This Isn’t It

by Andrew Stephens-Rennie

I don’t know that I know where to begin.

“A measure of justice” said Harper.

“Very, very good news,” echoed Ignatieff.

But is it?

A stark image circulating the web over the past few days depicts two very similar victory parties. Neither of them have anything to do with the Canadian election.

The first in Palestine, taken following the 9/11 attacks. The other in DC after Osama’s assassination on May 1st.

Anyone see the resemblance? The connection? It doesn’t matter what side of this thing you’re on, you’re still wrong. Darkness will not be overcome with darkness. Just saying. MLK might have my back on that one. The apostle Paul, too.

At least we can be thankful nobody’s going to tell Al Qaeda to prove everything’s cool by heading out to shop. A stand against idolatry – how novel to these Western eyes.

Meanwhile, hours later on Oprah, Obama’s rapping about the American Dream. “The American dream is slipping away,” he says, “I want people to once again feel like, ‘If I’m working hard and doing the right thing, opportunity is right there for me to grab.”

Because it’s all that easy. We work hard, we get what we want. Welcome to the church of Joel Osteen. Those two ought to take their show on the road or work out a cross-promotion of some kind. Is it strange that Obama’s dream sounds eerily like this passage from “Your Best Life Now”?

Keep doing the right thing. God is building character in you, and you are passing that test. Remember, the greater the struggle, the greater the reward.

Appropriate for Oprah, I suppose. Appropriate for the guardian of the American dream (if that’s a dream worth guarding). Completely inappropriate for a Christian or a supposedly Christian nation (whatever that is).

Driscoll declares, “Justice Wins,” poking at Rob Bell, while reveling in God’s judgment executed at the hands of American Special Ops. This Jesus could kick my ass. Bin Laden’s been handed his, and I’m wondering if I have to retire my Birkenstocks or suffer a similar fate.

As I said before, I don’t know that I know where to begin.

This morning Mike Todd shared these reflections on his blog:

Obviously the killing of Osama bin Laden has been a topic of discussion. One American friend shared of her experience at the airport n Nairobi yesterday. Picture this visual if you can: CNN playing video of Americans rejoicing on the TV set up on the wall, while an older Muslim man knelt on his prayer rug just beneath the TV at the gate. She shared that this was not her proudest moment.

Another friend, a South African living and doing amazing work in Mozambique, shared an experience from last year when Terry jones first started threatening to burn a copy of the Koran. My friend was in a shop in a very Muslim part of town, talking with the shopkeeper. He wanted to know what my friend did, and although he wisely tried to avoid the question, it eventually came out that he was a Christian. Before he knew what was happening, the shopkeeper’s elderly mother came out from around the counter and started to beat him with half a broomstick they used for security. He told us of the setbacks he has experienced in his relationships with Muslim friends.

Here, half way around the world, actions still have consequences.

Actions still have consequences. Lest we forget. Lest we forget the consequences of actions that resonate around the world. Lest we forget the peril of creating martyrs. Lest we forget the legacy of war and bloodshed and murder.

But then, it seems that perhaps we have either forgotten, or swallowed the emperor’s Kool-Aid.

In the garden, just prior to his arrest and execution, Jesus chastises his disciple for cutting off the High Priest’s servant’s ear. Jesus restores the servant’s ear, as if to echo the refrain resonating throughout Matthew’s gospel: “Let those with ears listen.”

Let them not only be hearers of my word, but doers. Swords become ploughshares. What does that mean for JSOC? Nothing, today. We’re satisfied, and so is our perverted sense of justice (albeit in a sober manner). Will love win? Will any good come of this?

Love is not a victory march, but we’ll treat it that way. Bleeding hearts like these will get crucified for suggesting that there is another way to peace. We’ll spin it. We’ll tell the world that Good Has Won The Day.

And well it has. This just isn’t it.

Andrew Stephens-Rennie on FacebookAndrew Stephens-Rennie on Twitter
Andrew Stephens-Rennie
Andrew is a writer, dreamer and organizer with a keen interest in developing leaders in faith, compassion and justice.

He currently serves as the Director of Missional Renewal for the Anglican Diocese of Kootenay on the unceded territories of the Sinixt, Syilx, and Ktunaxa nations. He previously served as the Director of Ministry Innovation at Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, BC.

Andrew is cofounder and contributing editor at, and co-editor of "A Sort of Homecoming: Essays Honoring the Academic and Community Work of Brian Walsh" with Marcia Boniferro and Amanda Jagt.

5 Responses to “This Isn’t It”

  1. Leah

    America is not and never was a Christian nation. It was not founded on Christian principles, nor does the constitution ever mention God. Not even once. Yup yup. Them’s the facts.

  2. andrew

    Trick Question: What nation that continually invokes the name and blessing of God has not, in fact, created that God in its own image?

  3. Djas

    The government itself may not have been based upon christian principles, but the culture certainly was. See, Albert J. Raboteau, Slave Religion: The “Invisible Institution” in the Antebellum South (1978), OR Mark Noll, A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada (1992).

    Steven J. Keillor, This Rebellious House: American History and the Truth of Christianity (1996) has the best argument for America as a Christian Nation. Keillor argued that the institutions and philosophies governing American society, were established by a populace rebelling against the divine revelation of biblical truth. Basically Americans have known the teachings of Jesus and have continually chosen to do otherwise. Judging from the tone of your comment you would probably enjoy Keillor’s book.

  4. A Reflection on Violence « Empire Remixed

    […] of God, and of God’s church. That’s why earlier this week we posted some initial reflections here, and linked to Miroslav Volf’s own perspective […]

  5. John Kirstein

    Don DeLillo’s two novels “Underworld” and “Falling Man” (specifically about 9/11), and his baffling “Omega Point” (some very strange observations about knowledge, technology, for lack-of-better words “theory of the human” in the face of post-every contemporary-American-military-strategy) have been for me an interrogation-that-nuances this whole conversation, making me appreciate all the more most of every Andrew, Brian, and Geoff writes…but saturating it with a kind of irony that is hard to shake, or picking up on an ironic vision (perhaps unto nihilism, lord have mercy) through which I filter my “first-world” christian discipleship.
    ….It is also perhaps in Michael Ondaantjie’s “In a skin of a lion”…but “it” is not named yet for me. Also, well most definitely, in Dostoevsky’s “underground man”…


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