Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Shame on Obama & Dems!

Okay, I’ve been taking a break from political postings and haven’t yet gotten around to my analysis of what progressives could expect from an Obama admin. on domestic issues (I did analyze strengths and weaknesses of his likely foreign policies).  But, because some people claim that I never criticize Democrats (which a perusal of my archives would show to be false), I have to rush this one out, now:

Shame on Democrats in the House and Senate for compromising on FISA Telecom immunity! Shame on Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) for breaking his promise to filibuster any such compromise.  This gives legitimacy to some of Bush’s crimes–spying on Americans without a warrant in violation of the 1978 FISA law (not to mention the Bill of Rights) and giving immunity to Telecom companies who cooperated with this illegality!

This comes on top of yet another authorization for more war spending! C’mon, Dems, grow some backbones–including you, Sen. Obama!

This is deeply disappointing.  How can a president with the lowest approval rating in modern American history continue to intimidate House and Senate Dems who were elected to stand up to him by a public tired of his lawlessness! 

While I continue to push for Obama’s victory, it is clear that this is NOT “Change We Can Believe In” and we will have to hold him accountable, now and after the election. Sigh!

UPDATE: Thank God, Senator Dodd is planning to filibuster this “compromise!” I continue to urge Sen. Obama to do the same.

June 22, 2008 Posted by | civil liberties, U.S. politics | 4 Comments

Dying for One’s Country?

With the U.S. celebration of Independence Day (4 July 1776) just around the corner, I note that Australian Ben Myers has posted the following quote by Alasdair MacIntyre:

“The modern nation-state, in whatever guise, is a dangerous and unmanageable institution, presenting itself on the one hand as a bureaucratic supplier of goods and services, which is always about to, but never actually does, give its clients value for money, and on the other as a repository of sacred values, which from time to time invites one to lay down one’s life on its behalf. As I have remarked elsewhere, it is like being asked to die for the telephone company.”

Alasdair MacIntyre, “A Partial Response to My Critics,” in After MacIntyre (University of Notre Dame Press, 1994), p. 303.

I have some sypathy for this view, but I find KILLING for one’s country far more problematic for Christians. And, usually, in America, when we urge someone to be willing to die for his or her country, we actually mean “be willing to KILL and/or BE KILLED for your country” (as long as that country is the U.S.A. or an “ally of the moment.”).

I said this in the comments on Ben’s site:

For Christians, “dying for one’s country” is, indeed, problematic–though my reasons for saying so are far more anabaptist than MacIntyre’s. However, FAR more problematic is the ideology of being willing to KILL for one’s country.

People who die for their country in nonviolent revolution or nonviolent defense against invasion or nonviolent defense of a nation-state’s stated values (e.g., democracy, human rights, the rule of law, etc.) against erosions and usurpations of the same are all morally admirable. Depending on the context, there may even be good, gospel-based, reasons for Christians to be willing to die in these kind of contexts–in some senses to die for their country.

However, there is zero justification for Christians to be willing to kill other human beings (persons made in God’s image; persons for whom Christ died) “in defense of their country” or anything else. To kill is to betray the gospel.


June 22, 2008 Posted by | Christianity, church-state separation, discipleship, nonviolence, pacifism, theology | 28 Comments


I will reprint here hymns and spiritual songs that are excellent, but not as well known throughout Christian churches as others.

Walls That Divide

1)Tho’ ancient walls may still stand proud

and racial strife be fact,

tho’ boundaries may be lines of hate,

proclaim God’s saving act!


Walls that divide are broken down, Christ is our unity!

Chains that enslave are thrown aside, Christ is our liberty!

2)When vested pow’r stands firm entrenched

and breaks another’s back,

when waste and want stand side-by-side,

it’s gospel that we lack!

(Repeat Chorus)

3)The truth we seek in varied scheme,

the life that we pursue,

unites us in a common quest

for self and world made new!

(Repeat Chorus)

4)The Church divided seeks that grace,

that newness we proclaim;

a unity of serving love

that lives praise to God’s Name!

(Repeat Chorus)

5)This broken world seeks lasting health

and vital unity;

God’s people in the Christ made new,

cast off all slavery!

(Repeat Chorus).

Words copyright 1974 by Walter Farquharson.

June 22, 2008 Posted by | arts, hymns, theology | 1 Comment