Far too much latitude is given in professions of faith in this country. Undue weight is given to rhetoric and too little is conceded to action --how a person lives her or his life. Declarations of faith are not evidence of faith. Going to a garage does not make a person a car. Neither does going to church make one a Christian. Meeting an apostle of God, no matter which religion one ascribes to, is a memorable event. You will know when you stand in divine presence. Such meetings, however, are very rare, which suggests that the genuine article is not easily manufactured. Cheap imitations, the counterfeit, are quite common because they can be easily produced. But we should not accept imitations as the real thing.
Tom Fox, a member of the non-missionary Christian Peacekeeping Team, was the genuine article. We know this beyond all doubt by the way Tom Fox lived his life; by his long devotion to the causes that mattered to him. Being Christian amid a sea of impostors cannot be easy. It is dangerous work. As in the case of Christ himself, it may lead to crucifixion. Real Christians, as exemplified by the CPT, will always find themselves in formal opposition to U.S. policies of global domination and empire. But the apostles of wealth and empire, those who merely claim to be Christian, will sanction these same polices and proclaim they are the work of God. They are not.
Mr. Fox was executed by his captors in Iraq. His body turned up late last week with bullets to the head and chest. The fate of his fellow captives remains unknown. Execution, accentuated by possible torture, was a fate that Tom Fox did not deserve; but he, as a man of faith, willingly incurred the risk of doing God 's work amid so much godlessness and ruin. But this is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak.
By all accounts, Tom Fox lived a life exemplified by his gentle soul, a generosity of spirit and strength that endeared him to his peers --traits of character that led him to a life of service not to his country, but to his God. Religion does not recognize, nor is it constrained by nationality or geopolitical boundaries. Unfortunately, that is rarely how it is taught here.
Tom Fox 's beliefs were stated in the CPT 's statement of Conviction: "We reject the use of violent force to save our lives should we be kidnapped, held hostage, or caught in the middle of a violent conflict situation. We also reject violence to punish anyone who harms us. We ask for equal justice in the arrest and trial of anyone, soldier or civilian, who commits an act of violence, and we ask that there be no retaliation on their relatives or property. We forgive those who consider us their enemies. Therefore, any penalty should be in the spirit of restorative justice, rather than in the form of violent retribution. " Love thy neighbor. Tom lived and died by this biblical credo.
Contrast this mission statement, signed by Tom Fox, with the actions of George Bush. Consider the scale of the horror and bloodshed this man has wrought on hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Ponder, if you can, the unspeakable horror he has visited upon countless thousands of families, under the fallacious moral authority of a stolen Christianity he neither owns nor comprehends. It is plain to see who the Christian is and who is the impostor.
In a piece called "Fight or Flight? "written on November 30, 2005, Tom Fox made an important distinction between real Christians and the much more common impostors who misuse religion to serve empire and material conquest. He wrote, "The French theologian Rene Girard has a very powerful vision of Satan that speaks to me: Satan sustains himself as a parasite on what God creates by imitating God in a manner that is jealous, grotesque, perverse and as contrary as possible to the loving and obedient imitation of Jesus. "
How could any words define George Bush and his followers more perfectly or succinctly? What must Tom Fox have thought of this evil little man? No doubt, his reaction was not one of malice or hatred; but of pity and forgiveness. It requires inner strength and a generous spirit to forgive such malicious behavior --strength of character that I find sadly lacking in myself most of the time. Tom Fox was a far better man than I.
The astute observations of Rene Girard that so impressed Tom Fox defines exactly what George Bush, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell are. They are parasites of God masquerading as men of God for evil purposes. They imitate God in order to fool their sheepish cohorts into following what are in essence satanic policies. Their motives are betrayed by their hateful rhetoric, by acts of unprovoked violence against innocent civilians and the systematic killing of hope. Their allegiance is to Satan, not to God, as they profess.
Have we become so indoctrinated by the language of empire that we can no longer see the disconnect between these acts of terror and the non-violent teachings of Christ? Why are so many who call themselves Christians worshipping the parasites of god and empire, while shunning and betraying the genuine article?
George Bush, Pat Robertson, Falwell and the rest, have not so cleverly donned the garments of Christianity in order to deliberately mislead their helpless flocks, to press them into the service of Satan, while convincing them they are doing the will of God. Bush, just as he did when he appeared on the deck of that air craft carrier years ago wearing a leather flight jacket, betrays his ignorance about what the wearing of such garments entails. Donning an air force flight jacket does not make one a warrior, although it may make them look like one. Neither does donning the robes of Christianity make a man Christian, a servant of god.
Tom Fox understood the kind of devotion and service to humanity, particularly to the poor and the oppressed, that wearing the garments of Christianity required. Bush, a man born of wealth and privilege has no conception about what it means to labor, to sacrifice and to serve others. He is all about serving those of his kind --the enemies of peace, the violent oppressors of the poor and the just. Bush, like his predecessors, is taking from the poor and giving to the rich; he is fomenting violence and death all over the world --his actions, his life, cannot be reconciled in any way with the teachings of Jesus Christ. Bush is an apostle of class elitism, of wealth and empire, not of god.
Just as when he donned that flight jacket years ago --a jacket he did not earn the right to wear with honor by service --Bush dishonored all of those who genuinely earned theirs '. Similarly, he dishonors true Christians, men like Tom Fox, each time he dons the mere garments of Christianity and uses them in the service of Satan and empire building. Tom Fox devoted his life to the service of his god by intervening on behalf of the oppressed and the traumatized --the victims of George Bush 's military machine. A man cannot serve two masters.
It is difficult to fathom how easily people of faith can allow themselves to be deceived by the cheap imitations embodied by George Bush and his followers. We must learn the difference between the parasites of God and the servants of God --the two bear no resemblance to one another. It requires not only gross ignorance to brazenly don the garments of religion, without the years of service and self sacrifice they require of their wearer --it requires enormous hubris and contempt for integrity and honor. Balls without brains and conscience is a pitiful and grotesque sight.
Beware of any man who relies upon tricks and illusions to persuade people to follow him. That man is without substance --without heart and soul. Truth and justice are his enemies. He will go to great lengths to destroy them because they are all that keep him afloat upon the sea of lies he has created around himself. Such men sneak and cower and operate in secrecy. They must cloak their sinister purposes in euphemistic language to keep their crimes hidden from humanity. They are not what they appear to be. They don the garments of religion, the clothes of human decency, to conceal who they really are. Judge them not by what they say, by the clothes they wear; but by what they do and whom they serve. Follow the money trail and you will know who they are. They are fattened camels expecting to pass through the eye of a needle.
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