16 May 2006
I recently finished your book The Irresistible Revolution, Living as an Ordinary Radical. Uh words escape me. Fantastic book, for starters. Forgive me, I have never written an author in response to their book, but then again, I have never been so compelled so strongly to do so. I am writing not just in praise of your courage and dedication to publish such a book, but in hopes that you might provide some guidance on an issue I am only now being faced with. Several points you brought up in it pierced my heart like the tip of a spear. I have only recently become a follower of Christ, as opposed to just a believer in Christ. You helped put into perspective exactly what I feared the Bible really preaches; ACTION. I have been reborn; slowly but surely, my old, dead skin is being shed and a new me is emerging. However, rebirth can be a painful, difficult process. You see, for the past six years I have served in the US Army as a Forward Observer for the Field Artillery (http://www.goarmy.com/JobDetail.do?id=45), my job position is responsible for 80% of the casualties on the battlefield (we also control Air Force Combat Jets, Attack Helicopters, Mortars and Naval Gunfire).
In a couple of months, I will deploy to Iraq for the second time, though I deeply want to get out in order to become a missionary and to go to seminary (I am thinking Azusa Pacific followed by Fuller, possibly). I am the victim of what is called a Stop Loss, meaning my intended date of separation from the military is getting pushed back to deploy again, I am basically being held past the time I agreed upon in my initial contract. However, over the next several weeks I will be applying for status as a Conscientious Objector. If successful, I could petition the government for a discharge or a transfer to a noncombatant job. Despite the opportunity to use this status for a discharge, God has put it on my heart to stay in and be a radical inside the military machine, if they’ll have me. I came to this conclusion after much study, contemplation, and most importantly, prayer. I feel there is no greater mission field than right where I am at. As a noncombatant, I will not carry a weapon or conduct weapons or combative training. I feel there is no such thing as “Just War” (read Mark Twain’s The War Prayer, its nice and short, but to the point). The Lord has shown me that I can continue to love my brothers in the Army but no longer serve my former master (the sword). I believe Unconditional Love is meant for everyone, even those who partake in such practices (if youre familiar with the Paradoxical Commandments by Kent Keith; remember #1 and #9?). With the Lord as my guide, I feel confident that I can continue to spread the message of peace to them, hopefully giving them a persistent, caring example of how Christians can love even those that behave in ways they steadfastly oppose.
Near the end of your book, you mentioned a former service member who left the military to paint murals and preach nonviolence with you in Philly. I wonder if you could put him in touch with me in order to more fully understand his unique circumstances. If so, I would value any of his input into how he came to feel how he does and how he might feel I should move forward. I also have a great respect for everything you have done in your community, as well as all that you continue to do. I have taken great pleasure in researching all the websites and books you mentioned, as well as inspirational figures such as Dorothy Day. In an editorial of the Catholic Worker, she asks if the Martyrs did not pray that Love would overcome Hate. That men dying for their faith, rather than killing for their faith, would save the world. I think that has become my new war cry; to love others, even if it kills me. My life is now Christs, to do with it as He wills. The greatest honor he could bestow on me is to give me the opportunity to give my life in order to save another.
I may need some help, however, as my C.O. application has not yet been submitted (probably within a week or so). Any written resources, your own or other known authors, would be welcome resources to quote or otherwise draw from (I have already downloaded numerous articles from Camden Houses website). After the packet is done, I will begin to compile letters of recommendation, or concern, if you will, for an investigative hearing. I would be honored if you could contribute; if you wish, you can write a professional letter on your feelings toward war and how Christians should respond to it. Feel free to contact me in any way you prefer; I will list my information below. I look forward to any possible future correspondence and would benefit from anything you have to say about it.
-Logan Lucky Laituri