Recently a fairly open discussion another adult and I had with some teenagers took a few interesting turns (no surprise there!).

One person in the group talked a little about the experience of being on the brink of some serious temptation, turning away from it, and realizing with joy how much you have protected and how much freedom you have gained by pulling back from the temptation.

So some others wanted to pursue that theme. One brought up the temptation to fight. There were a couple there who have had problems with fighting in the not-so-distant past; and there were a couple others (at least) who have similar problems with the temptation to commit verbal or emotional violence.

So I asked how they handle it when someone is violent toward them, or there is some other intense pressure to get belligerent. There was some popcorn interaction. “Just don’t fight back.” “You mean you just take it?” “Seems to me Jesus said something along those lines.” “Yes, ‘Turn the other cheek.'”

Now my relationship with these kids is not in an environment where the word “nonviolence” gets used or where any formal theory of nonviolence is taught or training in nonviolence happens. Their further responses were just from their own experiences trying to live a little more according to what they perceive the Lord wants from them.

I asked, “Have you done that? Does it really work – turning the other cheek?”

One said he’d done it. I said, “And you got beat to a pulp?” He said no.

The cool thing is they went on to give examples of when they had refused to retaliate, ranging from getting slugged at school and walking away (which elicited an apology from the slugger to the sluggee) to returning a compliment for an insult (which elicited a “whatever” from the insulter).

Wow. Where do they get the power to do that?

And they were pretty insightful about the gains from resisting the temptation to retaliate – gains in personal peace and self-esteem, and sometimes gains in terms of an improved relationship with the instigators of violence against them.

I was really impressed. And I was very pleased with some other comments, unrelated to issues of violence and retaliation, from these teens.

I believe in the power of intercessory prayer (a power certainly not completely under our control!). I believe in the power of the Spirit and of the Gospel to change people from the inside out. I believe in the power of Biblical ideas to stimulate real moral growth and insight. I believe in the power of just paying honest, respectful attention to people who don’t get a whole lot of healthy attention elsewhere. And my time with these young people reinforced all those beliefs in me.

And it gave me a lesson in the practical relevance of nonviolent approaches to real life situations – lessons that they themselves deduced from, and recognized in, Scripture and applied independently in their own lives. This is very interesting to me, and very pleasing.

Featured Articles

Religion Running Government, Theocracy, We would regret it

Theocracy (Religion Runs the Government) – We Would Deeply Regret It

I am a church person, a person of faith. But I don't think we need a government that rules as if it were the voice of God. This nation's Constitution was written partly in order to help us avoid theocracy. Unfortunately there are Americans today who clearly think the...
Read More
hand writes with a pen in a notebook

The Quiet Places in Our Lives Make Our Public Activity Safer

Contemplation and Public Action The public good is most in danger when the voluntary visits to contemplation are neglected in favor of immediate communitarian action. We don't have to go off and become full-time contemplatives. But times of stepping aside from the...
Read More
Gun on Bible

Christians Should Not Enforce the Bible.

Here's another example of the misunderstanding and misuse of Scripture by the 'religious right'.  This was quoted to me to show that no Christian could ever vote for Democrats. "Don't you realize that if even one person is allowed to go on sinning, soon all will be...
Read More
100 quotes

100 Quotes

Nerd alert! This is a list that used to be behind the quote widget on the upper right of the page. They are from various places, maybe half from my personal reading (books). I'm not documenting sources because I don't have time or did not record them. There's good...
Read More
Karol Wojtyla, John Paul II

John Paul II: Private Prayer and the Dangers of Public Life

Connie and I recently watched Karol: A Man Who Became Pope. It portrays Karol Wojtyla's life from his late teens, when the Nazi's invaded his city and nation, through WWII, then through decades of Communist rule (as a satellite of the Soviet Union), up to the day he...
Read More

German Christians Sold Out to Power and Glory

[A Review of Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, by Charles Marsh, 2014] This book is not written to coddle nor to discomfort whatever our self-image is as American Christians today; Marsh is trying to show reality. To me, two eras of Bonhoeffer's life seem...
Read More
Moral economic behavior stressed by Isaiah

Are Economic Matters a Moral Issue? Isaiah Thinks So.

In spite of Isaiah, and other Bible sources, we’ve all heard this - something like: I. It is NOT the government’s place to interfere in economic matters - tell people how they should spend their money or how they should treat their employees. That warps economic...
Read More

The Civilized Are Responsible

Originally published in 1976. My how times have not changed. The civilized have created the wretched, quite coldly and deliberately, and do not intend to change the status quo; are responsible for their slaughter and enslavement; rain down bombs on defenseless...
Read More
Threat leads to assault. Hate leads to violence.

Hitler Defended Christian Morality and Family Values

Current prominent figures, speaking words the "Christian Right" wants to hear, are not the first national leaders to use Christian morality as a rallying cry. These words are from 1933: "The National Government will preserve and defend those basic principles on which...
Read More
Neighbor

If You Do Not Love Your Neighbor Whom You CAN See – Can You Love God?

The author of "1 John" makes a simple, blunt, very logical analysis of our emotional attachments - or professed attachments. (1 John 4:20) If you do not love your brother whom you can see, how can you love God whom you cannot see? Well, John, that's easy! We do it all...
Read More

The Moral Priorities of Jesus – What Did Jesus Teach?

He said, "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord' but do not do what I say?" Maybe he meant it. This short book (40 pages) is available as a free pdf, or as a paperback at LULU.com (see the links below). It treats the following issues.  Here, each chapter title is followed by...
Read More

Two Types of Religion – Authority, Love

Sometimes I feel there are obviously two primary modes for religious practice in this world. That amazement is the opposite of complacency and self-satisfaction. And that gentleness is very different from constant critique and...
Read More

Prophets MUST Improvise, In and For Our Cities.

The prophet’s task is to “reorder” and “refashion” the urban environment to be more just and peaceable. Yet ... the work of social transformation must be based on a deep inner transformation. That's the burden of this excellent book (quote from p97). Resurrection City...
Read More

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...
Read More

Why Many Christians Do Not Vote Republican

This was written about 12 years ago (as of today, in February 2017). Wow. And the problems remain, and have grown; which means these things still need thinking and talking about. References and Bible quotations...
Read More

Is Jesus’ Style “Judge Thy Neighbor”? Is That Jesus’ New Commandment?

Jesus was a highly respected teacher of morality and of the spiritual life. So, logically enough, a man asked him to take a stand on a moral issue between the man and his brother (Luke 12:13-15) - Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide...
Read More

"THIS IS HOW they made the pleasant land desolate."

The Bible fairly often makes a direct connection between the desolation of a land (and its people - and, obviously, its economic life) and moral corruption in the people's prior social, legal, and economic patterns. Here's an example from Zechariah 7. The residents...
Read More

Turn the Other Cheek – means Resist Them NonViolently

I. THE PROBLEM: Jesus says to turn the other cheek. [See a summary of this post.] Is it ever appropriate for Christians to resist authority? Many of us feel there is much in the behavior of our national leaders that cries out for criticism and resistance. Are...
Read More
Jesus - What Does He Want?

Is Trump a Christian? How Could We Tell?

There was some excitement among certain Republican Christians when Dobson said Trump had become a "baby" Christian and should be cut some slack on that basis. Two problems with that: A novice at practicing the Christian faith is not someone we should automatically...
Read More
Jesus - What Does He Want?

Why I Pay Attention to Jesus Christ

WHY? Why should we focus any more on Jesus Christ than on Abraham or Moses or Isaiah? Or on the laws in the Bible, or prophecy, or the end of the world? Is focus on Jesus more needed than pointing out sins – especially other people’s sins? Is Christ actually more...
Read More
fish racism

Jesus and Racism – Samaritan Lives Matter – Black Lives Matter

Samaritans in Jesus' day were both religiously and racially despised. The phrase "Samaritan lives matter" would have been very offensive to the Jewish culture in which Jesus was raised and in which he was a teacher and doer of good. But to Jesus, clearly Samaritan...
Read More
brick-layer at work

The Kingdom of God. God’s New Economy. We Are Called To Do It.

"Over and against these senseless modern myths ... there is the "myth" of the God of goodness who has chosen people to prepare a kingdom of justice, truth, and love on earth. This myth dies hard. Why should we refuse to admit that Christ taught it to us?" [from Andre...
Read More