NCC Memorial Day grandstanding

Since when did the NCC become supporters of our nation’s soldiers?

Resources for Memorial Day 2004 At 6 p.m. May 27, the Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend, the National Council of Churches USA will host an interfaith worship service at National City Christian Church, on Thomas Circle in Washington, D.C., to mourn the growing number of fallen sons and daughters of our nation, struck down in Iraq while in the patriotic service of their country. We also will pray for the families of the thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians caught in the crossfire, along with all the other soldiers, reporters and non-military personnel who have lost lives and limbs in this conflict. All are precious in the eyes of a loving God. Read the entire press release on the NCC website.

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5 thoughts on “NCC Memorial Day grandstanding”

  1. On the eve of World War II Bishop Fulton Sheen gave a powerful sermon entitled “The Cross and the Double-Cross” in which he sought to prepare Americans for the struggle ahead. In it he compared the sacrifice of a soldier who gives his life for his country with the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross for humanity. Sheen wrote

    “It was not weakness that made Christ hang on the Cross; it was obedience to to the law of sacrifice, of love. For how could he have saved us if he saved himself?

    Peace he craved; but as Saint Paul says, there is no peace but through the blood of the Cross. Peace we want but there is none apart from sacrifice.

    Peace is not a passive, but an active virtue. Our Lord never said “Blessed are the Peaceful”, but “Blessed are the Peacemakers.” The Beatitude rests only on those who make it out of trial, out of suffering, out of cruelty, even out of sin.”

    I read this sermon tonight in an excellent anthology of famous speeches entiltled “Lend Me Your Ears”, compiled by William Safire. It made me, someone who opposed the Iraq war, stop, pause and reflect. The lesson I derived is that although we may oppose the reasons for going to war, those men and women who have sacrificed because they believed their sacrifice was neccesary to make their nation safer, have imitated Christ and deserve to be honored.

  2. Bishop Sheen and Dean are absolutely correct. It is also approriate to honor those who “fight for peace” by sincerely and faithfully adhering to Christ’s teachings of love and healing in the midst of hate and violence. Neither of us should cast aspersions on the other, but pray for one another always.

    The people I have trouble with are those on the left who are opposed to the war because they neither recognize evil nor have any desire to confront it, seeking only their own comfort and political power. I also object to those on the right who seek victory for the sake of capitalism and American political power seeing nothing wrong in our culture that more of it can’t cure.

    The Bush administration has made a lot of mistakes, but the intent of President Bush seems to be the desire to see justice and freedom prevail while at the same time fulfilling his Constitutional mandate to protect our country and us. The corruption of our culture, the narcissism and division of our politics make the task far more difficult than it otherwise would be.

    The dilemma I find myself in is that I don’t really believe that our “way of life” deserves to be defended with the blood of our children , yet the lives of our people and other peoples around the world indeed do deserve to be defended. Many times that defense has to come in the form of military force and killing.

  3. Given that Mr Scourtes has said that President Bush is a “war criminal,” that the Abu Ghraib prison abuses are morally equivalent to Saddam’s reign of terror, etc, his support of our men and women in uniform is cold comfort.

    If Mr. Scourtes means what he says, our soldiers are passive victims and innocent dupes. It would be more honest to follow the path of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship (OPF) and assert that not only is the war immoral, the support of the war indicates some kind of cultural disorder. OPF at least disclosed their embrace of the peace activist/appeasement political tradition.

    If Mr. Scourtes does not mean what he says, then he should use the language more carefully. He can’t have it both ways. Either the Commander in Chief is a war criminal or he is not. Either American forces are morally equivalent to Saddam’s death squads or they are not.

    Bishop Sheen wrote under the assumption that WWII was a just war. Everything Mr. Scourtes has written argues that the Iraqi war is unjust. To equate the sacrifice of our soldiers with the sacrifice of Christ, while arguing that such a sacrifice serves unjust, immoral, and illegal ends, dishonors our soldiers — unless of course, he really believes they are innocent dupes.

  4. I thought Father Jacobse would take some satisfaction from the Bishop Sheen Sermon “Cross and the Double Cross” because it does make a stong, compelling case that there are situations where Christians have a duty to go to war, something Father Jacobse has also argued.

    However, for reasons we have discussed before I do not think the Iraq war rose to the level of the threat faced by the world in 1941. The Axis aggression sweeping across Europe and Asia could no longer be averted through diplomacy and represented an immediate and imminent threat. Iraq in 2003, on the other hand, did not pose an imminent threat, and other options, short of war, existed to deal with the problem of suspected WMD.

    Father Jacobse asks correctly: how can the sacrifice of our soldiers in Iraq be Christ-like if the cause was unjust, unless they were innocent dupes?

    There was a deliberate and sustained effort by our government to link Iraq and the Al Qaeda terrorists as part of the same threat in the minds of the American public. Public opinion polls indicated that nearly 50% of the American public believed that Iraq was behind the September 11, 2001 attack despite a total absence of evidence supporting such a claim. Our media was all too willing to report such claims as fact, and now are engaged in a period of soul searching to understand why they diseminated such substantively incorrect information as fact. The New York Times recently issued an apology to its readers and the Congress will soon be issuing a report strongly condemning the CIA for its pre-war manipulation of intelligence for political ends.

    The average soldier has neither the time nor resources, to fact-check all the statements of his government, but instead depends on its honestty. He is trained to quickly obey orders and not ask questions. Many, like Pat Tillman joined the military with the purest and most honorable of intentions.

    Our military personnel would have preferred not to go to Iraq, be separated from their families and face danger, but they did so because they saw it as a neccesary sacrifice for what they were told was the protection of their nation. For this they deserve thanks, respect and honor, even if the manner in which they were utilized by their superiors was in exploitative and faulty.

  5. Stay on point. I argued that your assurances to our men and women in uniform is cold comfort given that you accused their commander-in-chief of war crimes. That makes our soldiers complicit in his crimes or, if you prefer, the nation guilty of deformed conscience just as the Orthodox Peace Fellowship believes.

    Here the the response is different. The leadership is “exploitative” and “faulty” — clearly a softening of the original charge but no real response to the point about war crimes.

    Language matters, at least if reasonable discourse is desired.

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