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Blogging up a (Christian) Storm – Donald Sensing’s One Hand Clapping
Clap hands for Donald Sensing, Methodist pastor, blogger and former United States Army artillery officer. His blog, One Hand Clapping, is always fascinating for its synthesis of the martial and the spiritual. In the present conflict it is required reading.
It is a warblog, with all the expert analysis of those other blogs written by former military officers. But it also carries a strong Christian overlay, illustrated perhaps by his posting Why the US Cannot Retaliate against Iraq if Iraq Uses Weapons of Mass Destruction (which is not to say that the other bloggers aren’t also deeply concerned with ethical issues).
A typical day – this Sunday – saw him: comment on the Oscars; draw an analogy between the murder of US POWs in Iraq and the 1944 Malmedy Massacre of dozens of US POWs by German soldiers; expose what he says is the hoax that Iraq has received electronic jamming equipment that could throw US planes and bombs off course; and say a prayer for soldiers killed that day. Indeed, prayers are prominent among his recent military analysis.
Of course, his views will not be to the taste of every Christian.
The American impulse toward fair play is good, on the whole. But there is a crucial difference between fair play on the ball field and conducting just war. Last fall, just after the campaign in Afghanistan began, I was at a dinner where another guest commented that it "wasn't fair" for US pilots to fly with impunity above Taliban positions, dropping bombs. I bit my tongue. Later, another guest said that the bombing "wouldn't intimidate" the Taliban.
I dived in. "We're not trying to intimidate them," I said.
"Then why are we bombing them?" came the question.
"To kill them," I answered. There was a long silence at the table. The concept seemed not to have occurred to them. With only a couple of exceptions, the others were university graduate-school students.
Historian T. R. Fehrenbach wrote, "Americans will not face what war is all about until they have their teeth kicked in." One would think that 9/11 was a brutally hard kick, but I think there are large segments of Americans who still don't understand what this war is all about. Maybe I'm wrong. I hope I am, but I fear I'm not.
A glance at his “best of” index gives some idea of the scope of his writings. Here are a few examples:
- The coming American Holy War
- Why war objectors lack strategic vision
- Western Law, Islamic Law and the Ordering of Society
- Is Christianity more user-friendly than Islam?
- Precision Weapons, Abject Defeat, and Reshaping Societies
One puzzle. Why is his blog called One Hand Clapping? It brings forth reminders – to me, at least, with my lengthy experiences in Zen Buddhism – of the most famous of all Zen koan (riddles used to upset the rational thinking of Zen novices): What is the Sound of One Hand Clapping?
March 25th, 2003