Ched Myers and Elaine Enns have just published a two volume work, Ambassadors of Reconciliation (Orbis Books), a great new resource for peacemakers and justice-workers interested in the latest insights for our struggle. Volume One provides an excellent overview of restorative justice and its connection to Gospel peacemaking. Volume Two profiles nine extraordinary, contemporary Christians from across the spectrum who practice restorative justice and peacemaking full-time, and make a huge difference in the lives of many. Together, these scholarly and readable books offer a new, ground-breaking theology and practice for Christians seeking to understand and live Jesus’ way of nonviolence and its application for today.
On the Road to Peace
I've known and admired Edwina Gateley for years, and even had the privilege of speaking at various church events with her, most memorably, a week-long teach-in together in Olympia, Washington, seven years ago. She's a spell-binding speaker, heroic church woman, devoted mother, great writer, amazing story teller, brilliant organizer and good friend. I cherish her wit and wisdom; most of all, she cheers me up and gives me new energy to carry on our work of peace and justice.
In the last few weeks, three laudable men died -- Senator Ted Kennedy, Fr. Coman Brady, and Jim McGinnis -- and the rash of deaths has me pondering not only their praiseworthy lives but the ineffable mystery of life itself.
The rich press coverage of Kennedy's funeral impressed me. So did the vehemence of those who assailed his record. I for one give thanks for his fight for civil rights, social justice, and universal healthcare. And I rejoice in his public stand against Bush's war on Iraq, "the best vote of my career," he said. I was moved to see footage of him reflecting on a politics of hope, on redemption and resurrection, on persevering in the good fight.
The United Nations has designated Oct. 2, Gandhi’s birthday, as International Nonviolence Day. To help people of faith promote and mark the day, the Commission on Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation for the Union of Superiors General in Rome commissioned the following prayer service. It is being translated and distributed to religious orders around the world. I want to offer it to everyone who would like to host a prayer service for nonviolence. Anyone who wishes can copy it and distribute it -- and pray with it.
It astonishes me to read in the Gospel of Luke how Jesus instructs his disciples to love their enemies, be compassionate, welcome children, serve the poor, feed the hungry, and take up the cross -- and how the disciples just don’t get it. Instead, they ask if they can take up the sword. Two thousand years later, we still don’t get it.
This week Pax Christi New Mexico friends and I will mark the anniversary of the United States’ obscene bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And to commemorate the victims, as we’ve done for years now, hundreds of us, plus two Nobel Peace prize winners, will converge on Los Alamos, where the atomic bomb was made. There we’ll sit in sackcloth and ashes and pray to see nuclear weapons banished from the earth.
Several hundred people gathered in a Chicago hotel this weekend for the annual Pax Christi assembly. There we met other activists, renewed old friendships, and took energy from inspiring speakers. Mostly, we pondered the theme laid out in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s final sermon, “Remaining Awake through a Great Revolution.” He preached it at Washington’s National Cathedral, four days before an assassin’s bullet struck him down.
King’s sermon evoked the image of Rip Van Winkle’s 20-year sleep. “One of the great liabilities of life is that too many people find themselves living amid a great period of social change, and yet they fail to develop the new attitudes, the new mental responses, that the new situation demands. They end up sleeping through a revolution!”
The past few weeks, hundreds of thousands have marched nonviolently in Iran protesting an election purloined by fraud. Battalions of police attacked, but the campaign continues. In Honduras the military staged a coup, and the streets brimmed with those who refuse, nonviolently, to cooperate with the unelected regime.
Last week, between the two poles of my swinging pendulum from desert life to hectic travel, I spent a few days alone hiking the lush Redwood National Forest in northern California. I went with a purpose in mind -- to prepare my mind for trial. It was looming and bearing down. I faced the possibility of six months for my protest on Holy Thursday at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, home to our unmanned drones. But just before I left, word came down. The prosecutor had dropped all charges. I headed for the stately forest just the same.
Little on the planet prepares you for such a sight. The coastal redwoods are the largest trees on the globe. Some reach 35 stories tall, some are 1,500 years old. I ambled into vast groves of them, my neck craning upward, the sky nearly hidden. Seldom does a sunbeam find its way to the ground.
It’s official. As of last week, according to the United Nations, over one billion people are now starving to death. That’s one in six people across the globe. That’s an 11 percent jump from last year.
You might not have heard the announcement. The Associated Press gave it but a moment’s notice. And yet here lies one of the most monstrous scandals of the world. And the scandal indicts us, especially us First World Christians.
News of this epidemic of hunger should blare from every front page. Every politician should be inveighing against it from behind a dais; every commentator should be discussing it before a camera. It should be on the hearts of people of faith. And together we should come to a firm resolve -- to bail out the starving, not bankers; to reallocate the billions in war funds to those on the verge of dying. Demilitarize the nations and feed the starving -- then will life be doubly served.