29 May 2014

"Who speaks for peace?" I know!

"The Deserter."
Boardman Robinson, source. Thanks to Nikolai Pavlov, Квакеры.
Doug Bennett asks "Who speaks for peace on Memorial Day?"

I think it should be obvious. It's the person who takes the Bible utterly seriously. It's the person who believes that Jesus accepted death, even death on a cross, rather than call in the legions of angels. It's the one who knows that Jesus has gone ahead to prepare a place for us, and that nothing can separate us from his love. It's the one who knows, with James, "from whence come wars and fightings" among us. It's the one who knows that "enemies" are people for whom we pray, and for whom we desire liberation.

In short, it's the evangelical Christian who speaks for peace....

Isn't it?

At least, that's the way it is in my fantasy world. How could it not be so? With Jesus as our prophet, priest, and king, we are forever free of any power vertical that could command us to kill. Biblical realism (as I tried to summarize here, some years ago) strips away any phony glamour or national mythology from the reality of war. Quite simply, war is animal violence in its peculiar human manifestation--inevitable whenever you have sufficient numbers of people colliding and competing with each other, and completely regardless of our illusion that we can turn this violence on and off at will.

OK, if I claim that war is inevitable, that it's an aspect of being creatures, and that this kind of realism is biblical, then how can I say that evangelicals are for peace? Because "realism" is not God's final answer! Everyone who puts his or her trust in Jesus automatically has a license to NOT-kill! We give governments and authorities their just roles--to have a fair stewardship of social order and scarce resources--but when they, too, go out of bounds as the Bible warns, at that point we confront them: "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye." [Context.] God has given to us, not necessarily to secular governments, the ministry of reconciliation. That is our unique calling.

You may not agree that being an evangelical Christian should imply an uncompromising stand for peace. But I'd like to ask, gently, whether you've ever considered how convenient it is for the principalities and powers of this world that we Christians can be persuaded to kill. (Sadly, well-known church leaders who ought to know better can sometimes be pressed into service to conflate biblical faith and patriotism when it suits the politicians.) Even if I can't change your mind, I'd like to try to challenge that convenience.

"War and Peace," Phyllis Zagano in the National Catholic Reporter. "I mean the war dead no disrespect. I have been to many, many Memorial Day ceremonies. But no culture seems to honor peace. Not only that, no culture seems to really want peace."

Micah Bales and the Friends of Jesus invite us to join and support a wonderfully ambitious plan to plant and cultivate new Quaker communities. Isn't this what many of us have been dreaming of for years?
This financially released ministry will encourage leadership development, creative outreach, care for the Friends of Jesus Fellowship as a whole, and a renewed engagement with the Religious Society of Friends. This is a ministry that calls us to lives of radical discipleship and love in the Spirit. In cooperation with the Friends of Jesus Fellowship, I will continue to encourage and seed new communities across the United States, and possibly beyond.
I'm grateful to have a part in advising and supporting this initiative. Please join us!!

Refreshing honesty: "Not to go kicking the hornet’s nest here, but I will admit as a pastor I hardly get any feedback. At all. About anything. Sometimes no news is good news, but when you don’t get any feedback for a while often people will begin to wonder, 'is something wrong? Are people afraid to talk to me?'"

Presented as a follow-up to my post of a couple of weeks ago, "Worship and offense": Here's Terry Mattingly on "The quest for safe, generic, 'ceremonial' prayers."

As far-right and anti-immigrant political parties gain votes, "Is Europe Encountering a New Holocaust?"

"Bank of England governor: Capitalism doomed if ethics vanish."

Carolyn Wonderland: "What I know of peace, it ain't hard to understand...."

"Only God Knows When" -- music and lyrics by Carolyn Wonderland (source)

What I know of peace, it ain't hard to understand
Whether it's shared by nations or individuals that stand
Toe to toe with each other, an olive branch in hand
Because violence is no solution when life doesn't suit your plans

Only God Knows When, Only God Knows When
We're gonna get ourselves together, come up with the perfect plan
Only God Knows When

It's a hollow victory in winning when someone pays the cost
Retaliations by the hour, lives and generations lost
Everybody thinks they're righteous or they never would have fought
Ask yourself when you're starving my brother just how easily can I be bought

Only God Knows When, Only God Knows When
We're gonna get ourselves together, come up with the perfect plan
Only God Knows When

One day you will wake up, find yourself in your enemy's bed
I pray that you don't slay him, perhaps you'll turn to him instead
Converse as opposed to quarreling, and agreed or not, break bread
And realize there is only us, there never really was a them

Only God Knows When, Only God Knows When
We 're gonna get ourselves together, come up with the perfect plan
Only God Knows When
We 're gonna get ourselves together, come up with the perfect plan
Only God Knows When

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