Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Interesting Thoughts on Just-War Theory

How Did We Get so Dumb about War?

Some blame for the facile acceptance and even sanctification of war must go to the venerable and misused “just-war theory.” This theory, developed over centuries, was a noble effort to minimize the harm of war. The theory had some successes and can be used to limit and block wars, but it has tended to be honored in word more than deed. The mischief of the “just-war theory” was that by putting the word war alongside the word just, it baptized war, making it seem rational and moral and good as long as certain rules are observed. It helped to rationalize war.

Just-war talk helped us to hide the reality of human and ecological devastation that war always involves. The abused word war has lost its sting; it is no longer descriptive of the horror we are wreaking when we “go to war.” If the “just-war theory” were called the “justifiable-slaughter theory” or “the justifiable-violence theory,” it would at least be honest. Maybe the slaughter and the human and ecological devastation we are planning are justifiable, but at least we would be honest in admitting what it is we are justifying. It would be language with out legerdemain. In moral matters, the rush to euphemisms is always a sign of bad faith.

Military strategists, and ethicists embedded with them, drape an even thicker tissue of lies and euphemisms around military violence. They like to call it “the use of force.” That sugarcoats it handsomely. Force, after all, is nice. A forceful personality, a forceful argument-these can be quite admirable. But an atomic bomb hitting the population center of Hiroshima or Nagasaki or the brutal leveling of Falluja in Iraq or of settlement camps in Palestine needs a more honest word than force. Force, like war, is a malicious euphemism. It averts our eyes from the horrors described by Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “Some two million children have died in dozens of wars during the past decade…This is more than three times the number of battlefield deaths of American soldiers in all their wars since 1776…Today, civilians account for more than 90 percent of war casualties. ”

We need a fresh look at the “just-war theory,” a principal tool for making war look normal. Its use is widespread, even when not referred to as such, though it is more often used as a cover for stupid military adventures brought on by the failure to do work that makes peace. Transforming that theory so that it truly serves peace is our goal.

This has been taken from Daniel C. Maguire’s book: The Horrors We Bless: rethinking the Just-War Legacy.

Bishop Desmond Tutu’s quote was found in the Washington Post, November 24, 1996 page C7 in an article titled “Stop Killing the Children.”

Monday, December 29, 2008

"why blow yourself up?"

It is amazing just how poorly we can see the “other side” of an issue. This past year has provided ample evidence of this, as both Republicans and Democrats continually fail at understanding each other. While politics is one example of this, another is terrorism. What confuses me is the fact that nobody ever asks, “Why blow yourself up?”

In the never ending Israeli – Palestinian crisis, we see Israel always acting in self defense against terrorist acts. Israeli troops are constantly forced to defend themselves against suicide bombers who run into crowded shopping centers and blow themselves up with nail bombs. Cities in southern Israel are forced to be constantly on guard against missiles being launched into their neighborhoods. Few people ever ask, “Why would people do this?” Typically the answer is, “These are evil men.” Or “They are attempting to destroy Israel, because they hate Israel.” The problem with these answers is that they really do not answer the question. They still do not answer the question, “Why blow yourself up?”

Maybe if we begin to dig into this issue, we’ll find that the people in Palestine live in conditions that a Jew would never consider living in. Maybe we’d see that in an attempt to control terrorism, the Jews have closed off the entire Gaza strip and the people there do not have adequate food or medical supplies. If we begin to see that the Palestinians are suffering under the oppressive hands of a nation who cares little for their rights, maybe we could understand why they would see their only chance for survival is to launch crude missiles into nearby Jewish neighborhoods.

This ongoing violence is a result of a lack of critical thinking about the situation. Israel is content in seeing their Palestinian neighbors as less than human. This is the only way to explain the way that they treat those living in the Gaza strip. The Palestinians in the same, fail to value the lives of the Israelis; the very reason they are committing these atrocious acts. Both Jews and Arabs need to cease treating their neighbors as less than human. This is why somebody would blow themselves up.

You see the problem is if we begin to ask this question, maybe we’ll find a reason we do not want to see. Maybe these people feel that there is no other way to stop an abuse. I recently read this quote from Peter Ustinov, “Terrorism is the war of the poor, and war is the terrorism of the rich.” I cannot defend any acts of terrorism, they are pure evil. I also cannot defend any acts of war, as they are also pure evil. Launching a missile in defense of your nation is just as wrong as sending someone into a crowded intersection with a nail bomb.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Since we have headed north, it has been snowing!

1 - We've prolly got a solid foot of snow in the past 4 days!

2 - It was blowing so hard, the news classified the weather conditions here as "near blizzard" (blizzards are caused not as much by the amount of snow but the wind).

3 - Sunday morning, as we tried to get to my dad's church so I could preach, we got stuck in the driveway. My dad called Steph and said, "the roads aren't very good. we had to plow through some drifts..." which made us want to drive there even more.

4 - A friend got his 4x4 truck stuck in our driveway because the snow was soo deep his wheels couldn't touch the ground.

5 - My dad spent 2 1/2 hours blowing out the driveway, and the next morning (or 8 hours later) had to "reopen" the passage.

I know some of you have read these accounts and shivered, but truth be told, it's been pretty amazing. I have seen more snow here in this weekend than I have in the past 2 years in Wilmore. Its annoying to many but to me its home. I don't understand why I'm like this because nobody likes the possibility of having to cancel all ones plans due to bad weather. What can I say, I've been so happy in the midst of all the snow drifts. By the way, the snow drifts in Wal-Mart are big enough to hide a fleet of school buses.

Needless to say, living in a land that only gets 3 inches of snow a year. I feel as if I've been repressed...or I've been a fish removed from water, or a polar bear in the midst of a rapidly shrinking north pole. I'm absolutely loving my Christmas trip home! 

Hopefully, you'll have a very white Christmas, cause I know I sure will!

(incidently I found this picture of Johnson Park in Grand Rapids. It is located about 10 minutes from my grandparents house, and when I was a kid I thought its sled hill was the best in the whole world!)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


"The hijacking of the concept of morality began, of course, when we reduced Scripture to formula and a


story to theology, and finally


to rules. It is a very different thing to break a rule than it is to cheat on a lover. A person's mind can do all sorts of things his heart would never let him do. If we think of God's


as a technicallity, a theological precept, we can disobey without the slightest feeling of guilt, but if we think of God's grace as a relational invitation, an

OUTREACH of love,

we are pretty much jerks for belittling the gesture."

-Don Miller

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Advent proclamation

The prophetic utterance of Virgil, which Caesar Augustus used in describing himself as the World's Savior:

The turning point of the ages is near at hand. The iron age with its terrors is approaching. The divine destined hour of world history is approaching. The divine king of salvation, for whom mankind has waited since the time of the Pharaohs, is on his way. He will at last fulfill the promises which have not ceased to be heard among the Roman people since the days of Sibyl.

He will annihilate the evil of the past and free the peoples from unceasing fear. He will establish a universal empire of peace and lead in the golden age, for the blessing of a renewed humanity. And in nature, tool, all will be renewed. Poisonous plants and snakes will disappear, the fields will become a paradise, and the ox and the lion will dwell together in peace. Gods, who have been long absent, ages of salvation which are long past, will return to the earth. Saturn, the god of the primeval gold age, will return to power. Apollo and Diana will hold protective say over the new age and its ruler.

The time is ripe: enter on your high course of honor, great son of Zeus. See how the whole world staggering beneath its burden, how lands and seas and depths of heaven will rejoice at the in-break of the new age.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Terrorism is the war of the poor and war is the terrorism of the rich.
-Peter Ustinov

Monday, December 08, 2008

Two Exams, a 10 page paper, and a final project left

  • 8am - Final: John Wesley's Theology for Today
  • 1pm - Final: Exegesis of General Epistles (Greek Exam)
  • 10 page research paper: New Testament (I'm going to be writing on the Greatest Commandment and how we find it being played out in the Early Church, specifically in the rhetoric of the book of James??) 
  • 8 am - Final Project: Inductive Bible Study detailed Observation and Evaluation from a paragraph in Mark's Passion Narrative.
All in all, this will will be busy, but after tomorrow I'll be much more relaxed! I've been collecting a bunch of ideas, plus I get to preach at my dad's church on the 21st, so after finals I should have some interesting stuff to publish! So be looking for a rousing series of thought provoking posts! Until then, Auf Weidersehen!

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Ty Lawson has "Mateen Cleaves' strength and God's quickness."
-Tom Izzo

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Quick Post

I know, I said I didn't have time to post anything, but I've got one assignment down and I took a little break to copy and paste this into blogger. (I actually stole this quote from my friend Phil Strahm's blog (here) while my blog is quiet, I highly recommend his! So go check him out!)
"When I feed the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor are poor, they call me a communist."

-Bishop Oscar Romero,

Monday, December 01, 2008

Hitting the Pause button.

Too busy to post anything creative this week or the next as a result of project week and finals week. Hopefully...I'll survive. 

In the mean time, entertain yourself with the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, the best game will be North Carolina @ Michigan State (it'll be a good game, State is a good team, just let them get everything sorted out and you'll see). The Worst game will be the Indiana game. I'm not putting who they're playing because it really doesn't matter. They're awful! So check out the Big Ten/ACC Challenge (unless you're a Hoosier fan, then just bury your head in the sand for a year or two).

Also, who said that college football doesn't have semi-finals. The Big 12 Championship game and the SEC Championship game are both functioning as pseudo-semi-finals. The winner of the SEC Championship game will play either Oklahoma or Texas (depending on whether or not Oklahoma wins the Big 12 championship game). Both should be highly entertaining games, you might want to check that out.

I just might update how my homework is coming...I should survive, but who knows what will happen. I just might need to break my fast on pop (fasting for advent of course)...prolly sometime at 3am I'll get a craving for a cherry coke that might be overcome with temptation. Until next week! I bid you adios!