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On God’s Warriors

By Alexander Carpenter
Like many Americans, my heart’s an idealist and my head’s a pragmatist on things religious and political. I often search for ways to split the difference between these two all too often separate states of being. However, last night Christiane Amanpour showed the danger that occurs when religious idealism and political pragmatism split the difference.
It’s clear in the people that she interviews who participate in the Israeli occupation that when humans lie, preemptively attack, and occupy, they lose their head and their heart in the process.
She set it up with this contrast of two warriors on the same side in 1967. . .

But it goes beyond the personal, to explore the last four decade of Jewish history that these individuals influenced — in part — through their Godly warring. During the interviews with the settlers, one cannot miss the struggle in the faithful as they admit that they lied and killed in a pragmatic pact with their ideals.  As the Times noted, the most interesting aspect of this is the footage of the fund raising in America that support this cultural war. The mix of money and religio-political strategy should give folks of any faith — liberal or conservative — pause at the cost to morality and dignity that comes with the territory.
As evangelical blogger Peace and Piety writes: “Watching this, I found myself engulfed in disbelief, awe and amazement at what faith can accomplish. When faith is used to try and transform the masses, it destroys civilizations, neighborhoods, homes, cities, kills children and demolishes peace- to say the very least.”
Yale student Baptist Like Me notes that as a part of the God’s Warriors documentary Madeline Albright gave an interview, titled here as On Religion in Politics: Ignore It “At Our Peril.’  She adds, “I’m not really a partisan person, and even though I would never have voted for her Baptist boss and I long for a compelling, ethical pro-life voice to emerge in her party, I didn’t boycott or picket Madeleine Albright when she came to Yale a few years ago. I really admire the Secratary for many reasons, and I think this new interview, part of CNN’s “God’s Warriors” series, is a very good read.”
Methodist seminarian Facilitating Paradox found the topics covered to be evocative of other less prime time work on the Middle East, writing:
her documentary reminded me of the similar reporting of Bill Moyers and others on the subject. I’ve heard of AIPAC before, heard of its power, and knew that illegal settlements were the persistent problem in any Middle East peace process. I’ve read and heard enough Rabbi Michael Lerner to know that Israelis are just as much in the wrong as any Palestinian. I have a good deal of respect for President Jimmy Carter and his analysis of the situation. But how many other people are already aware of these things? This was the surprise to me: that I was watching this on CNN on primetime. How many people would have their eyes opened? How many people saw these things and heard these stories for the first time? Hopefully millions.

The Two State Peace Plan promotin’ OneVoice blog got to
“thinking about how many people there are in the world NOT engaged in violence and enmeshed in “holy wars,” but are actually working to make things better.Extremists make a lot of noise and carry out their initiatives with a kind of unmatched zeal, dedication, and persistence.  They make so much noise, in fact, that they very easily drown out the voices of those calling for tolerance, moderation, nonviolence, and pragmatic steps toward a less conflict-driven and conflict-ridden world.

Thus, we come back to pragmatism.  But perhaps a different kind, not the sort where the ends justify the means, rather the ideal of a pragmatism deployed which finds hope in ethnic and metaphysical difference and always negotiates to keep heads cool and hearts beating on. Because as that old Federalist “blogger” James Madison wrote in famous paper number ten:
“Either the existence of the same passion or interest in a majority at the same time, must be prevented; or the majority, having such co-existent passion or interest, must be rendered, by their number and local situation, unable to concert and carry into effect schemes of oppression. If the impulse and the opportunity be suffered to coincide, we well know that neither moral nor religious motives can be relied on as an adequate control. They are not found to be such on the injustice and violence of individuals, and lose their efficacy in proportion to the number combined together. . . .”

Although the embed has been disabled, you can still watch the whole first night: God’s Jewish Warriors here.
And if you’re watching too, let me know.

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