Monday, November 30, 2009

War and Peace

A Facebook post from a good friend, Andy Phelps:

This week President Obama decided to send more troops for the war we are involved in. I was reading in Thomas Merton's book: "New Seeds of Contemplation," and I thought his chapter on war has some existential relevance. What do we really mean by "peace?"

“To some people peace merely means the liberty to exploit other people without fear of retaliation or interference. To others peace means the freedom to rob others without interruption. To still others it means the leisure to devour the goods of the earth without being compelled to interrupt their pleasures to feed those whom their greed is starving. And to practically everybody peace simply means the absence of any physical violence that might cast a shadow over lives devoted to the satisfaction of their animal appetites for comfort and pleasure….........

Instead of loving what you think is peace, love other people and love God above all. And instead of hating people you think are war makers, hate the appetites and the disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed—but hate these things in yourself, not in another.”

- Thomas Merton

My response:
What Merton is reacting to is a good summary of the American Empire's definition of peace. My mom and I were talking last night about how it's basically impossible for someone to be a serious follower of Jesus and at the same time be Commander-in-Chief. For American to continue it's empire status, we must wage war. But for Jesus to be honored, we must work for a peace brougth through non-violent methods.

Some more qoutes:

"You've got to kill the terrorists before the killing stops. And I'm for the president to chase them all over the world. If it takes ten years, blow them all away in the name of the Lord." - Jerry Falwell

"Jesus concerns Himself harldly at all with the solution of worldly problems... His word is not an answer to human questions and problems; it is the answer of God to the question of God to man. His word is... not a solution, but a redemption." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

[The Sermon on the Mount is] an indication, a picture, a vision of the in-breaking of a new society. They are indicatives, promises, instances, imaginative examples of life in the Kingdom of God... they help us see something so new, so against what we have heard said, that we cannot rely on our older images of what is and what is not.
The basis for the ethics of hte Sermon on the Mount is not what works but rather the way God is. Cheek-turning is not advocated as what works (it usually does not), but advocated because this is the way God is - God is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. This is not a strategem for getting what we want but the only manner of life available, now that, in Jesus, we have seen what God wants. We seek reconciliation with the neighbor, not because we feel so much better afterward, but because reconciliation is what god is doing in the world through Christ." - Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon

"Every war... with all it's ordinary consequences... the murder with the justifications of its necessity and justice, the exaltation and glorification of military exploits, the worship of the flag, the patriotic sentiments... and so on, does more in one year to pervert men's minds than thousands of robberies, murdes, and arsons perpetuated during hundreds of years by individual men under the influence of passion." - Leo Tolstoy

"Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing thecountry to danger. It works the same in any country."
- Herman Goering

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