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On the Road to Peace

Collection of essays answers fundamental questions of nonviolence in Christianity

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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.

Journal from England and Scotland (Part 2)

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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.

Memoir on Birmingham bombing a study in forgiveness

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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.

We must turn toward nonviolence in every area of society

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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.

Waging peace at the drone convention

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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.

The Psalms of Peace, part five (Ps. 115)

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Editor's note: This meditation is the fifth of a five-part summer series on the peace writings in the psalms.

"Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands.
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)

The Psalms of Peace, part four (Ps. 85)

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Editor's note: This meditation is the fourth of a five-part summer series on the peace writings in the psalms.

"I will listen for the word of the God of peace. Surely the God of peace will proclaim peace to God's people, to the faithful, to those who trust in the God of peace ... Love and truth will embrace; justice and peace will kiss. Truth will spring from the earth; justice will look down from heaven." (Ps. 85: 9-12)

The Psalms of Peace, part 3 (Ps. 34)

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Editor's note: This meditation is the third of a five-part summer series on the peace writings in the psalms.

"Come, children, listen to me. I will teach you awe for the God of peace. Who among you loves life, takes delight in prosperous days? Keep your tongue from evil, your lips from speaking lies. Turn from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it." (Ps. 34: 12-15)

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July 4-17, 2014

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