Letter to Michael Coren

Dear Michael Coren,

It’s hard to know how to respond to your recent article in the Toronto Sun, "We should nuke Iran". You’ve received enough vitriole, some would say deserved. But I’m left wondering how to respond as a Christian, to a fellow Christian.

There is something so logical about your reasoning, so compatible with the way the world works, has always worked, that your conclusion to "nuke" Iran is inescapably obvious. And in this reasoning, those who disagree, tagged by you as the "usual suspects", appear as ideologues untethered from the real world. (even, as you say, post-Christian?)

But I don’t doubt that your concern is honourable. You don’t really want anyone to die. Your desire is only that along with the guilty–whose suicidal ways show that they wish their own death in any case–the fewest number of innocent people die. Better for a few innocent Iranians to perish, along with these martyrly types, than for the whole world to pay.

And the logic is compelling. Sacrificing a few innocent lives to get at all the guilty ones in order to stop a greater holocaust makes good sense. And it works…at least for a while. At least until another Iran arises or a coalition of Iran’s. And it works as long as we are willing to become indistinguishable from those elemental forces of anti-Semitism and West-hatred within Iran.

Of course your logic, that is, the logic of sacrificial-violence, has already moved us in that direction.

How is it that we followers of Christ continually use the same reasoning as Caiaphas? How is it we fail to see this as the same tired logic of sacrifice that has its roots in the "deep magic since the dawn of time"? to use a Chronicles of Narnia line. (I know that you are an ardent fan of C.S. Lewis.) This logic or "deep magic" or sacrificial system, was of course what got Christ lynched.

But the "deeper magic from before the dawn of time" is revealed in the resurrection. The sacrificial stone crumbles. Christ exposes us for what we are, sacrificers. Forgives us and asks us to follow in the same non-violent, non-sacrificial way. This is the logic of Christ and it is opposite the world’s logic of "redemptive"-violence.

The gospel is all about ending the bloodshed, all about ending the system of sacrifice, all about ending reciprocal violence and the ongoing exchange of victims. Of course to live in such as way as opposes the sacrificial mechanism may get you killed. Christ knew that. But to live in the realm of Satan’s casting out of Satan only feeds the victimizing machine. And there is no end to its appetite.

As a fellow Christian traveller I would ask you to reconsider your position. I would as well recommend a book by Gil Ballie, who like yourself is one of today’s intelligent and articulate Christian voices. The book is "Violence Uncovered."

May the revolutionary gospel continue to inform and reform and transform all our lives as we try to move ever closer to the heart of Jesus.

Blessings, S Thomas Berg

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  1. Michael Coren paints a pretty convincing picture about the evil that is Iran, but perhaps mercy for our enemies would grow if we could first uncover our many blind spots. I think one of the West’s noted spiritual leaders had something to say about this, something about geting rid of the logs in one’s eyes.

    For instance, Coren says Iran’s motives (read evil) are beyond question. But what are US motives in its search for a “new” Middle East? Oil, oil and oil would just about sum it up. Who has oil? Iraq. Iran. Move over Mohammed so Bubba can fill ‘er up.

    Coren also laments Iran’s growing investments in weapons. You gotta be kidding. What does the US spend on weapons again?

    Coren then points to Iran’s dangerous space program. Of course, our own space program is just for fun. Maybe we should we nuke the US before they get cocky?

    Coren adds that Iran has a fanatical leader who controls a brutal police state. Yes, perhaps. But Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sees our state as hopelessly decadent and beyond redemption, views he shares with Dr. James Dobson. (A possible road to peace talks – you heard it here first.)

    Coren goes on to say that Iran’s leader finances international terror? But our Western news agencies wouldn’t dare whisper about the USA’s long-established School of the Assassins, the terror training centre that ensures US interests are “looked after” when “dangerous” regimes like the Sandanista’s in Nicauraugua arise.

    An outraged Coren goes on – Ahmadinejad even provokes bloody wars in foreign countries. Holy cow Batman, who does that sound like? Can anybody spell the word B-U-S-H.

    Given all this hypocrisy and in the spirit of sacrificial love, I’d say we hoist a few logs before we reach for the all to easy nuclear solutions.

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