Radical Preaching

Can preaching again have something to say?
This blog marks the attempt to bring the theological vision of Radical Orthodoxy into the worship and preaching of the local church.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Poignant Account of the War in Iraq

Last night, I went to see the new documentary on the Iraq War, The War Tapes. This documentary is unbelievable. I would encourage everyone to see it. To summarize briefly, Filmmaker Deborah Scranton gave video cameras to three national guardsman who were deployed to the Sunni Triangle in 2004. The soldiers tell the story of the war first hand, giving a view into the stress and rage that comes with combat duty. The movie gives the war the human face we have been denied by the Pentagon and the media. We actually see the carnage, the suffering, the griping, and the anger. Below are some questions that the film raised for me.

1) Stanley Hauerwas proves prophetic once again...

The soldiers are united in their disdain for Halliburton and her nebulous array of subsidiary companies. As the soldiers remark, Halliburton runs everything. They daily risk their lives to escort the supply trucks. In Resident Aliens, Hauerwas quips that serving the US is like dying for the phone company. In Iraq, it is not Ma Bell but Halliburton. This raises interesting questions about the effects of global capitalism on the nation-state. In one powerful scene, Michael Moriarty, who is unwavering in his support for the war and for President Bush, is enraged with Halliburton after an IED detonates injuring a driver. He shows another truck, driven by a Third World National. The truck has no windows, no armor, no protective devices. It was issued this way. In short, the third world nationals are expendable, too cheap to warrant protective armor.

2) The need to speak the truth and offer forgiveness and prayer.

Consider this quote:

"Every once in awhile as we’re driving down the road or creeping along a patrol, I have a reoccurring epiphany – this is happening and will have a lasting impact on me for the rest of my life.

A debate we had earlier in the day over the consistency and texture of a severed limbwas not some far off grotesque assumption. It was a genuine argument between the guy who swears it resembles hamburger, ground up but uncooked and the guy who believes it looks more like a raw pot roast. There is no argument, however, that human intestines are pink pork sausage links, if of course you imagine a butcher’s block as the background instead of the screaming then soon quietly moaning casualty."
The young men and women (and their families) will be significantly affected by the war. Even while we continue to speak the truth, call for justice and peace, and avoid idolatry of the nation state, how do we offer the peace and joy of the Eucharist to those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan? Too often, we pat them on the back, thank them for their service, and then move on with our lives, with little patience for their transition back to civilian life. Are we a body capable of taking in those who are deeply wounded by what they have seen and experienced in combat?

3) Can we avoid dehumanization?

In the film, Bazzi makes coments about how soldiers have to dehumanize their enemies. The American soldiers refer to the Iraqis as Hajis. I am sure that the insurgents have a name for Americans. This film provides a human face to the war, and as we are drawn into the stories of teh soldiers, I was caught by how all of these young men are about the same age. Just as the American families mourn the loss of their sons and daughters, husbands and wives, so too do the families of the insurgents. Even in the U.S., there is a powerful tendency to dehumanize one another as liberals or conservatives.

As Christians committed to pacifism as an outworking of Christian discipleship (see Yoder), we must avoid the pitfall of a liberal account of pacifism, whereby we become opposed to the war to the extent that we dehumanize the soldiers and their families.

I am still processing much of this movie, and I really would like to see it again. I would be interested to hear your thoughts and comments.


Blogger James Church said...

Thank you for this post- soon I will be linking to it from the intentional christian community blog.

Every blessing,

August 12, 2006 4:32 PM  

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