Youth Are Not Being Radicalized, They Are Being Soldiered

“God put Abraham to the test.” Take your “son Isaac… and offer him up as a holocaust.” “Abraham… took the knife to slaughter his son.” But God said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy.” “I know now how devoted you are.” Abraham’s tribe is transfigured by his action on a mountaintop. A people are rejecting child sacrifice. Jesus is also transfigured on a mountaintop. It is not tribal but universal and tricks no bloody devotion but reveals a peaceful declaration, “This is my beloved.” Jesus then guides disciples down the mountaintop to witness love and peace below. Unfortunately, neither Abraham’s halted test nor Jesus’ witness guide most Christians. Instead, many follow Paul’s belief from today’s Romans reading, God “did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all.”

Paul’s gruesome theology of atonement asserts God does indeed practice child sacrifice. His own child’s spilt blood supposedly saves believers from the deity’s violence. This belief is an obvious rejection of both Abraham’s and Jesus’ transfiguration. Believing “God did not spare his son” but had him murdered is responsible for perpetuating blood sacrifice, including of children. It is an ongoing horror in human history, practiced still today. One seemingly minor but nevertheless horrific example of the practice of child sacrifice is what U.S. society is increasingly misnaming as ‘radicalized’ youth. Media have been misusing “radicalized” for some years. Knowing who first coined the term ‘radicalized,’ begins to educate us on why it is misused. The term ‘radicalized’ was first coined by soldiers. Soldiers in Mossad, MI5, and the U.S. made up the word radicalized. These mostly white soldiers used it to refer to mostly brown young men overseas whom the soldiers recruited into violence, because they targeted them with violence and the youth mimicked them in return. U.S. soldiers in the military, the FBI, and the police are now expanding their misuse of the word ‘radicalized.’ These mostly white soldiers use it to refer to mostly white young men here in the U.S. whom the soldiers, once again, recruited into violence, because the soldiers have been targeting people of color with violence and the white youth are now mimicking them. Young men, brown and white, are propagandized into justifying violence – by soldiers. Given the truth of the word’s origins, it can thus be said that none of these youths are being ‘radicalized.’ They are all being soldiered. They are being recruited into violence because that is the purpose of the soldiering profession, to recruit young people into violence. These youths are like Abraham when first with Isaac, mistakenly convinced a WarLord deity directs their violence. Like the early Abraham, young men are being recruited into believing a Supreme Being (their father or drill instructor or President) directs them to act violently for an ever narrowing tribe (their family or army or MAGA cult) against an ever expanding enemy (another family or army or people of color). The U.S. has regressed to an ethical devolution worse than Abraham. Thousands of years ago, he and his tribe were transfigured by his rejection of child sacrifice. Yet current U.S. white supremacist tribe members are actively promoting child sacrifice (e.g. of Kyle Rittenhouse and his blood sacrifice of Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum). The process of soldiering white teen boys into sacrificing themselves for their tribe can begin with 1)subtly racist online memes and jokes they ‘like’ but 2) get called out on and 3)feel embarrassed about but hear 4)‘everybody else is so sensitive’ messages which 5)shifts genuine embarrassment to false anger and to 6)identify with their white supremacist recruiters – white youth are “placed like baseballs on a tee and hit right out of the park.” (J.Schroeder) Who of us claiming to be disciples are placing white skinned youth on a mountaintop for the brown skinned Jesus to guide them in love and peace, radically so?

Jesus is radical. Radical means ‘forming the root.’ Being ‘radicalized’ has a positive, organic, life-giving meaning. It comes from nature and means the originating life of a plant. So derived, radical means the originating life of a people, a community and is thus our youth. In Christ, we stop soldiers from recruiting young people into violence. We end their use of children in their blood sacrifice practices. We halt their cutting off the root of life, our youth. Our youth are a vital originating life of our world; ‘These are our beloved.’ Let us radicalize them in Christ as peacemakers and not soldier them as warmakers.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, root us in a love of peace.

Question: Where do I see youth being soldiered and what am I doing about it?

February 28, 2021        Mark 9:2-10        Second Sunday of Lent / Transfiguration

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