Remembering Fear: The War Turns Five

This column was published on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum on March 10, 2008. It is dedicated to all the brave men and women who opposed the war from the start.

This month, the war in Iraq turns five. It’s a milestone worthy of note, and no doubt many people are taking time to reflect upon the Marches that have come and gone since American military boots first trekked into Baghdad. Some folks will honor the bravery and dedication of American men and women in uniform. Others will pause to consider the immense cost in American and Iraqi lives. Without question debate over dinner tables and in the halls of power will focus on the dubious wisdom of the war and upon the war’s deleterious effect on the nation’s economy.

This is appropriate. A robust and honest conversation about the war is essential if we are to be a people who learn from our mistakes, and as part of that dialogue I want us to remember how unpopular it was publicly to articulate an opposition to the war in the early days of fighting and in days and weeks and months leading up to the great battle for Babylon. Continue reading

My Sermon Against the War

On March 23, 2003 I preached a sermon in response to the US invasion of Iraq. Here’s the text for that sermon. I got in some trouble for what I said from the pulpit that morning, though reading through the sermon five years later, it seems sort of tame.

 

 

Forming a Christian Response to War

A sermon by Ben Daniel

Preached at Foothill Presbyterian Church on March 23, 2003

Micah 4: 1-4

Romans 12

The last time our nation was at war in Iraq, I was a seminary student and I was working at a large Presbyterian Church in a comfortable suburb of New York City. And the senior pastor was an excellent preacher, made no mention of the war on the Sunday after it started. Twice a year, he would take some time off and he would go away and he would write all his sermons for the next six months. The man could plan ahead like no other preacher I’ve ever known.

But there was one problem. Such planning ahead created a superb lack of flexibility. The man stuck to his sermons, and not even a war was going to get him to change is plans for preaching, and so, on the Sunday after the start of Operation Desert Storm, our pastor preached his regularly scheduled sermon. Except for one brief aside, there was no mention of the war. It was then that I learned that planning ahead is not always a good thing. It was also then that I made a vow to myself and to Almighty God that if ever there was a war while I was a pastor, I was going to preach about it the following Sunday.

Now I sort of wish I hadn’t made that vow. Continue reading