Posts Tagged ‘Non violence’

Unrest in the Middle East

Friday, September 14th, 2012

The unrest in the Middle East continues to grow today, fanned by popular anger over a video that denigrated the prophet Mohammed.  How do we hold this?

It is sad when one reads – correctly – that the vengeful video that escalated into the unrest was partially the work of right wing Christians.  The sad part is that it is true – historical Christianity does carry within it an aberrant strain of violence, not only apparent in this incident but spread throughout history.  But that strain is our fault, not Christ’s.  It is indefensible. One could readily argue that Christ’s clearest message was indeed the opposite – non-violence.  The entire crucifixion narrative, captured at Easter, clearly portrays the redemptive nature of non-violence.  And yet, mankind will do with any religious message whatever they will.

Non of this excuses the virulent anti-Western sentiment apparent in much of the Middle East either.  It does not excuse in any way those who murdered the American ambassador to Libya.  We must call intolerance in any form darkness.  And as with all things spiritual, we must start with ourselves.

Hatred and judgement readily cascade downward into violence.  This is no small thing.  This is not “over there” or “among them.”  This is “here now” and “among us.”  What are we to do?  Pray.  Light a candle.  Gather in loving, diverse community. Care. Live our way into a new way of thinking.  The word “Christian” should mean far more than it does.

Please parents …..

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

This week a group of Israeli teenagers, including a 13 year old female, beat an Arab youth unconscious on a Jerusalem street.  The same day, another group attacked an Arab taxi in Israel, throwing a firebomb through the vehicle’s window.

It was interesting reading the legitimately concerned reaction in Israel as citizens expressed worry about their own form of homegrown terrorism.  One commenter offered this insight.“This is directly tied to national fundamentalism that is the same as the rhetoric of neo-Nazis, Taliban and K.K.K.,” Mr. Aloni said. “This comes from an entire culture that has been escalating toward an open and blunt language based on us being the chosen people who are allowed to do whatever we like.”

Such attacks, as he saw it, were an inevitable and logical outgrowth of escalating intolerance.  Given the saber rattling around what appears to be a fall attack on Iran, he is correct.  Just last week, I read an article in the same paper of a hero’s welcome accorded to 100 some odd young Americans returning to Israel to enlist in the Israeli army for the upcoming showdown with Iran over the development of atomic weapons.

Shame on Israel right.   Easy for a Pastor in the states to point to the Middle East in condescending judgment about how wrong they are as the cycle of violence churns, and churns, and churns.  Were it that easy to press the issue “out there.”  But the fact is it is “in here.”  So the shame is rightly on us, me included.

Thomas Merton famously wrote how the “sane ones” are the most dangerous.   Sanity without a moral compass endangers our soul. Much of violence is “sane” in the simple math of retribution and protection.  We live a sail in dangerous waters.  And where is the voice for the evolution of the human soul?  Nothing soft about stands around non-violence.  God’s call: “Blessed are the peacemakers.”  God’s gifts: Not “a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love, and self discipline.”  (2 Timothy 1:7)