Posted by: Mark Nielsen | June 1, 2016

Memorial Day In the Age of Endless Wars


I found myself checking out emotionally, curling up in a fetal position spiritually, as I thumbed through my Facebook newsfeed the day after Memorial Day, as I looked back over the previous day’s material.

I’d like to feel grateful for “freedom”, and for those who “paid” for it. And I do, on occasion. But I mostly just feel grief. As in: who stole my country?, who stole my peaceable church tradition? (Yes maybe it happened over a thousand years ago, but why keep at this fruitless violence?), …even who stole my Jesus?

I needed to comfort my grief (one similar to how I feel every year during the busy, materialistic and “stolen” Christmas season), and to turn back toward the gospel (and/or the sense of belonging and belovedness) that first made me believe in the saving power and great mercy of Jesus. So I started reading this today:

_A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor’s Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace_, by Brian Zahnd (David C. Cook publishers, 2012)

Some Catholic and Lutheran pals from Redeemer Church in Park Ridge/Chicago recommended it, and it’s so far, so good. (Plus it was free, so I may as well do the author a solid and give him a buck or two worth of publicity.) Anyone who cites theologian Stanley Hauerwas right off the bat is most likely a friend of mine.

As we consider the Prez’s recent visit to Hiroshima, and head toward a big election, and continue to send the dupe troops abroad as cannon fodder for future Memorial Days, let’s take the long view for once.

Here’s an excerpt from the book:

After 1945 we lost our blind faith in the inevitability of human progress. A threshold was crossed, and something important changed when humanity gained possession of what previously only God possessed: the capacity for complete annihilation. In yielding to the temptation to harness the fundamental physics of the universe for the purpose of building city-destroying bombs, have we again heard the serpent whisper, “You will be like God”? When J. Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb, witnessed the first atomic detonation at Los Alamos on July 16, 1945, he recalled the words of Vishnu from the Bhagavad Gita—“ Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” When the monstrous mushroom cloud rose over the New Mexico desert, did the human race indeed become Death, the destroyer of worlds? It’s more than a legitimate question.” (Chapter 1)

Anybody have an answer to that last question that makes you feel even remotely comfortable, or at least resolves this longstanding inner human conflict? (i.e. Fight vs. flight, or  “do unto others” vs. self-interest –inner conflicts from which all external conflicts seem to spring).

My only answer will be found on my knees, I suppose. So why am I asking you? Maybe just to give a few more people permission to grieve, not just our veterans, but our own headlong, rash, ideologically explosive rush toward death.

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