“What is the defining event of America? World War II, because what Americans are dying to have is something worth dying for. War becomes the great event in American life, because that’s when we send the young out to die and be killed. To die in wars, to give us the belief as Americans that we think there’s something worth dying for—to die for who your democratically elected leader says you should die for, and to protect the sacrifices of the last war.

“It’s an extraordinary sacrificial system, but sacrificing to the wrong god—Mars. I admire people for making the great sacrifice of their unwillingness to kill. But it’s the wrong sacrifice. Christianity is an alternative to that sacrificial system. We believe the ultimate sacrifice has been made, and you don’t have to repeat it over and over again in the name of nations.”

-Stanley Hauerwas

For God, Not Country
The un-American theology of Stanley Hauerwas
by Mark Oppenheimer

Periodically I drive a stake in the ground, something concrete for my myriad thoughts to cling to. This is one. I am not a nationalist. I’ve wrestled with my nationalisitc demons since I was a young high school student. I couldn’t imagine anything life-giving coming from the nationalism and milistarism that was propagated in my community. The violence was stifling and incoherent.

I traveled a little. That was good for the borders of my mind. I moved to Chiraq. Taking up residence in a violent neighborhood was one of the strangest things I’ve ever done. I thought it would expand my understanding. But instead I have fortified myself from it. I’ve watched arrests, beatings, car fires, humans on fire. All from behind closed, locked, shuttered windows. Hauerwas posits that Christians are witnesses. They are the keepers of memory. Am I?

Each time I drive a stake, I can begin to gather my thoughts, projecting for myself a new way in which to be and live. What has taken up residence where nationalism most naturally resides? Some more passive version of the same thing? A penchant for materialism, a bent for capitalism, a heart for my own welfare above the welfare of others?

Good for me, I am not a nationalist. I declare it every week as I a partake of the Eucharist. Christ became death for us.

Have I become life for anyone?