Three Western Aid Workers in Iraq Rescued in Military Operation

Ed. Peace activists are rescued by the military they disdain. I hope they have the decency to thank the men and women in uniform who risked their lives to save them. Who best exemplifies Christian sacrifice here — the soldier or the activist?

New York Times Christine Hauser

Three Western peace workers who were held hostage in Iraq for four months were freed in a military operation today, two weeks after their American colleague was killed in captivity.

The three men – James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, both from Canada; and Norman Kember, 74, of Britain – had been kidnapped last November along with the American man, Tom Fox, in Baghdad.

Mr. Fox’s body was found this month. He had apparently been tortured by his captors before being shot multiple times in the head and dumped on a trash heap next to a railway line in western Baghdad.

. . . more

Comments

  1. Some believe that Jesus would bomb Sodom and Gomorrah. While it is clear that the Old Testament view of God was such, my understanding of Christ is that he would not. That is not to say that Jesus would be silent or take no action. To do nothing in the face of evil is the same as aiding and abetting.

    I was asked to respond to the statement “Fr. Alexander Webster in his book, The Pacifist Option makes: The inherent worth of other men and women as creatures of the divine Creator is affirmed without compromise.” and would agree entirely.

    At the same time, one should be careful to not interpret some persons’ view of the “pacifist” as being “passive”. As a peacemaker, my own inclination is to reject such words for myself. I prefer to be an “nonviolent activist” in the traditions of Christ, Gandhi, MLK and others. To be an “activist” is to be intimately engaged in the struggle to love 1. Love God with all heart, soul, and mind and 2. Love my neighbor as myself. Paul added to this that all are lyers to claim they meet 1. “God one hasn’t seen” without first 2. “people who we have seen.

    Jesus believed in operating in concrete manners in the world of his day and calls all to deal with real-world issues.

    Since I could not claim that I knew Iraqis or understood the situation and how it would affect them, I traveled to Iraq two months before the war began. I began to make friendships and have some understanding for their struggle under the regime of Saddam. I asked them their preferences, and upon this (and my own knowledge of the affairs of state) concluded that this war was not the best option. I have since returned to Iraq twice and viewed with my own eyes the process of the war and the reconstruction (or lack of) of that country.

    It is not “pacifists” who risk their lives to go into areas of conflict to gather information on human rights abuses, as the members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) have done, to seek release of those held captive, to give comfort and aid to those with little, or to seek to find – and report out – the truths of the situation on the ground. Indeed, it is those who claim to know, but whose hearts are closed, and encourage continued violence who do violence to the entire – God’s – world.

    Charlie Jackson

  2. Charlie what did Jesus intend to do with the knotted cords when clearing the temple?

  3. Note 51, What about your minders Charlie?

    In your pre-war visit to Iraq, while Saddam was in power are you stating that your were free of surveillance by Saddam’s minders?

    In your pre-war visit to Iraq, while Saddam was in power, are you stating that your activities were not watched by Saddam’s secret police?

    In your pre-war visit to Iraq, what contact did you have with Saddam’s agents?

    Did you simply show up at the border of an Islamic country and state that you were an American tourist who would like to investigate the situation in Iraq?

    Do you assert that the Iraqis you spoke to did not fear Saddam’s secret police?

  4. Note 51, War was not the “best option” if you are “making nice” with Saddam

    Charlie, “best option” for whom? By whose standards? In whose interests?

    Was it the “best option” for Saddam’s prisoners who were being killed at the rate of 3,000 to 6,000 per year, every single year of his reign. Some years he indulged in mass murders upped that rate appreciably. American soliders actually found children in Saddam’s prisons. I am sure that those prisoners are disappointed that you decided in your individual infinite wisdom that war wasn’t the way to deal with Saddam, a man who made Lenin look like Mother Theresa.

    So how did you “make nice” with Saddam’s men? How did you get your VISA approved at the border? How many of Saddam’s men followed you around? How many of Saddam’s men monitored your conversation with chosen Iraqis?How many Iraqis would speak freely with a person who cannot see the presence of one of the most evil regimes in the history of the world.

    Please note Charlie that your game is getting a little old. Remember CNN itself, the high holy of correct thinking confessed that it suppressed news reports about Saddam’s activities because it was afraid for the safety of its newspeople in Iraq. We are supposed to believe that Saddam allowed you and Iraqis to converse in complete safety and openly discuss the pros and cons of various foreign policy actions. I don’t believe it. I believe that you gave Saddam’s men reason to believe that your would report favorably to the regime or they wouldn’t have let you in.

    Why should we not class you with George Galloway and other lovers of the great Saddam? Critics of the regime didn’t get into Iraq before the war, Charlie, what did you tell Saddam’s men to get into Iraq?

  5. It is true that it was difficult to get into Iraq during the sanctions years and while Saddam was in charge. Visitors, particularly Americans, were watched and monitored often…but not as much as I expected we would. One of our “official minders” admitted that they were woefully understaffed for the influx of foreigners. Even during sanctions there were hundreds of thousands of tourists and business persons traveling in/out of the country on a regular basis. There were also scores of international government organizations (NGOs), UN, and other agencies.

    Many of us in the peace community had been outspoken critics of the massacre’s by Saddam and have worked with the underground (mostly Shi’ia, but also Christian and secular) indigenous human rights groups.

    What I am saying about my statement “war was not the best option” is that is exactly what many of those Iraqis that we depended upon to give us a clearer view of the situation were saying. I don’t pretend to interject my own analysis without first checking out what the real experts – the Iraqis themselves – have to say.

    I recommend, in the interest of fairness and accuracy, that everyone do the same. Talk or visit with those affected by this war before making judgements about it. Now, you can also talk directly with US soldiers returning from the field as additional sources.

    Charlie Jackson

  6. An example of what CPT is doing in Iraq (even despite the kidnappings and murder) for those who are interested in such.

    “XX contacted a U.S. army officer to arrange an appointment
    to speak about detainee issues including numbers held, Red Cross
    access, inspection of Ministry of Interior facilities. The officer
    couldn’t make an appointment today, but said he would get back to us

    YY and ZZ met with members of the Iraqi Red
    Crescent Society. Red Crescent aids families in the sending and
    receiving of messages for detainees held in Multi-national Force
    (MNF) prisons via the International Committee of the Red Cross. It
    takes approximately forty days for a message to go from family to
    Red Crescent to Red Cross to MNF to detainee. Red Crescent is not
    able to enter MNF or Ministry of Interior prisons. Red Crescent
    with the Red Cross requested from the Ministry of Interior a list of
    prisoners but received no reply. The Ministry of Human Rights is
    the only monitor of Iraqi Prisons (The ICRC fled Iraq in 2003, they were the only international body authorized by the US to inspect prisons).”

    This follows directly Matt 25:36

  7. Christopher says:

    Some believe that Jesus would bomb Sodom and Gomorrah. While it is clear that the Old Testament view of God was such, my understanding of Christ is that he would not.

    Not to pick only upon Mr. Jackson because he has manifold company, but this statement illustrates nicely why the term “Christian” is almost without meaning in this discourse. “some believe” as if there is not a Church, an Orthodox and Catholic Church were the Faith is Revealed. “Old Testament view” as if there is more than one view, as if the modern existential and epistemological angst applies to God speaking to us. “Old Testament view” as if God changed his mind in time – as if He is subject to time and salvation history is somehow not consistent. “my understanding” as if Mr. Jackson’s understanding matters, is a thing of importance next to the understanding of the Fathers, Scripture, and the Spirit revealed to us in the Church. “my understanding of Christ”, signifies that has not (humbly, with much prayer and fasting) submitted himself to the Mind of Christ and His Church. “Christ…he would not” as if the Holy Trinity is not one but many, fickle, and work against each other. Christ the Word made the world, is the Alpha and the Omega, and yet it was not He who bombed Sodom and Gomorrah – it was somebody else! Gods mercy and Justice are opposed to each other! Hell and the Evil One does not, can not, exist! We are all saved!!! :)

    Again, no offense intended to Mr. Jackson but there just is not any real Christian content in his thinking. The above sentence is profoundly ignorant and blasphemous. It is of that peculiar universalizing version of liberal “Christianity” that starts out wrong, and ends up at the wrong place. Again, I suggest that perhaps Traditional Christians need to be more careful as to who we call Christian…

  8. Jim Holman says:

    Charlie writes: “Some believe that Jesus would bomb Sodom and Gomorrah. While it is clear that the Old Testament view of God was such, my understanding of Christ is that he would not.”

    Christopher writes: “The above sentence is profoundly ignorant and blasphemous.”

    Help me out here. I’m not sure what the objection is. Charlie is writing about a situation that never occurred, a decision that was never made. Perhaps I missed it, but I’m not aware that the Orthodox church has a position on whether or not Jesus would bomb Sodom and Gomorrah. Thus, anyone having an opinion on that topic would have to rely on his own impressions, yes?

    For example, you say that “the Christian” would hold that Jesus would command the bombing of Sodom and Gomorrah. But isn’t that based on “your understanding” of Jesus, in the same way that that Charlie has the contrary view? If not, then I would like to be informed as to the source of your assertion. Furthermore, perhaps you can provide a little more detail on the weapon of choice. Would Jesus recommend napalm? high explosives? cluster bombs? cruise missiles? Would Jesus heal the survivors of such an attack, or order them executed? The military ministry of Jesus is a very interesting topic, and I would like to hear more about it.

  9. Who would Jesus bomb? My comments were to posting 41) Christopher above “

    Ever noticed the violence of Jesus, or St. Paul? “Who would Jesus bomb?” asks the materialist. “Sodom and Gomorrah” answers the Christian…

    Apparently at least one poster here thinks that is the Christian approach. It is not I who is the blasphemer.

    Charlie Jackson

  10. Christopher, you seem to be under the impression that it is impossible and even sinful to come to any conclusion about anything under the sun until some declaration or doctrine has been formulated by the Church.

    The first problem (as Jim H pointed out regarding the military practices of Christ) is that the Church hasn’t formulated doctrines on everything. Secondly, as words themselves are by nature abstract representations of reality, the only thing we can do with them is restate them verbatim or paraphrase. I think this is what Mr. Jackson is doing when he says “his understanding” … his understanding regarding Church doctrine, Scripture, etc. We can’t walk around simply quoting Scripture or Tradition because we would then be nothing more than parrots.

    You are also forgetting that the Church refrains from applying universal recommendations regarding some subjects based on Scripture when those Scriptural elements could have been directed towards specific people at certain times.

    “And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.”
    2 Samuel 12:8.

    This is not taken as a recommendation for polygamy, however.

    Suggesting modern warfare ought to take the road of the military conflicts in Hosea (where God ordered the slaughter of children and women with their unborn) seems also to be equally as perilous.

  11. Charlie Jackson, Walter Duranty redux and a dose of reality

    Mr. Jackson blithely makes the outrageous suggestion that he was able to travel to Iraq while Saddam was in power and interview Iraqis who then, supposedly, freely gave him their opinion on international matters.

    The fatuity of his comments about his time in Iraq are breathtaking. No one could speak freely about politics and to suggest that they could cannot be a simple error, it is complicity with the regime.

    Firstly, I think exists reason to doubt that Mr. Jackson traveled to Iraq while Saddam was in power. Second, even if Mr. Jackson did travel to Iraq while Saddam was in power, the necessary conclusion is that he was allowed to do so because the regime expected him to supply favorable propaganda for the regime. Notice that Mr. Jackson did not mention the presence of “minders” until I questioned him.

    Please consider Mr. Jackson’s comments about his visit to Iraq in this context.

    In the 1970′s Baghdad was divided into security zones, the planning of which required citizens to sell their properties in certain areas at a price set by the government. The headquarters of such zones were surveillance centers, routinely checking on movements within and between zones. Many a casual visitor to Baghdad has confirmed their surprisingly efficiency on being questioned for taking pictures of the Tigris at sunset, or some other offense
    (cameras are sold in Iraq but photography is suspect without the written authorization of the Ministry of Interior). Some of the centers are hooked into video cameras concealed on rooftops or built into statutes and public monuments. The cameras cover major roads, intersections and roundabouts forming a comprehensive network for each zone and enabling the center to monitor its area visually.

    The source of this quote:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0520214390/ref=sib_rdr_dp/002-4760282-9369611?%5Fencoding=UTF8&me=ATVPDKIKX0DER&no=283155&st=books&n=283155
    Chapter 1 excerpt

    Here the author recites what is common knowledge. Saddam was Stalin with better technology. No one entered Iraq without the close examination by Saddam’s men. The entire Army and the entire police force were Saddam’s personal agents. Some people estimate that Saddam’s secret police numbered two and three times the number of people in the regular Army. Remember that Saddam had the 5th largest army in the world before the American invasion.

    Saddam had infiltrated every school, every newspaper, every hospital, every university, and nearly every business of any size with his own personal secret police.

    No, my friends, odds are, Mr. Jackson is either casual with the truth OR he was a member of a group that Saddam could rely on to produce useful propaganda.

  12. An interesting article entitled “In Defense of the Gospel of Peace: An Evangelical Antiwar View” can be found on Lew Rockwell’s site from a self-described “conservative” pastor in Michigan.

    He provides some nice reflections on harmonizing various Scriptural viewpoints of war in both the Old and New Testaments.

    ***

    Missourian notes that “Saddam had infiltrated every school, every newspaper, every hospital, every university, and nearly every business of any size with his own personal secret police”.

    You’re probably correct. Unfortunately, such tactics seemed to have been pretty effective in keeping militant Islamists in check. Not saying he was a good guy by any stretch, but it seems we now have worse problems to contend with. But this point’s already been made by others more informed than myself.

  13. Christopher says:

    By the way, it is a fact of the Faith (and of history to believers) that Jesus did bomb Sodom and Gomorrah. For the uninitiated this can be represented in formulaic style without undue simplification (in this case at least):

    God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah – check
    Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed when “Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens.” Gen. 19, so God “bombed” Sodom and Gomorrah- check
    God is revealed as the Holy Trinity – check
    The Holy Trinity is made up of three persons – check
    One of the Holy Trinity is Jesus Christ – check
    The three Persons are never confused, commingled, of one essence, forever taking counsel together – check
    Therefore, Christ destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah

    James, are you really going to suggest that this is NOT “declared doctrine”, part of the Faith handed down by the Saints? If so, you are either NOT an Orthodox Christian or a severely confused one. Either way, yourself (or Charles) has nothing to say about war, peace, the Peace from above, what is and what is not Christian morality, etc. Not because you are not a nice person, or intelligent, or honest, or good, or even virtuous. You may be all those things and I can say with confidence I am not any of those things. The question I ask – and all Orthodox believers ask – is not what the nice man has to say about this or that, but what does God have to say about this or that. In other words, how do we escape (i.e. how are we saved from) the opinion of man? By the Truth of God.

    When looking for the Truth of God I am suggesting it is not found in a man like Charles. His very words reveal that he is, at best, a modern species of universalizing and relativizing liberal “Christian”. As I have suggested I don’t think using the term “Christian” describes such people. Take this from his earlier post:

    I prefer to be an “nonviolent activist” in the traditions of Christ, Gandhi, MLK and others.

    Ah, the “traditions” of Gandhi and MLK relative to Christ. This is that well known humanizing jesus who is not a god but a “good man” who most definitely would not have said all those nasty things about our homosexualist neighbor therefore paul was an idiot…blah blah blah… We all know where this thinking leads. Well, perhaps Charles has not taken it to its logical conclusion. In any case God is with him, but God’s Truth is with his Holy Church.

    Finally, you seem to want to insert more confusion into what the Church has said about war and peace than there really is. It’s just not that complicated. There is a time for peace, and a time for war. The Church (OPF and modernized “Orthodox” not withstanding) has recognized that at times a Just war is a virtue, just as it recognizes the place of the sword in our life here on earth (e.g. Rom 13)…

  14. Christopher says:

    James notes a heretics views:

    An interesting article entitled “In Defense of the Gospel of Peace: An Evangelical Antiwar View” can be found on Lew Rockwell’s site from a self-described “conservative” pastor in Michigan. He provides some nice reflections on harmonizing various Scriptural viewpoints of war in both the Old and New Testaments.

    What does said heretic have to do with the Church and the Truth of God? because he is “conservative”? James, if you think that the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church has it wrong, why not come out and say it? What are you hiding? You are not Orthodox are you?!!…;)

  15. Christopher –

    Yes, God destroyed Sodom and Gomarrah. Jesus is part of the Trinity, meaning that He participated in the judgment of that city.

    If God had decided to destroy Iraq, then it would have been within His rights as Lord of all to do so. He is Lord of life and death. The destruction of Sodom and Gomarrah was His doing, no one else’s. I am sure the folks there deserved it, as He is never wrong.

    But, then again, what the heck has the judgment of God visited by Him personally on an offensive couple of cities several thousand years ago got to do with anything today? The use of human military power to crush a state can not be equated to God’s divine and perfect justice being employed to crush city states directly.

    We, needless to say, are not God. We don’t get to have the same perogatives as God, because we are not God. No one can know the mind of God, unless God has revealed Himself and His perfect will on a particular subject.

    Therefore, I know, with certainty, what God thinks about the purpose of human existance, the purpose of procreation, etc. However, what does God think about the invasion of Iraq? There is no definitive answer to that.

    The Pope said, for example, that the invasion of Iraq did not rise to the level of a ‘Just War.’ I agree with that interpretation. I do not reject all wars, but neither do I accept all of them either. In my judgement, the Iraq War was bad policy and was not within the teachings of “Just War” as understood throughout Christian history.

    Iraq is basically ungovernable, except by force. It is an artificial nation composed of mutually antagonistic groups. Our policy in Iraq is predicated on the idea that Democratic elections can build a nation. This is unlikely to occur. Anyone notice that it is April and no government is in office?

    The results of our attempt to build Iraq into a democracy are chaos, an expansion of Iranian influence, and a high body count of civilians. Which is preferable – a quiet tyranny or chaos? Throughout history, humans have continually chosen tyranny over chaos. You would also, if you were in that situation. You can learn the rules and live under a tyrannical state. Chaos is unpredicatable and can not be tolerated.

    The result in Iraq will be a dictatorship of the Shia that will employ brutal means to bring the Sunni to heel. No other outcome is likely. That means that the U.S. will have midwifed nothing more than a change of who is the hammer and who is the anvil. And, we will have freed the Iranians to continue to expand and abet Shia terrorism throughout the region.

    I don’t see any other possibility. The Sunni are too dense to stop fighting, the Shia can’t not crush them. What can the U.S.? Not much.

    What can the Christian Peacemaker Teams do? Nothing. The Iraqis are going to settle this among themselves. Talking to Jihadists isn’t going to make a hill of beans of difference. They will continue to strike at us until we are gone, and then they will settle accounts with each other. That is going to be a bloody mess, whether it happens today or next year. But it will happen.

    I have a hunch that the total body count attributable to Saddam is going to pale by comparison to what we will end up with.

  16. JamesK, update your facts about Saddam’s alleged suppression of Islamists

    Saddam’s tactics didn’t keep “militant Islamists” in check. Documents seized by the new Iraqi government and recently translated and released confirm that Saddam was an active supporter of Islamist terror in many parts of the world, Israel and Indonesia, Malaysia and the Phillipines for example.

    Time to update your confirmed conclusions and open up your mind for some new facts

  17. Glen wrote:

    Yes, God destroyed Sodom and Gomarrah. Jesus is part of the Trinity, meaning that He participated in the judgment of that city.

    If God had decided to destroy Iraq, then it would have been within His rights as Lord of all to do so. He is Lord of life and death. The destruction of Sodom and Gomarrah was His doing, no one else’s. I am sure the folks there deserved it, as He is never wrong.

    But, then again, what the heck has the judgment of God visited by Him personally on an offensive couple of cities several thousand years ago got to do with anything today? The use of human military power to crush a state can not be equated to God’s divine and perfect justice being employed to crush city states directly.

    Glen look closer at the Old Testament, many times God used human military power to exact His divine and perfect justice.

    The issue you need to consider is Divine Providence. More specifically God’s intercession within human history to preserve His purpose and plans.

    To add to your first part, you need also to consider who is the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament. Who is this figure that receives praise and passes judgement (especially against the Egyptians)?

  18. Christopher says:

    Glen,

    To build on what JBL said, I am only interested in what God’s Holy Church has to say about war and peace. In particular, I note that what it has to say is different than what the misnamed “Christian Peacemaker Teams” and other non-Christians have to say about it. James seems to want to straddle both words which is not even coherent. As I have said before, while I share many of your particular concerns about the situation in Iraq, I am more willing to be patient and let the administration and military adjust over the short and medium term. However, more importantly we both agree that it is at least possible that war against terror (of which Iraq is a part) is Just, and should be evaluated by in the light of our Faith. The unchristians and non-christians for some reason want to play at Christian reasoning when really they are simple modern materialists. This materialism may even be at times and in it’s own limited way beautiful and true (think Gandhi). At other times it is merely seductive (think how the category of “fairness” infects and poisons the modern mind). This distinction (between the Christian and the materialist) is important in understanding who they are and why the say what the say…

  19. Christopher says: “I am only interested in what God’s Holy Church has to say about war and peace.”

    Okay, and what did the Holy Church say about the Iraq War in particular? Given that Patriarch Bartholomew and Patriarch Ignatius in addition to Pope John Paul II opposed the Iraq conflict, I’m uncertain as to how you can deride some of us for ignoring Orthodox Tradition while simultaneously jettisoning it yourself by ignoring the very providers and holders of that tradition when it doesn’t coincide with your own political views.

    Are you just picking and choosing from the Patriarchs as far as whom to listen to and if so, what criteria are you using in terms of who you do refer to in making these moral decisions?

    I’m not trying to minimize the moral complexities of this war (I don’t think it’s a simple right/wrong), but I am trying to underscore the fact that this unanimity you’re appealing to simply doesn’t exist, not within Christendom, and not even within Orthodoxy.

  20. Jim Holman says:

    Christopher writes: “God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah” & etc.

    Well, it looks like Greek metaphysics and logic are on your side in this argument. I would only point out that if you’re going to take such Old Testament passages literally, then it makes it a bit rough for the pro-life argument.

    I mean, when you have God commanding the slaughter of men, women (presumably some of whom are pregnant), and children, drowning everyone except Noah and his family, and assorted other stabbings, hackings, and rippings, it becomes a bit of a stretch to claim that this deity is at all concerned with the “culture of life.”

  21. Yes, JBL, God has used human armies to carry out divine retribution. You will note, however, that it was often corrupt, pagan armies like the Assyrians who were employed to do so. I wouldn’t really want to be in their class.

    But, again, just because God has used human armies to meet out destruction as punishment (usually directed at Israel), does that mean He has chosen us, at this moment, to do so? Barring a prophecy being delivered (we’re short on prophets these days) or some kind of divine sign, all we could say is that it is possible that God intended to use us to smite the Iraqis, but how are we to know that is the case?

    Well, you can’t. Was Hussein really important enough or evil enough to bring down the specific wrath of God? That is quite open to debate, especially in light of the potential evil of a Shia dominated state in league with the nexus of evil known as Iran.

    So in the current state of affairs, there is no way to say, “God has command thusly!”

  22. Christopher says:

    James,

    Ah, now you change your tune (or so it seems to me). Where as before you seem to questioning Just war and Christian reasoning, now you want to focus on Iraq. As I have said again and again in this thread, I am not particularly interested in arguing rather Iraq (and the larger war on terror of which it is a part) is Just or not. I happen to think it is, and that contra heretical Rome or imprisoned Bartholomew and Ignatius. My own Bishops have resolutely refrained commenting on Iraq in particular, other than to say that they defer to the civil authorities on this matter. Since you seem to be a Roman Catholic (based on your citations), does your communion believe this war is not Just? If so, does that mean they wish you to oppose this war by arguing willy nilly with the Orthodox? Perhaps something came out of Rome that says “when encountering the Orthodox, remind them that they have not had a council in 1300 years and so should shut up and follow our lead in this”. I am only half joking here :)

    Glen,

    So in the current state of affairs, there is no way to say, “God has command thusly!”

    I would disagree in a sense. We know that God has command us to certain virtues, and he has not commanded us to die (or sacrifice our family and neighbors) on the false alter of pacifism or “peace”. The liberal and materialistic humanism of Mr. Jackson He has not called us to…

  23. To #71

    That’s why I raised the issue of Divine Providence. God’s purpose may not have been to punish Saddam, it could be to deal with his sons, it could be to deal with a Sunnis, it could be because of some future event that we dont’ know about and on and on for a multitude of reasons.

    The point is it wouldn’t have happened unless God willed it. So there is a reason whether you agree with it or not.

  24. JBL -

    The Church distinguishes between the two wills of God. God has a permissive will and an intentional will. His permissive will means that He allows certain things to happen, even though they are evil. This is because He grants His creatures freedom of choice, and often they choose wrongly. There are also those things which God wills because they are truly the best choice.

    If Saddam had attacked us, then we wouldn’t be having this convesation. Saddam did not, and was not in a position to do so. The U.S., however, choose to invade and occuppy the nation of Iraq on the idea that the results of our activity would be superior to the continuing rule of Saddam. That equation may not balance, since the deaths attributable to the current chaotic situation, the potential rise of a Shia dominated state, and the potential for regional conflagaration may, in the end, make Saddam’s continued rule a less bad choice.

    Or then again, may be not. The decision to invade Iraq was far from so clearcut as to be unambiguous. Pope John Paul II, for certain, knew evil when he saw it and was no lover of tyrants. But he saw, quite clearly, that this war was a dice throw and did not have to come at that time.

    God permitted us to invade Iraq. That can not be considered prima facie evidence that it was His intentional will, as it may have been only His permissive will at work. God certainly didn’t intend for the nutcases to crash airplanes into the twin towers, but He did allow it. Along with a lot of other evil that has come into the world.

    We chose to attack Iraq. It is our responsibility, we choose that path and we took it as a nation. It may work out in the end, but I highly doubt it. In any case, there is no reason to claim God’s special mandate over the endeavor. His will is His own, and we go around claiming to be His instrument at our own peril.

    Sure, it is Christian to lay down one’s life for another. But is it Christian to make men and women who have sworn to protect the Constitution lay down their lives to build a Shia-dominated state in Mesopotamia that will support Hezbollah and Iran? Is it right to invade a nation, topple Saddam, and then leave the Sunni children to the tender mercies of the Badr Organization? Or the leave American men and women in a Shia pincer if we intervene too forcefully to protect the innocent?

    There is no reason, based on our puny intellect, to presume that God will not bring good from all this. There is no reason, based on our puny intellect, to assume that God was planning all this the whole time. We don’t know. And when I don’t know, then I prefer to take the least drastic action possible. Which is why I would have put 130,000 men to secure our border with Mexico rather than in between the Tigris and the Euphrates.

  25. To Christopher regarding 63)

    Thank you for stating “When looking for the Truth of God I am suggesting it is not found in a man like Charles. His very words reveal that he is, at best, a modern species of universalizing and relativizing liberal “Christian”.

    I will take that as a compliment.

    You also wrote, “is not what the nice man has to say about this or that, but what does God have to say about this or that. In other words, how do we escape (i.e. how are we saved from) the opinion of man? By the Truth of God.”
    You are right that God’s Truth isn’t about us and our opinions.

    However, I try to avoid blasphemy of declaring that I know the mind of God. I prefer to use terms such as “my way of thinking” “my understanding of the Bible,” “it seems to me….”

    I do think (again opinion not stated as fact) that the primary relationship to God and humankind that was described by Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians (13:1-13) is an eloquent and useful description for those who attempt to fulfill Christ’s Great Commandment (Lev. 19: 18, Matt 22: 35-40, Mark 12: 28-34, Luk 25-28).

    In going to Iraq I attempted to find answers to “who is my neighbor?”

    Love ya!

  26. Iraq, Christians, and “Just” war

    Those who are most orthodox regarding the Church are clear to state and believe in all tenents of the Just War doctrine….and all Orthodox tenets.

    At the same time, are they permitted to ignore Pope John Paul II’s statement that this (the current war in Iraq) was an unjust war? Does not consistency of the faith within Orthodoxy mean anything?

    Most of the Christian members (Iraqi and foreign) that I have traveled with throughout Iraq have been from the Catholic and Chaldean traditions. When I speak about the comments from Christian Iraqis, those comments come directly from the Papal Nuncio in Baghdad and other Patriarchs, in addition to priest, nuns and Protestant ministers.

  27. Jim Holman says:

    Charlie writes: “Thank you [Christopher] for stating “When looking for the Truth of God I am suggesting it is not found in a man like Charles. His very words reveal that he is, at best, a modern species of universalizing and relativizing liberal “Christian”. I will take that as a compliment.”

    Around here anyone who fails to be a cheerleader for the Iraq war, or fails to show sufficient enthusiasm over all American military adventures, is called a “liberal.” I’m just surprised that it took someone so long to get around to it. Now that you’ve been identified as a “liberal,” whatever else you say can be dismissed, because, after all, it’s just a liberal who is saying it. That’s how the “L” word functions. But you are also a “universalizing and relativizing” liberal, which must be really bad, because I haven’t heard of that before.

    Charlie: “However, I try to avoid blasphemy of declaring that I know the mind of God. I prefer to use terms such as “my way of thinking” “my understanding of the Bible,” “it seems to me….””

    Insufficient theological certainly will be seen by some both as a lack of faith, and ironically as an example of personal arrogance. This will then be used against you in subsequent ad hominem attacks. People in the religious far right need to have enemies to denounce. So far they have argued against your positions. Now they’re coming after you.

  28. Glen permissive or intentional it is still the will of God.

    But my point is God’s Divine Providence, which His will is the expression of.

  29. Actually JBL, I am at a loss for what your point is. What does Divine Providence have to do with this discussion?

    If you follow the path you are own, then all manner of evil is then ‘God’s will.’ That path leads to Islamic-style fatalism and to Protestant predistination.

    ‘Everything that happens is God’s will, so rather than praying to seek out God’s will, we should simply accept all that happens because it is foreordained.’

    Again, I am not sure what you are saying with the ‘Divine Providence’ comment.

  30. Christopher says:

    Mr. Jackson,

    Since you readily admit that you hold to a secular and material philsophy, and Scripture is a servant of said philosophy, we of course would disagree about the very meaning of “peace” and much more. I do want to point out however that the term “Orthdox” (as in http://www.orthdoxytoday.org) refers to the Eastern Orthdox Church. The western partriarch (i.e. the Pope of Rome) schismed from the four other ancient partriarchs in the year 1054 (about 500 years before the Protestant revolution). Through a misfortion of history, this schismatic (and many believe heretical) church of Rome took the term “Catholic” – meaning universal – and the eastern Church took the name “Orthodox”. Thus, to the Orthodox (i.e. the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church) the Pope, magistrium, and all the apparutous of western christiandom is notauthoriative. We have much in common with Rome, particularly in a basic moral evaulation of modern society and philosophies (e.g. the “liberal christianity” which you are a part of), but we are not in communion with Rome and have several severe theological disagreements (e.g. the Filioque). You can Google “Orthodox Church” for more info…

  31. Christopher says:

    ignore post 80 – I failed to spell check it :)

    Mr. Jackson,

    Since you readily admit that you hold to a secular and material philosophy, and Scripture is a servant of said philosophy, we of course would disagree about the very meaning of “peace” and much more. I do want to point out however that the term “Orthodox” (as in http://www.orthdoxytoday.org) refers to the Eastern Orthodox Church. The western patriarch (i.e. the Pope of Rome) schismed from the four other ancient patriarchs in the year 1054 (about 500 years before the Protestant revolution). Through a misfortune of history, this schismatic (and many believe heretical) church of Rome took the term “Catholic” – meaning universal – and the eastern Church took the name “Orthodox”. Thus, to the Orthodox (i.e. the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church) the Pope, magisterium, and all the apparatus of western Christendom is notauthoritative. We have much in common with Rome, particularly in a basic moral evaluation of modern society and philosophies, but we are not in communion with Rome and have several severe theological disagreements (e.g. the Filoque). You can Google “Orthodox Church” for more info…

  32. Christopher says:

    hum…not sure which one is correct now..I think post 80 is the one that is spell chikeeded…:)

  33. Christopher says:

    “At the same time, are they permitted to ignore Pope John Paul II’s statement that this (the current war in Iraq) was an unjust war? Does not consistency of the faith within Orthodoxy mean anything?”

    I believe James is a Roman Catholic so I may be corrected here, but I believe the Roman Catholics separate issues of moral judgment. For example, abortion is not something that one can disagree with the Rome about, but whether this or that particular war is Just is something that one can disagree with Rome and still remain in communion with her.

    The Orthodox Church lacks a magistrium because our ecclesiology conforms to the Church’s of multiple bishops. In a profound sense, Rome really only has one bishop (i.e. the Pope) and so it can have a central office (i.e. magistrium) that speaks to multiple “issues of the day”. No doubt a Roman Catholic would disagree with my characterization but that is why they are a Roman Catholic, and I am Orthodox :)