I was a soldier before I had my Near Death Experience(NDE). I was privy to how wars were planned and how wars were sold to the public. Even before I joined the military, as a teenager, I spent much of my free time playing tactical and strategic war games. I enjoyed simulating the wars of the past. In High School I took classes to prepare me to be in the military. I took paramilitary classes each week that had a program that provided me an opportunity to fly airplanes. I wore army boots to school even. I was gung ho. I loathed liberals and viewed them as enemies of God. Today, I see the labels liberal and conservative as just opposite sides of the same coin. Both liberals and conservatives believe there is an us & them. My Near Death Experience changed that about me.
As a product of fundamentalist theology, I very much bought into left and right way of thinking. My opinion at the time was the notion that Liberals hated America and freedom. Conservatives in my world-view believed in the American Dream and God, which in my mind were one in the same. I literally believed that liberals were the enemy of God and country. My preachers and often President also seemed to agree with my world-view. My preacher would say how proud he was of the returning soldiers from Vietnam who visited from the military. He would often take a scriptural shot at so-called evil Communists and Atheists in the sermons when those soldiers came to visit. When Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union the "Evil Empire," I was even more than convinced that God was on America's side and I could justify the cadence songs we sang about while we marched and double timed to songs about killing, murder, and rape of God's enemies. I say justify but still there was some dissonance when I sang,
"We are going to rape, kill, pillage, burn!
We are going to rape, kill, pillage, burn! & eat babies!
Rape, kill, pillage, burn!
We are going to rape, kill, pillage, burn! "
I was a Fundamentalist Christian before I went into the military and even before my NDE. Still, before meeting God, I knew that God had no hand in any of those kinds of actions...but...
I rationalized that I was going to have to do evil things for the greater good. Killing was justifiable in my belief system if I was to protect God's people from Communists, Liberals and Muslims.
The oil crisis of the 70's made the Middle East a strategic location. Following a hostage crisis in Iran, when we were on the brink of war, the running conversation around the military was how we were going to turn Iran into a sea of glass(with super heated sand) from nuclear bombs we were going to drop on them. I was okay with that.
We were briefed just before the hostages in Iran. The men telling us how to destabilize the Muslim nations came from intelligent sounding men about the Middle East and its strategic importance. They made killing thousands of Muslims sound as if
it was no more than squashing a fly with newspaper. Iranians and Muslims in general were evil in my fundamentalist estimation. Killing Muslims seemed just like killing evil NAZI's in the war games I played as a teen.
I was also okay with our strategy told to us by intelligent sounding men of destabilizing Middle Eastern countries by assassinating Muslim clerics and leaders who were Anti-American or Anti-Israeli. I was okay with destroying Muslim water supplies and destroying their electricity grids. You can't fight if you have no water. And not just Iran but every Muslim nation. We were told the primary strategic mission of Israel and America was to keep the Muslims fighting with each other to keep them from unifying against us. We would accomplish this by selling or giving weapons to both sides of rival tribes and nations. To create rival Muslim tribes and Muslim nations we were told we could also disguise ourselves as Muslims and kill other Muslims and blame our actions on opposing tribes or nations. As long as Muslims were fighting amongst each other, war could be averted. When I hear that evil terrorists have attacked America today, I can't help but think that America is being strategically gamed by those same P.H.D.'s who were running war colleges and think tanks when I was in the military over 25 years ago. They said it didn't matter what we did as long as the media reported what happened with an American or Israeli slant on stories that villainized Muslims and put America and Israel in the best light. Not only the media, but the military needed America's religious leaders to actively encourage support for the military. This was a critical need to keep the religious communities on the side of the military. Once you know this, you can't go back to unknowing it. Today is no different than it was way back when but unlike those days, today we are actually in a war with Muslims in Iraq & Afganistan and America is planning another war with Iran. Today, I have discernment enough to know that the media or a preacher saying we have been attacked by terrorists to justify war may be nothing more than propaganda and in fact we may have even attacked ourselves to convince the public that war is necessary.
When I joined the military, I was taught that what liberals thought was propaganda and what I was taught was "the truth." Following my NDE, I came back and viewed people in a different light. I was still in the military but I didn't want to kill anyone anymore. I was useless as a soldier at this point. I knew with certainty that the God of my NDE did not hate Muslims, Liberals or Atheists ...or anyone...we were all of us children of the light.
I met another being in my NDE. This super-being controlled the Earth and recorded every movement within it. Some people might say this being is God but I met what I called "God" in heaven and this super-being I met who controlled the Earth did not have the same personality as the God I met in heaven. The God of heaven is "love" but this other being was not love. I have discerned that the whole "us versus them" way of perceiving the world was the work of none other than the god of this world.
The more I learn, the more I understood that much of what I have been told by the media and preachers is propaganda. There were powerful men in the world whose whole mission in life is to make their citizens believe outright lies. Today is the same only the propaganda machine is even more powerful than it was when I was a young man. Know you are being lied to. Once you know then you either think it is okay to believe lies or you try to see beyond the lies. I am now on this journey to see beyond the propaganda.
When I was in the military, my fellow soldiers were planning to go to war with Iran. It is not so different from today. We supposedly were doing so way back when to protect our interests in the Middle East. Today it is the same. Israeli PHD's came to tell us how to destabilize every Muslim nation through outright attacks on their infrastructure and deception. Their counterparts and students are doing the same work today. They were the experts and we were their willing students. Destabilizing the Middle East could be accomplished with air-land-sea power but this was very expensive. Wars also turned the stomachs of the liberal citizens all around the world. Some lesson we apparently forgot.
The military was very fearful of liberals turning public opinion against them. It was not said outright but liberals in general were considered by those in the military to be the enemy. Winning the media and pulpit war silenced the liberals and this propaganda war was just as important as winning air-land-sea wars around the globe. This I understood.
I know it seems there is a good reason to kill other people and if you read your Bible you may even justify wars and killing. The Bible is filled with what may appear to be justifiable wars, sacrifice, and murder. Some of the wanton bloodshed it is even attributed to God. I can tell you this, God is not in the killing business. God is love. In my NDE, I met God and when I returned to my body I found God in my Bible but I read words like turning the other cheek and that sounded like the voice of God and they jumped out at me and reminded me of the God I met in heaven as opposed to an "eye for an eye" in other parts of the Bible. Words like God is merciful pooped out to me in the Torah. While I am not a sutdent of the Koran, I am certain that God who is love can be found in its pages...
It is very common to assume there is an "us and them" when one has a fundamentalist theological outlook, be it Jewish, Christian, Muslim or any religion that claims they have the only path to eternity. If you belong to "us" you go to heaven and if you belong to "them" then you are doomed. Those with fundamentalist outlooks may feel so strongly about their faith that they feel they can overlook the dissonance they feel about wars and killing they read in their sacred texts and their absolute belief that God is love. The fundamentalist can forgive themselves, soldiers, terrorists, and zealot teachers who kill or teach others that killing is justifiable for the greater good they perceive comes from overcoming the evil enemies of God...but the God I met in heaven loves my enemies... In fact, our souls are made out of God(light)...If I respond to killing by killing then I am killing myself.
In my own faith, Peter cuts off the ear of one of the soldiers coming to arrest Jesus; Peter was afraid and Jesus told him to put away his sword. This is the same Peter who would deny Jesus three times who was again afraid for his own life. Should a person who knows without a doubt that we will survive this world be too concerned about defending himself or his nation from human enemies? We can choose Peter's way of responding to violence by pulling out our swords at every perceived or imagined threat but should one respond from a place of fear or love? If you believe killing is love then you are rationalizing.
My friend says,"When Roman soldiers believed upon Jesus, and asked Him what they should do, He replied that they should carry out their duties honestly, and not abuse anyone. I note, He did not tell them to quit the military and lay down their weapons, and remove their uniform. I believe our military has acted conscientiously, which also includes the prosecution of our own soldiers who have committed crimes.
But, in war there are also ambiguities. It is a hellish situation."
I was a soldier and following my NDE, I came to understand that I was not in anything that looked like the "Lord's Army" that I sang about long ago in Sunday School. I was in an army that protected the strategic interests of America. I was in an army of what I once thought of as a "necessary evil" but if you think that the American version of the "Roman" army is not abusing anyone then you may not have heard of the over 650,000 Iraqis who have been killed since America invaded them. Ask the families of those with dead sons and daughters if they have been abused. It is difficult to understand because the media and preachers are so bought and paid for. If you think we are in just wars then I would ask you if you believe America and Israel are blameless? I do not believe it for a second. If they are not blameless then the propaganda machine controlling the media and pulpit is not blameless either. Turning the other cheek has a reward but when we disregard this this opportunity we give our strength away.
I believe the god of this world called God, Yahweh, or Allah by the bulk of the fundamentalist theologies in the world is very much concerned about wars. The God of this world has his minions called priests, rabbis, and clerics...princes, kings, bankers, industrialists, movie and television producers, newspaper and television reporters, professors, CEO's, policeman, soldiers...and all kinds of principalities and powers under his control....
When I was a child the preachers in my community called blacks, "niggers" but when it was not okay to say "nigger" out loud my fundamentalist preachers switched to be more subtle and began insulting those on welfare. Muslims in my days in the Army were the new "niggers" who were okay to hate. Hating on Muslims fell out of popularity so now
we can hate and kill Muslims be they hundreds of thousands of innocent women and children if we call them "terrorists." But who is terrorizing whom? The art of propaganda is very refined today... but here is the rule that I discern with...If it is from the God I met in heaven then the message is love...and it does not judge ...If the message is about flesh and fleshly things then God can not even see it and it is not love... Their is no faith in love while putting others("them") down to make "us" feel taller.
I have visited many many churches, since my NDE. If the message from the pulpit is love then I am on board but as the public is strongly opposed to war the fundamentalist are still for it...and why... because the preachers, priests, and clerics are deceived by the god of this world and they are just Pharisees of this age... If they read the Bible, Koran, Torah or any written or spoken word and justify killing in God's name then they missed the point. God is love... Peace is Patriotic.... Love wins in the end....so why not live like it?