Monday, November 8, 2010

Proper 29 Project

Recently I was asked to join in a project related to the U.S. war in Iraq. The Proper 29 Project grows out of recent WikiLeaks revelations called the "Iraq War Logs." (WikiLeaks is an organization that publishes classified information from all over the world.) The "Iraq War Logs" is a collection of almost 400,000 U.S. army field logs. Many of the documents detail our complicity in the torture and death of Iraqi civilians from 2004 to 2009. It appears that little has been done to address any of the abuses which is puzzling. And there seems to be little public reaction. Why? Have we just moved on? Iraq is behind us and now it's "on to Afghanistan?"

Mennonite Pastor Isaac Villegas has called on other pastors to speak out against the violence. However, several pastors have told Villegas that such a word would not be welcome in their churches. Villegas noted, "It's hard here in North Carolina. Our economy is tied to the military-industrial complex. Preaching about the suffering caused by U.S. forces in Iraq hits too close to home in a state that has such a high military population."

On November 21 (which is Proper 29 on the liturgical calendar--hence the name for the project), as we bear witness in the Christian Church to the Reign of Christ, it seems appropriate to bear witness also to what comes with the reign of empire. And since most of us, if not all of us, have an investment in empire, words of gospel peace may be not only difficult to utter but hard to hear.

I invite prayers for wisdom and discernment as pastors and lay leaders around the country seek the words to call our government to accountability, to healing, to reconciliation and to peace.

1 comment:

  1. I do not have any solid answers to why our nation is blinding itself to the consequences of not only going to war under false pretenses, but also allowing our agents engage in unnecessary acts of torture. What is most disturbing is how a substantial minority of Americans seem to take delight that we used the most brutal forms of cruelty that we call war crimes and tyranny when other peoples do them. It reminds me of the scene from Orwell’s 1984 where the crowd cheers while watching movies of innocent civilians fleeing in boats being shredded to bits by machine gun fire. They seem motivated by rage or fear to the point that merely defeating someone they label “enemy” is not enough; the “enemy” has to be completely destroyed. This theme of domination has infected our political process as well to the point that winning elections and getting most of an agenda passed is not enough; one has to humiliate ones opponents and keep attacking them until they are coerced to say that they agree with your position.
    I found Crossan and Reed’s take in In Search of Paul fascinating. This idea of keeping us “safe” and fighting for “family values” could have come straight out of the propagandists for the Caesers. America has fallen too much under the sway of the imperial arguments of “peace through victory” instead of Christ’s and the Prophet’s “peace through justice.” The idea that America is exceptional because it is a “Christian nation” and that means everything we do is blessed by God is eerily close to the imperial Roman claims Crossan encapsulates as “piety, war, victory, peace.”
    > NGH