An Open Letter to Christian Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan
On February 1, 1996, I retired from the United States Army. I had served in the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vietnam as an infantryman, the 82nd Airborne Division, the 4th Infantry Division, 2nd Ranger Battalion, the Jungle Operations Training Center, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment – Delta, the United States Military Academy at West Point, 1st Ranger Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, 75th Ranger Regiment, and finally 3rd Special Forces Group. I worked all over “hot spots” in Latin America during the 80s and early 90s. I participated in Grenada and Somalia; and I was the team sergeant for a Special Forces A-Detachment during the 1994 invasion of Haiti. In all that time, I was one of those atheists in the foxholes they say don’t exist. I could never have known that I’d find the faith to follow Christ and be baptized on Easter of my 56th year. But I did, even when I’d never grasped for spiritual reassurance as I slogged through the Central Highlands of Vietnam, leapt from airplanes into the night, or had helicopters shot out from under me. I’ve been taking up residence close to death for a long time. My faith isn’t about jumping over death. It’s about reconciling with God, who Jesus Christ showed us is Love. Continue reading →
Suburbia is also a spiritual wasteland, a place where the wonder of nature is desecrated ubiquitously with corporate logos and all the artifacts of late technological society.
There is a common misconception among environmentalists and peak-oilers (I count myself among both) that cars created the suburbs. The car suburb, however, became what it is with regard to cars only incidentally. The real motive for the suburbs was plain garden-variety white supremacy. Cars simply became necessary to facilitate the spatial segregation that simultaneously confined African America largely to decaying urban spaces and built the ‘burbs as white enclaves. It’s not that simple any more, of course. All things change all the time – as we’ll see momentarily – but it was white fear and loathing of the Dark Other that set the whole process in motion.
The sudden discovery – still ongoing – that most of us (more than half the US now lives in Suburbia) are trapped here if and when our private automobiles run out of gas (or the money to buy it), came after suburbanization was a fait accompli. This is the stage in any historical process where people begin to indulge themselves in disambiguation of the past – simplifying what has happened until it appears that it was predictable all along. Since we believe this – that things are predictable – we are easily convinced that correlation equals causation in our reconstructions of history; and we apply those correlatives that are familiar and comfortable. Ergo, because oil companies and auto manufacturers participated in the development of Suburbia, they were the conscious agents of it all along. White environmentalists and many white peak-oilers are not well-versed in the history of race, and they have shitty heuristics for understanding how it is constituted.
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When I was 18, before student tracking in the public schools had been formalized, an informal tracking system was nevertheless in place: the university track, the craft track, the poultry worker track, and the prison track. I was somewhere between the last two. Both my parents were working in a defense contractor factory, and I was left adrift in the factory-worker ’burbs to be trained by television and alcohol. Raised on a curriculum of McCarthyism, I did the most logical thing I could think of to avoid both the factory and eventual incarceration with the ne’er-do-wells with whom I was keeping company. I joined the Army, and volunteered to fight communists in Vietnam.