Wednesday, February 3, 2016

First they came for your sons, then they came for your daughters....

With the lifting of restrictions on women in combat, the clamoring calls of the war drum for women to be subject to the draft have increased.

Is this a terrible irony? Feminism's final triumph is the slaughter of women in war, it is, broadly speaking, the death of women. Or is is simply how things go when a society ultimately begins to hold nothing as sacred, save the illusion of autonomy and the petty highs induced by the material conquest facilitated in a consumerist culture?

Pacifism is at first glance the childish wish of men and women who deny the complexity of geo-political reality in the pursuit of a utopia untethered to the reality of evil. This is at first glance. When one realizes that warfare in the post modern world has liberated itself from the shackles of decency, ethics, and the rules merited by a shared humanity, one quickly finds that anyone can be a pacifist in at least some circumstances.

Many currents confluence in the contemporary rebirth of the liberal theology in vogue towards the end of 60s and through the 70s. In the United States, a leading factor was the complicity of more conservative Christian churches in the establishment of a rampant war/national security policy post 9/11. Conservative churches appeared to either mute potential criticism or, in the worst case, fully toe the neo-conservative line. Truth be told, the change in administrations made no difference in rolling back the excesses wrought in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks. In truth, the policy has become more shadowed and more insidious.

 The inability of conservative Christianity to call a spade has necessarily offered an opening for the more aggressively liberal social justice theology of the 70s to reclaim its voice. It has found new relevance and speaks with thunder in a time where it appears war policy and national security have run amok. There is no interest in citing the Prophets as witnesses to the Messiah. Rather, it is the Prophets as harbingers of the great Day of Yahweh that seems to inspire. These days there is less an interest in reading Isaiah in line with a myriad of nativity displays. There is more interest in reading Isaiah as a dissident political voice rebuking a corrupt system.

If one values human life, one cannot ignore how expansive the war machine has come. This is not to deny that war can, does and will happen. It is to say that the West has abandoned "the rules" of war designed to remind us of our humanity. Drafting women seems less like a triumph for women, as it does the war machine finding more bodies to use as fodder, more expendable numbers to plot the ambitions of persons so ready to convoke conflict, though never having seen it themselves.

Eisenhower warned the nation of the expansive influence of the war machine. Its influence would be, in his words, "even spiritual." The degree to which Christianity remains silent to the pervasive inhumanity of post modem warfare and the national security state is the degree to which Christianity forfeits its credibility and demonstrates its compromise. Should Christianity remain silent as the powers so willing to push nations and people to war make their grab at women, then it will have failed women. In fact, it will have failed family and the primordial relationships that bind us together. It will have offered them up as sacrifice to the same institutional rot that seeks to hollow them of any force and vigor.

Will liberal Christianity come to the fore and denounce the increasing militarization of society? Time will tell - the cognitive dissonance between supposed liberal aims and a Pacifist convictions burn just a tad too much. It is for the social justice wing to lose, really. It is easy enough to say that the resurgence of certain strains of liberal Christianity is the work of moral indifference or, in Roman circles, inner conspiracy. It is much more difficult to stomach the idea that resurgence of a Christianity with a early to mid 70s flavor is in response to a need more conservative elements were either ignorant of or willfully opted to ignore.

There are things with fighting for, and there are things worth dying for. The expanse of entity Eisenhower once termed "the military industrial complex" is not necessarily one of them. This is not to say war is always preventable. It is to say that humanity calls for some limits to warfare and in recent history those limits have been progressively erased - and Christianity has had little if any serious response to the phenomenon. Perhaps the thought of watching someones wife, sister, or daughter being involuntarily drafted to perpetuate military exploits of debatable wisdom and morality will be enough to elicit action.


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