What Reborn on the Fourth of July ultimately does is provide testimony that such a faithful journey is possible, that a person can excel as a soldier (as Mr. Mehl-Laituri clearly did), can love and feel responsible to one's brothers-in-arms (as Mr. Mehl-Laituri certainly did), and can feel it is wrong to kill another human being. Shane Claiborne points out in his Foreword that we rightly trust the testimony of a soldier involved in combat more than we do a roomful of so-called experts or commentators. I have never been in battle, and God willing, will never be. My own opposition to war and violence is theoretical and theological (and God willing, may it remain so!). But as Mr. Claiborne explains,
What's exceptional about Logan is that his commitment to peace did not come from reading a bunch of books or watching indie films. . . . Logan's heart for peace comes from simply reading the Bible and wanting to follow Jesus. His nonviolence comes from seeing the cost of war and how different it looks from the gospel of Jesus. It's hard to argue with someone who hates war because they've lived war. (10)
So it is. And because of this faithful life, here so well remembered, Reborn on the Fourth of July just might be that rare anti-war artifact that people could pay as much attention to as the violent and entertaining versions of war they consume on game consoles, movie and TV screens, and in print.
"I still wrestle with what to do when my nation does things that I cannot in good conscience support," Mr.Mehl-Laituri writes, "things that make me not just cringe but shake with disgust." (177) And so should all of us be wrestling with such things.
This book might help us do just that.
Visit the Patheos Book Club for more conversation on Reborn on the Fourth of July.