The Common Good

A Meditation on Christian Extremism: Blackwater and the Bonhoeffer 4

"You need to realize that war is money. And money makes the world go round. As soon as you realize that, the sooner you can fit in like the rest of us," said the police officer who recently arrested me and the other "Bonhoeffer 4" activists for disrupting the Talisman Sabre War Games, involving more than 20,000 U.S. and Australian soldiers. We were arrested for trespassing during the live fire of the War Games, bombs falling only 10 kms north of us. While being arrested, U.S. soldiers guarded us with M16s while we prayed for the victims of war and handed out Bibles to the soldiers and police who arrested us, singing spirituals for hours in the back of a paddy wagon. We were eventually put into solitary confinement, and were put on trial with nothing prepared to say other than a prayer for the Spirit's guidance.

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"[He] views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe." This statement comes from the sworn testimony of former Blackwater employees, about Blackwater owner Erik Prince. They have claimed in a federal court in Virginia that Prince "may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company," and that the company of this 'Christian crusader' "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life."

While I sat in solitary confinement for my actions as part of the Bonhoeffer 4, I thought of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther Kings Jr.'s "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" and his words: "So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be."

I'd like to offer these two interviews about the actions of "The Bonhoeffer 4" and the alleged actions of Erik Prince with the words of Martin Luther King Jr. as a meditation on Christian extremism.

Interview 1:

"Civil Disobedience or just Naughty Christians?": Four anti-war protesters risked their lives recently, by entering defense land at Shoalwater Bay in Queensland, during live firing and bombing exercises...

Interview 2:

In Explosive Allegations, Ex-Employees Link Blackwater Founder to Murder, Threats: Murder, destruction of evidence, weapons smuggling, corruption-those are just some of the explosive allegations made by two former employees of the private military contractor formerly known as Blackwater.

Martin Luther King Jr.:

Letter from a Birmingham Jail: ...though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." ... So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime--the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth, and goodness... [p]erhaps [our] world is in dire need of creative extremists.

Lord, empower us with your Holy Spirit that we may be creative extremists of your Calvary-shaped love for our hurting world.

[And all those who know our need of the grace of God's New World said...]

... Amen.

Watch a video of the Bonhoeffer 4 entering Shoalwater Bay Training Area to stop the Talisman Saber exercise.


portrait-jarrod-mckennaJarrod McKenna is seeking to live God's love as a new dad, husband, brother, and an evangelist. As a Vine and Fig Tree Planter, he plants "signs" on military bases that draw the connections between God's kingdom, militarism, and climate change. He is a co-founder of the Peace Tree Community, serving with the marginalized in one of the poorest areas in his city, heads up Together for Humanity in Western Australia (an interfaith youth initiative serving together for the common good), and is the founder and creative director of Empowering Peacemakers (EPYC), for which he has received an Australian peace award for his work in empowering a generation of (eco)evangelists and peace prophets.

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