By: Fr. Paul Dordal
The Sky Pilot
I am convicted. I have been a poser. I am repenting. I am a pacifist.
As I was struggling with a moral injury suffered, in large part, because of my service in Iraq as an Army Chaplain, a friend suggested in early 2015 that I read Leo Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God is Within You. The first few pages affected me deeply. Tolstoy said, “Among the many points in which [the Institutional Church’s] doctrine falls short of the doctrine of Christ I pointed out as the principal one the absence of any commandment of non-resistance to evil by force. The perversion of Christ’s teaching by the teaching of the Church is more clearly apparent in this than in any other point of difference.” 1
As I read Tolstoy I could hear again the words of Eric Burdon song’s Sky Pilot. I realized then that in order for me to live more authentically as a Syro-Chaldean Catholic priest, a Veterans Affairs Hospital Chaplain, but more poignantly as a former US Army Chaplain and veteran of the war in Iraq, I was going to have to change:
He blesses the boys as they stand in line/
By: Jarrod Cochran
Being a resident of the State of Georgia, where the School of Americas is located and Lockheed builds its warplanes, I am daily bombarded with buzzwords and catch phrases that demand my knee-jerk, unwavering support of the military industrial complex and the desires/whims of my government. The slogan that is most-often repeated phrase I find on bumper stickers and emblazoned upon business vehicles is “Support Our Troops”.
“Support our troops.” What does that mean? How are we supporting our troops? What are we doing to actually provide support? If it is merely a bumper sticker, nice words, or a yellow sticker, that is not true support.
If you’re speaking of supporting the troops by expanding medical care for soldiers suffering from physical injuries and mental wounds, then I support the troops.
If supporting the troops means getting these men and women off the streets to where they are housed, fed, and cared for then yes, I support the troops.
If supporting the troops stands for working to create a more just society where we cease our imperialist reaches and learn to work out our differences through dialogue. If it means that instead of sending out “disposable soldiers” to fight and die for causes of greed, we work to live peaceably with one another, then I support the troops.
By: HH Brownsmith
According to the United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration, defending one’s country is one of the responsibilities of citizenship. During the Civil War, WWI, WWII, and the Vietnam War black men enlisted with hopes of returning from the battlefield to greater equality in the states. Japanese people joined up during WWII to avoid internment camps. Latino folks have been and are continuing to be recruited for the war in Afghanistan with the promise of an expedited path to citizenship. As disgusting as this bargaining is, the model is not hard to understand. You kill for us and we’ll call you an American (if the political and cultural climate allows for that and you don’t die).
But what if you aren’t given the initial “privilege” to enter into battle for the country? Some gay, lesbian, and bisexual people struggled with this conundrum from the creation of the armed services until September 2011. In the lead up to the repeal of Clinton’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Don’t Pursue policy, the debate became unsurprisingly dichotomous. Straight moral conservatives and a couple of churches (the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention, namely) issued statements against the repeal. Liberals, including some affirming churches, and mainstream gay activists spent all their energy telling the world that members of the LGB community deserve the chance to fight and die for American interests. Meanwhile, other peace churches were holding their tongues on the sidelines and radical queer liberationists were being ignored, per usual.
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