New Posts on Wednesdays and Saturdays -- er generally

Monday, May 15, 2006

Questioning

I have a question but first want to lay some groundwork for it. George Bush claims to be a Christian. The Republican party speaks of its moral superiority over the other one. In fact Ann Coulter has written a new book labelling the 'other' side evil. Christianity is why American people should trust Republicans more than Democrats is that not correct? Yes, there was also patriotism, that the 'other' guys are wimps but in general many people especially in the religious community did support Bush and his people based on a belief they were Christians who would bring their righteousness and goals into politics. So what things that Christ taught are part of this political agenda?

Bush, with the support of the right, has for instance claimed the right to make preemptive strikes when he has decided it's a security issue for this country. So do we need a new translation of Jesus' words to suit this? No longer will it be-- if someone slaps you, turn the other cheek, but instead-- watch that sucker's eyes and if he has slapped other people and you have reason to think he's moving suspiciously you slap him first.

Were the poor different back in Jesus' time? Maybe what he really should have said is don't bother sharing your coat with the needy because it's their own lazy fault they got in that spot and giving them a coat keeps them there.

With a new translation, it wouldn't be about how hard it'd be for a rich man to get into heaven but instead-- You can buy your way into heaven by giving money to your favorite charities (especially us) and that leaves you plenty to lavish on your own desires since you made a fortune from overcharging the poor (think oil company profits here).

Maybe a new parable is needed about how it is the government's duty to help the rich get richer by making sure as little money of theirs as possible goes into government programs that might help those lazy poor. This, of course, is done in the best interest of the poor as everybody knows giving alms to them only keeps them poor.

I'm sure it's obvious to anyone who reads this blog that I disagree with a lot of what the Republican party does, but what has bothered me as much is the justification that they are doing it in the name of God. So they are upset about pornography and obscenity on cable television, someone else's abortions (because nobody makes anybody have one), public schools not allowing public prayer or teaching properly, and gay marriages; but the issues Christ actually talked about like not judging others, not being greedy, watching you don't get falsely prideful, giving to the ones who need, praying in a closet, not being a religious phony and so on-- those are not being discussed.

What has added to my vexation lately has been the left wing, evidently fearing they are losing out, are beginning to say hmmmm if we want to win an election, we have to be like them in how we talk. So they must talk up their regular church attendance, open their Bibles to the scripture about how Jesus said-- Ye must protect the spotted owl.. or beware the global warming! No actual scriptures on that? Well surely we can twist one to fit. Piety is in and the louder the better. No politician appears able to win if they don't thump a Bible now and again but how many look to see what it is in that book?

Okay, that was a rant, but the main question comes back to the first one. Are preemptive strikes Christian? For instance, is a Christian, as Bush claims he is, justified in bombing a country because he has reason to believe they might eventually build a nuclear bomb and even more reason to believe their leader is a nutcase-- at least as it appears to Americans? The question I have is not whether preemptive action in the case of Iran is politically smart. That can be debated another time, but is it Christian?

I know the arguments I would hear if someone reads this who supports Bush. It'd be if your child was killed brutally what would you do? If you don't like our country, go somewhere else! You are helping the enemy! Anytime you find fault with Bush's administration, it's always back to being unpatriotic-- as though Bush was the country; but this question is not about government or strategic decisions. It is a spiritual question. Can a Christian, who claims to be following Christ, use preemptive action to start a war? You know-- Slap that guy before he gets a chance to slap you. And if a Christian can't, who are these guys who speak piously but act the opposite politically?

12 comments:

Parapluie said...

I wish I could e-mail this to a few thousand people. And it just occured to me that we should as a country admit we made a mistake and leave Iraq. How would Jesus go about leaving a country without a governmental structure? Divide the country into parts? Something bold must be done like love your enemies and forgive them. Why not give it a try? After all setting up a democracy and training them to soldier on their own won't work.

Mortart said...

Bravo on a brilliant commentary!

Winston said...

Excellent article, Rain. I have been saying exactly those things for a long time, but never as eloquently as you. May have to go do my own brief post to point folks over here...

Paul said...

I don't think that Jesus thinks about Republicans or Democrats or their positions. From what the Bible says (and I am a Unitarian not a Christian), Jesus preached about love and mercy first and foremost!

Winston said...

I got my post up now with link to yours.
http://www.nobodyasked.com/2006/05/17/christian-party/

Rain said...

i read yours and thank you for linking to mine. You carried the ideas on and I thought well.

and i agree with you, paul. Christ is not either party but it's what they try to claim that is the problem. It's using religion as i see it and in the worst ways.

ty morart, coming from you, that is a great compliment

and parapluie, as always, you express additional thoughts that add to the original blog

Mary Lou said...

Golly! I was a Bush supporter, and only because I do not trust John Kerry nor Al GOre! BUT that being said, I am also very disillusioned by the fact that the Republican Party is Beating the Bible loudly. More wars have been fought and people killed in the name of Christianity than even Christ would have believed! Man has taken Christs words, and beant them to suit thier own agendas.

You are correct when you said that even the Democrats are jumping on this train! I do not know what the answer is, and I am becoming less and less a fan of organized religion. They all seem to be leading people down a nasty road, and they are going willingly in the name of Christ.

I think I will just continue to sit on my bluff and look out over the Sound and the Mountains, and wonder at the beauty that GOD created, and allow him to come into my heart that way.

ANd I will vote for the Lesser of two evils AGAIN, instead of the best man for the job, because we never seem to allow the best man for the job to get the nomination!!
pity!

BobW said...

Here's an attempt to answer your question rather than your rant. My understanding is that the Just War Doctrine does not consider a preemptive strike to be justifiable.

However, there might be a special situation here. A few Iranian (or Iraqi) nuclear warheads or WMD hardly pose a threat to the US, UK, France or Russia, or to a collective security force like NATO. We have no reason to think that Iran wants to undergo the retaliation these would bring to bear. Their few warheads hardly put them on a par with the land and submarine launched missiles and manned bomber forces these powers have. Even without using nuclear weapons, powers like this could devestate Iran far beyond what its few nukes accomplished.

The real threat a nuclear Iran (or Bolivia, or Botswana, or Luxembourg) would pose is to nearby states unable to reply in kind. So, the question is not whether I can slap your face because you are about to slap mine; but whether one or more bigger, stronger people can intervene to prevent someone from slapping you. I think the answer is at least arguably "Yes," so long as the Bad Guy has (or will obviously soon have) the ability to hurt you, has the opportunity, and has put you in jeopardy; and so long as the force used is only such as to render you safe.

I don't think this conflicts with Jesus' teachings and, for the record, I think a preemptive strike against Iran, especially carried out by any single nation, is and for some time will be a remarkably stupid idea. But, given a more clear and present danger, I don't know that it would be per-se unChristian.

Rain said...

Thank you for your thoughts on this, BobW. Whether we agree or not, I believe it's always good to hear different views on any controversial topic.

ol_pine@hotmail.com said...

"Just War Doctrine", I have not heard that talk for some time. As I remeber it was used as part of the reasoning for the Crusdaes, and "The Church" set up a series of doctrines /excuses and guidelines. The guidelines surface again in the Genvea Conventions [Which this group of leaders chooses to redefine].
BW, I appreciate your approach, but am concerned that you are far more idealistic and learned than our present set of leaders in either party.
Remember the "Powell Doctrine"; it was at least followed, and we did not occupy.That action was closer to the definition of "Just War".

BobW said...

Who said anything about agreeing with the leaders of either party? Leaving any idealism aside, a preemptive strike on Iran, especially by the US alone, would be counterproductive and military folly, as is this tiresome Shout Loudly And Brandish A Big Gun approach to foreign policy.

I'm not a student of the Just War doctrine, but I think it largely postdates the Crusades. I cite it only because it seems to me to be the clearest specifically Christian answer to our hostesses' question. But I remain unconvinced that Christ said anything that would absolutely bar the use of any force by a stronger party to protect a weaker one. (And he himself wielded a pretty mean whip.)

Rain said...

Your comments are obviously thought out, BobW and I hope you post often here-- disagree or agree.

I think that the issue of protecting someone else, where it comes to a country, has to be carefully thought out whether it's truly Christian doctrine or something else. There are so many places where one group is killing another. Where does the Christian draw the line?

Definitely Iran presents a risk but Iraq did not. Everything that made the Bush people want to attack Iraq was in the past or didn't exist. It makes nobody very trusting of them now. If Iran really wanted to bomb Israel, they could do it-- nukes or not. It's a bad situation and a lot of us who didn't like going into Iraq felt even then that the problem, the one harboring terrorists, the one that had the power to be a danger was Iran, not Iraq who had been beaten years earlier by Bush Sr. and in a way that pulled their teeth but didn't leave us with the current mess.

Christ often had a way of taking an issue back to the root cause, not getting caught up in an immediate action. For instance with the men wanting to stone a woman who was a whore and turning the question instead toward the men to one that dealt with their motives.

Where he took the whip by the way was to religious hypocrites who used their religiosity as an excuse for doing bad things.