Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Who We Are Instead: Last Resort and Allegiance

by Ben Howard

Where does our allegiance lie?

Do we pledge our allegiance to our country? To our family? To our friends? Is there a moral code that undergirds who we are and serves as our ultimate allegiance?

These are the questions asked in the pilot episode of the new ABC drama Last Resort.

The show focuses on the captain and crew of an American nuclear submarine. With no prior warning and no known threat, the captain of the boat, Marcus Chaplin, is given an order to fire a nuclear weapon at Pakistan. However, when he receives the order, both the captain and his second-in-command, Sam Kendal, question its authenticity and refuse to fire.

When faced with the task of killing millions of people, Chaplin and Kendal do what no one in the military is supposed to do, they refuse to comply with a direct order. In response to their refusal, a fellow submarine is ordered to fire upon them in an effort to sink the sub.

Ultimately, Chaplin, in an effort to protect his crew from their own country, docks the submarine off the coast of a small island which he then commandeers as his base and new home.

Once again, this show is only a few episodes in, so there may be a litany of twists and turns in store that uncover different motivations for the characters involved, but so far the show's central questions concern loyalty, allegiance and hierarchy.

For Chaplin and Kendal, their allegiance to country is strong, but of relative importance when placed against their allegiance to humanity. When they are ordered to kill millions of people without knowing the reason, they ask. When their request is not answered, they say no.

I think Christians are called to hold their national allegiances just as loosely. Is it possible for a Christian to serve in the military or in government? Is it possible for a Christian to be part of the hierarchy? Part of the machinery of empire? Perhaps, but only if they are willing to say no when confronted with orders or choices that violate the humanity of themselves or others.

Some of you may have noticed that I said humanity there and not faith. It was a purposeful choice of words. As a Christian I do not need to defend my faith or my God, they will defend themselves. However, I am called, by my faith and my God, to defend other people; the helpless, the defenseless, the widowed, and the orphaned. I am called to defend and fan the flames of the image of God found in each and every person, including the image of God found in me.

My allegiance is not to a hierarchy or an empire, it is an allegiance to my community and my God. It is a hope that my faith will not force me to betray my community and that God will not abandon me or those I love. So I hold my citizenship loosely, just as I hold my association and allegiance to any institution loosely. I will participate and cooperate with them, but if I am forced to choose. I will pledge allegiance to God and those in his image.


You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenHoward87 or email him at benjamin.howard87 [at] gmail.com.

Also, you can subscribe to On Pop Theology via RSS feed or email on the top right corner of the main page.

No comments:

Post a Comment