In the past, pagans have sacrificed for different reasons. Sometimes to merely pacify the wrath and anger of a deity and sometimes to atone for sin...which obviously is a concept we can resonate with. Whatever the theological particulars it was understood that the sacrificial victim whether man or beast was giving up life so that the collective group might be permitted to continue on.
This became particularly horrifying when pagans sacrificed their own children to Molech, Chemosh, Melqart, and other false gods. And as grieved as those parents would have been, to them it was an act of piety, a sad but necessary sacrifice for the continuation of Edom, Moab, or Carthage.
All these nations tied their 'cult' in with the state...all were Sacral entities that blended the concepts together. Christianity was different, because the Redemption purchased by the Sacrifice of Christ was for a metaphysical nation, an eschatological nation, a Spiritual nation...not a common political or ethnic entity.
Christian Sacralism reverts to the old model...and the cult by necessity is tied in with the state and larger culture. Redemptive concepts are mixed and blended producing a product that is no longer Christian in any Biblical sense of the word.
Yes I know the argument that culture is merely an outworking of cult...so therefore we need to capture the culture right? No, we need to make sure that as we live in the larger culture we don't confuse it with our true and Biblical cultus, our worship. We need a conscious antithesis, something the worldview teachers and Dominionists talk about, but actually work against.
By wedding cult and culture what we really end up with is...Christians sacrificing their children to Molech...or whatever you prefer to call the false idol of America and its civil cult.
I contend this whole convoluted and bizarre blend of American flags and patriotism, the honouring of veterans and the cult of the military being present in the Church is just that...idolatry, and the martyr-izing of the fallen from within those ranks... and the eagerness of parents and leaders to sacrifice their children in this way is highly reminiscent of the cult of Gehenna.
From a strictly secular standpoint...from the standpoint of a citizen that lives in this country...rather than be pleased that there is a segment of the population so willing to give up their lives, the lives of their children and their freedoms for these reasons, the cult of state...I don't find it to be a source of comfort but a great cause for concern. For several years now I've heard Christians argue for a return of military conscription and many decry that 'so few' bear the burden for so many.
I reject that argument in its entirety. They bear no burden for me or my family. If they want cause to persecute by reinstating the draft then so be it. In fact in some ways I would appreciate the lines being drawn. The faithful will rise up and denounce the false church and we will either suffer or leave.
I do not find comfort in the fact that we have millions of people who love America so much that they are willing to kill and die for it.
In part this is because I don't believe people like the man's son died for the nation...not if you define nation as the people who live within the geo-political boundary. He died for a false religious ideal, but his death in no way affected my life, made me more free, or kept me safe from anything.
I find it disturbing that so many in embracing this idolatry have adopted what must be called a willful blindness, a moral mandate forbidding them to even entertain anything that might question the goodness of their nation, or question the validity of its actions or paradigms. They won't hear it, not because they don't want to...they won't hear it because it's immoral to even consider the possibility that America might not be the holy nation, that its dead sons might not be heroes.
This tells me these people are highly susceptible to fear-based propaganda. These are exactly the kind of people that can be handed a gun and told they are doing the right thing in shooting someone else. These are the kind of people who can be convinced of threats which do not exist, who can be taught to turn a blind eye to suffering. These are the people who can easily fall for really simplified and juvenile arguments appealing to deep emotions regarding race and ethnicity.
If another 11 September had occurred with a couple of years of 2001, I don't doubt many of these people could have been convinced that the American (and hence Christian) thing to do was to round up all the undesirables and place them into camps. While it sounds far fetched, I don't think so. Many would just unhappily go along, but many would be eager to take part and encourage their children to 'sign up' for 'duty'.
Personally I don't think the great experiment of Democracy works at all. I think it's been a pretty miserable failure. It's very telling in our present system that whoever raises the most money will probably win...not because of their message, but because they can flood the market with advertising. That shows where the public is at. Information doesn't really work anymore. Entertainment and sensationalist propaganda are the only way to reach people. The Church is no different. In fact in some ways it's in even worse shape.
This man at the shopping mall and his son are not good for the country. What is needed is people who won't fall for the lies, people who will question what is being done and help to hold others accountable...speak truth to power. Rather than worship Molech with everyone else, we need people who will be Salt and Light or at the very least express some skepticism toward those who would shed blood based on obvious disinformation. From a purely secular standpoint, I would prefer citizens who aren't blind patriots but who understand patriotism as a responsibility...not the responsibility of picking up a gun, but of examining the claims and agenda of elected leaders. Patriotism might mean refusing to follow them or taking to the streets to protest what they're doing.
It might mean as Christians we can't be the most patriotic people, but if I was a picking a Babylon to live in...I'd sure rather live in one where the people hold the government to account than one in which they blindly follow. I may not be on the streets with them...but I might be thankful that Providence has seen fit to motivate people in that way. In the meantime I'll keep living my quiet life, being salt and light, speaking whenever I can, redeeming the time and being a witness.
I'm afraid our work doesn't make it on to CNN or BBC. That doesn't mean that it's not important. In fact, I could argue the discussion I was having that day in a spiritual sense might have been the most important 'event' in a fifty mile radius. I don't know that, but it may have been. The discussion, its fallout in his life and circles and mine... these articles I'm writing may affect more people and more of the world than anything the local newspaper printed the next day. The world won't see it that way, but we should. So while the Dominionist would say I wasn't doing much, I strongly beg to differ. I was doing exactly what I should have been doing...contending for the truth on a shopping mall bench outside of Joann Fabrics. I don't mean to sound grandiose but it may have been even more important than an election or the appointment of a judge. Who can say? What if thousands of Christians across this country challenged the Sacralist status quo, the Sacralist Ecclesiastical Establishment? They might accomplish far more than some ridiculous Values Voters Summit. The Church needs to re-think this whole idea of victory, success, and power.
Look at Jesus, Paul, and the other Apostles. Look at the prophets. Were their lives wasted? They didn't seem to be doing much in the way of taking back the culture or transforming it. They spoke the truth and lived as witnesses. Sometimes they got in trouble for it, but they never put their confidence in princes nor depended on man for help.
What I won't do is just go along with whatever mass hysteria has gripped the culture. I won't chase after the American Dream and pretend it's somehow Christian, and I won't sacrifice my children to the Sacral State.
I don't equate Patriotism with willingness to wear a uniform and carry a gun. I met hordes of people in the military who baffled me. I couldn't understand why they were there? Many seemed to be there because they needed a job or a way to get into university. Many were career minded, or trying to stay out of trouble. There were some who really cared about America and felt they were 'serving', but many seemed to know better and realize that what we were often doing, had little or nothing to do with making Americans safe or their lives better. This was before 11 September. I 'm sure that single event changed much within the military cultural mindset.
I remember very strongly feeling like a pawn in a large game...which is what I was. Largely the military is just its own subculture, a self-contained world with its own values, lingo, and caste system. I think a lot of people found a comfort there. You never have to worry about your housing, your food, or being unemployed. You're privileged, especially overseas where your part of an elite group that looks down on the local population. Domestically you command respect and have access to benefits like socialized medicine, pension, travel, and other things the regular public is excluded from.
As a Christian I have a real problem with Patriotism in any form, but even then it must be defined. Do Christo-Americans root their Patriotism in ideals? What ideals? Sometimes they're heretical ideals based on misapplied Scripture. The ideals of Freedom, Democracy...life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?
If so, I could argue strongly that the Patriotic position in the post 2001 world ...would have been to strongly oppose the wars as being contrary to these ideals.
Is being Patriotic about serving my fellow Americans that I share the nation with? I don't think too many Evangelicals would put it this way, as they seem to all but despise a good percentage of the people who inhabit the nation. But again, if that's patriotism, then I could argue that the war is harmful to my neighbour, not just Iraqis (who are also neighbours and fellow men), but people that live around me. Americans will be maimed and killed, we will generate future enemies and spend billions of dollars we don't have.
Is being Patriotic following orders, picking up a gun and killing when told to do so? If so, then it would be my Christian duty to be as anti-Patriotic as possible,
No matter how I look at it, having a large segment of the population that willingly and blindly subjects itself to propaganda and is willing to kill and be killed for these causes is not good for the nation in any way shape or form. Power, dangerous tyrannical power will not be held in check or to account by such a population.
That's the nation, but what about the Church?