Ten Years Later: Concerning the War in Iraq

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March 21, 2013

Tuesday, March 19 marked the 10th anniversary of the war in Iraq.  To me it is of great significance that we look back on ten years of war followed by the week we remember Jesus' entry into Jerusalem with his last meal with his disciples, his betrayal, his crucifixion, and his resurrection. For me these events in the life of Jesus of Nazareth is not just something that took place in the past, but it is something that is happening day after day. It is within this context that I was moved by Chris Hedges' article, The Crucifixion of Tomas Young. He wrote about Young who was paralyzed in Iraq in 2004 and is now receiving hospice care at his home. Hedges wrote; "Young will die for our sins. He will die for a war that should never have been fought. He will die for the lies of politicians. He will die for war profiteers. He will die for the careers of generals. He will die for a cheerleader press. He will die for a complacent public that made war possible. He bore all this upon his body. He was crucified. And there are hundreds of thousands of other crucified bodies like his in Baghdad and Kandahar and Peshawar and Walter Reed medical center. Mangled bodies and corpses, broken dreams, unending grief, betrayal, corporate profit, these are the true products of war. Tomas Young is the face of war they do not want you to see."
Although I fully agree with Hedges that I am complicit in this war and that I am one of the bystanders shouting "crucify him", I struggle with how much I, and the Church, actually can do to stop the United States war machine. During the lead-up and outbreak of the war, the Christian church and pastors weren't totally silent, they did speak out. My former colleague, the late Rev. Mark Bayert said the following in his sermon entitled Not The Presbyterian Way (Concerning the war with Iraq) at Oak Grove Presbyterian Church in Bloomington, MN on March 23, 2003, the Sunday following the United States’ attack on Iraq; "I have a sense that President Bush, surrounded by his hand-picked advisors, had made up his mind some time ago to attack Iraq and get rid of Saddam Hussein with or without the support of other nations and in spite of widespread protests by American citizens. I do not doubt Mr. Bush’s good intentions as President or his sincerity as a Christian, but he seems to have made his decision in isolation without taking his political opponents or the community of faith, including his own United Methodist Church, seriously. The President, for example, refused to see a delegation of top religious leaders, including representatives of every major established denomination, except for the Southern Baptists."
As we look back on the past ten years of war and as we hear talk about war against Iran and are bolstering our missile defenses to counter North Korea, I am wondering where the resurrection is to be found and what we as people of faith actually can do.

Keywords: faith in action
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