wouldn’t it be funny…

…if it took an overextended war like the one we have in Iraq to alienate an entire generation of Americans from their government?

I saw the following over at Will Samson’s blog. It’s a list of things conservative blogger Rod Dreher no longer believes after 4+ years of American occupation in Iraq.

1. Having been absolutely certain that the war was the right thing to have done, and that we would prevail easily, I am no longer confident that I can discern when emotion is affecting my judgment unduly.

2. I no longer implicitly trust governmental institutions, including the military — neither in their honesty nor their competence.

3. I no longer believe the Republican Party is superior in foreign policy judgment to the Democrats.

4. I no longer have confidence in the ability of our military, or any military, to solve deep cultural and civilizational problems through force alone. I mean, I thought nothing could stand in the way of the strongest military fielded since the days of ancient Rome. No more.

5. I have a far greater appreciation for how rare and fragile liberal democracy is, and a corresponding revulsion at the American assumption that it’s the natural state of mankind. Which is to say, the war has made me rethink my ideas about human nature, and I’m far more pessimistic now than I ever was.

I could really care less about having a discussion here about the politics of the war in Iraq. But I wonder if Dreher’s words represent thousands or millions of others who have become jaded with the political system and really wonder if any good can come from such a system.  Furthermore, I wonder if he speaks for people of faith whose views of a “good kingdom of this world” have been shattered over the last 6 years.

I’m thankful to serve a King who genuinely loves his servants and is at work bringing true peace — shalom — to all the world.  No human king can do such a thing.


11 responses to this post.

  1. “I’m thankful to serve a King who genuinely loves his servants and is at work bringing true peace &emdash; shalom &emdash; to all the world. No human king can do such a thing.”

    That seems like an unjustifiably rosy assessment to me, or maybe an unnecessarily harsh judgment on humankind. Obviously, no single human has proven capable of removing all suffering and injustice from the world, but then again, neither has God.

    So even if we’re going to be optimistic, I think the best we can say is that God and people are hard at work trying to bring peace, but that neither of them have quite managed to solve the problem.


  2. Posted by Steve on July 26, 2007 at 9:55 am

    Matthew – This could get all into divine agency and whatnot, but I think it’s fair to say that more often than not, human effort stymies the work of God to bring about shalom (which I believe is not simply the absence of conflict, but holistic provision and abundance).

    Yes, those who have signed onto God’s mission wake up every day and do their part, but can we really say this about governments? Not least our government?

    It’s not that God hasn’t “quite managed to solve the problem,” but that more humans haven’t gotten behind Him (instead of their host empires) to solve the problems, and in most cases, diametrically oppose the cause of righteousness.


  3. Posted by Paul on July 26, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    I am one of those disillusioned. I have no interest in either of the major political parties. I have been struggling for 9 months trying to write an article showing how God would want us to approach the form of government we have.
    I am disillusioned with churches and Christians on either side (making the pro-war or anti-war believes part of the kingdom).
    I struggle to pray for those I disagree with whether it is Bin Laden, George, or Hillary. It is easy to have my emotions stirred and in my frustration to swing wildly from side to side.
    I guess it shows that it is too easy for my heart to attach to the kingdom here and much harder to attach to God’s kingdom where the political game has no place and love and servitude are the things that count.


  4. “I think it’s fair to say that more often than not, human effort stymies the work of God to bring about shalom”

    Yeah, I guess it does depend on your view of divine – and human – agency, and I’m pretty sure we don’t see eye to eye about that. So … uh … nevermind.


  5. I read that the other day at Christianity Today or something, and I was blown away, cause that’s where I’ve gone.

    Granted, like Dreher, I talked a big game about not trusting the government, but war was another thing, for some reason. While we bemoaned government intervention in the market, and hillarycare, and all sorts of other government projects, for some reason, we (we being ‘conservatives’) never questioned the government in regards to war and foreign policy. I think that’s changing.

    I think people, naturally, want to think that all possible bad things can be fixed by the government, and that’s especially tempting when you pay little or no taxes. But as I believe conservatives (especially those of the libertarian leaning) were right in that government can’t solve our problems. It can create order, which is something that proliferates the spreading of the gospel, but beyond that, it almost always ends up serving its own interests, whether through war and violence or increase in control over the lives of its citizens, even a democracy is not immune from the power hungry with a desire to manipulate the masses and serve their own interests.

    Its why if I happen to vote, its going to be for someone who wants to scale back the government and encourage citizens to put their money where their mouth is, and help those around us, and who does it himself. One that makes local government the agent for change rather than federal. Because my voice in the wilderness is much louder at the local level, and much more can be done at the local level anyway. The larger the government, the more corrupt it becomes, and the more evil it becomes.

    That was a little rant. But not about the Iraq War.


  6. i keep saying we need to avoid the polls altogether…

    invest in a system that works!

    and i don’t mean giving to your local “church”…



  7. I’ve had a hard time with that recently Miller.

    I think my church does a pretty good job with its funds and trying to minister to those in need, but I have so many more opportunities in the neighborhood in which I’m living to invest in the people around me.

    Obviously, there are probably more things I could eliminate from my budget, but for now, its about to the point of either, give ten percent to the church, or keep ten percent to help those that are in need around me.

    Any suggestions?


  8. Some Canadian snobbery on your northern snobbery… 😉

    when i arrived in the states about a decade ago, I thought it was weird that the Americans weren’t already at this place of disillusionment. people trusted the government; it was weird.

    I think it’s a little short-sighted to make this about the war. I just read a thing this week tracing the history of Americans’ alienation from their political system. This has been in process long before the war and would have continued without the war. The war is just part of a long, bigger cultural process.

    Canadians were alienated along ago and we don’t feel guilty about our military (inferior, sure, but not guilty).

    My point is that there is a much longer cultural story here than just an administration that started a war that everybody loves to hate.


  9. Posted by Connor on July 26, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    Disillusioned, yes, but (in keeping with current affairs) many of those disillusioned will call on the government for universal health care. It is kind of like how many are both drawn to God while at the same time often disillusioned with God.


  10. Justin,


    respect! i value what you’re doing.

    secondly, when i talk about investment, i’m not really talking about money at all. i’m really talking about becoming a part of the solution.

    there are so many things that are contributing to the problems we see in our culture and we can all, every one of us, do our part if we just listen to Jesus and do what he says. i believe when we attend to God, he will show us where to go, what to do, and who to stay with.

    i mean how can you or i really know what another needs? sure, it isn’t hard to tell whether somebody needs food or clothing or shelter… but what are the needs of the heart? i have a friend who worked in mercy ministries for years. he said the homeless didn’t really need them to provide food or shelter…

    the homeless needed the people providing it!

    the biggest holes in any heart are those that need to be filled with love.

    and sometimes that means food, water, clothing…

    it always means you!

    thanks for askin’


  11. Posted by Steve on July 27, 2007 at 4:00 pm

    Joel – I think you’re right. The disillusionment has been brewing for a while now. It seems, however, that the secrecy and deception surrounding this war has taken many Americans to their breaking point as it relates to government. And staunch conservatives, it seems, are not exempt from becoming jaded.

    Justin – Thanks for your honesty and transparency here. As my dear friend Miller Talbot said once, “The government is incapable of taking care of the widow and the orphan.”

    People need the shalom that only God can give.


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