James E. McJunkin Jr. post
What does it mean to find one’s sense of higher purpose in war? We live in an age when extremists corrupt religious teaching to enrage the sensibilities of others in support of acts of violence. It is a matter of deep concern when an ideology is shared that encourages people to destroy my way of life. I can’t always get in touch with the fear it causes. I remember the sense of vulnerability I experienced during 9-11. Until then, I never experienced acts of war in my country. War was always over there and not at home. The strange sense of righteousness that led people to do real harm in my nation led to a personal sense of outrage and my blind support of acts or retaliation by my own government.
Today, I saw video footage of families arriving at the border of Turkey. They were refugees from Syria. They arrived with only the clothes on their backs. Right now, I am praying for the millions of civilians around the world in shock and in a state of trauma as they desperately cling to life.
How does one fight a warped ideology that calls people by the thousands to a fanatical sense of religious righteousness that is expressed in acts of violence? How does this religious impulse find no regard for human life? What is this sense of emptiness and desperation that opens the human heart to attach itself to mindless causes, which mascaraed as meaningful life?
Mind you, I am just as confused by perspectives and righteous religious convictions that do harm to the civil liberties of others. Neither do I have all the answers for my own behaviors that harm others. I am, however, thankful for the ability to experience healthy shame.
All at once, I am called to my own healing and to help set free those who are victims of violence. Scripture teaches that my righteousness is but as a filthy rag before God and I need to remain mindful of the limitations of my perspectives.
Each and every time that I am invited to a sense of righteous religious outrage, to join in violent acts being perpetrated for a just cause, and/or a “Holy War,” I will remain watchful of those delivering said invitation.
Rev. Dr. James E. McJunkin Jr. Executive Minister