Category Archives: Peace

Never Forget: a Christian’s reflection on 9/11

Jesus had a vision of what it means to “Never forget” (the mantra of 9/11): that is, the open stance of “Do this in remembrance…”.

The open table might be the BEST metaphor for peaceable living and reversing the enemy-making process we are so good at.

In order to “Never Forget”: let us live openly, welcoming all who will come to the divine banquet of fellowship.

So out of remembrance:

Break bread with your neighbors today

Give to the poor

Encourage the weary

Welcome the excluded

Break the chains that bind

Out of remembrance…

 

Out of remembrance…

Refuse to be exclusive…

Refuse to ignore the needs around you…

Refuse to gain when others suffer…

Beloved, let us love one another.

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Virtue ethics

The Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder used to frequently get asked about his pacifism. He used such opportunities to talk about virtue ethics. Here is how the conversations would often go: “You can’t be serious about being nonviolent. I mean, what if you were in your kitchen with your wife, and someone came in and tried to rape her, and you had a gun right there on the counter top, easily within reach… you mean to say you wouldn’t use it to stop him?” And Yoder would say “That wouldn’t happen. The question is wrong… you don’t understand. I wouldn’t have a gun.” By virtue of who he was, the ethic of living came forth… Thus it is with our responses in all things: to God and to each other.

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An excellent sermon on Gun Control

This sermon is representative of my own beliefs on Gun Control.  Living in the city of Chicago, it is an issue we cannot afford to ignore.

Sermon by Steve van Kuiken, Lake Street Church of Evanston, Evanston, IL.   July 21, 2013.

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Today… first steps…

Today I joined the NAACP and also made a donation.  These are small steps, but they are steps. This country has to change.

You too can take these initial steps.  Join at NAACP.

Thank you.

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Remembering Trayvon Martin

they sit in ambush in the villages;
in hiding places they murder the innocent.
their eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
they lurk in secret like a lion in its covert…
they stoop, they crouch,
and the helpless fall.

psalm 10

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Paper strong…

My remarks here are written in response to this blog.

Several years ago after my Grandmother died, I was sorting through her things for the sale, and found, tucked in the piano bench along with her favorite hymnals, the aerogrammes I’d sent her from Papua New Guinea as a child. I sat on the floor next to the piano and read the ramblings and concerns and the joys of a little girl away at boarding school, trying to explain the world as I knew it in the jungle to someone on the farm in Ohio. Sprinkled throughout those letters are hints of homesickness coupled with fears of returning ‘home’: such tensions for a little girl to hold!

In a filing cabinet I found a bundle of the aerogrammes my Mother had sent her Mom. Many of them detail the same events or the same time period, but told instead from the perspective of a very young woman, trying her best to make good decisions for her children, and trying her best to serve the Lord in a very patriarchal, patronizing mission station. Her grief on so many levels was evident, even among the more heroic claims of faith.

The juxtaposition of the two sets of letters was very healing for me. And Grandma, bless her, managed to hold both close to her heart without betraying confidences. Those thin pages wielded a mighty balm!

The thinnest of paper bore the weight of the world.

The thinnest of paper bore the weight of the world.

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The political roots of Mother’s Day…

Mother’s Day had its origin in the United States soon after the Civil War. In 1870, Julia Ward Howe issued the original Mother’s Day Proclamation shown below.  This statement promoted disarmament, the promotion of peace, and the end of bloodshed. What a powerful proclamation!

There is no sentimental mention of cards, flowers, or jewelry.

Anna Jarvis actually founded Mother’s Day in honor of her mother Anna Reeves Jarvis who was an activist for health and sanitary conditions for children in the 1850’s and 60’s. She was led to this activism by way of her own personal tragedy of losing eight of her twelve children to diseases.

Anna Jarvis

Anna Jarvis

Anna Jarvis wanted a day to raise the appreciation for mothers and for what matters most to them, the health and safety of their children. She wound up so against the commercialization of Mother’s Day that she spent every last dime fighting against it.

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Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
“We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies;
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and
applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. ”
From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: “Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. ”
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of
counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

-Julia Ward Howe, 1870

Julia Ward Howe

Julia Ward Howe

My life….

This poem is not original to me, but it bears repeating and re-reading:

AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN FIVE SHORT CHAPTERS

by Portia Nelson

I
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.

II
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place
but, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

III
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
my eyes are open
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

IV
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

V
I walk down another street.

re-post: Observations of the divine…

This prayer was originally posted on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  It has been my mantra these last days.

 

new every morning is Love
and all day long it works for good in the world
it stirs up in us a desire to serve
and to live peaceably
and to devote our days to walking in ways which are life-giving

blessed be.

Devastating theology…

At the conservative holiness seminary I first attended, I was trained to be cut-throat in my evaluations and assessments of my peers (well, of their work, but it never really stops there, does it?).  When I first came to a liberal seminary to study feminist theology, I took on Dr. Dwight Vogel (a professor)  and dismantled his argument in front of a class.  I was ruthless. He initially got flustered and turned red.  But then he very calmly collected himself and asked me to step outside the room.  He politely said that a blood bath wasn’t the kind of theological discourse anyone at this seminary was interested in, and that I needed to step back and tone it down.

I was embarassed–almost wounded by his remarks–and fearful of what the latter half of class might bring.  But when we returned to class, he said to the group “You know, Donna is right… I hadn’t thought that through.  Donna, will you come up here and let’s talk it all the way through so we understand the significance of the argument you made, and where mine falls short.”

I vowed to never destroy someone theologically again.  He modeled for me nonviolence and respect.  And put me on a path towards peaceableness.