Within hours of President Obama's speech on Afghanistan, his warlords took to the media to reassure us that the 2011 withdrawal was a word game that didn't mean what we all thought we heard. Indeed it is clear that our role in the global order is to be the muscle that ensures corporate pillage of earth's resources. We are no longer even pretending to live under the ideals of freedom and justice encoded by law. Rather we are just like imperial Rome doing what it pleases and crucifying its enemies.
However, if you are a member of a faith community, or if you pride yourself with the spiritual but not religious label, what is held in common by all is the massive and intentional denial and avoidance of the reality that our American culture and character has changed, that our hearts have been hardened. What you will not hear, nor will you be taught, is how to live as a maladjusted citizen in an empire at permanent war. What you will not hear, nor will you be taught, is how to cultivate spiritual resistance to a culture of institutional violence that has made sacred its way of life.
Instead, faith communities will tell you that there is still hope, there is still goodness, there is still the possibility of inner peace with outward holiness. But what if all of us spiritual leaders are wrong? What if we have all been seduced by our paychecks and are too afraid to engage our congregations with the truly fearful news that God is no longer for us, but against us? What if we leaders spiritually discerned that our lives are complicit and soaked in the blood of the poor, and in the slaughter of the earth itself? What if America, having left behind goodness, has become an enemy of God, an enemy of earth's welfare, an enemy of the destitute, an enemy of persons who simply want to live outside the domination of free market capitalism? What if our only future is the humiliation of defeat, followed by our self-inflicted collapse and destruction?
Have you ever heard a spiritual leader voice such thoughts? Ever been part of a spiritual community struggling with such thoughts? Ever wonder if our spirituality is deceptive, helping us lie about the Truth? Or let me ask it this way: Do you really think that the times in which we are living merely need a small adjustment, a reform here and there, and everything will bounce back to normal? Or, are we living in a time of the great turning, a time of tremendous pain and agonizing sacrifice when what was crumbles into dust, and that which comes to birth is a radical reorientation from that which we've known?
Maybe we have become like that sick man whom Jesus asked, "Do you really want to be healed?" Maybe we really don't.