Today is day 4, but I skipped out yesterday, deeply invested in reading Feel Good Nutrigenomics by Amy Yasko, and didn’t do almost anything online. Hooray for finally having this genetic information “click!” – boo to slacking off on a perfectly great challenge to blog more.
So, I am going to intermingle the View and Celebrate on this one. It’s a tough one for me, the 4th. I hope if you are reading, you will be patient, open, loving, and at the very least, respectful of the things that I came to believe in a very hard way. It starts out bleak, but it definitely does not end that way. It ends in hope.
In my Mother’s Feast, I am currently reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. I have honestly kind of fallen in love with this guy. He was intelligent and didn’t seem to have a problem speaking his mind. I have often wondered if he was a Type 4. Anyway. At the beginning of the book, he said something that has nagged at this deep part of me. It has nagged me because I felt it the comment of a man who saw into a mirror dimly on a topic, and judged those who have seen it personally more face-to-face. He says in the Preface, “In Book III, which deals with morals, I have also passed over some things in silence, but for a different reason. Ever since I served as an infantryman in the First World War I have had a great dislike of people, who, themselves in ease and safety, issue exhortations to men in the front line.”
This has echoed in my mind and heart for weeks, even as I have found myself adoring this passed-away saint, thinking how easy it is for him to have felt this way… how his war was one with neighbors around the world that he may never have seen the faces of, known the families of, witnessed them personally doing anything wrong. They just happened to live in the wrong land at the wrong time and, with unhealthy-devoted patriotism of their own land, served their leader as modern Christians often advocate for their own countrymen to do.
Had C.S. Lewis ever looked into the face of one individual human being that had harmed him or someone he loved or had put him or his loved one’s in harms way… and taken their life, or refused to?
Because, I’ve looked into the eyes of the men that molested my child and I have been human. Very human. I resisted every evil impulse and desire to protect my child from those monsters. Yet, because I have not gone into a foreign land or stayed in my own and battled to the death with a stranger who may have done nothing wrong other than be a patriot to his own country, I am not justified to exhort a military man from taking the life of other men that Christ came to give Hope and Life to?
And this has echoed in my heart. It was a tender place for him, as he had willingly taken life and justified it with “the greater good,” and for someone to tell him it goes against all of the New Testament, against Christ’s message of forgiveness, peace, and mercy… would cause a huge amount of cognitive dissonance for him. It is a tender place for
me because I feel sorry for men such as him, that felt shedding blood for any earthly freedom was worth forgetting that Christ shed His blood to do away with retributive violence and we are to honor His sacrifice for all.
I do not celebrate Independence Day with the why that most modern Americans do. I celebrate as the first “4th of July” celebrators did.
They also had a strong pacifist tradition, dating to their founding amid the religious struggles of the 15th century as a “peace church.” Members were forbidden to serve in the military. They lived by the teachings in Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.
It’s little wonder that by 1783, the Moravians in Salem were thrilled that the battles were over. During the Revolution, both British and rebels harassed them, collected fines, and even attacked them physically. Some young men hid in the forest to escape being pressed into service. A few did join with the rebels; the church forgave them later.
For peace. It was not really for “victory,” for “independence,” or for “maintaining rights and freedoms.” Just celebrating that bloodshed was, at the moment, over.
As Bonnie Kristian so directly puts it:
Ironically, given the revolutionaries’ numerous tax-focused grievances, the Quakers were a particular target of mistrust because they would not pay taxes to support the war effort. (“No taxation without representation, except you definitely have to pay taxes to fund our militias whether you want this war or not” would have made a less catchy slogan, I guess.)
The pacifist perspective on the Revolution goes all but unheard today, as patriotic hymns are queued up for this Sunday’s service. Indeed, for many American Christians, the rightness of the Revolution — a conflict between two majority Christian armies that, in the general way of war, valuedwealth and power above love and unity — goes without question. With President John Quincy Adams, much of the modern American church affirms in deed if not in word that, after Christmas, Independence Day is our “most joyous and most venerated festival,” a day to celebrate what is perceived as a major accomplishment in God’s plan for the world.
The trouble is that the pacifist churches were right. As theologian Greg Boyd has asked, “How can a holiday that celebrates one group of mostly professing Christians violently overthrowing another group of mostly professing Christians be venerated by people who are called to love their enemies and to be peacemakers, even if they happen to find themselves on the side that won?”
I can’t celebrate it. The “freedom” for me to write this very post, at the cost of even one human beings life is NOT worth it. As a Christian, I am called and commanded to be a peacemaker. It’s a hard calling. It goes against my sinful nature, the one that wants vengeance on child molesters, murderers, and thieves. Yet, command me to love my enemies near and far, He does.
He commands me to forgive over and over, never stopping my forgiveness… because as soon as I do, I have forgotten His forgiveness and grace for ME. I act as though I deserve to be forgiven, but my enemy does not deserve to even live.
So today, I am reminded of His hope, His offering… and that I am to live that out for others, regardless of whether they have done something wrong to others, myself, live in my home, down the street, or across the sea. Today, I celebrate the only freedom-giving act… and that is Life eternal, made possible by Christ’s perfect sacrifice. It’s the only faith truly not worth fighting for. ❤