Chris Hedges Interview

I read a fantastic interview yesterday from Sun Magazine. Probably one of the most insightful interviews I have ever read, by a guy I have come across several times in my life, and who continues to garner more and more respect from me. The son of a pastor and a journalist, Chris Hedges talks on a variety of topics including war, faith, the Christian Right, and the New Atheists. Take the time to read this. It truly is superb. Here’s one short passage to whet your appetite:

“It’s easier to be a pacifist in the U.S. It’s only when the structure of a society breaks down that you find out what you are really made of. . . . When we lead lives of opulence and safety, we have only illusions of who we are.”

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3 Responses to Chris Hedges Interview

  1. jpannkuk says:

    Thanks for the link – Interesting interview. However, I take issue with his claim pacifism is rooted in people’s lives of opulence in safety (although this is probably true more often than not). It is interesting that he sites Orwell several times in the interview, because Orwell said similar things: “Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist. This is elementary common sense . . . If Mr. Savage [D.S. Savage, a poet and pacifist] and others imagine that one can somehow ‘overcome’ the German army by lying on one’s bak, let them go on imagining it, but let them also wonder occasionally whether this is not an illusion due to security, too much money and a simple ignorance of the way things actually happen . . . ” (226-227, Reflections on Ghandi in the Orwell Reader)

    What lies at the heart of these objections to pacifism is the idea that pacifism is immoral due to its ineffectiveness in the face of brutal violence of the strong upon the weak. But as others have pointed out – if you place Jesus’ ministry in terms of is effectiveness against oppressive regimes, Jesus’ ministry utterly failed. Utterly failed. Jesus could have righted every wrong immediately and could have alleviated all suffering from the world. But he chose not to, and rather took the path of the one who would epitomize the sufferer who joins his people in suffering, and we are called to follow. If I remember correctly, John was the only disciple who didn’t lose faith in Jesus after he had taken all violence upon himself (rather than calling the legions to help him overthrow the oppressive regime – which he readily admits he could have in the Gasthemanie narratives) on the cross. Perhaps the Christian isn’t called to effectiveness because it is not the job of the Christian to shape or salvage the course of history – Jesus is the Lord of history, right? The Christian – as a member of the Body of Christ (Christ’s physical presence in the world) – is called to faithfulness to Jesus’ Way because it will lead to resurrection just as Jesus’ life did. So in light of this, for me, the Christian is called to nonviolence without a question, for we ‘return no evil for evil’ and ‘overcome evil with good’ (Rom 12 is amazing).

    This certainly is way easier to hold on to in a safe society, but shouldn’t Christians be ultimately faithful to the Gospel, refusing to be conformed to the patters of this age/world even in the most dangerous of situations?

    Sorry for the rants, but I have been thinking about this a lot lately (Xian Pacifism class!) and his quote and reference to Orwell were too tempting not to respond to.

  2. mk says:

    Hedges is sharp. _Finding Moses on the Freeway_ was good. Never read but always liked the title of _War is a force that gives us meaning_. . . Too bad we didn’t listen to Hedges back when–check out the 3rd paragraph in this bio: http://www.truthdig.com/about/staff/70 . . . JP, good word. My people, way, way back (16th c.!), were pacifists when it wasn’t safe or easy. I agree we are called to faithfulness, not effectiveness. At least not effectiveness from a human perspective. 🙂

  3. mk says:

    oh, and Hedges quotes Niebuhr, fantastic.

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