You’ve been duped.
In his letter, “Pastor doesn’t get the point of how to treat one another” (Dec. 7, 2015), Charles Hudson presents himself as nothing more than an objective local reader who simply has a “dream” about world peace, and who has taken offense at my article, “Thankful for the military, not Madonna” (Nov. 25, 2015). Interestingly, he refers to me formally, as if we have never met.
Charlie didn’t happen to mention to you that (a) he was a parishioner of mine for some five years, (b) we had many spirited discussions about U.S. military interventions, and conservative (mine) versus liberal (his) views of such, over those years, and (c) he is a vehement opponent of any form of military activity, did he? Didn’t think so.
So, when Charlie opened your Thanksgiving issue to read an article written by me thanking the military for their service, I can only imagine that his emotions got the best of him. That’s regrettable since, based on his response to my column, that anger kept him from actually reading it. Making matters worse, he then read words like “naive” and “silly” rightly applied to simplistic, head-in-the-sand thinking, with which he apparently identified.
Unfortunately, instead of just calling me for a discussion between people who know each other and have different opinions on military interventions, he felt it was better to take a more public shot at me and my views. And that’s perfectly fine.
I call it like I see it; he can too. And heck, I would agree with him if he was right. But to not respond is to give his dangerous approach credence.
For those who have read Charlie’s relentless letters to local newspapers over the years, that there were multiple ideological and pragmatic problems with his letter was no surprise. Let me point to just a few.
First, Charlie has always confused military activity with violence. Using faulty reasoning, he sees them as one and the same. They are certainly not. To him, any military activity means those actions are “violent,” and therefore should always be avoided.
Second, Charlie, who as an American has benefitted greatly from our military’s interventions, takes this erroneous thinking further. He clearly believes that since pastors support “non-violence,” they should all therefore have anti-military views. And so, it’s no wonder that he’d be quite bothered by the fact that I — or any pastor — would support our military and their actions to keep us safe.
In Charlie’s world, a pastor’s job is to be a kind of spineless milquetoast character, always capitulating in an attempt to avoid confrontation. Not only does such a view have no biblical foundation, Charlie has yet to explain how that works when a group of people vows to blow up your cities and kill anyone in their way.
Third, Charlie complains that I referred to Madonna as naive “in her belief of dignity and respect for all human beings.” Simply untrue. Anyone who actually read the column understood my assertion that Madonna was naïve in her belief that by simply being nice to each other we will change ISIS’ desire to kill those they see as infidels. (I specifically wrote, “It does not appear ISIS has gotten Madonna’s memo.”) But Charlie was more interested in justifying to himself the writing of another letter from the world of Pollyanna, a world where no one has to pay for the freedoms and rights he enjoys.
Fourth, Charlie seems upset that I used the word “silly” to describe “coexist” bumper stickers. He implies that I just don’t get “the point” of such messages. Maybe I don’t. Still, let me be clear about what I did say.
“Coexist” is a very nice concept, but it will not work when one group you are trying to “coexist” with wants to stop you from “existing.” And that is “the point.”
Perhaps instead of sending yet another letter to newspapers, Charlie might consider writing to French president Hollande, the families of the victims of recent attacks, our U.S. generals, and other world military leaders trying to counter the evil that is ISIS. I’m sure they would immediately change their strategy upon hearing Charlie’s instruction to just “go in peace,” because after all, he’s “pretty sure Jesus would.”
Ultimately, the realities Charlie has failed to see are two-fold. First, while no one likes military interventions abroad, they are sometimes necessary to protect us at home. (As I write this, it appears last week’s attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., were perpetrated by radicalized Islamists.)
Second, while all Christians value good works — which I said in my column — the cause of the attacks in Paris and other cities is not rooted in our thoughts or actions, but rather in the ideology of radical Islamists terrorists known as ISIS. And I’m “pretty sure” they couldn’t care less what Jesus would do.
While I believe Charlie should’ve been less disingenuous with you about the circumstances surrounding his letter, I also have hope for him — hope that he will cease living in his “dream” world and embrace the one that actually exists. If he chooses not to, such a decision is not only dangerous, it is also — well — naive and silly.
I say again, thank God for those who serve in our military. For by God, they keep us safe.