I t’s nothing new, but we must keep these things in front of us…recall when we found out that the US Military had infused (was it already) Christian War Theology as a way to influence (brainwash) its members (men and women with guns encouraged to use them to kill people) in what has been presented to this overwhelmingly Christian Land as a War of Religion.  God v Allah.  (Are both generics for Supreme Being as opposed to the named deity like Yahweh or his self-begotten–with biological assistance from the lesser of created humans–Jesus?)

…photographs of soldiers praying or in action on the sands of Iraq were overlaid with quotations like this one from Isaiah: “Their arrows are sharp, all their bows are strung; their horses’ hoofs seem like flint, their chariot wheels are like a whirlwind.”

Another, showing a tank at sunset, had this quotation from Ephesians: “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand….”

Still, the publication of the cover sheets may raise more questions about the proper role of religion in the military, and whether a Christian-influenced culture, rather than a neutral one, permeated some corners of the military.

The issue flared at the Air Force Academy four years ago, when the football coach posted a locker room banner for “Team Jesus,” and there have been lawsuits against the Pentagon concerning military retreats at off-base churches, or the displays of crucifixes at military chapels in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2005, the Pentagon’s inspector general recommended “corrective action” against Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, the deputy under secretary of defense for intelligence, who, in appearances before evangelical groups, likened the war against Islamic militants to a battle against Satan. (“Biblical Quotes Said to Adorn Pentagon Reports,” NYT, 2009.)

This past Sunday (6/10/12) on CNN as reported in Salon, “Obama defender Rep. Peter King.”  “On CNN this morning, King offered his latest vigorous defense of a signature Obama policy:

House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King (R-NY) on Sunday refused to confirm the existence of U.S. drone strikes in other countries, but later insisted that the unmanned flying machines were being used to “carry out the policies of righteousness and goodness” . . . .

“There’s evil people in the world. Drones aren’t evil, people are evil. We are a force of good and we are using those drones to carry out the policy of righteousness and goodness.”

This is, as noted theologian, philosopher, logician, and former Secretary of Murder, Donny R. has told us, a “known known.”  Not that this is a “policy of righteousness” but instead that this is a policy of propaganda.  Everyone hates that word and dismisses its use.  But more and more it’s clear that we are only a “propagandized” population.  This is a concerted campaign at militaristic nationalism fomented via religion.  You know, “onward Xtian soldiers” and such.

Let’s simply, logically, think about “trust” in this situation.  The country seems to be in the crapper for so many of us while the Murder Boss has proclaimed that the private sector is doing just fine (esp. those bailed out and subsidized sectors–of course, that means they’re not “private” but rather public but that’s just the economics, not the org. hierarchy).  Why do we trust any of these particular speakers?

Further, why are people killers?  I don’t think it’s true that people are “naturally” murderous.  I know I’m not.  I do know that forced with dire life and death situations many of us might kill (but still, many of us will not) but that doesn’t make us “blindly aggressive” towards others when simply confronted with difference.  We must be MADE into these monsters we see as banal, even quotidian killers.  This is not a “force for good” but rather simply a force that murders without thought, or perhaps murders due to implanted thoughts.

Thinking further…a man sits in New Mexico and targets men in Yemen, or Pakistan, or Afghanistan, or Iraq, or Iran…and soon, in US states as well (and I wouldn’t doubt there are already drone strikes in Africa too with the help of those extremely useful tools, called a “charity” in tax documents–more a kind of Hollywoodland Vanity Project, Invisible Children, which has been constructing cell phone towers and handing out these global targeting devices as 911 devices with the “approval” of the US Military)…and in very short order has destroyed men, women and children remotely via a hovering “angel of death.”

This man, this soldier, likely a Christian apparently, likely a believer in Jesus and his dying for love and sins and whatnot, has, because he is a thoughtless appendage of a totalitarian hierarchy, is a murderer.  He is allowed to think otherwise because he is a soldier and we have allowed him to “carry out a policy of righteousness and goodness.”  However, surely a part of him knows this is not true and that he is a killer of men, women and children, mothers and fathers and sons and daughters and grandmas and grandpas…that he is killing humans who are in no way a threat to him or his massive, militaristic nation.  Thinking you are doing “good” within this particular context must either be a state of insanity, stupidity or, in reality a more true form of evil.

But again, nothing new under the sun.

Melville (yes, more Melville! more Typee!) educates us in how it is that lies, fantastical, self-serving fictions, become truth.  A trusted “perspective” (a word from a person “like” me or someone highly placed in my community) can tell me anything at all and this covers truth with “truth” and serves the minds (material interests) dedicated to that perspective.

*********

ALTHOUGH I had been baffled in my attempts to learn the origin of the Feast of Calabashes, yet it seemed very plain to me that it was principally, if not wholly, of a religious character. As a religious solemnity, however, it had not at all corresponded with the horrible descriptions of Polynesian worship which we have received in some published narratives, and especially in those accounts of the evangelized islands with which the missionaries have favoured us. Did not the sacred character of these persons render the purity of their intentions unquestionable, I should certainly be led to suppose that they had exaggerated the evils of Paganism, in order to enhance the merit of their own disinterested labours.

In a certain work incidentally treating of the ‘Washington, or Northern Marquesas Islands,’ I have seen the frequent immolation of human victims upon the altars of their gods, positively and repeatedly charged upon the inhabitants. The same work gives also a rather minute account of their religion—enumerates a great many of their superstitions—and makes known the particular designations of numerous orders of the priesthood. One would almost imagine from the long list that is given of cannibal primates, bishops, arch-deacons, prebendaries, and other inferior ecclesiastics, that the sacerdotal order far outnumbered the rest of the population, and that the poor natives were more severely priest-ridden than even the inhabitants of the papal states. These accounts are likewise calculated to leave upon the reader’s mind an impression that human victims are daily cooked and served up upon the altars; that heathenish cruelties of every description are continually practised; and that these ignorant Pagans are in a state of the extremest wretchedness in consequence of the grossness of their superstitions. Be it observed, however, that all this information is given by a man who, according to his own statement, was only at one of the islands, and remained there but two weeks, sleeping every night on board his ship, and taking little kid-glove excursions ashore in the daytime, attended by an armed party.

Now, all I can say is, that in all my excursions through the valley of Typee, I never saw any of these alleged enormities. If any of them are practised upon the Marquesas Islands they must certainly have come to my knowledge while living for months with a tribe of savages, wholly unchanged from their original primitive condition, and reputed the most ferocious in the South Seas.

The fact is, that there is a vast deal of unintentional humbuggery in some of the accounts we have from scientific men concerning the religious institutions of Polynesia. These learned tourists generally obtain the greater part of their information from retired old South-Sea rovers, who have domesticated themselves among the barbarous tribes of the Pacific. Jack, who has long been accustomed to the long-bow, and to spin tough yarns on the ship’s forecastle, invariably officiates as showman of the island on which he has settled, and having mastered a few dozen words of the language, is supposed to know all about the people who speak it. A natural desire to make himself of consequence in the eyes of the strangers, prompts him to lay claim to a much greater knowledge of such matters than he actually possesses. In reply to incessant queries, he communicates not only all he knows but a good deal more, and if there be any information deficient still he is at no loss to supply it. The avidity with which his anecdotes are noted down tickles his vanity, and his powers of invention increase with the credulity auditors. He knows just the sort of information wanted, and furnishes it to any extent.

This is not a supposed case; I have met with several individuals like the one described, and I have been present at two or three of their interviews with strangers.

Now, when the scientific voyager arrives at home with his collection of wonders, he attempts, perhaps, to give a description of some of the strange people he has been visiting. Instead of representing them as a community of lusty savages, who are leading a merry, idle, innocent life, he enters into a very circumstantial and learned narrative of certain unaccountable superstitions and practices, about which he knows as little as the islanders themselves. Having had little time, and scarcely any opportunity, to become acquainted with the customs he pretends to describe, he writes them down one after another in an off-hand, haphazard style; and were the book thus produced to be translated into the tongue of the people of whom it purports to give the history, it would appear quite as wonderful to them as it does to the American public, and much more improbable.

For my own part, I am free to confess my almost entire inability to gratify any curiosity that may be felt with regard to the theology of the valley. I doubt whether the inhabitants themselves could do so. They are either too lazy or too sensible to worry themselves about abstract points of religious belief. While I was among them, they never held any synods or councils to settle the principles of their faith by agitating them. An unbounded liberty of conscience seemed to prevail. Those who pleased to do so were allowed to repose implicit faith in an ill-favoured god with a large bottle-nose and fat shapeless arms crossed upon his breast; whilst others worshipped an image which, having no likeness either in heaven or on earth, could hardly be called an idol.

*********

It is in this regard that we might read noted “journalist” (rather, more truly described as “media elite”) Cokie Roberts on trusting military officials (on the David Letterman Show in 2001).

“I am, I will just confess to you, a total sucker for the guys who stand up with all the ribbons on and stuff, and they say it’s true and I’m ready to believe it. We had General Shelton on the show the last day he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and I couldn’t lift that jacket with all the ribbons and medals. And so when they say stuff, I tend to believe it.”

This is not an aberration but rather a commonplace.

The truth is that the most powerful military the world has ever known deployed by the wealthiest country the world has ever known CANNOT be the “underdog,” the “victim,” the “terrorized.”  And yet, that is the national perspective.

It is a kind of special miracle that we walk amongst true believers of this particular gospel truth.

*********

While randomly looking for an image to go with the above I found this (and the image used).  I will agree that there is no debate about how we characterize acts such as those of September 11, 2001.  Like all violence of this nature it was abhorrent.  But it is all that came before it and all that came after it that desperately needs debate, attention, thought.

In my humble opinion, America is the greatest country in the history of the world.  No, we are not flawless and yes, we have committed some self-serving acts in our short history that we are not proud of today.  But, this is not the forum to debate the sins of the republic.  I have absolutely no interest in discussing the supposed failings of our forefathers or apologizing for every political blunder or misstep some American may have done to another resident of planet earth.

 If you disagree with me – that is one of the best parts of America… you’re allowed to do so.  If you REALLY disagree with me and want to make your feelings known… get your own website and tell your story.

 The September 11th. attack on America is not justifiable using any real or imagined political dispute, religious belief or misguided reasoning. It was a repugnant and cowardly act of terrorism against innocuous civilians.   End of debate.  (from the website “the flagpole“)

“America” isn’t just this swath of stolen territory populated with wholesome humanity–it is a many-tentacled beast of almost mythical power.  We serve its most vile imaginings when we do not criticize it; when we simply murder more humans as a kind of sacrifice to it.

photo credit: Cathy Wood

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Douglas Storm is a host and producer for Interchange on Bloomington, Indiana's community radio station WFHB. "Why then do you try to 'enlarge' your mind? Subtilize it..."

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