Greetings fellow Burglars, jurors, and eyewitnesses (friends, Romans, countrymen?) . In my inaugural blog I thought I'd drop a bomb, of sorts, or at least comment on the dropping of bombs and other related acts of military violence. I recently saw a bumper sticker that asked the question "Who Would Jesus Bomb?" While it is an amusing riff on the ubiquitous (in some circles) WWJD theme, it also implies a critique of Christians who might see no irony in a bomber with the words "Jesus is my co-pilot" plastered on its hull. If the results of our recent presidential election are any indication, such Christians would seem to represent a sizeable number. Perhaps that's why we all saw maps of our country covered in red.
Now I live in a "blue state," and I've been a graduate student at what can only be described as a blue university (in more ways than one); these things have undoubtedly influenced my politics. Yet I cannot help but be struck by similarities between the rhetoric of ancient generals who defeated "tyrants" and brought "liberty" to Rome, and the rhetoric of a President who has declared a "war on terror" and brought "democracy" to Iraq. Terrorists are, of course, tyrants; the weapon they use to advance their tyranny is fear. But they cannot, and will not be overcome by machine guns, tanks, and bombs – even bombs with crosses painted on them and the legend "by this sign, conquer." Neither does the freedom we experience as Christians have anything to do with the form of government under which we live. Only when we recognize that there is no fear in love will we be free from tyranny, whether it is the tyranny of ideologically vacuous notions of "liberty" and "democracy" or the tyranny of terror.
I recognize that individuals and nations are often faced with difficult choices, and I am not a pacifist of the "egoistically vegetarian" sort described by Mother Maria (recently canonized Orthodox saint). But in the midst of all the rhetoric that is flying around, a crucial message has been obscured. As members of a church that claims as its Lord and Savior a man who was ignominiously put to death on a Roman cross, we are faced with a choice: we can take up our cross, or we can take up the hammer and nails.