just an apprentice

the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...

Monday, September 04, 2006

Scattered and random thoughts on Ecclesiastes, war, and perspective

History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. What can you point to that is new? How do you know it didn't already exist long ago? We don't remember what happened in those former times. And in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.
Ecclesiastes 1:9-11

Again I observed all the oppression that takes place in our world. I saw the tears of the oppressed, with no one to comfort them. The oppressors have great power, and the victims are helpless. So I concluded that the dead are better off than the living. And most fortunate of all are those who were never born. For they have never seen all the evil that is done in our world. Ecclesiastes 4:1-3

The word of the Lord...

We are a week away from the 5th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. On Friday evening, I watched On Native Soil: The Documentary of the 9/11 Commission Report. It is difficult to watch the disturbing images and relive the tragic losses of that day…to grapple with the meaning of what was unfolding.

Time moves on and history provides a different vantage point--PERSPECTIVE. I am so glad Ecclesiastes made it into the canon of Scripture. I think it is becoming one of my favorite books of the Bible. The savvy voice of the Teacher, King David's son, who ruled in Jerusalem provides a welcome reality check for any saccharin, rose-colored reading of history...for any simplistic formulaic answer to the human condition. Christianity preoccupied with the future and unwilling to look at the dark side of the human condition. No delusion here. No 10 step program to a better life. The Teacher sees past the facade, the spin, the appearances of things. He is willing to look at the tough issues.

Several news items have caught my attention in the last few days. The recent pentagon report that paints a gloomy picture of the situation in Iraq. The Sojourners feature article on U.S. Soldiers who have joined the growing movement against the war in Iraq.

I think back to the discussions I would have with students in my Japanese class in the run up to this war in Iraq. One student in particular who was confident that America would ride in on a white horse and clean up the mess (Saddam, WMDs, terrorist networks, etc.). And his usual sentiment was that if all else failed…we should just bomb them off the face of the earth.

I think about the holy war that dominated almost 800 years of the history of the Iberian Peninsula. Christian kingdoms agains the infidel Moor from North Africa. Then it was not Bin-Laden, but rather Ben Yusef.

Questions persist…

Is this nation more secure than pre-9/11? It seems like arrests are being made every other week involving would-be terrorist plots.

What about the situation in Iraq? Has the U.S. presence ameliorated or aggravated the stability of the Middle East and the stability of the world? What is the meaning of increasing sectarian violence and the looming possibility of a civil war?

What is the end-game? Was the U.S. approach to the Iraq war short-sighted and simplistic? When will we face the lessons of this tragic war?

It is not being disloyal to the United Stated to ask the hard questions. Asking these questions does not discount the good that has been done by the military. Humanitarian projects, strengthened infrastructure, a democratic form of government (one could ask however, if the conditions were right for this to be put in place).

Nevertheless, we cannot bury our heads in the sand, keep recited the same tired mantras, and believe that things will change. Rather, we need to look at the overall ineffectiveness of the war in achieving the original goals and ask...


Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world have mercy on us.
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world have mercy on us.
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world grant us peace.


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