The Nuclear Idol and the Genie of Creative Nonviolence

Hiroshima Day August 6, 2012

On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, and then, on August 9, on the city of Nagasaki. Four months after the bombing, 200,000 people, mostly civilians, were dead: “15–20% died from radiation sickness, 20–30% from burns, and 50–60% from other injuries.” Radiation from the bombs continues to cause cancer and other health problems. The United States currently has an arsenal of 5,113 nuclear warheads.

By Chris Iosso
The Transform Now Three

In the story we link to below and here, three gray-haired Christians go into a highly secure nuclear facility and reveal the Oz behind the curtain: the pointlessness of an unholy of unholys tended by time-serving acolytes. In the spirit of Colossians 2:15, and with the Gospel courage that follows through that chapter, the three souls used blood, spray paint, and crime scene tape in a powerful witness. How powerful a pinprick on the great nuclear Leviathan! How much judgment on us, as well as those contractor legions whose bread and butter comes from an enormously parasitic weapons complex.

In The Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and The National Security State (2010), Garry Wills underlines the collateral damage to our democratic system from the secrecy that started with the Manhattan Project and now pervades much of our government. The film, Dr. Strangelove, continues to speak to the MAD option that underlies nuclear policy. The 1988 General Assembly policy statement, Christian Obedience in a Nuclear Age, which followed an extensive comment process across the church, moved us toward a “nuclear pacifist” position, partly on “just war” criteria. It is simply hard to argue for the mass incineration of human beings on such a scale for realizable policy objectives.

We used to speak of the development of nuclear power and nuclear weapons as a genie that could not be put back into the bottle. Anti-proliferation efforts continue, though many nations get the message that such weapons are the ultimate source of power: in bomb we trust. That is not what we say, of course, but it is what we and our closest allies do. The nuclear umbrella is the highest security our country can offer. And that is idolatry.

Global warming may make the nuclear holocaust recede in importance, but we may wonder whether our powerlessness in addressing looming ecocide derives partly from our inability as a world community to abolish nuclear weaponry. We know it would be devastating, but we have held it off by doing nothing. That moral inertia is very costly. How can it be resisted?

So enter the holy fools who anointed the bomb facilities at Oak Ridge. Their greatest power is their refusal to accept the necessity of nuclear terrorism. Their courage allowed them to move like Daniel into the lions’ den of kill zones, protected only by love. Enjoy their story: consider your own!

Suggested Reading and Action for Hiroshima Day

Peace Activists Close Nuclear Facility” by Nathan Schneider (August 3, 2012)

Handmaidens to Barbarity” by Chris Hedges (August 6, 2012)

In Hiroshima’s Shadow” by Noam Chomsky (August 4, 2012)

Christian Obedience in a Nuclear Age“, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly

Resources from the Coalition for Peace Action

ACTION ALERT: Urge President Obama to Take U.S. Nuclear Weapons Off Launch-Ready Alert, Peace Action

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