Archive for culture
I am not a pastor. I am not a minister. I am not a preacher. I am not a priest. I am not an evangelist. I am not an elder. I am not a deacon. I am not a reverend. I am not in the ministry. I am not ordained.
I am not complaining, and am honored to be addressed as such.
I only bring this up because, since I often write about Christian themes, I sometimes get e-mails in which I am addressed as Pastor Vance, Father Vance, Rev. Vance, or Preacher Vance. I also occasionally get e-mails in which reference is made to my church or my congregation or my ministry.
I am a conservative, Bible-believing Christian, and am no stranger to preaching, teaching, and church work, and have written a number of Christian books, but I don’t want to give people the impression that I am something I am not.
So, I am not a pastor; however, if I were a pastor, and if I did have a congregation to lead, there are some things that I would never allow to take place in the church on my watch. Here are seven of them.
First of all, if I were a pastor, there would be no flags of any kind on the platform, on the walls of the church, on a flagpole, stuck in the ground, or anywhere on the property. Not even on the Sunday before Flag Day, the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Armed Forces Day, or Veterans Day. And not even at a funeral for a veteran if held in the church. And not only would there be no American flag, there would also be no Israeli flag or “Christian” flag. But even if the church had an American flag on the platform because of years of following mindless tradition, I would not lead the congregation in the Pledge of Allegiance. I would, of course, point out that the Pledge was written by a socialist Baptist minister.
Second, if I were a pastor, there would be no hymns sung to or about the state. No “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” no “America the Beautiful,” no “We Salute You, Land of Liberty,” no “This Is My Country,” no “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” no “Star-Spangled Banner,” no “God Bless America,” no “God Bless the U.S.A.” And certainly not the blasphemous “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Not even on the Sunday before Flag Day, the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Armed Forces Day, and Veterans Day.
Third, if I were a pastor, there would be no invoking the Jewish wars of the Old Testament against the heathen as a justification for the actions of the U.S. government and its military. Just because God sponsored these wars, and used the Jewish nation to conduct them, does not mean that God sponsors American wars or that America is God’s chosen nation. The U.S. president is not God, America is not the nation of Israel, the U.S. military is not the Lord’s army, and the Lord God never sanctioned any Christian to go on a crusade, commanded him to war on his behalf, or encouraged him to kill, make apologies for the killing of, or excuse the killing of any adherent to a false religion.
Fourth, if I were a pastor, there would be no American statolatry. Romans 13 would never be invoked to justify support for the U.S. government and its wars. There would be no special September 11th commemoration service. The sins of America would not be downplayed because of blind nationalism or American exceptionalism.
Fifth, if I were a pastor, there would be no political activity. This means no Christian Coalition or Focus on the Family voting guides on the back table, no introducing local candidates who claim to be Christians, no promoting candidates, no promoting the Republican Party, no appeals to fax members of Congress about impending legislation, no running for office or encouraging others to do so, no voter registration drives, no reminding the congregation to vote, and certainly no letting the county use the church buildings as a polling place.
Sixth, if I were a pastor, there would be no special law enforcement appreciation days. State and local law enforcement personnel are just as aggressive, militarized, and on the lookout for victimless crimes as their federal counterparts. (See here for the latest outrages.) I would no sooner have an appreciation day for them than I would for FBI, TSA, and DEA agents. Law enforcement personnel would, of course, be welcome to attend services, they would just be encouraged to fight real crime instead of victimless crime, to not set up speed traps and sting operations, and to lay off the doughnuts.
And last, but not least, if I were a pastor, there would be no special recognition given to current or former members of the military. All veterans and active duty military personnel would, of course, be welcome to attend services, just as all pimps, prostitutes, pushers, and politicians would be welcomed. There would be no special military appreciation services. No veterans would be encouraged to wear their uniforms to church on the Sunday before Veterans Day. No veterans would be recognized on the Sunday before Veterans Day. I would instead briefly explain its origin as Armistice Day, and talk about the folly of World War I and how the United States was led into it by a sorry excuse for a Christian named Woodrow Wilson. Not only would I not introduce to the church any young person in the congregation who joined the military, I would actively persuade them from joining. As a pastor, I would be disappointed and ashamed if any young person in my congregation joined the military. There would be no prayers for the troops to be kept out of harm’s way while they defend our freedoms. There would instead be prayers that the troops didn’t harm anyone in an unjust war and that they would come home from foreign military interventions and overseas bases.
I don’t get very many invitations to speak in churches. Now you know seven reasons why.
Tags: Christian Right, Christian warmongering, Christianity, church, culture, society, statism, statolatry
This review was featured on LewRockwell.com on July 11, 2013.
Finding a movie about war with no actual battle scenes is pretty rare. A rarer find is a war movie that depicts the effects of war upon communities at home. Even rarer is a war movie that makes this point about the American Civil War. Copperhead, I am pleased to say, is that movie, and it is a long overdue story that must be told. I had the opportunity to view a pre-release of the film courtesy of Swordspoint Productions and director Ron Maxwell, who also directed Gettysburg and Gods and Generals.
Copperhead is a historical drama, but is in many respects a parable that speaks to the modern world. The movie takes place in upper New York within a community called “The Corners.” The year is 1862, and the War Between the States is in full swing. It primarily revolves around two families: the Hagadorns and the Beeches. Both families are integral parts of the Corners community, and both are very much against slavery. Jehoiada Hagadorn, however, supports the Civil War, whereas Abner Beech opposes it on moral and Constitutional grounds.
Tags: constitution, culture, ethics, history, liberty, movies, reviews, Ron Maxwell, society, war
This past Memorial Day brought forth the usual military idolatry. What makes it worse, though, is that this military idolatry is so rampant among Christians and in churches.
And just how can a Christian know if he is guilty of military idolatry? Simple.
Christian, you might be guilty of military idolatry:
- If you send a care package to a U.S. soldier, but not to a missionary.
- If you thank a veteran for his service, but not a pastor, priest, deacon, or minister.
- If you can recite the Pledge of Allegiance, but not the Ten Commandments.
- If you value serving your country more than serving your fellowman.
- If you sing the National Anthem at a sporting event with more enthusiasm than you sing a hymn in church.
- If government welfare spending bothers you, but not government military spending.
- If anti-war rallies make you mad, but cadences recited in basic training don’t make you blush.
- If you shed more tears singing patriotic hymns than hymns of worship about the person and work of Christ.
- If you get more excited about U.S. soldiers killing Muslims overseas than U.S. missionaries preaching the Gospel to them.
- If you pray for the troops more than you pray for the furtherance of the Gospel.
- If you can sing patriotic songs without looking at a song book, but have to look at one to sing hymns of worship.
- If you compare the death of a U.S. solider killed in combat to the death of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world.
- If the murder of American unborn children by American doctors upsets you more than the murder of foreign children and adults by American soldiers.
And how can a Christian know if his church is guilty of military idolatry? This also is simple.
Christian, your church might be guilty of military idolatry:
- If it asks veterans to wear their military uniforms to church on the Sunday before a national holiday like Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, or Veterans Day.
- If it applauds young men who announce their intentions to join the military with more fervor than it applauds young men who announce their intentions to study for the ministry.
- If it has the members recite the Pledge of Allegiance in church on the Sunday before a national holiday.
- If it sends more soldiers to the Middle East than missionaries.
- If it decorates the grounds and buildings with flags on Flag Day, Armed Forces Day, and the Sunday before Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, or Veterans Day.
- If it has special military-appreciation Sundays.
- If it has the members sing patriotic songs on the Sunday before a national holiday.
- If it has the members sing the blasphemous "Battle Hymn of the Republic" at any church service.
- If the sign in front of the church on the Sunday before a national holiday says that as the soldier gave his life for your freedom so Christ gave his life for your soul.
- If it welcomes home U.S. soldiers from war with more enthusiasm than it welcomes home missionaries from foreign fields.
- If it recognizes veterans in church on the Sunday before a national holiday.
- If it offers up more prayers for U.S. troops to be kept out of harm’s way than for foreigners to be kept safe from U.S. bombs and bullets.
- If it justifies Christians serving in the military because the Bible mentions soldiers.
It is no longer safe for non-imperial Christians who think the state should be separated from the church to attend church on the Sunday before Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, or Veterans Day. And woe be unto them if the Fourth of July or Veterans Day falls on a Sunday!
Originally appeared on LewRockwell.com on June 10, 2013.
Tags: Christianity, church, culture, ethics, theology, war
There is nothing wrong with letting kids play as heroes fighting monsters, but sometimes you have to wonder what sorts of messages toys send to kids. For instance, if you need to teach your children about the virtues of remote warfare the recent release of die-cast aerial drone toys:
Seriously, this exists. And the reviews on Amazon are just hilarious. My favorite: “This is the best toy ever. Finally, I can pretend that I’m a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize! It’s like I’m sitting right there in the White House with my very own kill list!”
(By the way, you could alternatively demonstrate to your kids that you care about peace by joining the Clear Skies Initiative.)
Or perhaps you want to show your child that it is perfectly alright to submit to a naked-body scan at an airport or to get felt up by a TSA agent. In that case, I suggest the TSA checkpoint kit:
Really, who comes up with this stuff? There is wisdom in the book of Proverbs: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Tags: children, culture, drone strikes, TSA, war
Most people live lives of quiet desperation, Henry David Thoreau told us. If there was truth in that observation, in the pleasant, spacious old New England of Thoreau’s day, how much more truth is packed into those words in these melancholy days! Events have gotten out of hand and the world lurches into chaos.
Things have fallen apart faster than any of us would have dared predict, and we are seized by pangs of guilt and self-doubt. So many promising experiments have gone sour, from the New Freedom of Woodrow Wilson to the latest ukase of the present administration. The statesmen of this era talked peace and sought to outlaw war, but they let the twentieth century break down into the bloodiest period of all the twenty-five hundred years of warfare studied by Pitirim Sorokin. “We live,” wrote this great scholar, “in an age unique for the unrestrained use of brute force in international relations.”
The threat of protracted international conflict is bad enough, but there is also the well-founded fear of domestic violence and crime. And even if we are lucky enough to escape actual robbery, we know that inflation is steadily draining our wealth. We’ve seen the race issue go from integration to Black Nationalism; we’ve witnessed the emergence of the sex and drug cult, the rise of astrology, witchcraft and voodooism; V.D. has reached epidemic proportions among the young; and then there is abortion, homosexuality, the campus crisis, the environmental crisis, the inner crisis in man himself. For is it not true, as Yeats says in a famous poem, that “The wicked act with dreadful intensity, while the good lack all conviction.”
Tags: culture, Edmund Opitz, free society, freedom, ideology, philosophy