Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Using the Afghan War Diary to guide our feet into the way of peace

Crossposted at Sojourners' God's Politics blog. How exciting!

Reflecting on the response of the faith community to the war in Afghanistan**

After reading about this for a few days and not seeing an adequate faith response, I had to write something. Particularly after the House approved $37 billion in new spending for the war in Afghanistan.*

The details brought to us in the Afghan War Diary from WikiLeaks paint a picture that those of us familiar with the wages of war have seen before. We see vast human rights abuses, routine murders of civilians, and a military authority more interested in protecting their own public image than anything else. We see war as the chaotic mess that it is.

And yet, the talking points since the release of these documents have generally settled around whether or not they tell us anything new, in progressive circles, or whether or not they have greatly endangered the troops in Afghanistan, in more moderate and conservative circles. Even the president said in response to the leak that "these documents don't reveal any issues that haven't already informed our public debate on Afghanistan."

These discussions miss the point. As a person of faith, I want to pause to redirect the discussion of these documents. After missing numerous opportunities (like one pointed out by Logan Laituri in his own response to the media coverage of Wikileaks this week and like Wikileaks' release of a video earlier this year) to stand up loudly against the war in Afghanistan for a sustained period of time (let's face it, the faith voice has gone almost completely silent here), we are presented now with the opportunity to inject ourselves into the conversation currently captivating mainstream media. To use these documents to say 8 years is 8 years too long.

In church this Sunday if you have a time for sharing of joys and concerns, pray for peace. Educate your congregation about the Afghan War Diary if they don't already know about it and begin to talk about how you can be engaged in peace work. Call your representatives and tell them that ending the war in Afghanistan must be a priority for them. This is an opportunity for us to let the Holy Spirit work through us for peace.

Such is the tender mercy of our God,
who from on high
will bring the Rising Sun to visit u
to give light to those who live
in darkness and the shadow of death
to guide our feet into the way of peace.
(Luke 1:79)


*May someone explain to me why it's a good idea to give more money to the war in Afghanistan when the USA cannot account for $8.7 BILLION in Iraq?

**This summer I am a Beatitudes Fellow at Faith in Public Life. The Beatitudes Society is a progressive Christian resource center for and network of faith leaders that offers seminarians like me internships at key national social change organizations. Faith in Public Life is one of those organizations, focusing on "advancing faith in the public square as a positive and unifying force for justice, compassion and the common good," a lot of which is in making the progressive faith voice audible in the media. I believe God has called me to parish ministry, yet I felt strongly that I needed experience outside of parish ministry if I want to be an effective pastor working for a just world. I have not been disappointed with this decision.

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