“Watch out, that no one deceive you!” (Mk 13:5): As the Drumbeat of War Builds, the Gift of Two Prophetic Resources

So the U.S. is contemplating bombing Syria, to teach the Assad regime that bombing people is wrong.
Here we go again.  Time to review the most basic catechism for Christian faith under Empire:  War is inevitable.  War changes nothing.  War is apostate for followers of Jesus.
But of course, this catechism is far from central in our hearts or among our churches.  So at moments like this, and on the eve of the 12th anniversary of 9/11, we at BCM think it’s helpful to dust off two texts that teach U.S. Christians how to think and act as the fog of war approaches.
First, our greatest American prophet gave us the gift of a clear and enduring moral and political analysis of U.S. military intervention, now more than 36 years ago.  So, the first order of business is to yet again circulate and commend to our fellow believers Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence.”  This greatest and most consequential of his speeches (he was assassinated exactly a year after delivering it) begs to be read whenever the drums of war beat, as they so regularly do.  And after you read it, check out the attached reflection on that speech that I wrote on its 40th anniversary.  
Second, we do well to recall what Aeschylus famously taught us: “In War, truth is the first casualty.”  Nor is the gospel silent about this phenomenon.  So an equally important text to place front and center when the military drumbeat sounds, heralding its false promises and twisted logic, is Mark 13.  Here Jesus warns disciples directly about the fog of “wars and rumors of war.”  After you have read this text, we also commend an analysis of this “little apocalypse,” attached below as well.  It was written during the build up to the second Gulf War–ten years ago.  
Yes, here we are once more.  So let us be prepared, that we will be not credulously fooled again, but critically faithful.  As the Master put it: “Watch out, that no one deceive you!” (Mk 13:5).  These texts are the most succint and compelling reminders of the most basic Christian catechism under Empire.  May we learn it better this time.