Beware the Amish pirates

Military Counseling Network seeks Young Anabaptist Radical

April 6th, 2009 by Michael J. Sharp

In a time when peace churches are having a hard time finding ways to be proactive in response to our country’s wars, this work gives us just that opportunity. More than protest, more than letter-writing, more than being “against stuff.” We can do better by providing alternatives. In the same way that the Pentagon technically has the right to extend a soldier’s active-duty service indefinitely during a time of war, so too do these soldiers have a right to get out early in certain situations. And war has the power to transform people. That’s where a military counselor comes in.

In this position, you’ll learn to understand military law, military culture, and what’s really going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. There will also be opportunities to travel in the US and Europe to speak about issues of war and peace, explain what servicemembers who have been in the war actually say about it, and bring the Christian peace witness into the international debate.

For more information, e-mail mcn@dmfk.de. Feel free to pass this info on to other people who might be interested. For more information about the organization, check out mcn@dmfk.de. Feel free to pass this info on to other people who might be interested. For more information about the organization, check out www.mc-network.de.

Anabaptist Radical Needed as Military Counselor in Germany

February 19th, 2007 by Michael J. Sharp

I’ve spent the last two years doing a job I love, working with American servicemembers who have been changed by their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the same way that the Pentagon technically has the right to extend a soldier’s active-duty service indefinitely during a time of war, so too do these soldiers have a right to get out early in certain situations. And war has the power to transform people. That’s where a military counselor comes in.

In a time when peace churches are having a hard time finding ways to be proactive in response to our country’s wars, this work gives us just that opportunity. More than protest, more than letter-writing, more than being “against stuff.” We can do better by providing alternatives.

In this position, you’ll learn to understand military law, military culture, and what’s really going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. There will also be opportunities to travel in the US and Europe to speak about issues of war and peace, explain what servicemembers who have been in the war actually say about it, and bring the Christian peace witness into the international debate. In the years I’ve worked in this capacity, I’ve had the opportunity to speak in dozens of venues in the US, Canada, Germany, France, Spain, Holland, and Israel/Palestine.

For more information, read the attached documents or e-mail me at mcn@dmfk.de. I’m sorry to be leaving the job, but it’s a great opportunity for someone to bring in fresh ideas and perspective. Feel free to pass this info on to other people who might be interested. For more information about the organization, check out www.mc-network.de.

Pax Mennonita via Flexible Pacifism

December 19th, 2006 by Michael J. Sharp

It was with much excitement that I read the most recent MCC Peace Office Newsletter (Vol. 36, No. 4), entitled “How do we Protect, Responsibly.” The World Council of Churches had met and released a statement on the “Responsibility to Protect,” hereafter to be referred to by its catch acronym: R2P.

Such Mennonite notables as Mennonite World Conference president Nancy Heisey, German Association of Mennonite Congregations vice-president Fernando Enns, and MCC International Peace Office co-directors Robert Herr and Judy Zimmerman Herr seem to be in favor of said statement, which offers amazing ideas for the current Decade to Overcome Violence. One of these ideas happens to be violence, but we’re going to call it something else: “flexible pacifism.”

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Running from the Military Police

September 4th, 2006 by Michael J. Sharp

This last weekend, I had to decide exactly how radical I wanted to be. I was put in a situation where I stood between an AWOL soldier and the military police, who very much wanted to arrest him. If only I had a nickel for every time this happened, I’d have close to five cents. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t exactly a classic “What would you do?” moment, but it was interesting just the same, and I thought y’all might be interested in hearing about it.

A conscientious objector, who has been trying to get out of the Army for more than two years, was facing a deployment on Friday night. He had applied for CO status and was denied … twice. While he was in Iraq the first time, he refused to load his weapon even when on patrols. When he got back he filed a Habeas Corpus in federal court, challenging the ruling, and was denied … thrice (if you count appeals and temporary restraining orders). He made it very clear to his chain of command that he was not going to go back to Iraq under any circumstances. They hadn’t even gotten him to pick up his weapon for about a year. His commander, however, wasn’t taking no for an answer. So, Agustin made himself “unavailable” during the final deployment formation (aka he went for a drive at an undisclosed location). Saturday morning, he went to the military police station and turned himself in.

At that point, he expected to be court-martialed, given a dishonorable discharge, put in jail for 5-9 months, and then move on with his life. I’m not sure why he expected this to happen. Maybe because that’s what his military counselors, his lawyers, and current precedent suggested would happen. It was not to be, though. He was instead brought back to his house where his wife, two daughters, and I were hanging out, and he was told to get his gear. He explained that there was no point, because he wasn’t going to deploy. The First Sergeant was like, “Okay, whatever.”
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