and the United States of America. In the kingdom, I've been naturalized. In the U.S., it's more like a green card.
What am I talking about? In practical terms, this means that, should the U.S. disappear overnight, I must be just as happy and content with my life as I am now. In fact, I am commanded to be just as happy. Such a perspective may seem bizarre to some, but to me it makes all the sense in the world.
This is not to say that I don't love the United States. I love it very much. My birth here, what some would call a lucky accident, is actually a colossal example of God's grace. The same goes for my being born to loving parents, being born into safety, meeting a perfect wife, and having a perfect child. None of these were based on my goodness-- they were all freely given gifts. Left to myself I would have done much, much worse.
That's why I am not a pacifist. I believe that some things are worth fighting for.
I know lots of Christians who are pacifists. In fact, Christianity in general almost seems split between pacifists and non-pacifists. I think the pacifists are zealous lovers of peace, and I share that with them.
The pacifists believe in common grace, like me. Unlike me, they believe it is better to let these things be destroyed, perhaps while protesting nonviolently. They believe this because they value their kingdom citizenship more than their U.S. citizenship-- just like me. They say it is more important to stoically endure evil, because Jesus did. They say that to fight for these common graces is to idolize them over Jesus.
Interestingly, some of these actually accuse me of wanting to fight for religion, since I talk about things like "common grace". In fact, my religion-- Jesus Christ-- is the only grace for which I absolutely, positively refuse to fight for with the sword! I use an entirely different sword for that. (That sword curiously resembles a book).
The pacifists I admire most are those whose souls are just too gentle to contemplate violence for any reason. I disagree with them but I admire their intense desire for peace. I think some of them need to read some more of Jesus's own words about what he, himself, meant, and what his self-proclaimed mission on earth was.
The pacifists I respect the most are those who remind me of the dangers of worshipping mammon. They help drive into my skull exactly how depraved our country really is, and how deluded we sometimes are. It is in part due to their warnings that, so far, I have managed to avoid falling completely headlong into these pits. I am always dangerously close, and it is terrifying to me-- much more so than a collapsing skyscraper.
When I was a teenager searching for my vocation, I first thought I wanted to be an active duty fighting man. Then I discovered disciplines and trades which I loved more, and followed those instead. My military desire did not go away, however. I decided to become a reservist.
I am a Navy man, a fighting man of the United States of America. If war comes, I may have to go and serve. My expertise is not with missiles, radios, or cannons. I know how to drive big ships. If my country needs me, I will probably be placed in service on commercial vessels, because the Navy needs officers to liason with civilian shipping.
Those ships don't have guns. Tactically, they are sitting ducks. In the open water they are defenseless. If a carrier group is nearby it's a different story, but the fact remains that the sailors on materiel ships have absolutely no illusions about their defense capability.
Nevertheless, I am not a hero, and I don't really know much at all about how to conduct sea warfare. That's the point, and that's why the Navy needs me. For almost all intents and purposes, I'm a civilian who has simply volunteered to be very much in harm's way, if necessary.
In the few days after 9-11, I entered what was probably the biggest depression of my life. Generally I am a happy guy. With all the wonderful people in my life, how could I not be? But my mood was positively, evilly black for weeks. You liberals of the marxist of nihilist variety: don't you dare preach to me for a second about "not letting them get to you" or "not sinking to their level". The fact is, their level is hell, and for a while I was right there. And I'm not about to apologize for being depressed or sad on the account of mass murder. If you weren't in hell too, then shut the fuck up.
For a while, I thought my depression was due to the possibility of a military call-up. My wife was pregnant with our first son. I dwelt on the blackest possibilities.
I slowly began to realize that my depression wasn't because I might be taken from my family, or because I might have to fight. It was because of the immense wrongness of the murders. The sheer willfull massacre clouded my heart and withered my mind.
So what of leaving my family, maybe never to come back? It did make me sad. But not depressed. What pierced me was the knowledge that they could be murdered like those in New York. What drove me further to despair was the knowledge that the murderers would love to kill them. To them, my pregnant wife was evil, and the only way that true righteousness could possibly flourish would be through her death.
Current events have got us all talking about heroes. To me, the Columbia astronauts were the truest heroes. They are the talented ones which I mentioned. They are incredible men and women, pilots and doctors, brimming with skill and determination, and standing on the shoulders of giants. They show us a glimpse of the good side of the world, the side away from evil, the side of imagination and triumph.
I am not one. I am a relatively immature, self-centered man who happens to be surrounded by huge amounts of grace. I am rough, not tough, as evidence by my language above. I haven't learned how to be graciously angry yet. (FYI- rough bad, tough good). But it occurs to me that the most important reason heroes exist is because they are necessary for the survival of hope and love and the human race. If we didn't need those things, we wouldn't need heroes. So, talented people work and train to become heroes. Ordinary people, like me, sometimes rise up and, through lots of agonizing, try to be as heroic as possible in order to save what they love.
Jesus of Nazareth claimed that he came in order to pay for the evil in human hearts. He told his comrades "A man can have no greater love than this-- that he lay down his life for his friends".
He said this right before he became a hero. His job was to make his friends free forever. Everybody wants to imitate him, or at least to imitate what they think he did. Nobody can do exactly what he did, I promise you. To a citizen-soldier like me, the best way to make my friends free is to prevent them from being murdered. This statement says a lot about who my friends are. They not only include my wife and child, but a whole lot of Iraqi people. In fact, they include every human on the planet who doesn't want to be murdered.
However, I didn't make myself a friend of those people. Someone else did, and I do not have a right to cut off those ties.
The murderers have it all wrong. True righteousness cannot flourish through my wife's death, or my son's death. It can only flourish through one man's death. The good news is, he already died. Think that's good? It only gets better.l