Patriotism, national identity and ChristianityBy Morf Morford
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” — John 15:12-14
That was the inscription under the stained glass window in a military chapel of a paratrooper in full battle gear on his way to combat.
The layers of irony are too many to count: bad theology, Crusade-level holiness empire propaganda, murder described as ministry and a thorough misunderstanding of the role of a soldier.
A soldier is not equipped, trained and primed to give his or her life; the successful soldier is trained and equipped to take someone else’s life, while preserving their own.
The deliberate confusion of church and state conflates and muddles divine inspiration, faith, patriotism, military service and personal (and family) sacrifice.
I saw this stained glass window at the army chapel while at a wedding. Funerals, especially now, are far more common there.
Would you think that stained glass window is much consolation to the grieving family of a fallen soldier?
Would any of us think that a child, for example, in the emotional depths of a loved one’s funeral, might be “inspired” by such a sanctified rendition of righteous retribution in action to join the military so he too could “give” his life for his “friends”?
Is that really what people seek when they join the military? To give their lives? Not only is this bad theology, it is also terrible military strategy.
General George S. Patton knew better. He used to say that a soldier’s job was not to give his life, but to take the life of the soldier on the other side.
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