Friday, April 1, 2011

In a Kafkaesque scenario America is beating its plowshares into swords and teaching war evermore.

“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6).
There are two news stories filling our days. One is about the Washington debate over a federal budget. The other is about our military attack on Libya. These matters are more important than to leave them to the politicians and talk show pundits. They are spiritual issues and they cry out for a spiritual response.

On the other side of the planet, the United States has launched some 200 Cruise missiles into Libya at a cost of nearly 300 billion dollars. That downed plane cost $60 million. The tab will exceed a billion dollars in addition to the 1.2 trillion spent on Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001 but doesn’t include the unfunded liability for those wars which will bring the total amount we have to borrow from the future to more than 3 trillion dollars.

Even if we agree to render unto Uncle Sam that which belongs to Uncle Sam, we need also render unto God that which belongs to God. My Bible says that is what we choose to give to “the least of these” our brothers and sisters. But in a Kafkaesque scenario America is instead beating its plowshares into swords and teaching war evermore.
In our name and on our authority, the same government that is spending billions making war is in the process of eliminating basic life needs programs for children, the poor, the hungry, the homeless and low-income women, infants and children. 
The proposed 2011 federal budget pulls the rug out from under affordable housing, job training, community health centers, and low-income heating assistance. This from the same President and Congress that agreed to extend Bush era-tax cuts last December at a cost $6.7 billion through estate planning loopholes alone.  Meanwhile, they argue it is fiscally necessary to impose $7.6 billion cuts to domestic programs for the least of these our brothers and sisters.

Certainly we have a budget deficit that demands action. However, the budget reflects more than how much money our government is authorized to spend. It establishes the ethical and moral priorities of the wealthiest, most powerful nation on earth. A nation that has money to launch missiles and drop bombs but cannot afford to care for the least of these forfeits its claim to be a faithful nation.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2)
It is time to make a statement, presenting my body as a living sacrifice. I will join religious leaders and believers nationwide in a prayerful fast following the path taken by Esther after being admonished by Mordecai. “For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise … from another quarter, but you and your father's house will perish. Then Esther told them, "Go … and hold a fast on my behalf, and neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. (Esther 4: 13-16)
Others will choose a different way. I will fast each week until the final budget decision is made, starting each Friday at the time Muslims are called to midday prayer and continuing through the Jewish Shabbat, breaking my fast at sundown at the end of the Christian Sabbath.
I have no illusions about the impact of my action on the national debate. It will likely be as noisy as the tree that falls in a forest when no one is there to hear. But this is my way of rendering unto God that which belongs to God.
“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6).

1 comment:

  1. A prayer for congress:
    Isaiah 10
    1 Woe to those who make unjust laws,
    to those who issue oppressive decrees,
    2 to deprive the poor of their rights
    and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,
    making widows their prey
    and robbing the fatherless.