|Brueggemann on Peace

I’ve been re-reading Brueggemann’s book Peace (2001). Here are a bunch of excerpts from the first chapter.

Page 14:

That persistent vision of joy, well-being, harmony, and prosperity is not captured in any single word or idea in the Bible; a cluster of words is required to express its many dimensions and subtle nuances: love, loyalty, truth, grace, salvation, justice, blessing, righteousness. But the term that in recent discussions has been used to summarize that controlling vision is shalom. Both in such discussion and in the Bible itself, it bears tremendous freight–the freight of a dream of God that resists all our tendencies to division, hostility, fear, drivenness, and misery.

Shalom is the substance of the biblical vision of one community embracing all creation. It refers to all those resources and factors that make communal harmony joyous and effective.

Page 15:

Shalom comes only to the inclusive, embracing community that excludes none.

Page 16:

A second dimension of shalom is the historic political community. Absence of shalom and lack of harmony are expressed in social disorder as evidenced in economic inequality, judicial perversion, and political oppression and exclusivism.

Page 17:

The doing of righteousness and justice results in the building of viable community, that is, shalom, in which the oppressed and disenfranchised have dignity and power.

Page 18:

The consequence of justice and righteousness is shalom, an enduring Sabbath of joy and well-being. But the alternative is injustice and oppression, which lead inevitably to turmoil and anxiety, with no chance of well-being (Isaiah 48:22; 57:21).

Page 19:

In historic community, the forces of injustice and exploitation are opposed by God’s will for responsible, equitable justice, which yields security. In personal existence, driven, anxious self-seeking is opposed by God’s will for generous caring. The biblical vision of shalom functions always as a firm rejection of values and lifestyles that seek security and well-being in manipulative ways at the expense of another part of creation, another part of the community, or a brother or sister.

Page 20:

But shalom is not subject to our best knowledge or our cleverist gimmicks. It comes only through the costly way of caring.

Page 22:

It is profound and disturbing to discover that this remarkable religious vision will have to be actualized in the civil community. The stuff of well-being is the sordid collection of rulers, soldiers, wardens, and carpetbaggers in Judah and in every place of displaced, exhausted hope.

Page 23:

Shalom of a biblical kind is always somewhat scandalous–never simply a liturgical experience or a mythical statement, but one facing our deepest divisions and countering with a vision.

Addressing Galatians 3:28-29:

Called to the Lord’s single community, bearers of God’s single promise, children of the one Abraham. Paul runs blatantly over our favorite divisions–black-white, rich-poor, male-female, East-West, old-young, or whatever…. Then Paul comes right out and says it ever more flatly: “He [Jesus] is our peace (shalom)” (Ephesians 2:14).

In addition to the Bible verses listed here, two others stood out to me in this chapter: Jeremiah 6:13-14 and 29:7.

For more on shalom, click here.

Interfaith Solidarity

I’ve heard two stories lately about interfaith solidarity that really impressed me.

First, Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds was taken prisoner in WWII. A Nazi prison guard demanded to know who of Edmonds’ men were Jewish. Edmonds refused to single them out, but instead declared, “We are all Jews here.”

Even with the threat of death, he didn’t change his answer. This courageous act saved the lives of the Jewish soldiers. The story goes:

Nazi leaders had told the Jewish soldiers to assemble outside their barracks one morning, to be taken to labor camps where they would almost certainly die.

But Edmonds, of Knoxville, Tennessee, ordered the entire contingent of 1,000 U.S. servicemen to join them, saying the Nazis had to kill all of them or none.

Even when threatened at gunpoint, Edmonds didn’t budge, and his gambit worked. The Nazi official backed down and around 200 Jewish soldiers stayed in captivity with the others until they were liberated.

You can learn more of the details here (“‘We are all Jews here’: U.S. soldier honored after leading revolt against Nazi prison guard who demanded Jews step forward so they could be killed,” Kieran Corcoran, Daily Mail, 2 Dec 2015).

Second, a similar situation recently occurred in Kenya, but this time it was Muslims protecting Christians. The BBC reports:

A group of Kenyan Muslims travelling on a bus ambushed by Islamist gunmen protected Christian passengers by refusing to be split into groups, according to eyewitnesses.

They told the militants “to kill them together or leave them alone”, a local governor told Kenyan media.

At least two people were killed in the attack, near the north-eastern village of El Wak on the Somali border.

Learn more about this brave stance here (“Kenyan Muslims shield Christians in Mandera bus attack,” BBC, 21 Dec 2015).

What would I do if I had been in that camp or on that bus? Would I have the courage in the moment to stand up for others? Would I express that level of solidarity? I’m thankful for those who such a brave example for us to ponder. May I be shaped and formed by these stories.

Web Round-up

Christian articles relating to social ethics and action (plus a few about faith more generally):

Plus here is a list for Seventh-day Adventists (link).

MISC PEACE, JUSTICE & HUMAN RIGHTS (General Sources)

ENVIRONMENT

Veterans Day Web Round-up

I agree with Jesse Ventura that we can love vets and hate war. With that in mind here are some links on the topic of war and veterans:

Shane Claiborne on Veterans Day

Shane Claiborne posted three items on Veterans Day that I believe are worth contemplating. He shares thoughts on Facebook rather than a blog (as far as I know), so they are hard to link to. Therefore, I’ve decided to copy-and-paste them here. Shane, if this is inappropriate, let me know so I can remove them. Peace

(1) November 11, 2014

I absolutely love that the Church celebrates Martin of Tours, the “patron saint of soldiers”, on the same day as Veterans Day. Ironically, Martin was one of the Church’s first conscientious objectors to war – he refused to fight, left the military, and coined the phrase: “I am a soldier for Christ… I cannot fight the wars of man.” I can’t imagine a better person to remember on Veterans day.

Here’s a little more about brother Martin:

Martin of Tours was born during the troubling time of Constantine’s crusades. He was born four years after Constantine’s legendary conversion to Christianity, when Christians were exchanging the cross of Jesus for the sword of the empire. Into this world of “holy war,” Martin was born. He was named after Mars, the god of war. His dad was a veteran, in fact a senior officer, of the Roman Army. And like many of our kids, Martin entered the service as a young teenager to fight the crusades of the empire.

And then there was an interruption. Outside the gates of Amiens in modern-day France, Martin had a human encounter that would forever change him. He met a scantily-clad beggar and was deeply moved with compassion. With very little to give away, he took off his military cloak and cut it in half, giving half to the beggar. Then he eventually laid down his arms, saying, “I am a Christian, I cannot fight.” Later he would be taken to jail, insulted, and persecuted for deserting the army. He’s great person to remember on Veteran’s Day.

Our veteran buddy Logan Mehl-Laituri released his newest book FOR GOD AND COUNTRY on Veteran’s Day last year. This year Logan and the Centurion’s Guild have been profiling 10 “Soldier Saints” over the past 10 days — check it out on their blog: http://centurionsguild.org/blog/

And while we’re at it… why don’t we give a copy of one of Logan’s books away to the 10th person to email us with “WAR NO MORE” as subject: sc@redletterchristians.org

It’s the perfect book for Veterans Day as we try to honor the soldiers and the dead by putting an end to war.

http://centurionsguild.org/blog/

– See more at: http://www.redletterchristians.org/feasting-martin-tours-veterans-day/#sthash.CEcw9lDd.dpuf

(2) November 11, 2014

One of my favorite Veterans (other than my dad of course) is Charlie Liteky.

In 1968 Charlie Liteky was given the highest award in the US, the Medal of Honor by President Lyndon Johnson. In the movie, “Forrest Gump”, they dub over Charlie to put Tom Hanks in as he is given the award. What is not as well known is that in 1986 Charlie joined some of the most decorated veterans in the US as they returned their Medals of Honor and renounced all war.

Charlie and I got to be in Iraq together in 2003 with the Iraq Peace Team. One of the things he taught me is that veterans often know the horrors of war better than anyone. We can see it in the suicide rate (one a day for soldiers, 22 a day for veterans) and in the rate of homelessness and addiction of vets (there are 50,000 homeless veterans).

When we fight for peace, we are fighting for them. We honor the men and women in uniform by trying to put an end to war. In Iraq, I remember Charlie holding a sign while we were there that said: “I hate war as only a Veteran can.” It reminded me of the words of Ernest Hemingway: “Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime. Ask the infantry and ask the dead.”

Let’s commit ourselves today, as many folks celebrate “Veterans Day” — to honor the infantry and the dead by committing to build a world without war.

In the name of the Prince of Peace. Amen.

(3) November 11, 2014

And finally…

In remembrance of Veterans Day, I came across one of my favorite poems from a veteran named George Mizo. It was handed to me by one of his friends at a vigil for peace:

You, my church, told me it was wrong to kill … except in war.

You, my teachers, told me it was wrong to kill … except in war.

You, my father and mother, told me it was wrong to kill … except in war.

You, my friends, told me it was wrong to kill … except in war.

You, my government, told me it was wrong to kill … except in war.

But now I know, you were wrong, and now I will tell you, my church, my teachers, my father and mother, my friends, my government, it is not wrong to kill except in war. It is wrong to kill.

Random Articles about Christianity

I haven’t posted anything about religion for a while. Here are some articles that have caught my attention, plus one I wrote for Adventist Peace Fellowship:

Parenting, Peace and a Better World

This may be my first post on parenting. I can’t remember for sure. Lately, I’ve been thinking about parenting–both in my family of origin and in our little home. My parents gave me an amazing, yet simple, childhood, and now their 50th wedding anniversary isn’t too far in the future. They’ve provided an important example.

This morning I started reading a book on Christian parenting, and I thought I’d share some of the quotes here for contemplation. These may be incomprehensible to some people or they might sound cheesy to others, but these lines spoke to me, so I’m sharing them here. I’ve added my own headings and rearranged the material to better suit these headings. These words were written between 1890 and 1911.

Importance of the Home

The well-being of society, the success of the church, the prosperity of the nation, depend upon home influences.

The elevation or deterioration of the future of society will be determined by the manners and morals of the youth growing up around us. As the youth are educated, and as their characters are molded in their childhood to virtuous habits, self-control, and temperance, so will their influence be upon society. (p. 15)

Importance of Love (Between spouses and between parents and children)

[Home] should be a little heaven upon earth, a place where the affections are cultivated instead of being studiously repressed. Our happiness depends upon this cultivating of love, sympathy, and true courtesy to one another….

If the will of God is fulfilled, the husband and wife will respect each other and cultivate love and confidence. (p. 15)

Make your home atmosphere fragrant with tender thoughtfulness. (p. 16)

You must not have strife in your household. “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” It is gentleness and peace that we want in our homes. (p. 18)

Every home should be a place of love, a place where the angels of God abide, working with softening, subduing influence upon the hearts of parents and children….

Wherever the love of God is cherished in the soul, there will be peace, there will be light and joy. Spread out the word of God before your families in love, and ask, “Where hath God spoken?” (pp. 18-19)

The home that is beautified by love, sympathy, and tenderness is a place that angels love to visit, and where God is glorified. The influence of a carefully guarded Christian home in the years of childhood and youth is the surest safeguard against the corruption of the world. (p. 19)

Parents and children should unite in offering loving service to Him who alone can keep human love pure and noble (p. 19)

Parenting (Discipline and living examples)

…parents should, in their words and deportment toward each other, give to the children a precious, living example of what they desire them to be. Purity in speech and true Christian courtesy should be constantly practiced. Teach the children and youth to respect themselves, to be true to God, true to principle; teach them to respect and obey the law of God. (p. 16)

Let every lesson be of an elevating and ennobling character…. Children who receive this kind of instruction will…be prepared to fill places of responsibility and, by precept and example, will be constantly aiding other to do right. Those whose moral sensibilities have not been blunted will appreciate right principles; they will put a just estimate upon their natural endowments and will make the best use of their physical, mental, and moral powers. (pp. 16-17)

God would have our families symbols of the family in heaven. (p. 17)

Much depends on the father and mother. They are to be firm and kind in their discipline… (p. 17)

Never forget that you are to make the home bright and happy for yourselves and your children by cherishing the Saviour’s attributes. (p. 17)

Troubles may invade, but these are the lot of humanity. Let patience, gratitude, and love keep sunshine in the heart though the day may be ever so cloudy.

The home may be plain, but it can always be a place where cheerful words are spoken and kindly deeds are done, where courtesy and love are abiding guests. (p. 18)

Administer the rules of the home in wisdom and love, not with a rod of iron. Children will respond with willing obedience to the rule of love. Commend your children whenever you can. Make their lives as happy as possible…. Keep the soil of the heart mellow by the manifestation of love and affection, thus preparing it for the seed of truth…. Remember that children need not only reproof and correction, but encouragement and commendation, the pleasant sunshine of kind words.

The first work to be done in a Christian home is to see that the Spirit of Christ abides there… (p. 20)

NOTE: All material is from chapter 1 of The Adventist Home by Ellen G. White.

Christian Peacemaker Teams Webinar

Last night I participated in a webinar hosted by Ched Myers. His two guest presenters–Sarah Thompson and Tim Nafziger–are leaders of Christian Peacemaker Teams (Facebook).

Here are some of the people referenced during the informative webinar:

Crazy Radical Environmental Fruit-Nuts

In the past month or so I’ve watched two very intriguing documentaries about environmental activists who go to prison for their actions. Readers of this blog know I advocate for nonviolent social action, and I just want to highlight that again in the context of these two films.

The first is If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (PBS, film website, Wikipedia, IMDB, DemocracyNow!) which follows the story of Daniel McGowan. As a member of the ELF, McGowan had participated in arson as a tactic for social and environmental change. The film simultaneously tells the ELF’s story and follows court proceedings against McGowan.

If a Tree Falls is compelling story-telling. It is a provocative look at the sociological, psychological, and political factors that radicalized the local environmental activist community. I appreciated that the filmmakers allowed the activists and the law enforcement personnel to be complex; they weren’t dumbed down to one-dimensional caricatures. These are complex issues with complex actors, and I value that this messiness was allowed to come through.

More recently, I watched Bidder 70, which looks at the actions of Tim DeChristopher relating to conservation and climate change (film website, organization, Facebook, IMBD, Peaceful Uprising). Rather than take a violent or destructive approach like McGowan, DeChristopher interfered with an auction of extraction rights by holding up his bidding number, 70.

I have a deep respect for people who find creative and meaningful ways to live our their values. I respect even more those who dedicate themselves to pursuing this integration of values and living in peaceful or nonviolent ways.

Reflection Questions

  1. Am I as committed to my values as these two young men are?
  2. To what degree have I integrated my values and actions? What holds me back from doing this more fully?
  3. What sacrifices am I willing to make to live what I believe and to promote my values?
  4. What role did community play in the lives of these two men? How did community influence them before, during and after the actions noted in these films?
  5. In the area of environmental activism, what is needed today? What issues, strategies and tactics are most important at this stage in world history?

BONUS

Want to find more films that address some of these same themes? Check out the follow twelve films on protest and social action:

  1. Encounter Point (2006, documentary)
  2. Budrus (2009, documentary)
  3. 5 Broken Cameras (2011, documentary)
  4. The Singing Revolution (2006, documentary)
  5. This Is What Democracy Looks Like (2000, documentary)
  6. Pray the Devil Back to Hell (2008, documentary)
  7. Rage Against the Machine: Revolution in the Head and the Art of Protest (2010, documentary)
  8. 180 South (2010, documentary)
  9. A Force More Powerful (1999, documentary)
  10. The Edukators (2004, movie)
  11. Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (2004, movie)
  12. Amazing Grace (2006, movie)

Web Round-up

MISC PEACE, JUSTICE & HUMAN RIGHTS

ENVIRONMENT

RELIGIOUS ETHICSlist