"The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.
Sunday, March 02, 2008
The Eucharist is God's Absolute "No" to Violence
Peace through Conviction Award to US Deserter See the joy of following conscience.
Within the wisdom of Christ we find the weapons to resist the obscene flood of violence that now sweeps across the world. The principle purveyor of this violence is the empire that has emerged from what was once the democratic republic of the United States. This principality claims the power to devastate entire countries by identifying its material interests with the interests of the kingdom of God. This is a blasphemy against the kingdom of Christ, and we are called to resist this illusion.
We undercut the power of violence by breaking its illusions, its idols of silver and gold. The myth of redemptive violence is the illusion that is killing children in Palestine and destroying the humanity of the Iraqis. In one sense, it is the illusion of the power of matter to solve the problems of the spirit. As James Douglass describes it, "War in our time discloses the inherent powerlessness of matter at its most powerful to resolve the injustices of man's spirit. Thus the dead end of war forces the Christian conscience into a confrontation with the issue of war itself, and into a growing recognition of that gap between the intention of peace and the execution of the sword which in the light of Gospel reduces the notion of a just war to legalized fratricide." - James W. Douglass, "The Non-Violent Cross". With Gandhi, we believe in the power of the cross which is the essence of nonviolence.
At last, the Church is beginning to take the next step and show her faith in our Lord may really be without limit. Forty years ago, James Douglass wrote, "Not until the condemnation of total war has become in the Church merely the background for the emerging Gospel mandate for total peace will the revolution of conscience be assured." - James W. Douglass, "The Non-Violent Cross".
Almost exactly one year ago today, the Holy Father called for a "Christian Revolution", by which he meant an end to violence and a love powerful enough to embrace the most bitter enemy. According to the Pope, "Love your enemies" is "...the "magna carta" of Christian nonviolence; it does not consist in surrendering to evil -- as claims a false interpretation of "turn the other cheek" (Luke 6:29) -- but in responding to evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21), and thus breaking the chain of injustice. It is thus understood that nonviolence, for Christians, is not mere tactical behavior but a person's way of being, the attitude of one who is convinced of God's love and power, who is not afraid to confront evil with the weapons of love and truth alone." - "Benedict XVI Calls for a 'Christian Revolution' Invites Faithful to Respond to Evil With Good", Feb. 18, 2007
"Loving the enemy is the nucleus of the "Christian revolution," a revolution not based on strategies of economic, political or media power. The revolution of love, a love that does not base itself definitively in human resources, but in the gift of God, that is obtained only and unreservedly in his merciful goodness." - "Benedict XVI Calls for a 'Christian Revolution' Invites Faithful to Respond to Evil With Good", Feb. 18, 2007
In the words of the great Council father, Abbot Butler, "The weapons of the gospel are not nuclear but spiritual, it wins its victories not by war but by suffering...Our help in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth."
In the practical circumstances where we must live out the gospel, it is clear that the empire regards war not as a moral dilemma, but as one of many instruments by which to strengthen its economic power, ensure that threats to its interests are neutralized before they can grow, and preserve its ability to repress dissent efficiently by providing realistic training opportunities.
In such circumstances, the duty of the man who is or has become a Christian while serving as one of the empire's soldiers is clear:
"Refuse to fight! Refuse to kill!"
In the words of Jonah House:
"You are being ordered to war by the most powerful nation on earth. You are being ordered to war by a nation with the most destructive weapons ever conceived, developed, deployed or used. You are being ordered to war by a nation whose self-acknowledged posture is that of world domination, mastery, control. This nation can have no moral justification for war."