Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Stan Goff: open letter to Christian soldiers

A few weeks late on this one. Stan Goff's "Open Letter to Christian US Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan". I have written on numerous occasions here about my softening attitude towards religion over the years--I think the Left makes a big mistake in demonizing the religious, in identifying religion only with its most frightening manifestations--in part because it's not going away, but also because I think it can be argued, convincingly, that religion is what made us human in the first place (again, see for example, Chris Knight's article here: ". . . only a creature that has become immersed in a world of shared fantasy - in a sense only a religious creature - can have language").

In any event, though I am not prepared to take the personal step he has taken (conversion to Christianity), I admire Stan Goff's courage and commitment, and he remains an astute observer of the current situation and an invaluable asset in the ongoing battle for freedom. Here is a very tiny excerpt:

America is now Rome. You are Rome’s army of occupation. To the Roman soldier, when Jesus passed down the dusty byways of his occupied land, he appeared no more or less than a random Iraqi or Afghan appears to you.

What do you look like to them?

[...]

You will hear people say that this burnt out veteran has no authority to speak as a Christian on these matters. And I am burnt out; and I did come to Christianity late in life. But I am not making any of this up. Honest and fearless Christian theologians of the ecumenical, prophetic, and evangelical churches have spoken out against war, and in exactly the terms presented here. I bring nothing original to this plea for obedience to the God of the Nazarene.

I write to you as one who has shared your experience, not that of the clergy or the Academy. I have known your position, trapped between the regrets and guilt of the past and the anxieties of the future, plodding against the current of Holy Spirit to clutch at the "esteem" of your militarized nation, "proving" yourselves again and again to your peers who define masculinity and human value by the ability to risk one’s own safety to dominate or destroy others.

That is who I was before I was baptized into who and whose I am, and that is why I can tell you that the risk you must take is the risk not to dominate. It is the risk of losing the esteem of those who "know not what they do."

The whole thing is well worth reading.

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