Friday, February 13, 2009

Iraq War: Just or Unjust War? 2

Previously, I posted Andrew Sullivan's argument that the Iraq War was just. Below, I have provided Stanley Hauerwas's counter argument.

Stanley Hauerwas on the injustice of the Iraq War

The Iraq War: Just or Unjust

Was the Iraq war just?

Before I explain my position, I would like to offer, first, Andrew Sullivan's argument about why the Iraq War was just. Below, is the link to his essay.

Andrew Sullivan pro-Iraq War position

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Conversion to Christian Nonviolence

Greetings in the name of our LORD and Savior Jesus the Messiah!
I would like to take my first post on the Tanks to Tractors blog to describe one of my many conversions during my spiritual journey. I originally was “saved” when I was eight years old when I accepted Jesus the Messiah as the LORD of my life in a Baptist church one Sunday morning. However, there are times, in the Christian life, where one reads Scripture, hears the Holy Spirit all the while the environment and circumstances in one’s life changes, and God is able to transform a person from an old creation to something completely new. Let me say, that from a young age, I was a committed political pacifist, accepting the secular arguments for pacifism and peacemaking and international cooperation and then, reading that political stance into my interpretation of Scripture. The revelation of Jesus the Messiah in his death on a cross was irrelevant to my political views. Even when during the first days of the Iraq invasion, I was loud in my maverick stance of not watching the news when it was showed in the hallways of the university’s student center. People came up to me and asked me why would I not stop to watch the news, and I told them all, with George W. Bush’s 80% approval rating and all, that I would not support this war because I was committed to peace. My friends ridiculed me for attending Amnesty International meetings where two to three people would show up and we would have conversations about our disgust over how the student population was apathetic and blindly pro-war. I had not yet developed the theological skills or the lexicon of postcolonialism, but I still knew what imperialism looked like. I was fed up with George W. Bush and his God-talk about liberation for the Iraqis as well as the na├»ve, condescending attitudes of the liberal establishment who praised Bush for bringing democracy to the Middle East (as if America was created as a democracy itself).
My discontent was caused by my religion being divorced completely from my politics. I had essentially been taught (implicitly) that it was okay to hold to orthodox Christian doctrines while at the same time adhere to a political belief system without reflecting on the political implications of Christian doctrine, i.e., to the exclusion of orthopraxy—a word we never hear in Baptist churches, let alone evangelical and conservative congregations. I eventually came across Roman Catholic moral teaching while taking an undergraduate Religious Studies course on Vatican II. After reading his work, The Gift of Peace, I became obsessed with the teaching of the late Joseph Cardinal Bernadine, who taught the seamless garb, or the interconnectedness of all of life. He took very strong public stances against abortion, poverty, reckless nuclear war, euthanasia, and capital punishment. Here, for me was my first real example of someone preferring to allow her/his theological preferences dictate her/his political stances. Then, I started to look back at the life of Jesus Christ, and the meaning of the Gospel, and trying to find the center of the GOOD News and what the Triune God required of me, as an individual Christian. Four years later, I read John Howard Yoder’s The Politics of Jesus for the first time. I had already read many of Stanley Hauerwas’ works, which dealt with Christian nonviolence and the separation of church and state. After I read TPOJ, my conversion to Christian nonviolence had begun. It was not the words of Yoder, per se, or the book itself, but the fact that Yoder’s book made me go back to the Bible to realize that is the crucifixion of Jesus the Messiah that stands front and center of all Christian social and personal action. Jesus’ victory on the tree at Golgatha paved the way for us to live free, to govern ourselves by the power of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 2). All righteousness comes from the Lamb that was slain, and so does any Christian moral reasoning for taking action within the world. By making the crucifixion my starting point for my ethic of Christian nonviolence, there was no question about why do I do what I do because I now know why: the cross of Jesus the Messiah, the Wisdom of God, foolishness to the wise of the world, but unto us, it is the power of God.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The True Cost of War

Here are some staggering stats I found just by a quick search:

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations:

- Over 900 Million people in the developing world are hungry (read: starving to death)

(More than the combined populations of the US, Canada, and the European Union)

(The Director of the WFP says since 2007 it has reached more than a Billion!)

- 25,000 people (adults and children) die every day from hunger and related causes

Just to put this in perspective. The budget of the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) in 2008 was just under 3 Billion dollars (2.9). With it, they fed 73 Million people in 78 countries, less than a tenth of the world's hungry. Guardian Article

If this math holds, it would take over ten times this budget to feed the world's hungry. Let estimate: 60 Billion dollars.

The war in Iraq has already cost the United States over 600 Billion dollars. (And some estimate that it could reach 2 or 3 Trillion before its all said and done.) What it has cost already is 10 times a generous estimate of what it would cost to feed the world's hungry.... 10 TIMES!!!

So, upon whom is the real war being wagged? I submit that each day the 25-26 thousand human beings (many of whom are children) who die of starvation are deaths that are preventable and the cost of war is greater than its financial impact. The cost of war is millions of preventable deaths.

That is why we pray and work for the day when tanks will be beaten into tractors!!

True Fasting

This Lenten season, millions of people all over the world will be fasting. The devout will abstain from eating or will curtail their eating habits in some way. This can serve as a powerful reminder that there are many more people in our world who hunger every day, and not by choice. I believe it is important that during this Lenten season we remember the words of the prophet Isaiah who spoke these words hundreds of years ago that remain true today:

"Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness [a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I."

- Is. 58.5-9


Welcome to the Tanks to Tractors blog. We hope that what you will follow this blog and that what you read will inspire and compel you to think more about the teachings of Jesus and their implications on our priorities as his followers. In particular, we believe that Jesus ushered in a new kingdom, unlike those of this world. And as King of this Kingdom, he demonstrated its reign. In his Kingdom, even enemies are to be loved. How are they to be loved? He shows us. When we were his enemies, mockers, demanding his execution, he laid down his life for us. In his Kingdom love is demonstrated by sacrifice. In his Kingdom, the greatest power is not in coercive force, in swords or tanks. The power to overcome death in resurrection, the greatest power in the universe, is preceded by dying. In fact, Jesus' entire life was marked by sacrificial love. Jesus taught us to love one another, love the 'unlovely,' and to touch the 'untouchables' of society. As did Jesus, we believe we are called to confront oppression and injustice wherever it is present and expose it as the contempt for the Creator that it is. We want to follow in Jesus' footsteps by promoting and reflecting the unique Kingdom ethic he demonstrated. We want to be his disciples. We invite you also to learn at the Master's feet, submit to his ways, and embrace his call to self-sacrificial love.