Okay, more of a question. I like to throw out some political stuff every now and then because I figure by doing so I can:
1) Learn more humility by revealing my inability to discuss such matters
2) Get some feedback from others to see where my thinking is off
3) Hopefully get at some essential issue to theology and its place in this matter
4) Learn more humility

I was listening to Anderson Cooper tonight as he interviewed a Republican from Georgia (not very articulate, but passionate) and Kucinich from Ohio. Kucinich made a pretty good point in the fact that Iraq made no attack on the United States. Therefore, according to international law, the USA should not have initiated war with Iraq.

With that said, my question has to do with the fact that don’t we (as an able-bodied people) have some obligation to right wrongs in other countries. That is, it is a known fact that Saddam Hussein was tyrannical and torturous to his own people. A horrible dictator. It reminds me of Nazi Germany in many ways. They were exterminating people within their own political boundaries. World governments were criticized for not doing something earlier than they had.

Does this not fit the same mold? Some may say: Why not go after North Korea? Why not a number of other countries? The United States just wants oil?

First, the third question delves into the area of motives. Who are you to judge a man’s motives. You have to deal with what is actually done and said. It is thin rationale, indeed, to say that you “know” that the reason for x is based on someone’s motive (when that has not been stated…ever). Second, who is to say that other countries will not be held accountable by the other world governments. Third, granted, I do not like the fact that the troops in the Middle East are predominantly from the USA. But does the fact that a few countries are pushing this ahead preclude the necessity of those with the means to do something about it?

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This post has 6 Comments

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  1. At the risk of simply stating a party line answer, it is noteable that we did not in fact declair war on Iraq, but on Terrorist cells in Iraq. Based on this distinction, this war is in fact self-defense

  2. That distinction is helpful. Is there a problem with saying that it is against terrorism generically? I mean, if that is the case, does that not give any country license to go after any group they believe is a terrorist group? After all, it was a specific group (al-Qaida) that had attacked us. Thoughts??

  3. Based on this logic, shouldn’t we declare war on Saudi Arabia? Pakistan? If just war is being expanded to individual terrorist cells, have we just given ourselves carte blanche to declare war anywhere that there are terrorist groups and then invade that country? Is it just me or is there something slippery on this slope?

  4. Well, in a way, oil does drive much of the reasons behind the decision to invade Iraq. That isn’t a bad thing. The US isn’t out to steal as much oil as we can; rather we are out to make sure that the world’s oil reserves aren’t concentrated in the hands of America’s enemies. Hussein had rattled the sabre in the past, and after the invasion of Kuwait, could easily have conquered defenseless Saudi Arabia. That would have put him in control of half the world’s oil, and the defense of our country depends on our ability to have plentiful energy. North Korea controls the worthless half of a peninsula, and is no threat to its neighbors. Iraq under Hussein was playing cat-and-mouse with IAEA inspectors and it is certain that Hussein thought he had an active WMD program, regarless of the reality on the ground.

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Less Hype. More Humility.

Please. Embedded in our consumeristic culture, there is the assumption that newer is better than older–though I prefer aged beef and cheddar to new. There is the assumption that grand and renovated and powerful is preferable to meek and lowly and weak.

The church often adopts this form of communicating in an effort to gather people into its doors. “God is doing awesome things here at Church _______.” The fact is that God is doing awesome things everyday and everywhere. He’s sustained your life. He’s given you sight and hearing and legs. And if you have none or only one of these, he’s still given you life and a mind to engage the world around you. Truly miraculous. What is more, is God not also doing something in the old, decrepit church that meets faithfully every Sunday? Is God not at work in the mundane? Is the changing of laundry and washing of dishes and working through an argument devoid of God’s presence?

I see so many churches trying to drum up excitement about the latest outreach or project, when what our culture needs is the staying power and sobriety of faithfulness in the ho-hum drudgery of going to a job you hate or a marriage that is contentious. What we need is not more hype, but more humility. More service and less heavy-handedness. We need more gentleness and less power grabs.

If we don’t, what then becomes of the senior citizen who is tired? What becomes of the baby who is sleeping? What becomes of the unemployed and outcast and burdened? They are forgotten. They are seen as less valuable because they aren’t producing the kind of energy requisite for assumed faithfulness to the disciples’ call.

In reality, we need less loud voices and red faces and sweaty brows and more silence and calmness and a deep well of contentment.

The New Economics Will Be People

So I went to a coffee shop this morning and was struck by the utter efficiency they were churning out drinks. In fact the team lead said this much as encouragement to the six other workers behind the counter.

I walked in. Smiled at the barista. Was greeted with a blank stare as he continued to froth the milk and deliver the piping hot skinny latte with extra foam to the drive-thru. I walked to the register and was passed with nary a glance…even when the team lead said “Hello.” No she didn’t look at me, but made sure that her metric of greeting a guest in the first ten seconds was met. A box that is checked. That’s what I was. A large dark roast with no room for cream and sugar. And surely there was no saccharin here. There was utility and efficiency.

In all our pandering for growth our marketing of environment is nothing more than a marketing tool. The timers and grids for efficiency have crowded out the thing that matters. The only thing that matters in products.

You see, the products that are pushed are labeled as though they were made for you. In reality, the products being sold to you have (for the most part) been made for the manufacturer. People have merely become a means to the end of bigger, faster, better.

In the new economy, people will matter more.

They won’t matter because they need to matter to grow the business. Too often companies tell you that you’re important because they want your money. They don’t want to make a difference as much as they want their new car or luxury vacation.

I want to say this loud and clear. In the new economy, people will be the end in themselves. They will no longer be viewed as a metric or a number. In the new economy, mom and pop will be sought after. Because, after all, we all know that the verbiage of how you matter to company x is just verbiage. It’s merely eliciting a response for another end.

In the new economics, people will want to matter. They will flock to the place where they are known by name. And not just to tout the “community” of an establishment. Did you notice the subtlety of that one? No, people will know your name because they know you and you matter. Your name is not known just to brag that you matter and sell the belonging you too can have if you buy your next skinny latte with extra froth…hold the pandering.

We are not there yet because executives are still measuring. Measuring people. Yet, what the new economy will have to embrace is not a spreadsheet or a graph. They will be forced to embrace people. Not to grow their graph. But to grow their own soul.

On Conformity

As much as I hate to admit it, Christians push conformity. Conformity to the wrong things. Being shaped by a group and set of ideals is inherent to being part of a group–be it Christian, straight edge, atheist. But I am speaking about and to my tribe.

Over the years, I have had the privilege of being a part of several different denominations and have seen this shadow overtaking much of the piety of its adherents. It wasn’t meant to do so.

Do you homeschool? The correct answer depends on the group you’re talking to. Do you go on mission trips? Do you adopt? Do you run around incessantly from meeting to meeting showing how you are making an impact for the kingdom?

We have steered far off course when we get away from the simplicity of the Gospel. Of a life changed and being changed by the Gospel. That is, before Christ’s ascension, he said to merely teach all that he commanded. Yet. Yet, much of our passing on of information is not what Christ taught. They are various implications and applications of what he taught. And so,

Might I encourage you to be slow in conforming to the standards? Not just of popular culture, but of the popularity of whatever group you find yourself milling about. The shadow looms to block out the sun of joy and hope. It chokes out the simple call to humble obedience to Christ, changing out a yoke that not even the teachers can bear.