By Bruce Sloan
Some major international financial newspapers have given the lead on the need of war with Syria. The Vatican called for a day of prayer for peace. Politicians around the world are looking at each other as they read tea leaves to see what their constituents desire.
In all of the tragedy unfolding in Syria, the plight of the two million homeless Syrians, the hundreds of bodies wrapped in white linen from the sarin gas attack, and the streaming of blood-covered news accounts of the war within Syria, the church in the United States has enjoyed the comfort of liturgical readings, heavenly incense and the Daily Office.
The Financial Times of London recently headed its opinion page: “The moral case for intervention in Syria.” The drum of business beats that “to do nothing” is the worst decision of all. This is from a Sept. 1article in the Wall Street Journal: “Leading From Behind Congress, Obama recklessly gambles with American credibility.” War is good for business and so “Congress should give the President more ability to respond to reprisals, support the Syrian opposition and assist our allies if they are attacked.”
After a very gracious bow to Queen Rania of Jordan, Pope Francis issued a challenging sermon on the following Sunday for peace in the Syrian conflict. He further called for a day of fasting for peace for Sept. 7. King Abdullah II and Queen Rania have been a voice of peace in the region of Syria. It is significant that King Abdullah II would seek some voice of hope for his region in rage.
The military forces are ready with a clear understanding of a “Just War.” The business community is ready with their moral case, and the political will of elected officials is simmering to make a decision. So, where is the voice of the living church of God?
This might be a good time to read again, Thomas Merton on Peace, Daniel Berrigan’s To Dwell In Peace, or Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship, which challenged the cheap grace that the church professes when dealing with the state. Or perhaps, even more radical, we need a clergy today that is listening to the Creator God.
The cultural malaise of human thought can be led, adjusted or persuaded into the most horrific of acts. Or it can be called by the prophet to a way that transcends barriers and impossibilities to the justice that God deems for the Creation. When the prophet is disconnected from God, the results are tragic. And a Syrian tragedy could be that the prophets are silent.
Where is the voice of God? It is within your voice this week.
Bruce Sloan, written at Angel’s Rest, Sewanee, Tenn.
Bruce Sloan has been a religious leader for the expat community for the past 10 years. He has served in Asia, South America, and eastern Europe. He is a native of Bainbridge, Ga., and an ordained Southern Baptist pastor. He has served as a spiritual director at the School of Theology at the University of the South. The home of his heart is his cabin in Sewanee, Tenn.