Archive for church
Jeffrey Tucker, head of Laissez Faire Books, has been quite active in the Catholic music tradition for some time. In June, Tucker will be presenting a paper at the Sacra Liturgia 2013 conference in Rome entitled “The Liturgical Apostolate and the Internet.”
The presentation will cover how traditional chants in the Catholic church became marginalized after the music became copyrighted and enforced, but has experienced a new popularity after becoming part of common domains.
Tucker said to the Catholic News Agency: “You went through essentially 1900 years of Christianity with the chant being an open source framework, an open source form of music that flourished in the first millennium through the oral tradition of copying, imitation, and free use.”
However, in the 20th century chant became dominated by one controlling institution, and by the 1960s the average churchgoer perceived chant as “owned” and desired more authentic worship music. Today, however, the situation has become reversed, in part thanks to individuals such as Tucker working to make chant freely available online.
Do you think there might be a similar phenomena in traditional protestant music? For a long time now, it has been the music more easily available that frequently dominates most contemporary churches – the kind of praise music traditionalists sometimes criticize (even I am sometimes amongst them). Perhaps it is the unwillingness to make things completely open that is part of the problem?
I am very thankful for groups like The Paperless Hymnal that are making music ever more accessible and affordable for everyone. But what do you think? How can these things be done better?
Read more at the Catholic News Agency.
Tags: church, churhc history, copyright, hymns, intellectual property, music
Well-known pastor and author Rob Bell recently stated that he now supports same-sex marriage. Odyssey Networks posts a new interview of him explaining this new viewpoint: “What we’re seeing right now in this day, I believe God pulling us ahead into greater and greater affirmation and acceptance of our gay brothers and sisters and pastors and friends and neighbors and co-workers… And we’re realizing that God made some of us one way and some of us another.” (You can watch the full video here.) Bell says “the ship has sailed” and that the church needs to do an about-face and support same-sex marriage.
But is advocating that the government “legalize gay marriage” really the right approach toward dealing with this issue?
Tags: church, ethics, freedom of association, freedom of contract, government, homosexuality, law, marriage, theology
Joel Poindexter writes:
The Great Commission, as described in the gospel of Matthew, has been perverted by these Right-Wing warmongers. It’s gone from a mission to "go and make disciples of all nations," to go and invade all nations. Instead of encouraging people to help spread the Word, so often we see them advocating the spread of death and destruction, thus condemning the victims to an eternity in hell.
Admittedly, I was once of this mindset. I saw no contradiction between my role as a flesh-and-blood soldier, serving in the infantry, and as a Christian who was supposed to be fighting spiritually in the Lord’s army. Indeed, I saw my role in the military as one wholly compatible with Biblical teaching. The reason I arrived at this disjointed conclusion so easily was that I never questioned it. I never gave pause to consider the moral implications of walking into some foreign land with a gun in my hands, rather than a Bible. The blame for this is entirely my own.
For its part however, the church has done little to quell the appetite for war among its members and the public at large. The situation is so backwards that it’s practically considered laudable when a pastor ignores the military and doesn’t go out of his way to celebrate the troops at every opportunity. Too often Sunday services – in particular those around the state’s designated war holidays: Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Veteran’s Day – become a celebration of all things war.
Joel is right: it makes little sense to say we are about the work of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ when we support such dastardly military conflicts at every opportunity. Check out more at LewRockwell.com.
Tags: church, culture, ethics, militarism, war
If you go to church at all you’ve probably heard the prayer requests: "Protect our troops in harm’s way," "Shield our men and women overseas from the enemy," "Keep our brave soldiers safe," "Defend our soldiers as they defend our freedoms." And even if you don’t attend church, you’ve seen the signs outside of business and on bumper stickers: "God bless our troops."
But does anyone ever stop and consider whether we should ask God to bless the troops?
The war Afghanistan, like the war in Iraq, is a monstrous evil. U.S. troops are not defending our freedoms, protecting America, upholding the Constitution, keeping us safe from terrorists, preserving our way of life, fighting them "over there" so we don’t have to fight them "over here," or any of the other blather that passes for reality now a days. To those on the receiving end of American bombs, missiles, and bullets in Afghanistan (and Pakistan, Yemen, etc.), U.S. troops are attackers, invaders, trespassers, occupiers, aggressors, and killers. I conclude with Jacob Hornberger of the Future of Freedom Foundation that
after 10 years of invasion, occupation, torture, killings, incarcerations, renditions, assassinations, death, destruction, anger, hatred, and the constant threat of terrorist retaliation, it’s time to admit that the military invasion of Afghanistan, like that of Iraq, was horribly wrong.
And as much as Americans also don’t want to admit it, because these wars and military operations are unnecessary, immoral, and unjust, and U.S. troops have innocent blood on their hands.
Yet, I am sometimes told, even by opponents of current U.S. military actions, that it is the president, the politicians, the ruling class, the neoconservatives, the Joint Chiefs, the military brass, the defense contractors, and/or the Congress that should be blamed for these wars.
My detractors have forgotten one important group: the soldiers that do the actual fighting. They are the ones invading, occupying, torturing, killing, maiming, incarcerating, indefinite detaining, extraordinary renditioning, assassinating, destroying property, stirring up anger and hatred against the United States, and increasing the threat of terrorist retaliation – not the president, not the politicians, not the ruling class, not the neoconservatives, not the Joint Chiefs, not the military brass, not the defense contractors, and not the Congress.
That some joined the military out of a sense of patriotism after 9/11 or that some joined the military because they were deceived by a recruiter or that some joined the military out of ignorance of U.S. foreign policy or that some joined the military because they couldn’t find gainful employment still doesn’t change the fact that it is the soldiers who do the actual fighting.
Yes, they are pawns in the deadly game of U.S. foreign policy, but as free moral agents they are still responsible for their actions.
So, if it is true that current U.S. military actions are morally wrong, then it stands to reason that asking God to bless the troops would not only be an exercise in futility, but downright blasphemous. And if it is true that current U.S. military actions are morally wrong, then it also stands to reason that blessing the troops would be the last thing on God’s mind. I get this idea from reading Proverbs 6:16-19:
These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
We have all heard the slogan, "The Few, the Proud, the Marines." But is there anything the Marines are doing overseas that they or we should be proud of? There are the lies about defending our freedoms by fighting in Afghanistan or being stationed in Japan. There is the innocent blood being shed in Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are wicked imaginations being devised in retaliation against insurgents who killed occupying U.S. troops. There are feet swift in running to mischief that keep open the network of brothels surrounding U.S. bases overseas. There are false witnesses who kill civilians and retroactively declare them insurgents and a threat. There is discord sown among Americans over the actions of the military.
And it’s not just the Marines. Soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines – they all take pride in their service just as Americans take pride in them. Americans greet the troops as conquering heroes in airports. They applaud them on airplanes and in sports arenas just for being in the military. They thank them for their service in the Post Office. They recognize them in church on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Veterans Day, or on the Sunday before. And the troops stand up straight and stick their chest out and take it all in.
When was the last time a soldier who "served" in Iraq or Afghanistan came home and acknowledged that what was going over there was nothing short of criminal? Sure, it has happened. And I have had many current and former soldiers write me and say as much. But when was the last time one of the tens of thousands of soldiers who have returned from a tour of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan publicly stated that he was not proud of his "service"?
Perhaps they are too concerned about their career, their rank, their next assignment, or their image? In today’s economy I almost can’t blame members of the military for remaining in, hanging around, lying low, and staying under the radar until retirement. I suspect that many soldiers come home with serious doubts about what they were doing in Iraq or Afghanistan and are even ashamed of what they did, but come home in such horrible shape – mentally, physically, and emotionally – that they just want to forget about it.
But there is a difference between staying under the radar until retirement and just being another government employee like a clerk at the Social Security Administration and going back to Afghanistan and being put in a position where you might shed more innocent blood, devise more wicked imaginations, engage in more mischief, spout more lies, witness more falsely, and sow more discord. Yet, many willingly return.
I have never said to not pray for the troops. But praying for the troops is not the same as asking God to bless the troops.
Pray that the troops don’t shed innocent blood. Pray that the troops don’t commit suicide. Pray for pastors to stop recommending military service to their young people. Pray for Christian families to stop supplying cannon fodder to the military. Pray that the troops come home. Pray that young people find employment instead of join the military. Pray for the end of military recruiters preying on young, impressionable students. Pray for an end to senseless foreign wars. Pray for an end to the U.S. empire of troops and bases that encircles the globe.
Oh, there are many things regarding the troops to pray for, but God blessing the troops should not be one of them.
Originally posted on LewRockwell.com on July 4, 2012.
Tags: church, culture, ethics, militarism, peace, prayer, statolatry, theology, war
I am a man of peace; but when I speak, they are for war. – Psalm 120:7
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes.” – Luke 19:41-42
All men desire peace, but very few desire those things that make for peace. – Thomas a Kempis
I recently heard praise among churchgoers for the movie, “Act of Valor”, a movie about Navy SEAL’s funded in large part by the Navy itself. (And, judging by the previews, it’s basically a military recruitment film.) There is even a Bible study that coincides with the movie and is based on the SEAL code of honor. I was unexpectedly overcome with grief when a Christian excitedly described this to me at church.
I couldn’t stop thinking about the terrible contrast I had just experienced. The sermon that very morning was on this verse from the Beatitudes in the book of Matthew:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”
Blessed are the peacemakers. And yet here Christians had high praise for a code of conduct espoused by an outfit whose entire purpose is to kill ruthlessly and efficiently. And not merely to kill, but specifically to kill whoever they are commanded to kill by the political powers in the United States without question. The very first tenet in the SEAL code of conduct is “Loyalty to Country” which means, in practical terms, obeying the orders of your superiors who are supposed to represent “the country”, however ill-defined the term.
Not only does obedience to the first tenet render obedience to any of the rest impossible, it is unfathomable to me how a Christian could find this a suitable basis for a Bible study intended to make men into better Christians. The first tenet of this code means quite plainly to forsake your own conscience, do not question the morality of your orders, do not seek to understand why you are supposed to be at war with whomever you are told to be at war with, do not investigate whether or not your targets are a genuine threat or deserving of death, but simply pull the trigger.
The Evangelical Church in America today looks very little like a body of Christ followers and more like a body of state and military followers. American flags grace many a pulpit. Veterans Day celebrations are common. Prayers for the success of military ventures are not unheard of. Calls by politicians and pundits for the use of violence in almost any country for almost any reason will almost always gain the unwavering support of the entire Evangelical community. Anything – including torture, assassinations, and “collateral damage” – can be excused and even praised if it is done “for the country” and under the stars and stripes.
How did this happen? Can you imagine Jesus, or Peter or John with Kevlar vests and M-16’s kicking in doors, screaming ,“double-tapping” people in the head before yelling, “All clear!”’ and high-fiving each other? Can you imagine them dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima or Nagasaki? Can you imagine Jesus instructing his followers to study a code of conduct that begins first and foremost with, “Be loyal to the Roman government”?
Not only did Christ and the giants of the Christian faith refuse to aggress against others, no matter how sinful or evil, they even refused to use violence in self-defense and instead chose martyrdom. When Peter tried to defend Jesus with the sword by cutting off the ear of a soldier, Jesus rebuked him and healed the man’s ear.
Jesus did not instruct the disciples to go to the wilderness and train for a few months so they could plan a stealth nighttime assassination of the guards who crucified Him or any who opposed the Way. He told them to forgive. To Baptize. To turn the other cheek. To submit even to death for the sake of the gospel, rather than resort to violence. That is a radical message and they lived it.
And yet the Church finds herself cheering for the military and honoring them without questioning what they are doing, who they are killing, why they are doing it, or if it’s right. Worship of America and the myth of its righteousness have taken the place of any sense of individual moral responsibility on the part of soldiers or those who support them.
I left church with an immense weight on my soul. I wept. I wept because I knew exactly the sentiment expressed by most of the churchgoers that morning. I used to share it. I wept as I remembered my bloodlust after 9/11. I wanted the United States military to kill people. I wanted bombs to drop and guns to fire. I wanted somebody to get it, good and hard. I wanted death. I wanted war. I did not want peace. I felt no love, only hate.
This impulse is the most human of all impulses. It is also the very impulse Christ taught us to overcome and demonstrated how to do so by His own example. Even when others hate, love.
I wept as I saw in my minds eye the blood on the hands of nearly every Christian in this country. How many self-proclaimed followers of Christ have cheered on “the boys in uniform” during every conflict we’ve ever had, including wars of aggression, just because they’re “our countrymen” fighting for “our side”?
What are “the things that make for peace”? The belief that right and wrong trump nationality and patriotism. The belief that killing is only ever permissible as a last resort and in self-defense. An understanding that Congressional or Presidential approval of an action does not make it moral. That obeying orders is not a virtue unless the orders are virtuous, in which case they should be obeyed because they are right, not because they are orders. That voluntarily agreeing to kill whomever you are told to kill is not honorable. That love is better than vengeance.
Before you support any military action, conduct a brief mental experiment: imagine not the US Military, but you as an individual embarking on the mission in question. In the end it is only individuals who can act and bear moral responsibility for their actions. Imagine standing before God and saying, “I was only following orders”.
How many churches cheered for war against Iraq? Yet can you imagine a pastor standing before his church and saying, “For the next six months we are all going to train in explosives and guns, and we are taking a church trip to Iraq to kill bad people and make the world a safer place.” Who would support it? In moral terms, it is no different to support taking money from taxpayers to pay soldiers to do the same. In fact, the latter is in some ways more nefarious and less honest.
Most would argue that there is a difference between unjust violence and just violence – indeed there is. Some argue there is a difference between just war and unjust war – perhaps there is. But never in my years of observing church support for state military action have I witnessed a single discussion of whether the action was just or right. There have been a few discussions of whether it was “Constitutional”, but never whether it was moral. The morality of war is assumed by the mere fact that the war is waged by the United States Government.
Until the Church in America stops blindly supporting violence done in the name of patriotism, our hands are bloody and our witness is tainted. We say we are for peace, but we want war. We say we pray to the Prince of Peace, but we ask him to bless the violence committed by soldiers. We say “the law is written on our hearts” yet we ignore our hearts and only follow the laws of governments and call what they call right good, and what they call wrong bad.
In our ignorance, we support violence. We can cry out, “Father forgive us, for we know not what we do.” But after our eyes our opened and we begin to examine the morality of acts of violence, we will be held accountable for what we know. I pray we will be willing to oppose violence, even when doing so makes us “unpatriotic” or “un-American”; even when doing so may lead to our own persecution.
“He who surrenders himself without reservation to the temporal claims of a nation, or a party, or a class is rendering to Caesar that which, of all things, most emphatically belongs to God himself” — C. S. Lewis.
Tags: church, foreign policy, Jesus, military, pacifism, peace, prayer, war