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May 24, 2008: Unfortunate Timing

Draft #2. Draft #1 got scrapped because -- well -- you all know why a first draft gets scrapped.

You know, I am probably over-analyzing things. At this point it is almost inevitable that I would. However, I have to wonder about the wisdom and thoughtfulness that goes with the unfortunate timing of the posting of the ACSWP paper "Costly Lessons of the Iraq War: Resolution with Recommendations and Study Paper." Really. Memorial Day Weekend?

So, this is how the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) expresses thanks to the men and women of the armed forces who have served our country bravely?

I don't get it. Is there no other time, was there no other order, was there no other way to come forward with this document than on Memorial Day Weekend?

You know, this is the kind of thing that just demonstrates the divide between the national denomination's agencies and people in the pews. As a pastor serving a local congregation, I know I will hear the hurt inflicted on people who have family members serving in Iraq, people who will want to know why the PC(USA) hates them.

From this ACSWP paper:

The position here proposed may be termed: Repent, Restore, Rebuild, and Reconcile. These goals are:

1. To repent of engaging in an unnecessary war, to express remorse for the suffering, and to change the disposition to exercise power without understanding the lasting effects of coercion on both occupying and occupied peoples.

2. To restore responsibility for sovereignty and security to Iraqi civil authorities bolstered as necessary by international troops under UN auspices, with U.S.-built bases contributed to the multilateral effort and control.

3. To rebuild a battered Iraq through serious, well-managed, and accountable foreign aid, including massive healthcare assistance for the wounded and maimed.

4. To reconcile political, ethnic, and religious groups through diplomatic and peace-building measures based in truth-seeking, mutual respect, and peace with neighbors, including the supervised return of as many as three million refugees from Syria, Jordan, and other area countries and two million who have been internally displaced.

It is a hollow argument that the recommendations also include the "Reformed principle that “God alone is Lord of the conscience,” and that in evaluating U.S. actions in Iraq every Presbyterian has the right to arrive at their own judgment, even if, after prayerful consideration, that places them in opposition to the position of the General Assembly." The message is clear: America is wrong and people serving in the United States military have succeeded only in causing "suffering." And, ACSWP wants the General Assembly to spend more than $75,000 in per capita funds over the next five years to remind us over and over again.

This one-sided diatribe is unworthy of further analysis. The General Assembly should apply ACSWP's advice to this ACSWP paper: repent, restore, rebuild and reconcile.

For those who have served this country and the families who have supported those in service, please know that I thank you. You have earned our gratitude, not our scorn. You have provided for the freedom of Americans and many other people around the world. Please know that the congregation I pastor will be thanking God and praying for you -- as we do together each Sunday.