Chris Kyle, Andrew Howard Brannan, and the American Legacy of Violence

Chris Kyle, Andrew Howard Brannan, and the American Legacy of Violence January 14, 2015

ID-10019206

Any culture has a difficult tendency to send conflicting messages on an array of issues, and American culture is no different. This fact is especially true when it comes to one of America’s hallmark characteristics: violence.

The use of violence towards others is at the very foundation of the American identity– it’s how we were born as a nation, and how we have thrived as a nation. Since we benefit so greatly from this violence, we have not only culturally justified it but have gone one step further and glorified it as being good, noble, justified, and one of the things that makes us so “great.”

Those who volunteer to sign up to carry out America’s violence are immediately deified as cultural heroes– even within the church of Jesus Christ itself. I often see this immediately upon entering many churches in America, where one can often find bulletin boards on the walls plastered with pictures of military members the church has sent off to use violence to advance the interests of empire. I myself remember this well from my own decade in the military; I received no greater treatment in the church as I did on those days when I’d return home and come to worship Christ, while wearing Caesar’s uniform.

We’re also seeing this deification of violence and murder play out with the soon-to-be released movie, American Sniper, based on the life of Chris Kyle who is stated to be the most deadly sniper in American history. What would by any other account be classified as mass-murder, is justified and glorified by both culture and much of the American church.

Except, not all of these “heroes” turn out so well after their stints of carrying out violence for Caesar’s empire– such as the case of Andrew Howard Brannan who was executed last night in the state of Georgia. Brannan was a Vietnam veteran who, like America’s new hero Chris Kyle, carried out violence on our behalf. We trained him and conditioned him to kill, as we do so many others who wear the uniform– and kill he did.

Except in the end he didn’t just kill the people we wanted him to kill– he killed a police officer back home. Someone who one moment could be considered a “hero” for using violence, now became a criminal who used violence– a story that ended last night when the state of Georgia itself used lethal violence (to teach him lethal violence is wrong), thus continuing the big, never ending legacy of American violence.

Andrew Howard Brannan and Chris Kyle did what they were taught to do: kill. But what we find from the juxtaposition of the two individuals is the following:

Killing in a uniform = glorious and justified.

Killing in the street = despicable, and worthy of death.

Whether killing on behalf of the state, or killing in the streets, American culture has one go-to failsafe for dealing with it: glorification and justification of even more violence. In the case of Chris Kyle, we will immortalize him and his violence in a movie that undoubtedly will inspire some to grow up and follow in his footsteps– thus continuing a legacy of violence. In the case of Brannan, we offer the same cure: the justification and use of even more violence in response to violence.

In fact, Chris Kyle’s legacy of violence will likely continue well past the movie. You see, Kyle is dead– but he didn’t die on the battlefield. He instead was shot and killed on a Texas shooting range by Eddie Ray Routh, a Marine friend. Routh now awaits trial in Texas on two counts of capital murder, and I’ll give you three guesses how that will turn out in Texas– but you’ll only need one. The cycle of violence will end with yet another case of violence being used to take a life.

Here’s the deal America: when are we going to wake up and see that violence is a crazy animal that cannot be contained? When will we open our eyes and realize that our justification of violence at every turn, and our use of violence as a response to violence, only keeps the entire cycle moving like clockwork?

I don’t think “America” will ever see– because violence is our collective identity as a nation. Instead of being a shining city on a hill, America needs a shining city on a hill– someone, something, somewhere, to point to a different way of living… to be light in the American darkness.

Who will be that shining city? Who will uncover light so that it can pierce this blanket of darkness and death? Who will be the people who stand up and say, “we will not be complicit in continuing a legacy of violence?”

My hope and prayer is that it would be the people of Jesus– because that’s our job.

Generation after generation of people have complied with a national legacy of violence, including far too many in the church itself. It is long past due for Jesus followers in America to get busy–and get serious– about pointing people (especially Christians!) away from an American legacy, and pointing them towards a Kingdom legacy.

The legacy of America is one of violence. The legacy of Chris Kyle, Andrew Brannan, the states of Georgia and Texas are that of violence as well.

But we, the people of Jesus, are invited to build a Kingdom legacy– one that looks radically different than anything this nation, or this world can offer.

 

Photo via freedigitalphotos.net

"Oh no. All these people dying are doing it to harm the fake messiah's election ..."

10 Signs You’re Actually Following TRUMPianity ..."
"Yeah they're not unclean. And neither do you become unclean by touching a menstruating woman.How ..."

10 Reasons Christians Should Affirm Women ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • DoubtingTom

    It’s interesting that many of the same people who practically worship the troops are quick to condemn and vilify police officers who kill people, whether or not it’s “justified” in the eyes of the law. It’s stunningly hypocritical; if men in uniform kill Americans, they’re villains, but if they kill people in a different country, they’re heroes.

  • RonnyTX

    Ben:
    (snip) The use of violence towards others is at the very foundation of the American identity– it’s how we were born as a nation, and how we have thrived as a nation. Since we benefit so greatly from this violence, we have not only culturally justified it but have gone one step further and glorified it as being good, noble, justified, and one of the things that makes us so “great.” (snip)

    Ronny:
    Sad and oh so true! :-( And by man’s law,I am a citizen of the United States and live in the state of Texas. And I am glad,God chose for me to be born here,in this little part of the world. But what is most important to me,is that I’m a citizen of the kingdom of God. Born into that and put into that by God/Jesus Christ. :-) And there is coming a time,when there will be only one kingdom/nation and that,the kingdom of Jesus Christ. :-) And we will all be in that. :-)

    And BTW Ben or to anyone posting here,I need help on remembering some ones name and thought maybe some of you would remember it? But it concerns a young man,who was a World War 1 veteran. I have heard and read somethings about him,in the past;but now,I can’t remember his name! (ha) But as I remember,he was a very well known WW1 veteran. Part of his story being,that he was a Christian and believed at first,that it was wrong for him to kill anyone. But then,I believe it was his pastor,who convinced him differently? Not a great lot to go on;but maybe someone will remember this man’s name?

    And there was also a World War 2 vet,that I also remember reading somethings about. He ended up in Japan and after a battle,his job was to go out on the battlefield and help any wounded but still living soldier,that he found there. He did;but his story is that as a medic,he helped any wounded soldier,that he came upon,be they American or Japanese. And he got in a lot of trouble for that,with some officers over him. That’s a part of his story and I just wish I could remember his name as well! Have read a good bit about this man online;but that several years ago now.

  • Herm

    I am a Vietnam vet. God sent me there as a jet fighter mechanic. He sent me there when as a theological student I was counseling a couple my age and told God, silently in my heart, I didn’t know what I was doing except reciting memory lessons. I asked that He teach me hands on truth. All through my four year military career I witnessed and healed for God while, also, performing meritoriously in my paid role as a soldier defending my nation. I killed through my aircraft and my M16.

    A combat zone is hands, heart and mind on truth and it is ugly. There is no one who physically survives a combat zone that does not carry indelible scars. Post-traumatic stress disorder never goes away, never as long as we only know the laws of our land in our hearts and minds. I owe my fallen comrades for their sacrifice I know firsthand to get this thing called life as correct as possible. They gave me this time.

    Vietnam, Iraq and after the first ninety days of Afghanistan were all a total waste of children scarred and dead purely from the patriotic ego of empire builders. I was spit on by my childhood friends when I returned from Vietnam because in uniform I was as close to representing those Caesars as they could reach?

    By my experience I testify that our Lord Jesus with our Father in Heaven in truth offers us a Way out of paying Caesar what is God’s, ours and His children’s lives. The sword only invites a sword in retribution, pitting us against them to the death. Love invites love most powerfully when we love enough that our enemy is convinced that we are truly willing to pick up our cross that they might live. Jesus did that for us knowing that if He did not the spirit of patriotic enemy genocide would continue to eventually destroy all of mankind. In council with the Holy Spirit my esprit de corps has expanded to include all of mankind as one body loved as myself. To our enemy we are the others.

    “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. “
    Matthew 7:12

  • Father D

    I don’t know about the medic helping Japanese soldiers, but there were 2 American medics who set up a hospital in a church during the Normandy invasion and treated anyone that came. They helped American, French, and German soldiers, as well as any civilians that needed it. Their names were Ken Moore and Bob Wright.

    There was a book called Angels of Mercy and a documentary called Eagles of Mercy made about it.

  • Herm

    If trained and paid police officers shoot a 12 year old boy carrying a toy gun alone in a park within three seconds of arrival, ignore applying any first aid, handcuff and arrest his sister for trying to support him, and deny his mother from getting to him then they are villains. We are all threatened by that spirit of dehumanization.

    To kill to actually save their and/or other human lives peace officers are not in any way vilified in our nation except by those who actually threatened to murder.

  • DoubtingTom

    I’m not trying to justify the shooting of Tamir Rice. What I’m saying is that, when police murder just one person, the nation is outraged. When soldiers kill countless innocent civilians overseas, and destroy the lives of countless more, you get barely a fraction of the outrage. It’s hypocritical.

  • Dan Whitmarsh

    I read American Sniper a few years ago, at the request of a friend. It’s been a long time since I reacted with such disgust to a book. Not disgust to the author, but to the system that created a man so glib and giddy about killing, so ready to sacrifice his family in order to get back to the business of killing, so unwilling to see the humanity in others. Perhaps most disturbing was the use of God and church to support the righteous cause of killing. I grieve for Kyle and so many other young men and women being sold a lie, only to be used and discarded by an uncaring Caesar.

  • José

    I was hoping someone would write from this perspective. I live in the area where Chris Kyle lived and died, and our church was one of those that participated in honoring him, many of our leaders and members knew him and his family personally. He was a decent person, and he was working hard to help other former soldiers heal and overcome their demons. However, every time his name came up it would be prefaced with “the deadliest sniper in US military history”, and every time my heart felt like some invisible hand was squeezing it. I refused to let my children attend the memorial services, or stand on the highway holding US flags as so many hundreds of people did here. I was angry and heart-broken, to see my brothers and sisters in Christ unwittingly celebrating violence, even though it was violence had torn these families apart and ended Chris’ life. To see a Nation scarred by violence, and a State and Church joyously embracing that violence. And I hate not being able to even bring this up without incurring the wrath or judgement of those who claim to follow the Crucified. Thanks Benjamin, for once again voicing the heartache and the frustration of so many of us who feel Empire has usurped Kingdom in the heart of the Church.

  • Herm

    There is the equivalent outrage when the innocent civilians overseas killed are relatives we knew and loved. I agree that what goes on outside our borders is far less grieved than what happens “at home”.

    I visualize a young child playing in a neighboring field witnessing a drone attack destroying his/her parents. A seed of retribution has been planted and will bloom to destroy through sacrificial suicide bombing. Which plants a seed of retribution to send in more drones coldly flown 12,000 miles away with a screen view thousands of feet in the air above … ignoring the children inside and playing in the neighboring field.

    Love is not possible as long as we remain separated and dehumanized as the other. Grief is valuing through love of relationship lost.

    Thank you for your expression of love!

  • Trev

    City of God, Book XV.4 “But the earthly city, which shall not be everlasting …has its good in this world, and rejoices in it with such joy as such things can afford. But as this is not a good which can discharge its devotees of all distress, this city is often divided against itself by litigations, wars, quarrels, and such victories are either life-destroying or short lived. –St Augustine

    Goes on to say that winning peace can be a good thing, but who is around? And ultimately, only the City of God gives peace everlasting and one day the present earthly city will one day be overthrown. Violence is this cycle and through one act it was destroyed. We just need to let that one act change us.

    Not really as personal as you commentary Mr Corey, but I think you get to that near the end of this post.

  • Paul Schlitz Jr.

    At least Chris Kyle exposed himself to danger. Did anyone catch noncombatant Cal Thomas in USA Today who apparently thinks it is a good idea to start World War III against Muslims? I don’t expect Americans to forgo the concept of redemptive violence anytime soon after all we can’t even keep semi-automatic weapons from getting into the hands of psychopaths. But what I really resent is some visible Christianist stoking the fires of hatred against all people of another religion.

  • rrhersh

    Eh? My experience is that reaction to the one correlates pretty well with that to the other: A person who worships the troops is likely to defend the cop, complete with explanations in both cases why those other people had it coming. A person who is skeptical of the necessity of that cop firing his gun is likely to be skeptical of the necessity of the troops firing theirs.

  • We’re on the right track; you’re as completely overwrought as the nightly news.

    “Democracy is an imperfect way of steering between the violence of
    anarchy and the violence of tyranny, with the least violence you can get
    away with. So I don’t think it’s a triumph, but it’s the best option
    we’ve found.” -Steven Pinker
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMBJ87ZTuJY

  • R Vogel

    I think you are thinking of Sgt Alvin C. York from WW1

  • R Vogel

    Killing in a uniform = glorious and justified.

    Killing in the street = despicable, and worthy of death.

    This is a rather convenient over simplification. The military has increasingly complex rules of engagement to determine who can and cannot be engaged in war. Virtually every war has seen soldiers being tried and convicted of war crimes when these ROEs have been violated. James Fallows does a pretty good job over at the Atlantic explaining the current mood of near beatification of the military as a product of a chickenhawk public that continually asks a small group of people to bear the risk of our near continuous wars. The shameful treatment of soldiers returning home from Vietnam also remains lodged into the American psyche, invoking a guilt response from that generation.

    I think most people would boil it down to this equation:

    Killing in defense of others = justified.

    Killing as an act of aggression = despicable.

    No one believes an entire class of killing deserves death. This is why capital cases have a secondary sentencing phase to determine whether or not the death penalty is justified. (For the record, I am against the death penalty) There is no crime that summarily receives the death penalty.

  • Herm

    R Vogel, you must be from the city of brotherly love. Much of your equational analysis has provable validity.

    but:

    You wrote, “No one believes an entire class of killing deserves death.”

    ISIS touts that in their mind and heart this is not true. They have backed their claims up with mass genocide of many “other” different classes than they through public beheading.

    We have “good ole’” homegrown christians who are screaming for the mass genocide of all Muslims.

    Applying those two spirits in the equation of “do to others as you would have others do to you” would seem to equal that either one class survives alone or none survive. I would bet all I have that none survive, especially me who agrees with neither. I can absolutely say that I would not be able to collect on my winnings.

    We have walking free citizens in the USA that I have talked with who convinced me that they would, if they could, eliminate, in whatever manner necessary, all “other” classes who were not full blooded Caucasian heterosexual Christians like our blessed constitutional fore-fathers and their wives … as they see themselves.

    You used a lot of absolutes in your comment. Social absolutes can usually be disproven because each relation is different occupying its own unique spot on the spectrum of influential life. Good try although.

    Love you!

  • R Vogel

    I live just outside the city of brotherly love but hail from the west coast!

    I think you are expanding the argument beyond the original bounds. Yes, there are myriad ways people justify killing each other, religious and otherwise, both here and abroad. I was speaking within the context of this culture and the framework that was presented; how killing is sanctioned or not depending on whether someone is wearing a uniform. In the US our system of justice does not hand down summary executions for any crime. Granted some people believe that it should, but our culture has decreed otherwise. Chris Kyle’s murderer will face a trial. If he is convicted he will then face a hearing to determine whether or not he deserves a death sentence. There may be little doubt what a jury in Texas will decide, but that is a separate issue. (although it is the reason I am against the Death Penalty in practice) That is not a society that simply thinks killing on the street deserves death. Nor do we sanction any act of killing done in uniform. Derrick Miller and Robert Bales both received life sentences for their murderous acts in a theater of war. Officers Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez are facing first-degree murder charges for shooting an homeless man in New Mexico. Comparing our
    criminal and military justice systems, which are governed by the rule of law, to the system of Caesar, where the power of life and death resided arbitrarily in local magistrates, is viewing things through a very narrow lens.

    Quick Edit: I was remiss in stating that ‘No one believes’ that is obviously false. I should have chosen my words more carefully. There are always lunatics, sociopaths and religious nuts who think that they should have the power of life and death, my criticism was against levying that at our culture, which does not.

  • Herm

    Caesar had a rule of law very similar to ours in governing Roman citizens and Paul went through that system to his execution which was not handed down summarily. When our military is in charge in another country, as was so with Pontius Pilate, summary execution are handed down by the ranking officer.

    ROEs have been violated without prosecution in every war and our culture has for the sake of expediency and politics shined it on. Our hands are not squeaky clean as we try to project to the world through our beloved principals.

    The death penalty was just summarily meted out to Michael Brown for being childishly belligerent, legally so according to the grand jury and judiciously elected prosecuting attorney.

    No, I don’t believe we have room to rest pridefully on our laurels as a righteous culture.

    I love your location in the spring and fall. I have visited often and for long periods in your area of residence. I am still rebelliously proud (pride cometh before a fall?) to be a native left coaster.

  • R Vogel

    Again you are arguing a different case. I never claimed our system was perfect or not in need of reform and improvement. I am personally against the Death Penalty and think it should be abolish or narrowed considerably in scope. You are describing defects in our system, not features. The original argument was that killing people in uniform being sanction and out of uniform unsanctioned, and capital, are features of our culture which is simply not true. Soldiers face prosecution for their crimes as do police officers and civilians are often exonerated based on circumstances. In all these cases significant problems exist so that often soldiers and police officers are not held fully accountable and people with extenuating circumstances, like mental illness, are.

    I grew up in Silicon Valley. Miss it quite a bit this time of year!

  • Herm

    I worked Silicon Valley for over ten years with large system computer customers. I am now retired in the NW in Port Angeles and am loving it. The Peninsula does seem more inviting this time of year, although.

    I too am against the “death penalty” for certain due to our proven inability to judge what is an incurable cancer from what is curable. My jury is out regarding in just what ways we should each be responsible to the health of the entire body of mankind. That we should be responsible is not in question.

    Having been trained and have responsibly carried concealed I am aware of what constrictions within our local, state and federal laws that all of us are sanctioned to kill. I do know under the law that no one has carte blanche to kill in our nation but the letter and spirit of those laws are not executed equally for all. Today, because the district attorney requires full support of the local police in uniform, the DA balances the scales in favor of the uniform over the legal rights of the constituent.

    All and all I do agree with your premise and where your heart is but something I cannot seem to bring to the surface keeps nagging at me to react. If it should surface more clearly to me I will share it with you later. As it is it makes no sense for me to continue just talking all around it.

    Thank you for continuing to help me!

  • R Vogel

    the DA balances the scales in favor of the uniform over the legal rights of the constituent

    I hope this is the lesson many have learned from the travesty in Ferguson. It led to reform in Wisconsin, but of course that involved the son if a white Air Force Officer. I am waiting to see what the President’s commission comes out with. Hopefully it won’t depend on any action from Congress…

    I look forward to hearing from you when your concern surfaces. I find tremendous value in working through these things with people who have similar values but different perspective.

    Have a great day!

  • Father D

    This is a little off topic, but it is really nice to see that people can still disagree with each other’s ideas in a civil and respectful manner on the internet.

    Thank you for that, R Vogel and Herm.

  • Jerry Lynch

    Funny, after reading the article I got the central theme to be a Christian living in such a way there is a clear distinction or choice presented between worldliness and godliness. Violence as an accepted and even praised part of the national character of America puts yeast into the church. The message becomes mixed, unclear. I believe that non-violence is an essential part of the Gospel and that such non-violence as love demands cannot be seen through a sniper scope, no matter how great the magnification.
    We are no longer to love our neighbor as ourselves but as Christ loved us, which was unconditional and sacrificial. The Golden Rule is rescinded; there is no more the quid pro quo of “Do unto others as you would have then do unto you.” It is do unto others as Christ in his life and death did for the world. It should be made plain that accepting Christ is a call to death, our life to be freely given even for a hated stranger. We are only to be concerned with restorative justice and not retributive justice.

  • Herm

    Jerry,

    While I agree with your bold and daring comment I sense a major problem in rescinding:

    “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12

    I submit that without that fundamental rule of thumb we do not know how to love our neighbor and our enemy as our selves.

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:43-45

    Love you and your boldness! Thank you!

  • Jerry Lynch

    Okay, perhaps I did have a tad too much coffee this morning but after being out and about the real world for a while, too much of that in traffic, allow me a polite snarkiness to continue with that line of thought.

    Taking Matthew, Chapter Five, as a backdrop: You have heard it said to do unto others as you would have others do unto you, but I say do unto others as I have done for the world, in whom you are “to live and move and have your being.”

    We are to remain ‘hidden in Christ,” empowered by the Holy Spirit which teaches us ALL things, including the grace and strength and knowledge to live the character of Christ, “to be as Christ was in the world.”
    Who is Christ but the fulfillment of the law and prophets you mention in Mt7:12.

    To me, Matthew Chapter Five is foretelling what life in Christ is like as compared to what it was like under the law. He gave us a New Commandment that supersedes the Golden Rule, a magnitude and depth greater than previously held or possible. Or my road rage is just seeking an outlet.

    Thank you for the comments. It helped me ground my ideas. The word rescind was there for shock value and overstated: fulfilled works with the accompanying addendum it is now elevated to a higher order in Christ.

  • RonnyTX

    Thank you for that. :-) I’ve got the info down,so I can look it up later and read about these men.

  • RonnyTX

    Thank you R Vogel,’cause yes,that is the guy I was thinking of. :-)

  • RonnyTX

    Herm:
    (snip) “In council with the Holy Spirit my esprit de corps has expanded to include all of mankind as one body loved as myself.” (snip)

    Ronny to Herm:
    Same here. Though I will say,it sure is easier to love my little 7 month old great niece,as compared to some of my fellow adults! :-)

  • RonnyTX

    Herm,I never did figure out that one,about that 12 year old boy. How did they justify,shooting him so quickly?!

  • RonnyTX

    Doubting Tom,I think we seldom hear about the 2nd case, while the 1st,is right there,on the TV news,for all to see. Too,I think too many people,view those folks over there somewhere,as not one of us,less than us,etc. And that’s wrong,for we are all one family and we area all,the children of God. And Jesus Christ,he was on the cross for every last one of us. :-) And one day,we will all understand what that meant,since we will all be together and that forever! :-)

  • Herm

    adrenaline, fearing for their own lives, seeing something that just wasn’t there, …???

    I do know that proper police procedure when possible is to isolate a potential shooter and then talk him/her down. The boy was in the park all alone when the officers drove on to the snow covered lawn, opened their doors and dropped the child in less than three seconds. They then left the child alone on the ground for over four minutes bleeding out.

    I am sorry, I know your question was mostly rhetorical, but the inhumanity of that scene as portrayed on video makes me feel so sick and it runs over and over in my head and heart. I shouldn’t let it get to me like this but I feel so impotent not having a clue what I can do and really, really feeling like I should.

    Thanks for giving me a chance to unload some emotions here, whether you intended to or not.

  • clearthinker

    What the writer of this article fails to understand is the difference in Moral violence and Non-Moral violence. Moral violence is when you protect the innocent against the aggressors. Sometimes killing the aggressors to stop them from murdering the innocent is not only the right thing to do but it’s the moral thing to do.

    We don’t live in a utopia where you wish everyone would just have feelings of love for each other. The weak, timid and innocent need to be protected from evil.

    The writer of this article lacks wisdom to know

  • clearthinker

    The writer of this article lacks wisdom to know the difference in moral violence and non- moral violence. Is nice to think we should all get along but you are not getting your head cut off or getting blown up at a market place, or getting raped or enslaved. How nice to write from a place of comfort. All victims would disagree with your new found theology/philosophy.

    B Corey, you are doing a disservice to serious thinking Christians, of course you are a Former Fundie. You seem to have left your brains behind when you left.

  • Guthrum

    One concern that needs to be addressed is the transition soldiers often have to make. In Vietnam a soldier would be in a fierce battle. Eight hours later he could in his hometown walking inside a mall or driving to the store. This a huge contrast, s shock. There needs to be a longer, structured transition period that includes counseling, group sessions, and a more gradual return to society. There needs to be more study and treatment of ptsd. This is not new. Even returning Civil War veterans had traumatic events and resulting emotional disorders. Their families must also be included in counseling and therapy. As one soldier recounted that it took him a year before he felt comfortable playing with his children.

  • And I just got “wow’ed” on FB by that fundamentalist mindset for not honoring the movie and asking questions regarding the glorification of killing – oh well…

  • R Vogel

    The Golden Rule is rescinded; there is no more the quid pro quo of “Do unto others as you would have then do unto you.”

    I’ll tell you what – If I ever become so enthralled by an ideology that I am willing to strap a bomb to myself in order the kill innocent people in some twisted attempt to further my ideology or prove my faithfulness, I would hope, pray, that someone would shoot me before I had the opportunity to do so.

  • Herm

    It has been my sincere plea to God that if He judges me as potentially even a slight chance of becoming a bad seed to other’s eternal life to please let me die forevermore. If there is no hope for me now, as only They can judge, to become constructive for all then I pray He takes me now.

  • Daniel Lemke

    His examples from Jesus aren’t suggesting a utopia exists. Jesus didn’t say, “you won’t have to turn the other cheek because nobody will ever attack you.”

    Jesus is specifically addressing how to respond to violence. If you think there are examples of him suggesting to respond in kind, great, let’s explore those. But nobody is suggesting a utopia is required or already exists.

  • i was just now talking abt this w/ my spouce: i encounter ppl all the time who are projecting their crap on me and vulnerable others and if i’m not careful to stay in
    constant contact w/ my higher power i do it too. in a.a. we callit ‘stinking thinking’ & it’s things like ‘road rage’ that lets one know…ya know?!

  • Jerry Lynch

    31 years 1-17-15.

  • wow! tengoo!

  • John A. C. Kelley

    Christ disagrees with your views if you believe the Bible…

  • krvzl

    This is a really old article, but I still wanted to throw my two cents in.

    Diving right in, the error is not in interpreting the morality of killing, but in applying morality to the act of killing in the first place. The most objective way to look at it is in terms of social utility.

    A soldier performs a public service to his country by killing his enemies. This is, after all, his job; and it is a job that the government of a country — nominally representative of its citizenry — has deemed important enough to provide monetary compensation for services rendered. Ergo, a soldier who has performed a killing in service of his government has provided to society an act of utility. He has done what he was instructed to, and in reasonable societies we tend to agree that people doing what we ask of them is a good thing.

    A veteran who has performed an extra-legal killing has committed an act of negative social utility. It’s probably a sign of something that it’s much more difficult to define what is a “good” act (within our social framework), but the point is that acts of negative social utility are easily recognized. We have endless volumes of laws and regulations delineating them, after all. It’s illegal. Illegal equals bad. But beyond that, there is no utility to an extra-legal killing. Society provides protections to certain people in certain circumstances because they are of import. Law-abiding citizens are — in theory — protected from random acts of violence because they abide the law. The invisible hand of society attempts to reward those individuals who act in its best interest. By corollary, it punishes those who do not, which is why the normal prohibition on murder and the rest of your otherwise inalienable rights are effectively revoked when certain conditions are met.

    Given that “good” and “evil” are so heavily entrenched in societal mores, it’s fair to say that acts of good and evil can only be qualified as such within a social framework that provides for their existence in the first place. When we discuss good and evil WITHIN the framework of society, it becomes a tangled, messy bramble of value judgments. We start discussing which acts are personally reprehensible, and at the core of it all are millions of disparate, completely subjective assessments. It’s much cleaner and more succinct to abstract away that very personal layer and try to grok the will of society as an approximate whole under the assumption that society’s unified, official expressions represent most broadly the value systems of its composite individuals.