Sunday, April 21, 2013

For a nation of "believers" which so many insist is a "Christian" nation, we are reluctant to discuss violence in depth or with honesty. That is one mirror we dislike holding up to ourselves.

We have a widespread belief that Islam has a unique relationship with & drive toward human violence. When Muslims say it does not, that they are not raised & taught to be terrorists & warriors, we dismiss them. We ignore the ancient tribal & clan animosities that fan violence throughout some  Islamic nations. We decry the worst expressions of Islamic law, Sharia, while advocating similar laws be added  our secular codes.  We parse the rights we are supposed to extend to all Americans; these rights are for this group or person but not applicable to that group or person.

It can be said that much of the Islamic world, once more enlightened & progressive than the Christian world, now lags behind. But how much does it  lag when  a significant percentage of Americans cannot accept scientific reasoning & deny   known historical facts?

We have an abominable knowledge of our own history.

We even have an Americanized version of Christianity we project back to Jesus Christ himself.  We cannot discern the difference between the metaphoric sword Jesus said he had brought & the very real sword he ordered Peter to put away.

Then Jesus went to his execution  without resistance.

I recommend Stonewall Jackson, a bio by James I. Robertson, Jr. Robertson is a conservative historian - when he uses the word "servant" he means "slave." It is a fine but disturbing book. The thread of the story is not Jackson's talent as a field commander,  a small portion of his life - three years, but his spiritual journey, his deepening pious religiosity, from which he derived his lifestyle, his endurance & his clarity. Jackson is as "American" as we come. He was devoted to "The Prince of Peace." Every battlefield success was attributed to the blessings of God. But he tried always to accept "the will of God."  He could be merciless, to his enemies, to his own solders, to himself. He stands in opposition to, say, General Sherman, a thoughtful, troubled leader, a "modern" man in his way, who had a nascent sense of the absurdity of his situation, wasting the lives of his soldiers in fruitless frontal assaults on Hood's army in Georgia. So he used other tactics.  He allowed his men to believe they were avenging angels, but he had no such "spiritual" illusions about war.

 Stonewall Jackson was, in my opinion, insane. Sherman, who was accused of insanity, was not.

Russian Orthodox philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev cried out in despair that we permitted ourselves to be enslaved by everything we believed liberated us.

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"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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