Of Peace, Place and Shalom Activists

-War-Peace-Graffiti-Banksy-Fresh-New-Hd-Wallpaper--

My wife and I were sick to our stomach as we watched a newscast report the horror of the Boston Marathon bombings.  Our hearts are heavy. We knew 2 people who were present at the marathon itself.  Thankfully, they are both ok. 

But it reminded me that violence is always happening.  It’s as if this full scale, big impact violent event reminded me that bad stuff happens all the time.  Seemingly violence has been happening forever.

It’s two competing narratives.  One of violence.  One of peace.  One seeking revenge.  One seeking to love the enemy.  Each telling a radically different story.  The grand call of God is that hope and peace is always there, subverting the story of violence. 

That narrative calls for shalom activists. 

Boston needs prayer and the presence of peace.  It needs shalom activists. 

Palestine needs prayer and the presence of peace.  It needs shalom activists.

Northern Ireland needs prayer and the presence of peace.  It needs shalom activists.  

Africa needs prayer and the presence of peace.  It needs shalom activists.  

Your neighbourhood needs prayer and the presence of peace.  It needs shalom activists. 

Peacemaking is not a picture of a dove, or a 70’s peace symbol.  It is good ol’ fashion hard work.  That is what a shalom activist does.  I have met a few of them.  And they all have three very specific things in common. 

A love for God, a love for their particular place, and they work hard.  Damn hard.  Everyday.

The shalom activists are there, participating with God, and working damn hard.

As large scale violent acts trend on twitter from time to time, lest we forget that the grand narrative of violence remains, day after day, in the worlds most ignored places too.  Pray for Boston.  Pray for the families who have suffered loss and the devastation of the subsequent ripple of pain.  Pray for those who no nothing other than violence in their own backyards.  Pray for your place too.  Seek peace.  Navigate the subversive story of peace.  God’s peace.  Pursue it! 

Start with the little things.

Has the Boston Marathon bombings prompted you to think about peace in your particular place?  Where do you see opportunities for peacemaking both locally and globally? 

Greg Boyd on “What if Violence is Necessary to Protect a Loved One?”

This is a tough one.

I went to a Mennonite high school in southern Manitoba.  In our grade 12 Mennonite studies class we talked about non-violence and pacifism.  At the time, I really didn’t care about anything related to school none-the-less faith, but I still remember this class.  In the midst of an over my head conversation, a student asked a pointed but hypothetical question to the teacher about using violence to protect his (the teachers) family.

The response.

“No.  I would not use violence.”

Here I am a 12+ years later wondering the same question myself.

I find that it is one of those questions that is hard to take seriously because it just seems too surreal that something so terrifying could happen.  I like to think that I am fully on board the Anabaptist, shalom, non-violent resistance train… but this kind of question seems like it changes the ball game.  Therefore, it is important.

Below is a video of Greg Boyd.  He navigates the complexity of the question well, while offering important and practical substance.  Particularly the last 30 seconds or so.  Check out his video.  It’s 4 minutes, and totally worth it.

Do you think Greg Boyd dances around the question?  Ask yourself the hypothetical question;  If necessary, would you use violence to protect a loved one? 

Yoder on Peace as Proclamation

radical_final_mix_shoes

One of the best books I read last year was “Radical Christian Discipleship” by John Howard Yoder.  It is a collection of previously unpublished works edited brilliantly for readability on discipleship, non-conformity, and obedience to the cross.  If you are looking for a great read on, just as the title states, radical Christian discipleship… read this book.

Peace is proclamation in the sense that we should talk not first of all about a social strategy for making the world a little less lethal, but about a victory already won. The gospel is about something that has already happened. It needs to make ripples. It needs to work down through the centuries. But the meaning of the gospel is not these ripples themselves. The meaning of good news is a victory already won. Our sense of what is going on in peace witness, in peace lobbying, in teaching, in rediscovering the meaning of reconciliation in family structures and every other level of our experience, would be very different if we saw peace as a proclamation and not a problem. Instead of thinking of an almost impossible task to be accomplished, we should root peace in the victory that has already been won. That Christ is Lord is not up to us to achieve but only to reflect.

John Howard Yoder, “Radical Christian Discipleship,” page 161.

How do you justify peace in your particular context?  How can you proclaim peace in your particular time and place?

Father George Zabelka – Bombs, Peace, and being a Prophet.

George Zabelka, Catholic priest

On August 9, 1945 as an unquestioning American nationalist US army chaplain George Zabelka prayed for the safe return of the pilots being sent out to drop an Atomic Bomb on Nagasaki.

He ‘blessed the bombs.’

Half a century later he wrote these stunning words:

God, Christ, lives in every human being. Our Lord tells us that what is done to the “least” is in fact now done to Him (Mt 25). I believe that! That is the only kind of God that I could adore and love, a God who lives in human history and suffers with people. I could only fear a god that sat as a depersonalized king above the anguish of humanity. This is part of what the Incarnation is all about. Christ suffers and dies at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Therefore to condone or support war is to condone or support the call to “Crucify Him.” To kill in war is, in fact, to be a “Christ-killer.” I’m sorry I can say nothing else – if Calvary is a holy place, Hiroshima and Nagasaki are holy places.     -Fr George Zabelka

In 1988, at a Pax Christi (a Catholic peace movement) conference, Father George Zabelka makes a call for us to be prophets.

Thank God that I’m able to stand here today and speak out against war, all war. The prophets of the Old Testament spoke out against all false gods of gold, silver, and metal. Today we are worshipping the gods of metal, the bomb. We are putting our trust in physical power, militarism, and nationalism. The bomb, not God, is our security and our strength. The prophets of the Old Testament said simply: Do not put your trust in chariots and weapons, but put your trust in God. Their message was simple, and so is mine.

We must all become prophets. I really mean that. We must all do something for peace. We must stop this insanity of worshipping the gods of metal. We must take a stand against evil and idolatry. This is our destiny at the most critical time of human history. But it’s also the greatest opportunity ever offered to any group of people in the history of our world – to save our world from complete annihilation (to read a larger excerpt, click here).

An absolutely stunning call to peacemaking.  Indeed, we must become prophets.

The ‘becoming’ part is where it gets difficult.

What is your immediate reaction to the words of Father George Zabelka?  How can you be a prophet of peace in your neighbourhood?