By REG HENRY
As I was contemplating the great tragedy unfolding in the Middle East, a timely message arrived yesterday on the Christian Newswire.
You may wonder what a sinner like me is doing receiving the Christian Newswire, but I want to be warned immediately if the Second Coming has arrived.
It’s not just that I am always the last to know. You see, I want to be able to tell the City Desk, because if I can’t be a good person, I can be a good journalist till the last. This is news that the readers of our paper need to know.
In case of the Rapture, our readers don’t want to be catching any buses with righteous drivers in case these operators get whisked up to heaven before completing the route. Many of our city buses are not all that punctual anyway _ and that’s without metaphysical disturbances in the universe.
Of course, with the customary efficiency around here, the editors will deploy the music critic to write a review on the Last Trumpet. But at least I will have done my duty, which surely the recording angel will take into account, he being a writer, too.
Anyway, those are considerations for a terrible day in the future, not an absurd day in the present, which yesterday brought me a message from the Christian Coalition of America.
Surely this would be a message consistent with the Prince of Peace, He who said: “Blessed are the peacemakers” and warned that those who live by the sword shall die by the sword. Well, this message wasn’t that exactly.
It read: “Christian Coalition of America commends President George W. Bush for his unfailing and courageous support for the State of Israel in its latest war against the Israel-hating terrorist movement, specifically this time against Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists. …. If American fighter power is necessary to help Israel eliminate the Hezbollah threat in southern Lebanon, so be it.”
So be it? Now, I happen to be sympathetic to the state of Israel, a plucky little democracy in a sea of extremists. I have a natural sympathy for the underdog, although I realize that underdogs and overdogs both have their fleas that make life difficult and troublesome.
But none of that compels me to think that the United States should intervene in the war that Israel is fighting with its enemies in Gaza and Lebanon. Not only is such a suggestion from a self-styled “Christian Coalition” startlingly at odds with the preaching of the Christ in the name Christian _ remember Him? _ it’s also nuts, mad and crazy on its own terms. But enough of the carefully calibrated diplomatic language. This suggestion is lunatic.
What? Things are going so well for us in Iraq and Afghanistan that we can afford another war (with perhaps a conflict with Iran thrown in for good measure)? What? We can be the fair and honest brokers of the road map to peace when we have bombed the hell out of the people whom we then want to use our map to secure a lasting peace?
Perhaps the Christian Coalition has taken those T-shirts that ask “Who would Jesus bomb?” a tad too literally. But maybe I am expecting too much of the Christian Coalition, because it describes itself on its Web site as “the largest and most active conservative grassroots political organization in America.” The fact is that politics is not a holy business but a profane one, and hypocrisy is its lifeblood.
And this is how politics, particularly among conservatives but increasingly by the lefties, is practiced in America today. This country has a bad case of testosterone poisoning. All political debates are now conducted as if the participants are a bunch of drunks bawling at each other to show how tough and manly they are.
Why, this is happening even among the Christians. Who knew that the Christians would turn into the lions, red in tooth and claw and ready to devour the empire’s enemies?
Today, every action must be brawny and violent because every problem is a nail to be hammered _ or bombed.
Illegal immigrants? Lock ’em up and deport them. Criminals? Lock em up and kill them. Terrorists? Ship them off to secret camps to be tortured and then kill them _ or let them rot in Gitmo _ because today being suspected is the same as being guilty.
Frankly, I don’t know what do about the national testosterone epidemic and the symptomatic chest thumping in all quarters. If we had a national health service, forced national castration could be an answer. But that wouldn’t solve the problem of Ann Coulter.
We need someone to pray for us. I wonder if those promoting violence are up to the task.
(Reg Henry is a columnist with the Pittsburg Post-Gazette. E-mail rhenry(at)post-gazette.com.)