On War – and Its Effects on Humans

Quotes from the e-newsletter I get from Information Clearing House. … the United States, for generations, has sustained two parallel but opposed states of mind about military atrocities and human rights: one of U.S. benevolence, generally held by the public, and the other of ends-justify-the-means brutality sponsored by counterinsurgency specialists. Normally the specialists carry out their actions in remote locations with little notice in the national press. That allows the public to sustain its faith in a just America, while hard-nosed security and economic interests are still protected in secret. -Robert Parry, investigative reporter and author … Continue reading

Algeria and India – A Comparison of Violent and Non-Violent Resistance.

Algeria We watched the documentary-style classic The Battle of Algiers for the first time the other night. After 130 years of being the colonial rulers in Algeria, in 1957 the French became targets of a sudden and violent terrorist uprising among the native Muslim population of the city. It was brutally crushed by French terrorism including quarantine of whole sections of the city, torture, and assassination. I am not an expert at all on these events. But … Continue reading

Was Jesus Violent? The Temple Money-Changers Incident

One incident often comes up in discussions of Jesus and the generally non-violent flavor of his teaching – the time (or two) when he overthrew money-changer’s tables in the temple compound in Jerusalem. [Matthew 21:12, Mark 11:15, John 2:8] I am assuming that the reports are accurate. I would like to point out a few things – to help us avoid the idea that Jesus here promoted the kinds of violence we tend to indulge in. BACK THEN … Continue reading

Easter, & The Cross, The Deliberate Holy Strategy of God

Today is Easter. Here in honor of that memorial are some difficult but worthy lines from one of my favorite thinkers (from The Person and Place of Jesus Christ, Peter Taylor Forsyth, 1909, London). What is truly human is not sin, sin is no factor of the true humanity, but only a feature of empirical humanity which is absolutely fatal to the true. What is truly human is not sin, but the power to be tempted…. He could be tempted because he loved; he could not sin because he loved so deeply, widely, infinitely, holily, because it was God he loved – God more than man. Thus the only temptation with real power for him was a temptation to good – to inferior forms of good. It was not the temptation to forsake the righteousness of God, but to seek it by other paths, less moral and less patient paths, than God’s highway of the holy cross…. What [would be] more plausible to a man of such power and of such ideas as Christ than to organise and lead his zealot nation in an irresistible crusade against pagan empire for a new order of society wherein should dwell the righteousness … Continue reading

The Sabbath: From Money, From Injustice, From Cultural Craziness, TO God

An email came to us declaring inauguration day to be “Not One Damn Dime Day” in the face of religious and political leaders failing to speak out against the war in Iraq. To condense the well-written email, it called for a 24-hour national boycott of all forms of consumer spending (gasoline, mall and convenience stores, fast food shops – any groceries at all for that matter) in an effort to shut the retail economy down. The object was to remind the people in power that the war in Iraq is immoral and illegal; that they are responsible for starting it and that it is their responsibility to stop it; that they work for the people of the United States of America, not for the international corporations and K Street lobbyists who represent the corporations and funnel cash into American politics. The beauty of it would be that there’s no rally to attend, no marching to do, and no left or right wing agenda to rant about. You open your mouth by keeping your wallet closed. For 24 hours, nothing gets spent, to remind our religious leaders and our politicians of their moral responsibility to end the war in Iraq and … Continue reading

Iraqi Family Man Meets Freedom American Style

“In places like Bosnia and El Salvador, Chile and South Africa, East Germany and Argentina, people are struggling to come to terms with their former torturers and enemies. Should they be pardoned? Forgiven? Should they apologize? Be prosecuted? These questions must be answered in different ways in different nations. How much truth a society will tolerate depends largely on the new balance of power.”[1] There are three unfortunate realities about the ways in which those sentences, from 1997, need to be updated. First, we can add “Iraq” and “Guantanamo” to the list of places. Second, we can see US military and civilian personnel among the “torturers and enemies;” we can see very high-ranking US official among those who rationalize and approve of such behavior. Third, those same people are now included in the large group about whom we must ask questions like, “Should they apologize? Be prosecuted?” I guess there’s a fourth. Our society does not seem able to tolerate much truth about our own behaviors and culpability. Here are a few excerpts from the story of just one of those Iraqis that US forces have tortured. This was last summer. (There are a few pictures accompanying the original article. … Continue reading