(Because of the declarative and perhaps even controversial nature of this post, I’ve sat on it for a few weeks. I hope you’ll read it in its entirety, and in it’s spirit of seeking how Christ-followers are to live in a time of war.)
In the midst of the news of the death of bin Ladin was the story of the reactions of the millennials. Across the country, college students who have never known anything but an America at war with a shadowy religious army exploded into celebration.
My parents, surprised by the stories of young people taking to the streets in celebration, asked if bin Ladin’s death meant anything to me. I was a sophomore at at my small Christian college, on my way to chapel, when I overheard people talking about the first tower falling. I hadn’t really thought about the question. So, after a long pause, I responded:
“Bin Ladin is why I’m an Anabaptist.”
Now to be fair, I’m probably jumping the gun in describing myself as an Anabaptist. I neither grew up in an Amish or Mennonite church, nor have I really wrestled with the writings of theologians like Yoder (it’s on my list, I promise.) However, I always have felt a sense of camaraderie with the anti-mustache peace lovers. The tradition I grew up in placed a high value on adult baptism, and even stood against the Civil War. I remember family members saying they would have rather gone to Canada before he than be drafted. So Third Way thinking has always been in my blood.
A day or so after September 11, a giant American flag was draped across the back wall of the stage of our chapel. Everyday, when we came to chapel for a time of worship, the flag filled most of our vision. It remained there for months to come, and made frequent appearances in the coming years.