Chris Kyle, Andrew Howard Brannan, and the American Legacy of Violence

Any culture has a difficult tendency to send conflicting messages on an array of issues, and American culture is no different. This fact is especially true when it comes to one of America’s hallmark characteristics: violence.

The use of violence towards others is at the very foundation of the American identity– it’s how we were born as a nation, and how we have thrived as a nation. Since we benefit so greatly from this violence, we have not only culturally justified it but have gone one step further and glorified it as being good, noble, justified, and one of the things that makes us so “great.”

Those who volunteer to sign up to carry out America’s violence are immediately deified as cultural heroes– even within the church of Jesus Christ itself. I often see this immediately upon entering many churches in America, where one can often find bulletin boards on the walls plastered with pictures of military members the church has sent off to use violence to advance the interests of empire. I myself remember this well from my own decade in the military; I received no greater treatment in the church as I did on those days when I’d return home and come to worship Christ, while wearing Caesar’s uniform.
We’re also seeing this deification of violence and murder play out with the soon-to-be released movie, American Sniper, based on the life of Chris Kyle who is stated to be the most deadly sniper in American history. What would by any other account be classified as mass-murder, is justified and glorified by both culture and much of the American church.

Except, not all of these “heroes” turn out so well after their stints of carrying out violence for Caesar’s empire– such as the case of Andrew Howard Brannan who was executed last night in the state of Georgia. Brannan was a Vietnam veteran who, like America’s new hero Chris Kyle, carried out violence on our behalf. We trained him and conditioned him to kill, as we do so many others who wear the uniform– and kill he did.


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