Now, the United States is not unique in its idolatrous worship of its military forces. In doing this, we have a very long and proud pedigree of the other imperial powers of history. We say that we trust in God to keep us safe, but deep down, we know damn well that there are hundreds of billion dollars being spent every year to do the same job using soldiers and weaponry. And if we lost that capacity for violence, I wonder who would have the courage to actually trust God in its absence?
The early Church had that kind of courage, and thousands of martyrs lived out their conviction to the very end. They had their faith, and their dependence on God, but they did not have our society’s recourse to massive violence to enforce our will all over the world. If there was any shock and awe in Rome at the time, it was shock and awe that someone believed in something strongly enough to give up their life – and not as a soldier, who is also trying to take lives, but as one who rejects both violence and fear.
We can look at our idolatrous worship of our military in the sense that where our treasure is, there our heart is also. Our military spending is greater than the next ten nations combined. Our economy was never de-militarized when WWII ended, and I doubt it ever will be. Because we worship our military. We have to feed the thing that we trust to keep us safe, and that thing is most certainly not God.
We can also look at our idolatrous worship of our military in the sense that we turn to it to accomplish our aims almost unfailingly. When the US has an “interest” in a region of the world, that means we have troops there or we want to have troops there. We put our pistis in our military.
Our worship of the military is caught up in our worship of the flag. We think of the American flag as sanctified by the blood of soldiers who have died in the past. But what was sanctified by the people those soldiers killed? Other flags? Other soil?
In our military we trust. It should go on our currency. Because the real test is – do you trust God when you don’t have a gun as well? Or when no one is standing in your place with a gun? Do you dare trust God when you have disarmed yourself, of violence and the weapons of privilege? Because that’s what trust means.
Take some time, and listen to our language when we talk about the military. We talk about hallowed ground, sacred sites, martyrs, heroes, sacrifice – these are religious terms, and they describe an idolatry that we hold dear in the US.