Archives For Justice and Mercy

Andrew Hastie, 38-year-old SAS officer turned member of parliament, has weighed in on the alleged findings of the Brereton inquiry into the alleged killing of innocent civilians by the Australian SAS in Afghanistan.

Hastie, who’s backing the report, said he was ‘grieved and troubled’ by it.

Reflecting on his own service in Afghanistan, he offered five reflections on why such breaches of the ADF’s high code of conduct may have occurred, writing, ‘we’ve forgotten basic truths about human nature that previous generations of Australians better understood.’

He added, ‘we live in a bent world. We all carry man’s smudge: people do bad things. Christians call it sin in a fallen world. Enlightenment thinkers like Immanuel Kant called it the ‘crooked timber’ of humanity. Whatever name we give our condition, we should always guard against the reality of people doing bad things when they are left unaccountable.’

Hastie then spoke of complacent, sanitized bureaucratic perceptions of war, the need to fix broken parliamentary scrutiny of Defence, and the neo-pagan god-like ‘warrior culture’ that’s replacing the Biblical Christian theory of restrained violence, known as Just War.

Hastie also lamented how, the public record will never know about (let alone remember) ‘the good deeds of the many, the way it will the battlefield criminality of a few.’

A chronological outline provided by the Australian Parliament acknowledges that the majority of claims against the SAS come from ‘reports published in the Australian media since 2006.’

These sit alongside ADF operational reports which provide, in debrief form, a summary of combat action received, and combat action taken.

Reported allegations of atrocities involved Reuters, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, Herald Sun, and the ABC. With the ABC being the loudest.

The four-year Brereton inquiry, was headed by NSW Court of Appeal Justice, Paul Brereton.

The purpose was to confirm the legitimacy of those allegations. Concluding that ‘there was credible evidence of 23 incidents [involving 39 alleged murders] in which one or more non-combatants – or individuals who had been captured or injured – were unlawfully killed by special forces soldiers, or at least at their direction.’ (The Age)

If the allegations prove true, it’ll be a bitter pill to swallow. Not just for the ADF community, but for most Australians. Many who, being estranged from the faith of the ANZACs, now put their faith in the ANZACs.

Criminal convictions of our decorated protectors in the ADF will strike at the heart of pagan ancestral worship that’s being slowly adopted by Australians.

Largely because of an expert class ejecting Jesus Christ, and Biblical Christian objective morality from the center of the cenotaph, Australian life, society, and Government.

For instance, during ANZAC services I’ve heard people yell “this is about the ANZACs, not God.” I’ve also seen public school teachers encourage their students to drown out the memorial message with slow, monotonous claps.

Another real moral issue here is the low integrity of the free press legacy media, who seem to be drooling with glee, leaping before they look, in order to sell more disaster porn; not caring about who they destroy in the process.

The focal point for them has been the media’s “guilty-until-proven-innocent,” Cardinal George Pell like, witch hunt of Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith.

Like Pell, Roberts-Smith has repeatedly denied the allegations, but found himself being tried by a largely leftist media, who seem to have no patience or affection for the basic civil right of due process.

In a statement, denying the allegations, brought to light by 60 Minutes, Roberts-Smith was right to be ‘concerned that [the program airing] the story, and the previous publications by the SMH/Age are an attempt to improperly influence the outcome of the (Inspector-General of the Defence Force) inquiry.”

If Andrew Hastie’s reflection is to be believed, Roberts-Smith is no saint, but that doesn’t mean he’s guilty of war crimes.

Should Roberts-Smith be summons to defend himself, let him have his day in court without interference from an activist media, and the self-righteous, Leftist expert class.

As David, an army veteran, wrote,

‘I feel that the Australian community and the media have turned against veterans. I have received a dozen messages from upset veterans already today. All we have are allegations, nothing more. Australia needs to calm down. Due process needs to be followed.’

In addition, ADF chief, Angus Campbell’s decision to revoke meritorious recognition ‘for all special forces task groups who served in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2013’, is as bizarre, and as reckless, as Julia Gillard’s 2011, blanket ban of beef exports, which shut down an entire industry, affecting lives, and livelihoods, all based on media coverage, and outrage online.

Stripping the ’99.3% [of medals] for the actions of the 0.7%’ is to commit an injustice that will further demoralize our valuable veterans. A large portion of them suffer in silence, because of the ignorance of an indifferent public, a hostile media, and now, self-centered public “servants” looking for a quick P.R. fix, without concern for who they’re throwing under the bus.

Liberal member for Hughes, Craig Kelly’s response to the ADF’s decision – which will punish the brave actions of the many for the sins of a few – hit a home run, saying,

‘Oh, no they won’t. But if we do, then we’ve set a precedent, so next is that we must also strip away every award and retirement benefit from every politician due to [the corrupt] conduct of [politicians] the likes of Orkopoulos* Obeid & Maguire?’

Prime Minister, Scott Morrison in acknowledging the seriousness of the claims, has also publicly backed the ADF, stating

“I wouldn’t want any Defence Force member, serving men or women, or veterans to feel that anyone is looking at them differently, I’m certainly not … we’re incredibly proud of them.” (Sky News)

If the Prime Minister is sincere about this, he needs to advise the Governor-General against stripping good soldiers of their medals, under the callus justification of ‘collective guilt.’

Aussie soldiers being hunted by radical leftist jihadists today, means open season on the people those soldiers step up to protect and serve.

For example, the largely Leftist, Australian Broadcasting Commission, giddy-at-the-prospect of having soldiers in their sights, provided detailed analysis on a guilty until proven innocent basis.

Not one to miss out on celebrating the demonization of Western Civilization, and its Biblical Christian foundations, Victoria’s Socialist Alliance, despite COVID-19 rules, has even organized an anti-ADF protest.

I agree with Hastie. We need reform and accountability. We also need to recognize why war crimes occur. All this should involve improving how we as a society look after, show appreciation for, and serve our military, and its veterans.

This process shouldn’t involve hurting our veterans in order to help them.

Of course, high and lowbrow contempt for Diggers, with the poor going to die for the smug elite, and entitled intellectuals, isn’t new.

It’s a societal fact immortalized by Rudyard Kipling,

“For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please; An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!”

You can show your support for Australian soldiers by visiting Voiceofaveteran.org and signing the petition to help stop this persecution of the majority who served with honour.

To rephrase Hastie:

The battlefield criminality of a few, does not justify stripping meritorious recognition earned by the good deeds of ‘the many.’

#istandwiththeADF


First published on Caldron Pool, 27th November, 2020

©Rod Lampard, 2020.

The word judgement is associated with the word criteria. Etymologically speaking they can be viewed as interconnected in the adjectival sense, such as: ‘someone who has been judged and either meets, or does not meet the criteria’.

My working thesis here involves a developing formula,  influenced by Karl Barth’s theological analysis in ‘CD.1.1’:

Cause. Consequence. Free Remedy. Consequence. Free Reply. Consequence.

As I read the words in 1 John 3-5 today, I recalled this formula and it raised this question:

If we are both called and carried into the light by Jesus, how do we live well in the shadows of a broken existence?

For sometime now John’s words here, to me, have wrongly been used to empower half-truths fuelled by a theology of cheap grace such as:

                  • “Forgive and forget”
                  • “Just get over it”
                  • “You’re the one with the problem, not me”
                  • “Let go and let God’’
                  • “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven’’
                  • “Everyone has issues..et.al’’
                  • “all disagreement is hate”

Steve Wilkens, in his 2011 book ‘Beyond bumper sticker ethics’ asserts: ‘ideas are built on certain assumptions, and if the assumptions are untrue or only partly true, what we build upon them is shaky’ (2011:12).The misuse of these could be considered ‘dysfunctional coping strategies’ (Berry & Baker, ‘Who’s to Blame?’).At worst these phrases are deflections employed to justify an ignorance that permits the ‘abdication of responsibility’ (Leslie Houston, 2013 Tabor Adelaide), while showing off falsely a moral and theological superiority to a perceived enemy.

Cover of "Beyond Bumper Sticker Ethics: A...

Cover via Amazon

The reading of 1 John results in a command for ALL to enter into remembrance of the crisis of the human situation. Remedied by judgement [crisis] that came, comes and is revealed [apocalypse] in the full humanity, and full deity of Jesus the Christ.

As Christians, we must not read the words as an apologetic for deflection and evasion of reason. For example: justification for blind compassion. Ask any well balanced parent, they will quickly tell you that saying “no” can be as loving as saying ”yes”.

Acting as if mercy was the epitome of Christ’s existence, and then misapplying this theology to justify irrational political reactions (read neglect, abuse & manipulation) to the human situation and environment, denies the existence of Christ as the just judge. It binds the ‘God who exists in freedom’ (Barth) to human ideology. In turn this resembles more a form of practical atheism, than any form of Christian Socialism.

Such thought wrongly assumes that the purpose of Christ’s incarnation was mercy without justice. On all accounts his betrayal and crucifixion might certainly look this way. However, to assume that mercy alone will save the day is to be ignorant of the responsibility he took up on that day. It does not answer, let alone acknowledge the problem of judgement [crisis].Consequently, because of its over emphasis on mercy this theological perspective conveniently ignores the judgement of God fulfilled in the resurrection of the Christ, and the subsequent just judgement yet-to-be fulfilled on all humanity.

Rights and responsibility bring into focus a socio-political idea of individual human accountability. This concept could be bridged to the comments surrounding John’s considerations about the coming day of judgement (1.Jn.4:17). The socio-political is an aspect  that supports the content of Revelation, which talks of Christ as a King like no other. One in whom hope exists equally, as mercy and justice – word and deed.

“Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” (Rev.5:5)

As citizens of the world, our place is found in speaking the truth in love. This is a command that requires a response, no matter how much it may produce conflict with others or result in the false labelling of any responsible word and deed, as “hate-speech; inhumane or otherwise’’.

God calls us to differentiate between the ‘sacred and the silly’[ii]. Words like: ‘let us love in deed and in truth’ (1. Jn.3:18) remind us of his invitation to prayer and reason. Justice and mercy play an important part in the potential outcomes

The Psalmist writes ‘blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times’ (Ps.106:3-4). There is truth in this. Because of Christ, there now is the ‘relation of forgiveness and demand….This is James’ “LAW OF LIBERTY”, which he contrasts with Jewish law, as an order under which humanity stands not just as hearers but also as doers’ (Barth, 1936:461 & 457). As John says ‘this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith’ (1.Jn.5:4).

A reasoned response can be, and often is the most loving response we can give. For example: “rights come with responsibility”. (Paul, Jean Elshtain, Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer et.al). Inside this movement exists a quest for balance, truth, and just outcomes. Responsible action aligned with Micah 6:8.

‘What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness [mercy] and to walk humbly with God’ (ESV)

Therefore, because God is love he initiates both mercy and justice. Subsequently when we appeal to a higher sense of justice and mercy we are seeking to lean our best efforts towards achieving just outcomes on the work already completed in Christ .

Paul wrote:

‘Be ready for every good work…for we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by other and hating one another. But…God our Saviour appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life’ (Titus 3:1-7)

I suggest that we view mercy and justice as symbiotic, not oxymoronic. This is a view grounded in the atonement as described in the New Testament – the Christ event, when all humanity is both called and carried into the light by Jesus, through Word, cross, resurrection and Pentecost.

The second act is, I believe, found in an imperative issued by Elshtain:

‘we must embrace a politics of limits. There are things we must not do for in doing so we will not only further cheapen already fragile human ties in the present but undermine the very humanitarian ends we claim to seek’ (Public man, Private Woman 1981:352)

Barth might term this: ‘Freedom in Limitation’ (CD.III:4), a positive paradox pre-empted and exemplified by his comments in CD:1.1:

‘it is true enough that humans must open the door (Rev.3:20)…But that fact takes place in the work of the Christ who stands outside. Hence it is also unconditionally true that the risen Christ passes through closed doors (Jn.20:19)’ – Barth 1936:247.

Reflective Prayer:

God as the unbroken you love the broken, and by doing so, make that which is broken beautiful.
Help us not to forget, that though the wrong is often strong,”You will reign”[iii].

Lyrics: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/flyleaf/justiceandmercy.html


[i] [Greek reads: agape – ἀγάπη], confession [ὁμολογήσῃ; homologese] and judgement [κρίσεως; criteria; crisis].
[ii] Rosanne Cash, Tribute to Johnny Cash. Sourced 11th Nov. 2013 from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLwocVPaGsE
[iii] Barth & the Moravian Reading 15th November 2013

Sources:

Barth, K. 1936 Church Dogmatics Vol.1.1 The Doctrine of the Word of God Hendrickson
Berry, C.R & Baker, M.W 1996 who’s to Blame? Escape the victim trap and Gain personal power in your relationships  Pinion Press Colorado Springs, CO, U.S.A
Houston, L 2013 Christian Leadership lectures, Tabor Adelaide
Elshtain, J.B 1981 Public Man, Private Woman Princeton University Press
Wilkens, S.2011 Beyond Bumper Sticker Ethics Intervarsity Press Downers Grove, IL

RL2013

At the age of 13, I approached my father, showed him the latest batch of bruises and was promptly told that I had a place to stay.

Normality appeared to be resuming itself. The fear in me still existed even if my surroundings had changed. The separation of my parents twelve months ago had left me dangling. Confused. Frustrated.

A king piece in chess, with three pawns.

A king piece in chess, with three pawns. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The new accommodation was a white residential house, one that had been temporarily used by the town’s sole operating funeral home. The old house had a redesigned interior with a reasonable entrance which had been added on later. The kitchen was another story. It was deteriorated, the bathroom in serious need of repair and the garage still held remnants of a large cooler. There was also a curious smell that was difficult to erase.

My unemployed, usually welfare dependent father had signed on to the extravagant idea presented to him by his new father-in-law, that  in exchange for almost zero rent,  my father could renovate the place.

My bedroom had once held mourners who would come to view the departed. The coffins had long since been removed although an old trolley remained. In retrospect, it is likely that the use of the room was a softer version told to me in order to put to rest any concerns I had about the living arrangement.

Not long after my move to live with my dad. My stepmother gave birth.

The months that followed continued on their merry way, until one evening my dad pulled me aside and gave me a bulky tape recorder. Puzzled by the gift, I enquired as to what it was for. He told me that I was to attend a pre-Christmas gathering. There my stepmother’s family would all be present. I was to accompany her to her parent’s house, most of them strangers, and record everything that might be said regarding my dad[1].

I knew from the deep tone of my father’s that pleading not to, wouldn’t remove the terror attached to the task assigned to me:

“I need you to do this for me son, there is no one else I can trust”

Although I objected I went along, all the while trying to work out on how to carry out my mission or better yet, avoid completing it.

Not far from my destination I had concluded:

“If I stay in the car and don’t go into the house, I wouldn’t have to carry out my father’s wishes”.

I had reasoned that I would passively defy my father’s maligned request. So I sat in the car for hours, ignoring pleas from my stepmother to join the pre-Christmas family gathering.

When the evening was about to close and night-time was well underway I had held the line. As I moved closer to the freedom of the hour when this could all be over, I was scared, but felt that the brilliance of my plan would end in a win, win. Feeling a sense of achievement in his resolve, I relaxed.

This was a tactical error because it loosened the tension of the status quo. Something I had successfully maintained for over four hours.

My plan fell to pieces. My step-mom and her brothers approached me. With matriarch in tow they cross examined me and my reasons for not coming inside.

Hours of passive resistance were futile. I confessed to the interrogators that I was sent to record every conversation. Showed them the recording device I had concealed under the seat and told them of my win-win plan, telling them that I had hoped to avoid using it by staying in the car.

Upon this revelation my interrogators withdrew. I was left alone.

Their response was calculated and swift. One of my stepmother’s brothers had convened the family, a decision had been made.

I was to be taken back to my father. I was to tell him that his wife and new-born daughter were leaving him and would not return.

Like a young pawn before kings, my course was chosen for me. Two unfair errands had now transformed into one dark herald. I was trapped. Reduced to nothing more than a expendable messenger boy.

I arrived, was dropped off, then farewelled.

Turning towards the door I saw no lights.

My new “home”, the old funeral parlour was bleak, dark and empty.

I walked in through the unlocked sliding door. The whole house was dark.

Once inside I saw nothing but darkness.

Navigating the furniture, I eased forward. Giving each step serious consideration I moved through the old funeral home looking and calling for my dad.

No answer.

There was nothing but silence and that inescapable curious old funeral home smell fused together with remnants of oils used to cover over it.

At every light switch the fear grew and so did the volume of my voice.

I uttered the words:

“DAD?”

adding

“where are you?”

The darkness was no friend. The surreal situation scared the thirteen year old. Trembling, I fought off images of finding my dad’s dead body, images only made more real by the weird mission my father had sent me on.

Leaving the bathroom to inspect last, I made a cautious approach to every light switch.

The house made no noises. I checked the bathroom last.

Finally, I approached the closed bathroom door and opened it. Through the darkness I saw…nothing.

I was terrified. The only thing allowing movement in my body was the adrenaline that pumped with every thumping beat of my heart.

Turning towards the area which was once a lounge room, I let out tears and began to scream:

“DAD?”

“DAD, where are you? Stop hiding you’re scaring me”

Only then did my father appear in the doorway. He was hiding under a double bed.

“Where’s my wife, did you record anything?”

I explained that I didn’t record anything because I couldn’t. He didn’t go inside the entire evening.

I then sat down and with the very best a thirteen year old could muster, I told my dad that my stepmother and new born half-sister were leaving them; and that she would calling him soon to tell him why.

[1] Whether my father was invited to attend or whether he chose not to attend, is beyond this retelling and remains unknown to this day.

(This is a true recount of my own personal experience).

If you find yourself in the midst of despair hold fast to this:

‘…Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom’ (2 Cor.3:28)
‘Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous hand…I will make a way in the wilderness for you’ (Is.41:10 & 17-20)
©RL2013