It's hard to handle the profound challenges of Gospel nonviolence, especially when they stand in such stark contrast to our culture, our country, our world, even our church. That's why this new collection of essays, A Faith Not Worth Fighting For: Addressing Commonly Asked Questions about Christian Nonviolence (edited by Tripp York and Justin Bronson Barringer, Cascade Books/Wipf and Stock Pub., 2012, with a foreword by Stanley Hauerwas and an afterword by Shane Claiborne), is such an important book for these painful times.
On the Road to Peace
For the last three weeks, I've been traveling through Scotland and England on a national speaking tour about Jesus and peacemaking. This is the second half of my journal account. Read the first part here.
Monday, Sept. 3, Birmingham, England
Tonight, I spoke at St. Chad's Cathedral in Birmingham's City Centre. "How can we keep on speaking about peace even though we are so widely dismissed by people and ignored by the mainstream media and culture?" someone asked. "How do we communicate with people in the military?" another asked. In my talk about Jesus and peacemaking, I urged people to speak out, to be prophetic voices on behalf of the God of peace, to denounce our war in Afghanistan and pursue the Gospel vision of peace -- and to be faithful to the task at hand, no matter what the outcome. We leave the results in God's hands.
This week, I'm traveling through Scotland and England on a national speaking tour about Jesus and peacemaking. Here is a little journal account of the first half of my journey. Next week, I'll post the second half.
This year, my summer reading included Carolyn Maull McKinstry's memoir, While the World Watched: A Birmingham Bombing Survivor Comes of Age During the Civil Rights Movement (Tyndale, 2011, 301 pp., with Denise George), which I picked up at the Civil Rights Institute on a recent visit to Birmingham, Ala. I was profoundly moved by her story about the infamous Sept. 15, 1963, Ku Klux Klan bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, which killed her four girlfriends. She tells of the long aftermath of pain, grief and resentment that led to her astonishing turn toward forgiveness and universal love. Carolyn McKinstry, I believe, is a rare Gospel witness of truth and love, and I highly recommend her book.
Last month's movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colo., was another wake-up call for our gun-crazy, violent nation. We grieve for the dead and wounded and join with others in a demand handgun reform, but what we need is a fundamental change among us all. This ongoing horrific violence and the daily violence we read about summon us to make a principled turn from violence to nonviolence. Every one of us, and every sector of society, needs to make that turn. Without our conversion to nonviolence, we will be forever stuck in the ancient mindlessness and downward spiral of violence. But we need not be stuck. We can choose to be nonviolent people.
The future of war was on display last week at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. There, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International showed and sold the latest weapons of death -- drones, those unmanned fighter bombers currently used by the Obama administration to bomb children in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Yemen. It was like a big, happy, drunken party for death. Fortunately, peacemakers took notice and held vigil and did what they could to call for the abolition of drones and war itself.
A hundred and fifty of us gathered on Sunday night, Aug. 5, at Ashley Pond in Los Alamos, New Mexico, at the exact spot where long ago the Hiroshima Bomb was built. Right at 5:15 p.m -- 8:15 a.m. Monday morning, Aug. 6 in Japan -- we heard live, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, the ringing of the Peace Bell in Hiroshima.
Editor's note: This meditation is the fifth of a five-part summer series on the peace writings in the psalms.
They have mouths but do not speak, eyes but do not see.
They have ears but do not hear, noses but do not smell.
They have hands but do not feel, feet but do not walk,
and no sound rises from their throats.
Their makers shall be like them, all who trust in them." (Ps. 115: 4-8)
Editor's note: This meditation is the fourth of a five-part summer series on the peace writings in the psalms.
Editor's note: This meditation is the third of a five-part summer series on the peace writings in the psalms.