Blessed are the peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

Matthew 5:9

The unsurprising testimony from the President’s general has freshly focused media attention on the question of how long to stay in Iraq. I don’t believe Petraeus. When I watched Colin Powell lie to the U.N. to get us into Iraq, I stopped believing in the professional apolitical truth teller. I think we’re staying in Iraq so that the President doesn’t need to face the full impact of his wicked war.

I didn’t write that to convince you; I wrote that because it is important background to discussing the Churh’s role in all of this. Almost nothing in the previous paragraph is a manifestation of my Christian values. So, what should the Church say about this war?

Using the pattern from my post on Monday, the Church should promote Christian values. And I started this post with the Christian value we should promote. However, in Iraq, promoting peace may not mean ending the occupation. Making peace may mean staying there for the thirty years President Bush has suggested in his Korea comparisons.

I think if the Church was doing its job, at a minimum Christians everywhere and at best people everywhere, would be evaluating our moves in Iraq against the value I started with. Will this policy make peace?

3 replies on “Blessed are the peacemakers”

I understand your point here, but I think you run into the same problem applying the Christian principle that you do in general (and here, the “you” is the specific “you”, not the general “you”): you make an implicit assumption that honest disagreement is impossible. I know you sort of disclaim that with the entire post, but…

Years ago, you used to refer to George Bush (the Senior) as hating poor people. That he thought the best way to do the most good for the largest number was to incent employers and drive a healthy macro economy didn’t enter your mind. You concluded from his policy that his motive was impure. I would argue that he had a good and noble goal (and I think the policy was also sound, but that’s another topic) — I believe he had the country’s interests at heart.

Now when you put up a single quote and point Christians to that mark, I think you invite others to judge the specific policy (vote, use of money, etc) as either supporting that principle or not supporting that principle, necessarily creating divisiveness along the lines of who is moral and who is not.

I have no solution, but I wanted to document my reaction.

The burden is on me to prove that I do believe in honest disagreement. That is hard to do in an electronic forum. But I can tell you, I do think you can be a peacemaker, and believe that we need to stay in Iraq.

What I’m trying to develop is space to state an opinion that is based on my faith, without by that declaration closing off the possibility for another to have an opinion that is driven by his or her faith.

I think an important step toward that goal is recognizing specific instances. This is one.

Of course, there also have to be times when you say, “No, that is not an acceptable interpretation of Christianity.”

So, there’s the challenge. Hence Jim Wallis’s subtitle: Why the Right Gets it Wrong [Point one] and the Left Doesn’t Get it. [Point two].

And finally, your suggestion that I may be deluding myself in thinking I can walk that tight rope is well taken.

I perhaps didn’t mean my comment to be as critical as it sounded. It’s a tough trap, and can be a fine line to walk.

I understood your point, the irony that the most peace-loving position in this case might be for the continued deployment of fighting men.

Mostly I was pointing out that while I know what you meant to say is that there is room for honest (and Christian) disagreement, that the very statement of basing your politics on a Christian statement of faith makes that a very hard job. Certainly not impossible, but a challenging place to start from.

If anyone I know can walk this line, I think you are best equipped for three distinct reasons, so I should say that I trust you to pull it off as much as anyone.

Leave a Reply