I started reading Jesus for President, by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw, quite a while ago. Aside from the fact that I have had quite a bit going on in life lately, it was a slow started for me. The end, however, is a different story. Altogheter I am not sure what I think about many of the ideas Shane and Chris present in this book. But that is in all actuality a good thing. In the past year, I have gone through a HUGE paradigm shift and there are quite a few things that are up in the air. But this book touched on some sensitive issues for me. See, I served for 4 years in the Navy. Honestly I didn’t know enough about politics to decide whether or not we should have been in Iraq, but just like a young child doesn’t often question the goodness of where their parents are leading them, I hung onto the ideas of fighting for freedom and liberating people from tyranical governments. And so just like when a child realizes for the first time that their parents are not perfect, it is heartbreaking to me that I now feel as though I have contributed to something so awful because I relied on Uncle Sam to steer a true course. But that’s the problem, now isn’t it? Uncle Sam can’t steer a true course. I guess what is most disheartening is that I bought into the lies. But then again, how is a new believer who converted at the age of 14 after being brought up in an agnostic home supposed to know save for the teaching of the church? Shane said in his book that there was only one denomination that endorsed the war: Southern Baptists. And so as Shane points out, I combined the church and the government. Or tried to since that is an impossibility. And so I am at an impass. Things that I can say for sure: I am no longer deluded by the beauty of the united states. I do not deny it’s beauty, but I will not bow to it any longer. I confess now to all those interested that my patriotism had passed into the realm of idolatry and my trust was in the united states of america instead of the unity of the Triune God.
I am not sure which way to go on other issues. But I am not anxious to make that decision. I am very interested in starting to sort it all out though. Paccifism is truly mind boggling to me and yet this book put flesh on the idea that is helping me understand. And I admit that I kinda want to believe that is the way. But I’m not there yet. It kinda feels like a part of me is dying. But it’s not dead yet. I am trying not to fight it, but it breaks my heart that I was (and technically still am since they won’t take their claws out of me just yet) a part of a war machine. I am thankful, oh so thankful, that I did not directly participate in the war. While this does not nullify the part I did play, it is a little less overwhelming to me. I don’t know if I could withstand the emotions I am experiencing only amplified many, many times. The story Shane tells of the soldier who killed the old man and his son comes to mind. I cannot imagine what that young man is feeling.
Other things that stuck out to me:
- The parallels drawn between the united states and rome.
- The military: honorable profession or ungodly violence
- Economy: “to be uninterested in economy is to be uninterested in the practice of religion; it is to be uninterested in culture and in character” (p. 191).
- In Appendix 3, I really got a lot out of the contextualization of Romans 13. That is a passage that I have heard many times before, but I unfortunately never took the time to look into why people interpretted in the way they did. But then again, questions were viewed as doubt which in that world were not aceptable. Plus the alternative was not pretty. It meant swallowing my pride and admitting that I could possibly be wrong.
I would like to write more but I am somewhat distracted because I am at my mom’s house and I haven’t really had the time to process through all of this. For those of you who have read this book or heard Shane speak, I would love to hear your thoughts.