Years ago, I worked as a mechanical design engineer for Litton, a defense contractor. Our division dealt with navigational systems— compasses, radars, integrated bridge systems, fin stabilizers, inertial navigation, and so forth, for warships, submarines, and the like.
It felt good. I worked, mostly on navigational radar. I enjoyed the work.
One day, our company was bought out by Northrop-Grumman. Not a bad thing. A big and fairly stable company. Hopefully that would provide us with a good stable employment and pay (apparently, for many it didn’t… but I left for mission work well before all of that).
To celebrate our acquisition, Northrop-Grumman came to our plant, set up a big tent and held a party. At that party, they gave their multimedia welcome presentation. Much of it involved explosions and missiles firing off.
That’s when it hit me (figuratively speaking). We are still in the defense contractor sector, but we have transitioned from the side that supported safety, and solid operations in the military to the side that blows up stuff. That was a bit sad, actually, for me. Of course, like other defense contractors, Northrop-Grumman works on a lot of different pieces of equipment… not just things that “go boom.” But it was the first time I worked for a contractor that appeared to revel in that aspect of the defense biz.
Don’t get me wrong. I am neither a pacifist or ignorant. I was in the Navy, and I served, during General Quarters, as the gun director officer, meaning that I sighted for, and sometimes fired, the 5 inch-54 gun on our ship. I also know that warship don’t just navigate through the water, but they “make war” and “project power” as need for national defense (and offense). But I was still a bit comfortable with this side of the Defense sector.
But that is true in other aspects of life as well. As an Evangelical Christian, I am often uncomfortable with some of the opinions, noise, whining, politicking, theologizing, gossiping, polemicizing, and general tomfoolery that one often hears from Evangelicals on TV, in pulpits, and on social media.
But I have to remember that all families have members who are a bit embarrassing. It may have felt a bit uncomfortable to work for a company that acts like it likes to shoot and blow things up… but that is part of the military defense business. It is necessary.
Maybe in Evangelical Christianity, we need people whose passion is greater than their thoughtful reasoning. Maybe we need people who are loud and abrasive. Maybe we need people who embrace politics with gusto regardless of whether they truly understand the issues and the ethics involved.