Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – Folks, I want you to listen to this. This is as important as anything we will discuss this week, next week, or probably for the rest of the entire calendar year of the year of our Lord that is 2013. Check out today’s transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: Folks, I want you to listen to this. This is as important as anything we will discuss this week, next week, or probably for the rest of the entire calendar year of the year of our Lord that is 2013.
Stanley Hauerwas, professor emeritus of theological ethics at Duke University, has thought a great deal about America’s relationship with war. Probably the most influential pacifist theologian in the U.S. today, he has a lot to say about why the country can’t seem to keep out of interventionist conflicts. As we contemplate another in the long list of U.S. military interventions, I talked to him about his theories and why he is skeptical of the various arguments for a strike on Syria.
Mike: Here is Noah Berlatsky asking the questions and then I will read you Professor Hauerwas’s answers.
Berlatsky: You’re often identified as a Christian pacifist. Why should a secular nation listen to Christians, and why should a nation state listen to the arguments of pacifists?
Hauerwas: My way of putting it is that Christians are called to live nonviolently not because we believe nonviolence is a strategy to rid the world of war, but in a world of war as faithful followers of Christ we cannot imagine being anything other than nonviolent.
That doesn’t mean in any way that we withdraw from the world, but rather we want to serve our Christian and non-Christian brothers and sisters as much as possible by trying to find ways to live cooperatively in a manner that does not need to resort to violence.
To think however that we can give you a nonviolent foreign policy is just not going to be the case. Because we first of all don’t think about what we would do if we were president. We worry about how in the world as faithful followers of Christ we ever ended up being president! But that doesn’t mean we’re not trying to find ways for both Christians and non-Christians to live lives with as little violence as possible.
Mike Church Show Transcript – The Founding Fathers Left A Roadmap For Our Culture As Much As Our Politics
Berlatsky: Your last book was titled War and the American Difference. What is the American difference, and how does it relate to war, and to our conduct in Syria? [Mike: Listen to this. This hit me like a ton of bricks right across my forehead last night.]
Hauerwas: The suggestion in the book is that war serves as the great liturgical event for Americans, where we sacrifice the youth of the present generation to show that the sacrifices of the youth of the past generations were worthy. So war becomes the great ritual moral renewal of the American society.
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Just think of all the language about sacrifice that is constantly used about the service people. And I have nothing but the highest regard for those who conscientiously participate. [Mike: Listen to this. This is as profound as anything you will ever hear.] And I think that we don’t respond to what we ask them to do, that is, give up their normal unwillingness to kill, and the moral wound that leaves them with, I think we don’t give them the opportunity to know how to express that. And that really drives them into a kind of secrecy that’s very destructive.
So I want to say the American difference is that we are a country that literally morally lives by war and the sacrifices war asks to assure ourselves to our right to our status.
And how that works in Syria is that there is not much moral hesitation about whether we have subjected ourselves to the kind of questioning that would be appropriate to a people who have too long used war as a moral renewal.
Mike: In other words, our religion is war. I’ve been telling you for quite some time now here on the radio show and on the website and in my Founders TV episodes, and in the daily republican newsletter that the State has become our God. The State has become our religion. What Professor Hauerwas is basically saying here is the same thing, but he’s taken it to another level. He’s saying it’s not just the State that has become our God, it is now war itself and the waging of war that has become our religion. It has all the tenets of religion. It has sacrifice. It has reward if you sacrifice. This is the picture that he’s painting here, that we engage in this because it is almost as if it is a religious endeavor, which is why Americans, and especially American legislators, didn’t even hesitate to say: Give us the evidence and we’ll bomb the snot out of those idiots. That’s what we do. This has been the point of some of us non-interventionists for a couple years now. And for many of you who have been non-interventionists for longer than I have, you have been making this point for quite some time.
It’s the mindset. If you are of the mindset that it is your God-given duty and your right to intervene anywhere in the known universe, then you will always find someplace to intervene. It cannot be any clearer than that. [mocking] “Mike, can you show us examples of people that survive and don’t intervene?” Yeah, I can give you a bunch of them: Canada, Switzerland, many of the countries of old Europe. They say: No, not us. We don’t want anything to do with this. Some of you are saying [mocking] “Yeah, and Hitler invaded them.” Yeah, throw the Hitler card up. We can always go back to Hitler. Oh, Hitler, he’s so scary. No, don’t say Hitler. I think when you have to invoke Hitler, you’ve lost the argument. If Bashar Al-Assad were Hitler, he’d be trying to invade and annex Lebanon and then Jordan and then Iraq and then he would ally with the Iraqis and try to take down Iran, or ally with the Iranians and try to take down Iraq. The fact of the matter is that’s just not happening here.
Let’s get back to the question that we should be asking ourselves. Why is this even a discussion? Get a globe out, if anyone still has an old analog globe. I suspect they went out of fashion when Google Earth became part of everyone’s daily digital life. Nonetheless, you can go to an antique store or curio shop and probably find a globe. Get a globe and take a tiny pushpin with the smallest head on it you can find. Take that pushpin and stick that joker in as near as where you live as you can. Now we can look at this from a bit of a distance. Now spin the globe around. Do you see how large that thing is, that spinning ball in space is? Man, look at the size of that Earth. You look at your little, tiny pin and go: Wow, this is huge! We’re just a tiny pinprick on one of the hemispheres or one of the semicircles that makes up the whole. We’re just a tiny part of this upper hemisphere.
Now stop the globe. You’ve got your pin where you live. Now spin the globe around and see if you can find Syria on it. Stick the pin in where Syria is. Let’s do the spinning test. Spin it kind of slow. Watch the globe spin. You might notice that it takes quite a bit of time, relatively speaking, for your pin to disappear and the Syrian pin to appear. You might be becoming a little more acclimated that: Wow, that’s a long way away! It looks really close on CNN. It looks really close on Fox News. That’s a really long way away, man. How in the hell would you even get there? You’d fly here and then you’d fly there.
Now that we’ve got a little more of a geographical and physical perspective of just how far apart these two pushpins are, now let’s begin the explanation of why should pushpin #1 care about what’s going on where pushpin #2 is? As you’re thinking about that and as the globe is spinning, let’s look at all the other places in the lower hemisphere where we can stick pushpins. Are you following me? There are all sorts of hotspots down there. We’ve got all kinds of rebels in South America we could fight. We’ve got all kinds of people we could go after in Africa below the equatorial line. Don’t you think someone over there in Indonesia, don’t they have some Muslims over there? Look over in that part. I think we could drop a pin or two there. You may then, as you complete the exercise, maybe just maybe you have now given yourself a little humility. How can the people that live where pushpin #1 is possibly hope to dictate the daily affairs of the people that live in pushpin #2? How is that even possible? Well, we have telecommunications now.
Let’s go through the exercise again. As your globe is spinning, you may notice: Gee, what are those big, bright blue things that are in between these landmasses? Oh, those are called oceans. Wow, those things are huge. How would you get across one of those? Today we can do an intercontinental flight. It might take 15 hours or so to fly between the two. Or you could hop on a sailing vessel and sail there. Again, we’re talking about weeks and weeks to get from point A to point B. That’s a lot of travel. That’s a long way. How are we going to carry supplies? What we’ll do is when we get to the first landmass, we’ll conquer them and make them give us supplies. While we’re there looting their resources on the way to pushpin #2, I’m sure we’ll find some other places we can stop. Maybe you’re getting a bit more of a perspective of the whole endeavor and how insane it is, how unbelievably arrogant the pursuit of it is.
Mike Church Show Transcript – Secretary Of State Kerry And Senator Rand Paul Debate Military Intervention In Syria
Let’s just pretend for a moment. Let’s not worry about how we get there. Let’s say we can magically get from Point A to Point B. As our globe is spinning, you may also notice that there are changes in the colors of the topography, meaning some parts are going to be covered with grass, that’s green. Some parts are going to be covered with brown or granite. Those must be really tall mountains. Yeah, those Himalayas are pretty big. Some parts are going to be covered with taupe. I wonder what that is. It’s called desert, sand. We have all different kinds of topography. If we can look at all that and recognize it’s very different from there to here, is it possible that it is very much different in the way that people may react to that topography, the way they may have developed their lives, the religions they may practice, the customs they may practice?
As you’re considering all this, remember we’re only looking at two pushpins here. I told you you could put pushpins in other places, but you’re looking at two pushpins here. Are you now getting the idea and the point of the exercise? It is the utmost or pinnacle of arrogance and the pinnacle of hubris is on display if you believe — you could do this in reverse as well. As a matter of fact, it’s probably more salient to say that the Syrians are controlling the United States rather than the United States controlling the Syrians. It’s the Syrians, by having their internecine war there, that are controlling the great affairs of state in the United States. They’re controlling conversations on radio shows. They’re controlling conversations at bars. They’re controlling conversations at restaurants. They’re controlling conversations at kitchen tables. I have my children asking me about this. I am happy to explain it to them.
You could almost say that the Syrians, little, tiny Syria, is causing big, ginormous, bully United States to alter what it is that we do rather than the other way around. And they’re doing it by doing what? By having the audacity to actually defy the great United States and to not do exactly what it is that our exalted men of state want us to do, because we are a warfare state. We are looking for excuses to do this, even though our little pin on the globe exercise should demonstrate to us and show us the futility of the enterprise to start with. Humility is something that Americans do not have in great supply these days.
Why do we go in search of war? Because we kicked God out. We told God: We don’t need you anymore. We’ve got science, man. We’ve got iPhones and technology and NSA. We don’t need you around here anymore, old man. Just scoot on down the road. We got this war thing, man. Oh, boy, we’re good at it, too. I think Professor Hauerwas explains the why behind — the exercise that I just asked you to conduct, Professor Hauerwas gives the mental and spiritual explanation as to why the people that reside where pushpin #1 is would ever believe they can and must control what it is that people at pushpin #2 are doing or will do. It has nothing to do with humanitarian aid or any of the other crap we’re hearing. It is all about war. It is all about our lust for war.
End Mike Church Show Transcript