"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.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Cost of Discipleship

A recent exchange on the blog Imitatio Christi, a blog that explores the implications of imitating Christ for all aspects of human existence (http://imitatiochristi.blogs.com/imitatio_christi/) focuses on the issue of forgiveness. A meditation on 9/11 and the forgiveness of enemies contained the following statement, "In fact, the 9/11 bombings, the bombings that followed in Madrid, Spain, and the recent bombings in London demonstrate the moral relevance and force of Jesus’ world for our life." It was followed by much questioning of the "One Nation Under God" response of mainline churches. My response was the following:

I would like to begin with a simple question, "Why can't the Pentagon adopt a policy of forgiveness?" Pause for a moment. What would be the consequence? Islamist radicals would be stunned, perhaps stunned into silence, the silence of awe, a silence that would drain the fierce focus of their attacks. Momentarily (only momentarily?) the cycle of violence and counterviolence would be broken. For a blessed moment, our world would look completely different. "Behold I make all things new."
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, "The only way to overcome evil is to let it run itself to a standstill because it does not find the resistance it is looking for. Resistance merely creates further evil and adds fuel to the flames. But when evil meets no opposition and encounters to obstacle but only patient endurance, its sting is drawn, and at last it meets an opponent which is more than its match. Of course this can only happen when the last ounce of resistance is abandoned, and the renunciation of revenge is complete. Then evil cannot find its mark, it can breed no further evil, and is left barren." - The Cost of Discipleship.
If we completely abandon the revenge that lives in our hearts and feeds on the flames of self-justification, perhaps this is the sign from us that God awaits to shed as-yet-unknown graces. Do we have hearts to imagine such miracles?
If we fail to react as the bombers secretly wish, then indeed evil has no mark. Study how the Bush reaction to bin Laden violence has fed that violence, how, on some unfathomable level, the two sides need each other to fan each other's justification. The spirit of Christ that lives within us is the match, the true answer to the violence of bin Laden and Bush, two halves of the same demonic coin, two offerings to the lord of this world. The cycle of revenge and justified counter-violence can only be ended by a creative act that steps beyond the assumptions which rise so automatically. What about a Department of Peace and Forgiveness? The worst that could happen is that we would be nailed to the cross.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

War Crimes Documented

The following is required reading for anyone who cares about the careless slaughter of human beings. A Dossier of Civilian Casualites in Iraq 2003 - 2005 has just been released that chronicles the murder of a generation in Iraq. Naturally, the news media can't be bothered with the fact that 24,865 civilians have been killed, 18% of whom were women and children, not when Natallee is still missing. 37% of all non-combatant deaths were caused by US led coalition forces, many through indiscriminate bombing raids (also knoown as precision strikes that miraculously manage to kill only insurgents - a true high-tech wonder). Why are you still sleeping? Read the dossier at http://reports.iraqbodycount.org/a_dossier_of_civilian_casualties_2003-2005.pdf.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

John Paul II and Gandhi

Standing at the place where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated, John Paul II made the following statement:

"From this place which is forever bound to the memory of this extraordinary man, I wish to express to the people of India and of the world my profound conviction that the peace and justice of which contemporary society has such great need will only be achieved along the path which was the core of his teaching."

Not Realpolitik, not "fighting the terrorists over there so we don't have to fight them here", not Shock and Awe, not forcing "freedom" and "democracy" on the skeptical Arab, but Gandhian nonviolence is the path which the Vicar of Christ has pointed out as the beacon for contemporary statesmanship. Much will become clear to us when we disarm our hearts, when we seek a power greater than bunker busters and rejoice in transformed spirits rather than soulless economies that rip the floor out from under those on the margins to ensure endless profits for those whose money could feed whole countries.

In other words, have we the courage to trust Christ and Him alone? Not to seek the protection of wealth and bombs and oceans of oil?

At the journey’s end may each be able to return to the Source in peace and say:
"I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision." Acts 26:19

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Blood Will Have Blood

"Blood will have blood; that's certain. But blood will not end it. For murder is fertile: it breeds more death, like a spider laden with a thousand eggs. And who now can break this cycle, which has been going on for generations?" - Chris Floyd, Booman Tribune, 7/9/2005.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Nonviolent Trinity

Some see the carnage in London and feel justified in their embrace of violence. Others see it and probe their hearts until the teeth begin to poke through. Understanding the violence that lives in them, they commit themselves to disarming their own hearts, ceasing to believe in a God that justifies murder. Many different reactions can be made to violence, but the incessant heat of propaganda insists that only one mode of reaction is acceptable. A single person needs deep wells of prayer-strength to resist the call to revenge, but if he or she can step out of the media-constructed self for a moment, the still, small voice may penetrate. The enemy is not those monsters out there, but the ones that live in our own hearts and heads, that strident commitment to kill for the great cause. As long as that one lives, we can incarcerate, strafe, humiliate, and shatter until the sun is a cold rock, and the monster will keep on laughing.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Torture Outsourced

"British and American aid intended for Iraq's hard-pressed police service is being diverted to paramilitary commando units accused of widespread human rights abuses, including torture and extra-judicial killings, The Observer can reveal.
The Observer has seen photographic evidence of post-mortem and hospital examinations of alleged terror suspects from Baghdad and the Sunni Triangle which demonstrate serious abuse of suspects including burnings, strangulation, the breaking of limbs and - in one case - the apparent use of an electric drill to perform a knee-capping." -- Guardian, July 3, 2005

Now that the Iraqi government has openly admitted to torture, we expect that the outcry among Catholics over the abuse of God's image, the blasphemy of torture will reach the heights it did during the controversy over whether liberal politicians should receive communion.

The Messiah

Rejoice heart and soul, daughter of Zion!
Shout with gladness, daughter of Jerusalem!
See now, your king comes to you;
he is victorious, he is triumphant,
humble and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
He will banish chariots from Ephraim
and horses from Jerusalem;
the bow of war will be banished.
He will proclaim peace for the nations.
His empire shall stretch from sea to sea,
from the River to the ends of the earth.

Zechariah 9: 9 - 10

This is the Messiah that we know - the one that puts an end to the old man with his stew of violence he keeps boiling in his heart. We do not seek an "outlet" for this violence, to moderate it by lowering its pressure. We seek an end to it. It's residue constantly pours out of us. When we fail to conquer it, when we justify it, eventually it boils over into the war the Iraq, becomes hatred of the Tutsi and the blacks in Darfur, or the Muslim down the street.

Those who believe that God has led them into the war in Iraq are not worshipping the God of Jesus Christ, but something in their own fear-dominated hearts. The God of "Left Behind" is an idol in the precise sense of the word, something external to our souls that commands, punishes and kills, much as the ancient Aztec gods demanded the sacrifice of a thousand hearts ripped from the breasts of the weak and defenseless each year.