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The holiday that hurts

Started by LutherMan, November 09, 2015, 05:08:17 PM

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John Mundinger

Quote from: Dan Fienen on November 14, 2015, 11:09:25 AM
I find interesting the implicit perfectionism exhibited by some comments concerning the sin of America.  Apparently there only two ways to regard America, either our nation is perfect or totally evil.  Any attempt to show that America has done some good, or have protected some innocent from the depredations of aggressors is met with the rejoinder "Do you believe that our nation has never sinned? That our military has never participated in evil actions?"

What I find interesting is how eager some Lutheran pastors are to sanction our nation's flaws.

Quote from: Dan Fienen on November 14, 2015, 04:48:55 PMOf course our nation has participated in evil things.  Our military has participated in evil actions.  Actually if we want to talk about evil action by our nation and its leadership I could suggest supporting an economic system that seems to encourage inequalities in income distribution, past imperialistic adventures, a congress that seems more interested in promoting personal and party advantages than in governing for the good of the nation.  How about a presidential candidate that sees Republicans as the greatest enemy she faces?  I also see as evil a government that is more interested is promoting self-determination and individualistic values than in protecting the most vulnerable among us?

During my lifetime, most of our military actions have promoted the evils that you articulated.  I do not criticize individuals for their service.  I do criticize our nation for exploiting their commitments for less than honorable purposes.  And, in my opinion, Veterans Day is more about perpetuating the deception than really honoring those who served.  If we really wanted to honor them, we would limit our military engagements to actions consistent with the reason they enlisted.  Thus, my suggestion that we commit to the principles of just war.
Lifelong Evangelical Lutheran layman

Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbour, does not yet understand them as he ought.  St. Augustine

Dan Fienen

We have been discussing the evils of military action and the evil perpetuated by the United States Government in this thread.  How does this stand in the face of the targeting of civilians for violence and armed attack in the bombing of the Russian passenger jet in Egypt and the multiple attacks in Paris?  ISIL has proclaimed itself at war with the West and demonstrated its readiness to utilize violence indiscriminately.

One response could be the resolve to bomb them back into the stone age.  But in actuality that would be neither practical, effective or wise.  Another response would be to tell them how sorry we are that they are angry, how committed we are not to use violence and they have nothing to fear from us so why can't we just all sit down and make nice.  That also would be futile and ineffective if we really want to protect people from having violence visited upon them.

Don't forget, someone willing to give his life for his cause will be willing to give your life for his cause.

Looking at the root causes of this conflict is useful, but only if we are willing to look at all the roots.  To look only at what the West in general and the US in particular have contributed would give a very limited perspective on why the conflict, be inadequate to resolve the conflicts that have led to violence, and in the end be a sort of perverted hubris as though only we can be powerful enough and bad enough to cause such havoc.  Iraq was majorly dysfunctional long before we blundered in to depose Hussein and seek out WMDs.  I'm sorry but I can hardly wish for the good old days when the violence and terror in Iraq came from the rule of one blood thirsty, sadistic and corrupt dictator and his family rather than from many warlords and factions. 

Some of the roots go back to the end of WWI when the European powers carved up the remnants of the Ottoman empire to suit themselves with hardly a thought to the realities of the people and territories involved.  And, naturally, before that to the European and primarily British empire building and exploitation before that.  England was meddling in the politics of southern Asia long before the US had much interest in the area.

Some of the roots go back to fault lines within the Muslim community and their inability to come to terms with each other.  Already in the second generation of Muslims there was a schism whose consequences are a major contributor to the unrest and violence today.  One of the fundamental principles of Islam laid down by Muhammad was that Muslim does not kill Muslim.  Let's not forget that majority of the casualties and fatalities in the violence in the Middle East and the violence elsewhere that has its roots in the Middle East are Muslims.  They violate their own religion in the name of their religion.  (Which should not surprise Christians who have fought among ourselves extensively and viciously.) This is, in part, a civil war in Islam that has been going on for well over a millennium.  We in the West did not start it although we may have contributed to it with our blundering.

A third source of the conflict lies in tribalism and ethnic conflict.  Generally mid-Eastern Arabs hold more loyalty to their tribe and clan than to their country.  Their country often was imposed upon them by outside powers.  (See the conclusion of WWI.)  But their tribe and clan are what are important.  And sometimes that tribal rivalry is exacerbated the other tribe being a different flavor of Islam (Sunni v. Shia) sometimes not, just that they are a different tribe and rival for power, resources and land.  Add to that ethnic rivalries, Iran is not Arab but Persian.

Ultimately, a diplomatic solution has the best hope of long lasting solutions to the conflicts between the Middle East and the West as well as within the Middle East.  But such solution will depend on all sides being willing to compromise and allowing others to have what is important to them rather than simply grabbing what their own group wants i.e. all of it, regional dominance and ability to dictate terms to the rest of the world. 

But military action will also be necessary.  Non-combatant are very much a part of this conflict, as pawns in strategy, as subjects of genocidal ethnic and religious cleansing and the like.  To refuse military intervention is to simply allow those who find themselves in the way to be slaughtered at will.  Furthermore, so long as participants see the possibility of military victory they see no need for a negotiated settlement that will inevitable gain them less than they hope to gain by force of arms.  What is needed is to demonstrate that force of arms will not gain them their goals.

Military action will not solve the problems of the Middle East that are spilling over into the rest of the world.  But I see no alternative to them being an element in the solutions.

Simple fixes rarely work for complex problems.
Pr. Daniel Fienen


Church a 'safe place' for veterans

By Donald E.H. Marshall

Like so many my age (a baby boomer), I find myself "sandwiched" between generations—and with a different attitude toward military service in defense of our country.

My father was a navigator in the U.S. Air Force, flying missions near the end of World War II and over Korea. His two brothers, my uncles, served in World War II as well­—one was killed in Europe and the other died relatively young of complications from wounds received in the war.

Growing up in the '60s, I would come to protest war rather than fight one.
So it was a surprise, to say the least, when my son signed up for the Oklahoma Army National Guard after getting a college degree. He eventually became part of its large contingent sent to the war in Afghanistan.

My son, Michael, served his tour as a foot soldier in one of the war's more dangerous provinces, experiencing numerous engagements, retrieving the remains of fellow soldiers who were victims of a roadside bomb, and witnessing things he has struggled with, in various ways, since his return a few years ago.

Within three months of coming home, my son attended a handful of funeral services for comrades who took their lives after returning to the states.

As an ELCA pastor, I continue to struggle with issues related to military involvement in other countries andwith armed conflict in general. I haven't been a proponent of our recent wars. But at the same time I have, as you might imagine, come to develop strong feelings concerning the country's support—communities of faith included—of the troops sent to wage them.

Of course it's about more than simply thanking those who put their lives on the line or displaying the flag on one's lapel or even standing and singing the standard patriotic hymn on the Sunday closest to a national holiday.

Perhaps the church, especially, is being called to offer the veteran a safe place—indeed, worship space—to fearlessly address the often delicate spiritual and moral issues he or she is dealing with, sometimes long after the fact. As faith communities we, even more than Veterans Affairs, are gifted with the resources best able to accomplish this, meeting the warrior returning from battle with the message of reconciliation most needed. - See more at:

Buckeye Deaconess

The LCMS has a solid program in place to serve personnel currently serving as well as veterans . . . Operation Barnabas.


Something that I'd posted on FB on Veterans' Day. Reworked it a bit, and the local newspaper published it yesterday:
Don Kirchner

"Heaven's OK, but it's not the end of the world." Jeff Gibbs

gan ainm

Quote from: Pr. Don Kirchner on November 21, 2016, 12:03:47 PM
Something that I'd posted on FB on Veterans' Day. Reworked it a bit, and the local newspaper published it yesterday:

Thank you for that post.  Poignant.  My dad was in the 45th Division.  He told almost no stories about his journey through northern Africa and Sicily.  He was wounded twice and almost died; sent home before Anzio and Italy.  Luckily, he recovered and he and my mom conceived me.  Interestingly, one of the 45th top commanders was Omar Bradley, a distant relative of my wife.  Thanks be to God for those who placed their lives in jeopardy and fought for our freedom.  Also, thanks be to God for those who chose not to place their lives in jeopardy for our freedom.  We can learn from both - we can learn what to do, what not to do, and how and to whom to give thanks.  We are all children of God.

Charles Austin

 Your article is a good witness, Pastor Kirchner.  I look forward to seeing the movie that pays tribute to a man who was a hero without carrying a weapon  and who acted on his conscience in the face of severe difficulty.
Iowa-born. Long-time in NY/New Jersey, former LWF staff in Geneva.
ELCA PASTOR, ordained 1967. Former journalist. Retired in Minneapolis.
GUILTY on ALL 34 counts

Dave Benke

Quote from: Pr. Don Kirchner on November 21, 2016, 12:03:47 PM
Something that I'd posted on FB on Veterans' Day. Reworked it a bit, and the local newspaper published it yesterday:

Great testimony!

Dave Benke
It's OK to Pray

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