Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Friday, February 01, 2008

War is Hell: 40 Years Ago Today

Heard this on NPR's Morning Edition. This photo was taken 40 years ago today.

Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.
--Psalm 144:1

Forty years ago Friday, photojournalist Eddie Adams captured one history's most memorable images. The 1968 photo of a South Vietnamese officer executing a Viet Cong guerrilla on a Saigon street helped change American opinion of the Vietnam War. (Read More)
I am preaching on the book of Joshua Sunday. We are going through the Bible cover to cover. This has always been the most difficult part of the Bible for me. These texts are not just about violent people. YHWH wills the violence.

Then they devoted to destruction
by the edge of the sword
all in the city, both men and women, young and old,
oxen, sheep, and donkeys.

--Joshua 6:21

It won't be an easy sermon. But it is something that needs preaching. What do we do with the violent god we have inherited? What do we say about this god who is so firmly entrenched in our collective psyches that we can scarcely imagine life without him and without the war and violence he commands?

Walter Brueggemann comments:

“Thus if we take the texts with some theological “realism,” in my judgment we are bound to say that YHWH is here implicated in the violence, that YHWH’s violence is rooted in the violent propensity in YHWH’s own character. I believe that this is deeply problematic for us, but any other reading is likely to be a dishonest cover-up of the disclosure of YHWH given in these texts.”

--Walter Brueggemann, Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 117

We could say of course, that YHWH is a projection, a creation to justify our own violence and greed. We could. We could say that we are above it. We have outgrown this god. But have we?