Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

Of Sorts

This New Year's morning was marked with the 3000th American soldier dying in Iraq since US aggressions began in 2003. The news so far hasn't mentioned the Iraqi death toll - even an inaccurate toll, since the US isn't interested in counting civilian deaths.

And the world reports mixed reactions to the execution of Saddam Hussein.

I have been struggling with what (if anything) to post about the execution of Saddam Hussein. I am comforted by the Vatican, World Council of Churches, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International in condemning the execution on both moral grounds (opposed to capital punishment altogether) and on strategic grounds (execution was with mixed motives and not necessarily the best course for Iraq in particular). I believe it is clear that the Christian position on the death penalty is for world-wide abolition. We must recognize other nations' and cultures' sovereignty, but this case is clearly one of US sovereignty - we occupy all of Iraq, we determine their policies and government, we support them financially, politically, militarily and morally. Had the US government not wanted Hussein killed, we would not have allowed Iraq to execute him. And any claim that the US has to "respecting the sovereignty" of Iraq flies in the face of the facts that we invaded that country twice in the past decade, have been continually bombing it in the interim, and that we tried several times to assassinate Saddam at the beginning of the Iraq War. Saddam only survived to be executed because our "smart bombs" missed. This is another example of how the US obeys no law but its own interests, holds no morals or values above increasing its own wealth and power, raises no principle above its right to do whatever, whenever, wherever it wants if it feels such action will promote the nation's wealth or power. Justice was not the motivating factor in either the invasion or execution. Love wasn't the motivating factor. Liberty or freedom or whatever other catch-phrase weren't the priority. And this is the terrifying fact that we Christians must remind ourselves of continuously.

We are Americans by accident of our birth. We are Christians by our faith. Who holds our allegiance? We cannot serve both God and mammon, brothers and sisters. Must must choose this day whom we will serve.

I fear most American Christians have chosen America rather than Christ to serve - and assume that going to church or confessing belief will serve them in good stead in the Reign of God.

And I fear for not only America, but for Christianity. We are a terrible people, terrifying in our duplicity and arrogance. And I mourn this day for my country, for my people, for my faith - ideals and hope crucified all over again.

God, forgive us, for we know not what we do.

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