What is it about “American Sniper” that is bringing out the inner theologian in its critics?
The Right Rev. Bill Maher says Chris Kyle’s talk about hating the “damn savages” — i.e., the insurgents he fought in Iraq — “doesn’t seem like a Christian thing to say.”
Likewise for His Eminence Michael Cardinal Moore, who followed up an initial tweet calling snipers “cowards” with one that reads, “What Would Jesus Do? Oh, I know what he’d do — hide on top of a roof and shoot people in the back!”
Or take Elder Ron Paul of the Church of Latter-Day Libertarians. When Kyle was killed at a rifle range by a troubled Marine vet he was trying to help, Paul tweeted, “He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.”
Then there’s Parson Chris Hedges, who in fact holds an advanced degree from the Harvard Divinity School. This learning comes through in the nuance and sensitivity in the headline over his own exegesis of the film: “Killing Ragheads for Jesus.”
Remember, “American Sniper” doesn’t celebrate war. To the contrary, it’s agnostic about the reasons the United States went into Iraq — and unsparing in laying out the consequences for all those who fought it and lived it.
Even so, it has brought out the worst in the critics. Gone is the old I-Love-the-Troops-It’s-the-War-I-Hate. In its place is a naked disgust for this US Navy SEAL we sent to fight it, not to mention the society that produced him.