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Speaking to the Soul: The Cost of War

Speaking to the Soul: The Cost of War

Proper 3, Year One

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]


Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 25 (morning) // 9, 15 (evening)

Deuteronomy 4:9-14

2 Corinthians 1:1-11

Luke 14:25-35

Jesus lays out the heavy cost of discipleship in today’s gospel reading. He warns us that we can’t be his disciples unless we “hate” our family members, hate “even life itself,” and give up everything we possess. We shouldn’t set out to follow Jesus unless we know precisely how much it will cost us.

To illustrate the importance of calculating the cost, Jesus uses an analogy from warfare: “what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace.” According to Jesus, kings know the absurdity of marching off to war without knowing the cost in terms of the number of lives that could be lost.

If only calculation in questions of war were always so clear. In the past weeks, a variety of presidential candidates have had to face the question, “Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion [of Iraq]?” Many politicians claim that if they’d had more accurate intelligence, or if they’d known the upfront cost to human life, they wouldn’t have gone to war.

People have been so insulated from the true cost of war, not least of all by the long prohibition on media coverage of the returned bodies of U. S. Armed Forces killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. But now many more people know the cost in human life and trauma, as well as how little peace that cost seems to have bought us.

Today, I want to cry out to Jesus, asking how on earth to be a self-giving and peace-making disciple in a world where Jesus’ own analogies don’t seem to hold. It’s much less obvious today that the “kings” of this world can or will calculate the true cost of war, or will be able to make peace by other means.

Nevertheless, this Memorial Day we honor, thank, and pray for those who have lost their loved ones, their lives, their all in war. Who paid the very price that Jesus asks of his disciples.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps  program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.


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The Rev Canon Mike Morrissey

Again, where is our PB or even one of our diocesans? Well, one place they aren’t is out on one of the front lines in flak jacket and helmet bringing solace to the families of the Christian Martyrs. Hmm, love progressives. Oh my goodness, we are so uninformed about war aren’t we? And, the progressive leadership keeps telling us about it.

Something about do as I say, not as I do??

BTW, just to be clear….I have the experience of being under fire and have held the dying.

David Allen

Please Canon, provide the link to all the activities about war in which you’ve been involved recently.

Bro David

PS – There wasn’t any censorship involved. Your comment was caught by automated moderating software. It took one of our team of volunteer editors, in this case me, to notice and let it out.

Helen Kromm

“People have been so insulated from the true cost of war, not least of all by the long prohibition on media coverage of the returned bodies of U. S. Armed Forces killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Such a prohibition has not existed since 2009, when at the request of President Obama, Secretary Gates overturned the prohibition. However, the press can be prohibited if the returning service member’s family requests that they not be in attendance. That is the only remaining prohibition.

That we see little if any press coverage of these events has nothing to with with the press being prohibited, but because people have no interest in such coverage. Very few people in this country are touched by war.

We have no draft. Active duty service members represent 1/2 of one percent of the population. The percentage of elected representatives with service experience is the lowest in this country’s history. We have not had a President touched by combat experience in over two decades.

The simple and very unpalatable reality here is that many Americans don’t perceive a cost to war because they aren’t touched by it.

Norman Hutchinson

Your last sentence is painfully true. What is also true is that we have seen so much of war reported in the 24 hour news cycle that we have become numb to its horrors. And if numb then unable to respond to the representatives of our government in any meaningful way that would change our answer to problems in the rest of the world by any means other than war.

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