The Last Scapegoat (Reflection)

scapegoat-JesusWhen Jesus went voluntarily to the Cross as the Lamb of God, he sacrificed himself as history’s last scapegoat.

True Christians, as followers of The Last Scapegoat, proclaim in word and deed that they will never scapegoat anyone; that they will endeavor to never discriminate against or hate others. For they realize that in doing so, if they marginalize or blame immigrants, Muslims, Blacks, LGBTQI, leftists, or some other people group for their problems or the problems of society, then they crucify their Savior all over again.

© Paul Dordal, 2017

Unwinnable

ddequoteYesterday, as the US president visited Pennsylvania and thousands waved their flags, chanting USA, USA, the sickening reality of endless US militarism and imperialism continues to go unchecked by just about everyone in this country.

I served honorably in the US military as a chaplain for seven years and was in combat for a year in Iraq. Nevertheless, I simply cannot understand why so many US citizens are so supportive of war and not appalled by this country’s increasing militarism and imperialism. US wars have not solved anything or brought about peace. US militarism and imperialism have not made us safer, and certainly, have not made the rest of the world safer.

It also perplexes me that US citizens believe president after president who say that the US military is the “best” in the world. If we would take our heads out of the sand for just one moment, we would see that the US military has failed miserably over the last 50 years at accomplishing sustainable peace in the world.

Why? Because the US government and its military-industrial-complex are not in the business of winning wars or peacemaking, but of maintaining continual wars to steal or control resources, subjugate other nations, and line the pockets of the plutocrats (the 1%) who actually run this country.

The US has invaded or bombed seven different countries since September 11, 2001 and has hundreds of military bases all over the world, with little to nothing to show for any of it. Yet, the call of the current US regime is for even more money to be spent on the military and war.

Below is a list of six of those seven countries, all Muslim majority nations, that the US military is currently bombing or fighting in, with the (estimated) percentage of the land/population that each of these country’s government has control of:[i]

  1. Libya: 90% controlled by terrorists and militias
  2. Syria: 65% controlled by terrorists and militias
  3. Somalia: 50% controlled by terrorists and militias
  4. Afghanistan: 40% controlled by Taliban, terrorists, or militias
  5. Yemen: 30% controlled by terrorists and militias
  6. Iraq: 20% controlled by terrorists

How is it possible that all of these countries are so unstable when we have spent two trillion dollars ($2,000,000,000,000) fighting the so-called war on terror? This is not to mention the millions killed, wounded, or forced to flee from these countries because of war. And what do we US citizens have to show for all our warmongering since 2001: Tens of thousands of U.S. servicemen and women dead or wounded, an astounding twenty trillion dollars in debt, and not more stability or safety, but more chaos, more terrorism, and less safety.  Yet, amazingly, many US citizens keep waving their flags and saying let’s bomb and invade some more.

Bombings and war will not bring peace! They just bring more bombing and war.

It’s time to wake up and wage peace! War does not work! War is not winnable!

Peace is possible.

© Paul Dordal, 2017

[i] Source: Al Jazeera

 

There Is No “War” On _______ [Fill In The Blank With Your Polarized Political Opinion]

War On EverythingI am neither offended nor outraged, but I am saddened by bourgeois liberals who are offended by a non-existent, so-called “war” on science or deluded conservatives who are outraged by a so-called “war” on Christmas, etcetera.

I have been to war, and war is hell. I would hope that we could try not to diminish the reality of the horror of war or the victims of violence in war by using the word “war” to describe someone’s opposition to someone else’s political or religious point of view.

But I am sure that some liberal will be offended or some conservative will be outraged by my suggestion.

© Paul Dordal, 2017

The Gospel of Nonviolence (Prophetic Reflection)

nonviolence

What if the Church, since its founding, had obeyed Jesus’ Gospel of Nonviolence instead of rationalizing the need for so-called just wars? Simply, we would be, today, a world at peace. If the Church of Jesus Christ had consistently preached and practiced peacemaking as Jesus commanded, wars, as we have known them, would have disappeared.

Wars and violence aren’t the world’s fault.  They’re the Church’s fault.

But hope is not lost. If Christians of the world would repent, get rid of their guns, stop supporting war, and, love, instead of fear, their neighbor as Jesus taught, the world can still be transformed.

God’s Kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven.

© Paul Dordal, 2016

Christian Nationalism: A Sinful Oxymoron (Reflection)

nationalismNationalism is and always has been a danger to humanity. When politicians talk about American exceptionalism, they are promoting an extreme form of nationalism. Stoking nationalism is most often the way citizens are mobilized to support and make war against other humans; it is the basis of imperialism, xenophobia, racism, ethnic discrimination, and sows the seeds of fascism. The Church and Christians should have no part in it. Yet, everywhere I look I see nationalism in our churches.

This past June I took part in a pastoral care conference at one of the mega churches in the area. A wonderfully radical evangelical minister was the keynote speaker and there were some exciting redemptive discussions on racial reconciliation. Undiscussed or mentioned by anyone at the conference were the two U.S. Army recruiters, in their dress blue uniforms, at a table in the narthex. What were they doing there? They were invited to convince ministers to help them recruit young people for war. I have never come closer in my life to flipping tables in a church.

In some of my sister Roman Catholic Churches, I have recently seen some promoting groups to pray the so-called Patriotic Rosary.[i] When I mentioned this to a priest friend, he became defensive saying that the Bible supports patriotism. That is debatable, but Jesus and the Bible clearly do not support nationalism. The Patriotic Rosary includes singing The Battle Hymn of the Republic and the Star Spangled Banner, which are clearly militaristic and nationalistic songs.

Connected to my own religious tradition is the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East. I recently read that the Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Church of the East wants to develop a formal relationship with the nation of Israel. He wants to forge this relationship, not based on justice or peacemaking, but because of the military strength the Israeli nation has in the Middle East.[ii] Additionally, in the article he calls for yet another nation to be created for the benefit of the Assyrian people. Though this sounds like a good thing to many, creating new nations, borders, and armies cannot bring long-term peace; it is not the peacemaking Jesus has called us to!

The Church which Jesus Christ founded, the Church that was born on the day when Babel-like nationalistic walls were symbolically torn down, is not to be involved in nationalism.  Furthermore, the local church is not to be a flag-bearing microcosm of their nation, but agape bands of love agents, bringing about the nonviolent and egalitarian Kingdom of Heaven to earth.  Christians are, first and foremost, “citizens” born of heaven and come to earth.  Our savior said we cannot serve two masters; either we are citizens of heaven or we become denizens of hell.

For the Church to speak prophetically for peace on earth it has to renounce and remove any hint of nationalism from within its walls and from its speech.  Christian nationalism is a gravely sinful oxymoron.

© Paul Dordal, 2016

[i] http://www.sacredheartmilledgeville.org/Freedom%20Rosary%20and%20Litany.pdf
[ii] http://www.algemeiner.com/2016/06/21/assyrian-bishop-wants-friendship-with-israel/

DDE: There Must Be Another Way (Quote)

DDE On War“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron…. Is there no other way the world may live?”

Intervening in Uncle Sam’s Addiction to War (Essay)

Introduction
Over twenty years ago I took my last drink.  I didn’t do it on my own; I couldn’t do it on my own.  There had to be an intervention. I didn’t even want to acknowledge that I was an addict. Although it has been a blessing to be sober for all these years, it is still hard work.  Every day I have to humble myself and admit that I am an addict to ward off the possibility of taking another drink or drug.  I have to be accountable to several people in my family and my recovery group. Additionally, I regularly engage in specific behaviors (steps) to help me stay free from my addiction.

As a recovering addict I am keenly aware when I see an active addict. I know how to recognize the signs and symptoms of addictions. And as I look at the United States, I have come to the extremely sad conclusion that this country, that my Uncle Sam, is severely addicted to war. Just as I had to first admit my addiction to become free, so too, we as a country have to admit our addiction to war.  And just as I had to cease from my own addictive behaviors, take a personal moral inventory, and make amends to all I had wronged, so too, we as a nation have to take these steps as well.

222 out of 239So, what were the symptoms I recognized with the U.S.’s addiction to war?  First, I saw that the country could not go long without falling back into its addiction.  Of course, the U.S.’s latest war has been going on now for over 15 years, but the real sign of the acute nature of America’s war addiction is that the U.S. has been at war for 222 out of its 239 years of existence.  Amazingly, the U.S. has been at war for 93% of its life.[i]

Another symptom of the U.S.’s addiction to war is the amount of money it spends on its Tax Papers Per Houraddiction.  Every hour of every day, taxpayers are spending $8,360,000 to feed their country’s war habit.  And over the last 15 years, American taxpayers have spent more than $1,700,000,000,000 on Uncle Sam’s addiction to war.[ii]

Imagine having an alcohol or drug habit where more than fifty cents of every dollar you earned was spent on your drug of choice.  Surely, you would be considered an addict in desperate need of an intervention and recovery plan.  Of course, because of the exorbitant amount of money an addict spends on his or her habit, they are often severely malnourished, under-educated, extremely sick and often without adequate healthcare. Addicts are always in danger of losing their homes and their behavior negatively impacts the environment around them. Isn’t this also what is happening because of the U.S.’s 2015 Discretionary Spendingaddiction to war?  The percentage of tax dollars spent on war in 2015 was 54% of the total budget or $598.5 billion dollars.[iii] And because American’s allow their government to spend so much of their hard earned money on war, there is precious little left for the basic needs of food, housing, education, and healthcare for the most at risk citizens.

Our addiction to war has gotten so severe since we “won” World War II, like so many alcoholics and addicts, the U.S. has left ripples of death and destruction in its wake.   Since
1945 more than 160,000 Americans have died in over seventy-five U.S. wars and military interventions in over fifty foreign nations. Maybe more tragic, more than 20 million people from other countries have died in U.S. wars and military interventions.[iv] We need to make amends to all those we have wronged, to the vets who fought iDeaths Since WWIIn these wars and the millions of innocent civilians who were immorally killed by our country. We need to admit that we were wrong, and humbly ask that our defects of national character be removed so that we can become peacemakers not warmongers.

The United States has active duty military troops stationed in nearly 150 countries around the world, which is the most in the history of our nation.[v]  Our addiction to war is so
acute it could be easily thought that we were not only homicidal but suicidal as well.  Furthermore, we are no longer only addicts, but the U.S. is also the leading pusher of the drugs (weapons) of war. Last year we sold almost $30,000,000,000 in weapons to over 75 countries around the world.[vi] How much longer can we sustain this habit before we crash and burn and take everyone around us down with us?

Steps to Recovery from War Addiction
Isn’t it time for an intervention with our addicted Uncle Sam, and also call to responsibility all of his relatives, the citizens of the United States, who are enabling Sam’s addictive behaviors? Before this country overdoses on war and destroys our planet, each of us has to surrender and become part of the U.S. recovery process from war and violence.  So, what is the first step?

First, we will admit we are addicted to war or at least we were connected to someone (the U.S.) who is addicted to war.  Now, some of you reading this are in denial; you don’t want to admit there is a problem.  I know you are afraid; so was I. Taking my first step in actual sobriety was hard, and so was my first step in becoming a peacemaker (especially as a war veteran).

Second, we will acknowledge that we as a nation are responsible for so much of the conflict and injustice in the world, and we will humbly seek repentance and forgiveness. This includes seriously making amends and reparations to all we have harmed.

Third, we will reach out to other peacemakers, because we know we cannot become peacemakers without the help of others.  We can begin our own recovery process from our Steps Picaddiction to war by joining a local peace group. If you need help finding one, I would be more than happy to help you. However, if you simply GOOGLE “Peace Groups in my Zip Code,” I am sure you will be able to find a group meeting near you.

Fourth, we can contact our local congressperson and tell him or her that we will not be supporting war anymore, and that we will be watching them to see if they are going to be part of the problem or part of the solution.

Fifth, we can tell our family and friends that we are now working a peace recovery plan, and we will not be joining in their codependent behavior of supporting war. We will use social media to carry the message of peace to all the war addicts and violence lovers we know and care about.  Hopefully, others will join us in our new freedom from addiction to war.

Conclusion
Finally, we will need to celebrate.  It is hard work to be in recovery.  We need to encourage one another to stay the course, to take the work of peacemaking one day at a time and find joy in the process.  We will need courage to do the things we can to bring peace to our world and wisdom to work smart and not grow weary in doing the good that we are called to do. For me that means reaching up to my higher power and saying, “Thy will be done, thy peace come upon earth as it is in heaven.”

(c) Paul Dordal, July 11, 2016

SOURCES

[i] http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/02/america-war-93-time-222-239-years-since-1776.html)

[ii] https://www.nationalpriorities.org/cost-of/war/

[iii] https://static.nationalpriorities.org/images/charts/2015-charts/discretionary-desk.png

[iv]http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-has-killed-more-than-20-million-people-in-37-victim-nations-since-world-war-ii/5492051. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/many-americans-died-u-s-wars/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_United_States_military_operations

[v] http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2012/04/us/table.military.troops/

[vi] http://www.businessinsider.com/arms-sales-by-the-us-and-russia-2014-8