Editor's note: This meditation is the second of a five-part summer series on the peace writings in the psalms.
On the Road to Peace
Editor's note: This meditation is the first of a five-part summer series on the peace writings in the psalms.
Psalm 33 is a hymn of praise to the God of peace and a warning to those who place their hope and trust in the false gods of war. You can't serve both the God of peace and the weapons of war, it announces. It's one or the other. Show reverence to the God of peace and live in peace, gratitude and joy, or show reverence to the weapons of war and their false security and die. That's the message I get from the text. It's more radical -- and helpful -- than any spiritual writing you'll find today.
It was hot and muggy this past weekend at the campsite outside of Chapel Hill, N.C., where about 2,000 progressive Christians gathered for the second annual ecumenical Wild Goose Festival, but people didn't seem to mind. Everyone enjoyed the music, the speakers, the prayer groups, the art booths, the kids' games, and the conversations with old and new friends. I, too, was happy to catch up with many friends, among them civil rights leader and theologian Vincent Harding. He has taught for the last few decades at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, but he is best known for his work with Martin Luther King Jr., the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during the 1960s and for drafting speeches for Dr. King, including his famous April 4, 1967, speech against the Vietnam War.
On Dec. 11, 2009, Palestinian Christians issued a heartfelt, sober, prayerful, urgent cry for help to end the U.S.-backed Israeli occupation. Their Kairos document was called: "A Moment of Truth: A Word of Faith, Hope and Love from the Heart of Palestinian Suffering." Yesterday, after two years of work, Christian leaders from around the United States, calling themselves Kairos USA, released an official response. I urge every Christian in the U.S. to read the response (as well as the original Kairos Palestine document), to pray over it, talk about it and join the growing movement to end the occupation.
"The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."
That's the advice of Howard Zinn and the insight of a helpful new book, Healing the Future: Personal Recovery from Societal Wounding by Dennis Linn, Sheila Faricant Linn and Jesuit Fr. Matthew Linn (Paulist Press, June 2012). The Linns have long taught that we are all wounded in our personal lives by our parents, families and childhood, but now the entire toxic culture of violence is poisoning each one of us.
There have been hundreds of thousands of acts of nonviolent civil disobedience in U.S. history that have helped the cause of justice and peace. The Boston Tea Party, Thoreau's one night in jail, the suffragists who blocked the White House entrance, Rosa Parks' refusal to move to the back of the bus -- concerned people throughout our history have confronted injustice through civil disobedience as a way to change unjust laws. Indeed, one could argue that positive social change can only come "after good people break bad laws and accept the consequences." In recent years, thousands have been arrested for protesting the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the evil Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, mountaintop removal, and Wall Street corporate greed in the Occupy movement. Two weeks ago, thousands protested draconian laws in Montreal in the largest protest in Canadian history.
"Whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."(Mt. 5:19) That's what Jesus announced in the Sermon on the Mount, right after the beatitudes and just before the six antitheses, which instruct us to resist evil nonviolently and to love our enemies. In light of that verse, Walter Wink must be considered one of the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. I can think of no higher praise.
Walter died peacefully May 10 in his home in Sandisfield, Mass., at age 76, with his beloved wife, June, by his side. I first met Walter 20 years ago, but I'd been studying his books for years before that. He helped me at the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and in recent years, we had lunch together each year in Santa Fe with our friends Sheila and Dennis Linn when they attended the annual conference of scientists and philosophers.
"NATO doesn't work anymore. Let's dismantle this arcane network of war makers whose fundamental purpose is the service of U.S. military interests and create a new global network for nonviolent conflict resolution, which serves the whole human race by leading us toward a new world of peace."
That's the message from the weekend, when thousands marched in Chicago against the largest meeting of NATO in its 63-year history.
We’ve all witnessed the worst of religion, how organized religion can hurt us, turn our leaders into cruel, power-hungry authorities, and bless war not peace. Yet many of us continue to plumb the depths of all that is good and positive in religion and spirituality in our search for the Divine, and this proves to be a great blessing. In this search for God and the common good, at some point, many of us have joined local, national and international interfaith programs and projects in our work for peace.
Fifty miles off the southern tip of South Korea lies Jeju Island, one of the world's most beautiful islands, known for its glorious rocky coast, coral reefs and sacred vista. But as far as the United States is concerned, its sole purpose is its strategic location next to China, Japan and Taiwan. The United States has asked South Korea to build a major naval base there for U.S. Aegis destroyers -- U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carriers that carry cruise missiles. These missiles, kept on U.S. destroyers and submarines at the proposed Jeju Island naval base, could be used someday to destroy Chinese ICBMs.
But contrary to all expectations, a magnificent campaign of daily nonviolent resistance against the base has grown in the last five years. What's even more inspiring is that church leaders are at the forefront of the campaign. Everyone who cares about peace needs to know what is happening on Jeju Island.