links: this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

Early Christian faith & violence: Were the Church Fathers Consistently Pro-Life? [essential reading]

“… the early Christian writers … are very clear. They explicitly say we don’t kill, and that means we don’t go to gladiatorial games, we’re opposed to abortion, capital punishment is not acceptable, and we don’t kill in war. … For early church fathers, a Christian could not have a political or judicial office where he would have the authority to pronounce a judgment of capital punishment. … The most frequently stated reason that Christians didn’t join the army and go to war is that they didn’t kill. … Every single text that we have on the topic says that Christians don’t kill. And it’s not ambiguous …”

Full contact sports: * When It Comes To Brain Injury, Authors Say NFL Is In A ‘League Of Denial’; * The Ethics of Football

* “‘Please, see that my brain is given to the NFL’s brain bank.’ …  there’s a dialogue beginning about whether you want to let your kids play or not.”

* “Why raise questions about the ethics of football? I see a few reasons for it. … football has grown in importance out of all proportion in terms of the number of people who can actually play it. … football has become a sport ruled by money. … football is dangerous to players’ health and well-being. … in today’s social climate, anyway, football seems to arouse inordinate and even dangerous passions among fans. …

“So what is my solution to the football ethics dilemma? I don’t suggest dropping or banning the sport—except for children not yet old enough to make informed consent decisions about whether they want to risk the injury to their brains. I don’t think boys under, say, 16 should be allowed to play tackle football. For them it should be flag football. And they should be offered alternatives such as soccer.

“However, I think especially Christians should call for a ratcheting down of the intensity of the sport so that it is not so all-consuming in terms of finances, passions, favor (to players), etc. And I think every player should be fully informed about the likelihood of suffering long-term brain injury that is irreversible.

“I also think high school and college counselors should promote information about the dangers of football to their student populations. Many college and university freshmen, for example, dream of “walking on” and becoming a star or just being on the larger team. Even if they never play in an actual game, however, they can suffer brain injury just from practices.”

Responding to violence: 16-Year-Old Malala Yousafzai Leaves Jon Stewart Speechless With Comment About Pacifism [6 min. video; essential viewing]

“… at just 14 years old, a Talib fighter boarded her bus, pointed a pistol at her head, and pulled the trigger. But she survived, made a full recovery in England, and has become and transformative figure in human rights. … ‘what would you do, Malala?”

WMD, the United States & chemical weapons: The United States is Still Getting Rid of its Chemical Weapons

“Syria has been given a year to eliminate its chemical weapons arsenal, or face the threat of a U.S. military strike. Yet it may come as a surprise that the United States has still not destroyed all of its massive supply of deadly nerve agents. … The United States estimates it will be at least another decade before it completes destruction of the remaining 10% of its chemical weapons, estimated at more than 3,100 tons.”

this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

V-for-violenceAbortion: The Problem with “Safe, Legal” Abortion

“This absolutely horrifying story from The Atlantic about Dr. Kermit Gosnell, now standing trial for murder in Philadelphia, gives the lie to the traditional argument that making and keeping abortion legal ensures that it will be done safely and with concern for the health and well being of the mother. … I encourage you to go and read the entire article, if you can stomach it. It is a true American horror story. It also reveals issues of racism, mistreatment of the poor, the exploitation of women, and the failures of government and journalistic institutions.”

Ancient warfare & horses: Iron Age Weapons—From Cold Metal to Warm-Blooded Animals

“Advanced ‘martial arts’ schools for horses and riders developed war horses trained in special athletic movements designed to inflict maximum damage with their hooves in battle. It has developed over the centuries into what we now refer to as modern dressage, a sport in the Olympics since 1900.”

Churches of Christ, military service, pacifism, prayer, & war: A Prayer by J.N. Armstrong

“J.N. Armstrong was the first president of Harding University and the son-in-law of James A. Harding. He believed that Christians were not to participate in war.”

Fear, hope, idolatry, power, & security: North Korea May Bomb the Hell Out of Us and Blow Us to Smithereens, Yet We Will Cling to the Instability of Hope by Kurt Willems

“‘Peace through strength’ is good for us all, or so many believe. … Too often, the Christian hope is co-opted by the hope of Caesar … We followers of Jesus in the empire of America have a choice. We can put our trust in empty sloganeering. We can trust in the horses and chariots of the military. Or, we can place our lives in the midst of reality, the unstable yet sure hope we have in Christ Jesus.”

Forgiveness & violence: Warren Forgives Seller of Gun in Son’s Suicide

“Pastor Rick Warren has shared some of his thoughts via Twitter during the past week as he and his wife Kay grieve the loss of their youngest son, tweeting Thursday (April 11) that he has forgiven the person who sold Matthew the gun used in his suicide.”

Gun control, gun lobby, NRA & politics: A Senate in the Gun Lobby’s Grip by Gabrielle Giffords [required reading; and I say, "Amen!"]

“On Wednesday, a minority of senators gave into fear and blocked common-sense legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to get hold of deadly firearms — a bill that could prevent future tragedies … Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown. Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them.”

this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

V-for-violenceAbortion: Arkansas Adopts a Ban on Abortions After 12 Weeks

“Arkansas adopted what is by far the country’s most restrictive ban on abortion on Wednesday — at 12 weeks of pregnancy, when a fetal heartbeat can typically be detected by abdominal ultrasound. … The law contradicts the limit established by Supreme Court decisions, which give women a right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, usually around 24 weeks into pregnancy, and abortion rights groups promised a quick lawsuit to block it.”

Christian faith, influence & violence: National Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath

“Places of worship across the nation are asked to participate in the “National Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend, March 15-17. Purpose of the observance is twofold: (1) To remember those who have lost their lives to gunfire, and (2) To discuss how communities of faith can work together to help reduce gun violence.”

Gun control: * Study Links Gun Laws and Lower Gun Mortality; * Senators Bearing Arms

* “‘States that have the most laws have a 42% decreased rate of firearm fatalities compared to those with the least laws,’ said Dr. Eric W. Fleegler, an attending physician in pediatric emergency medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. Those states with the most gun laws saw a 40% reduction in firearm-related homicides and a 37% reduction in firearm-related suicides.”

* “People, do you think Congress is actually going to do anything about gun violence in the wake of the Newtown shootings? Judiciary is going to vote on two big proposals next week: a ban on assault weapons and an expansion of gun purchase background checks. If the Democrats stick together, the bills can pass on a party-line vote. But to go any further, they need Republican support, and there wasn’t a whole lot of it in evidence this week.”

Violent crime: Gun Deaths, Violent Crime Overall are Down in District and U.S., but Reasons are Elusive [required reading]

“… explanations for the nation’s plummeting homicide rate remain elusive, stymieing economists, criminologists, police, politicians and demographers.”

this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

V-for-violenceAbortion: What if Roe vs. Wade Went Away? by Timothy Archer

“… as society has decided that these lives aren’t worth saving, we need to back up and begin speaking for all lives. If we try to pick and choose, society can ignore us easily. We speak up for the unborn. We speak up for foreigners. We speak up for those who die around the world from hunger, thirst and disease. We speak up for life. We become truly pro-life and not just pro-life on one topic.”

Football: Are NFL Football Hits Getting Harder And More Dangerous?

“One thing is for certain — football players have gotten much bigger and faster. And the laws of physics tell us that the force of a hit depends on three factors: body weight, speed and how quickly the players stop moving.”

Funerals, grief, ministry & murder: Preaching After the Unthinkable by Stuart Briscoe

“… in the aftermath of traumatic violence, what can a preacher say?”

Genocide & Holocaust: International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2013: Victims Mourned At Auschwitz and Beyond

“The United Nations in 2005 designated Jan. 27 as a yearly memorial day for the victims of the Holocaust – 6 million Jews and millions of other victims of Nazi Germany during World War II. The day was chosen because it falls on the anniversary of the liberation in 1945 of Auschwitz, the Nazis’ most notorious death camp and a symbol of the evil inflicted across the continent.”

Gun control: * Gun Control: A Biblical and Theological Case by Matthew L. Kelley; * Of God and Guns by Dan Bouchelle

* “… I believe that the biblical witness and our theological heritage give us reason to support restrictions on firearms such as those currently being debated by the President and Congress. … here is what I believe to be a biblical and theological case for gun control: I have the freedom to do anything, but not everything is helpful.”

* “I wonder why we hear so little reflection on the ubiquitous emphasis throughout the Old Testament regarding not trusting weapons to protect us.”

Human trafficking: Human Trafficking Information by Darrel Bock

“This is not a pleasant subject but the opportunities exist to do something that truly delivers people out of personal hell. There are three types of trafficking: sexual trafficking, labor trafficking (which is often harder to trace), and forced soldering (something very common in Africa).”

Military service & pacifism: From Soldier to Pacifist by Matt Young

“A key Bible verse for me when I enlisted was, John 15:13 . I felt that by laying down my life for my fellow soldiers, or if need be other innocent people around the world, that I would be showing the most possible love for them. …

“The key reason I have become a pacifist, or believer in non-violence… whatever technical term we want to call it, is this. I was confronted with the words of Jesus.”

this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

V-for-violenceAbortion: 40 Years of Roe v. Wade… Lord Come! by K. Rex Butts

“…  no human is ‘God’ with the right to decide which human life is of value and which life is not.”

Capital punishment & the death penalty: * Who Would Jesus Execute? by by Jim Wallis and Richard Viguerie; * N.T. Wright on the Death Penalty and American Christianity

* “My own road to Damascus on this issue came many years ago. When I was a young Republican in Houston in the late ’50s and early ’60s, I was a very hard-core, law-and-order type: ‘lock ‘em up, throw the key under the jail so they never get out.’”

* “You can’t reconcile being pro-life on abortion and pro-death on the death penalty. Almost all the early Christian Fathers were opposed to the death penalty, even though it was of course standard practice across the ancient world. As far as they were concerned, their stance went along with the traditional ancient Jewish and Christian belief in life as a gift from God, which is why (for instance) they refused to follow the ubiquitous pagan practice of ‘exposing’ baby girls (i.e. leaving them out for the wolves or for slave-traders to pick up).”

Christians & guns: Following Jesus: The Best Gun Control Ever! by Kurt Willems [essential reading]

“I invite fellow Christians to consider a life where we all simply decided to S-T-O-P… stop; stop using the following arguments or taking the following stances to justify positions on gun control.

#1 Stop appealing to the 2nd Amendment as if it were the lost ending to the Gospel of Mark. … #2 Stop metaphorically connecting the loss of certain guns to the Apocalypse. … #3 Stop clinging to guns as if they are central to one’s identity. … #4 Stop ignoring the rest of the modernized world as if American culture has the corner on gun control (or the lack there of). … #5 Stop trusting guns as a source of personal security. …

“If we can stop the previous five approaches to the issue of guns, then perhaps we could start implementing several life-giving approaches to the gun conversation.

#1 Start appealing to the New Testament (which includes the Gospel of Mark, amongst other things). … #2 Start choosing to trust in God’s faithfulness to see us through even the worst of ‘apocalypses.’ … #3 Start building one’s identity on the biblical and relational person of Jesus Christ and nothing else. … #4 Start recognizing that we are citizens of a global kingdom, not an isolated nation called the United States. … #5 Start trusting that Christ is our only source of security and that our only weaponry is “spiritual” and never lethal.”

Consistency, gun control & history: NRA was Pro-Gun Control When It Came to Black Panthers

“While today’s NRA takes hardline positions against even the most modest gun control measures, this was not always the case.  Throughout its history, the NRA supported gun control, including restrictions on gun ownership, and was not focused on the Second Amendment.

“But the organization had a change of heart in the 1970s when the Black Panthers advocated for an individual right to bear arms. Ironically, the Panthers were the founders of the modern-day gun rights movement, which became the purview of predominantly white, rural conservatives.”

Covert operations: Dirty Wars

“… one of the things that humbles both of us is that, you know, when you arrive in a village in Afghanistan and knock on someone’s door, you’re the first American they’ve seen since the Americans that kicked that door in and killed half their family. And yet, time and time again, those families invited us in, welcomed us and shared their stories with us, based on—you know, we promised them that we would do everything we could to make their stories be heard in the U.S.”

Depression & guns: Please Take Away My Right to a Gun by Wendy Button

“My depression appeared for the first time in the late ’90s … It comes and goes like fog. Medicine can help. I have my tricks to manage and get through it. Sometimes it sticks around for a day or a week, and sometimes it stays away for a couple of years. … You’d look at me and never know that sometimes my fight against the urge to die is so tough the only way I get through it is second by second; I live by the second hand.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 38,364 Americans lost that fight in 2010 and committed suicide; 19,392 used a gun. No one ever attempted to break down my door in the early morning again, but I had an episode when my depression did come back in full force in the early winter of 2009, after I made a career-ending decision and isolated myself too much; on a January night in 2010; and again in May 2012 … If I had purchased that gun and it had been in my possession, I’m not sure I would have been able to resist and would be here typing these words. …

“Please take away my Second Amendment right. Do more to help us protect ourselves because what’s most likely to wake me in the early hours isn’t a man’s body slamming at my door but depression, that raven, tapping, rapping, banging for relief. I have a better chance of surviving if I never have the option of being able to pull the trigger.”

Gun buy-back efforts: Steps to Disarm (Get Gift Card) at Ohio Church [cf. http://pdchurch.org/home/ for this church's website]

“… every gun collected — and turned over to the police to be destroyed — is a gun not found by a curious child, not reached for in a fit of anger over a slight on the street.”

Gun control: Gun-Control Advocate Looking for a Million Good Moms

“‘The time has come, just like in the 1980s when the time was right for Mothers Against Drunk Driving,’ Ms. Watts said. ‘We need MADD for gun control. … One Million Moms for Gun Control … The N.R.A. outlined how they saw the vision of America. That future is everyone is armed and the bad guys shoot it out with the good guys over our children’s heads. That’s not tenable, and it’s not the American way.’”

Hard contact sports: Junior Seau’s Family Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against NFL

“…  Seau committed suicide last May and a postmortem study of his brain by the National Institutes of Health found that he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a disease associated with receptive injuries to the head.”

Military service: Following Jesus Means Learning to Say Both ‘Yes’ and ‘No’

“I hate the fact that so oftentimes Christians have not helped one another discover what it means to worship a Savior who would rather die than use coercion to save us. And as a result, we underwrite forms of life, such as military formation. Which looks so morally attractive to so many people because it’s so much more compelling than anything we offer as Christians. I don’t in anyway judge people in the military because I think they are in many ways so morally admirable. But most of the time no one ever told them Christians might have a problem with war and that really bothers me.” (Stanley Hauerwas, as quoted in the embedded video clip)

Military spending: * The Force; * The U.S. Warfare State and Evangelical Peacemaking by David P. Gushee [required reading]

* “The United States spends more on defense than all the other nations of the world combined. Between 1998 and 2011, military spending doubled, reaching more than seven hundred billion dollars a year—more, in adjusted dollars, than at any time since the Allies were fighting the Axis.”

* “Retired U.S. Army Col. Andrew Bacevich argues in several important recent books that the direction of U.S. foreign and military policy is slipping from democratic control. It is instead dominated by a cohort of active and retired military, intelligence, law enforcement, corporate, lobbyist, academic, and political elites whose power in Washington is sufficiently impressive as to foreclose serious reconsideration of what Bacevich calls the ‘Washington rules.’ The elites enforcing these rules consistently drive us to policies of permanent war, a staggeringly large global military presence, and regular global interventionism. This analysis stands in striking continuity with the warnings offered 50 years ago by President Eisenhower about the ‘military-industrial complex.’”

Scripture & nonviolence: Swords into Plowshares

“The image of swords into plowshares is about dismantling guns and making gardening tools instead. It’s moving from full armories to full granaries, preferring crops to a cache of weapons. … It calls us–not to a less violent world, but a non-violent one. … This song of swords into plowshares stays with me these days. I’ve decided I don’t want to waste my energies on fighting. I want to feed people.”

Suicide: Mr. Hurd and Leaving Life Behind by Craig Cottongim

“Please, if you are ever contemplating suicide, seek help. There are better ways out of your despair. I think anyone who has been affected by suicide would plead with you to find help. If you’ve lost someone who took their own life, please don’t seclude yourself, and don’t suppress your feelings. There are loving friends and family and church members too who would be a great source of comfort for you.”

War: Janine di Giovanni: What I Saw in the War [11 min. TED talk video clip]

“… there were bodies piled twice my height.”

Women in combat: Military Removes Ban on Women in Combat

“The military has removed its ban on women in combat. The decision, which overturns a 1994 ban and is one of outgoing Pentagon chief Leon Panetta’s biggest decisions, ‘opens thousands of front-line positions’ to women, though the change ‘won’t happen immediately.’”

this went thru my mind

 

Climate change & global warming: How High Could the Tide Go?

“‘I wish I could take people that question the significance of sea level rise out in the field with me,’ Dr. Raymo said. ‘Because you just walk them up 30 or 40 feet in elevation above today’s sea level and show them a fossil beach, with shells the size of a fist eroding out, and they can look at it with their own eyes and say, ‘Wow, you didn’t just make that up.’”

Fear: Quit Asking Fear for Permission by Jon Acuff

“Quit asking fear for permission. Fear will never tell you it’s time to do the thing you’re afraid to do.”

Hell: * What Did Jesus Teach About Hell?; * Hell: From James to John

* “The traditional view of hell rests on four pillars: that the OT says nothing; that the Jewish view at the time of Jesus was one of eternal conscious punishment; that Jesus’ view was thoroughly Jewish; and that the NT authors follow Jesus. Edward Fudge, in Hell: A Final Word , subjects each of these to examination in a readable, accessible format. The first pillar is wobbly; the OT does speak about the “end” of the wicked and the idea is one of a “consuming” fire (not tormenting fire). The second? Wobblier. There were three views: a consuming fire, a purifying fire, and a tormenting fire. Third? Today we sketch Fudge’s short chapters on what Jesus taught, and I shall sketch his sketch.”

* “The Book of Acts does not motivate by fear.”

Pro-life: A Dialogue on What it Means to be Pro-Life by Shane Claiborne & Tony Campolo

“Our ideologies come with responsibility. In my neighborhood, to be against abortion means we have to figure out what to do when a fourteen-year-old girl gets pregnant. If we are really pro-life, we had better have some foster kids and teen moms living with us to prove it. I don’t want to just be an anti-abortion or anti-death person. I want to be pro-life.”

Relationships & work: What If You Could Truly Be Yourself at Work? by Tony Schwartz

“Each of us is far less likely to succeed by forever pushing to stand out from the pack than by building communities of care and trust committed to raising the bar for everyone.”

Retirement & work: God at Work: Mission Work by Jonathan Storment

“The Greek view of work was that it was a necessary evil. … But Genesis, starts off radically differently. It involves a God who intentionally works and creates the world with care. In fact, the word that Genesis uses for God’s creative word is just the Hebrew word for everyday work. The Bible starts off with God working. And then he creates Adam and Eve and immediately puts them to work And that’s important, because before the fall, there was work. God didn’t finish creation, he started it and then joins in a partnership with them as they create culture, name animals and pioneer… well basically everything. …

“It’s interesting that the Bible doesn’t have [an] … idea of retirement. Instead the Bible has the idea of Sabbath. That is you don’t just work yourself to death until you turn 65. You work with the pace of someone who knows they aren’t the Savior and creator of the world. You rest for a season and then work for a season. But you never just decide to not work again.

“In fact, the closest thing in the Bible that would resemble what we call retirement is death.”

Social security: To Save Social Security, Raise the Minimum Wage

“… we have to do something that will top up benefit levels twenty years from now, not something to stave a complete collapse tomorrow. One thing we could do is simply make up the projected 27 percent shortfall in Social Security benefits through general government spending. At today’s prices, that would cost about $200 billion per year, or about 6 percent of the federal budget. That’s a lot, but not an unmanageable sum of money for the federal government. It could be done. Another thing we would do is just raise the minimum wage.”

this went thru my mind

 

Abortion: If You Want To Do Something About Abortion … by Tim Archer

“Abortion laws won’t stem the tide of abortions in this country. Rulings by federal judges won’t change the situation. It’s time that Christians woke up to that fact. … But what about the average Christian who feels passionate about doing something about abortion? Here are a few ideas …”

Just war & pacifism: Sacrificed on the Altar of the Nation: Christian Realism and the Unreality of War by Stanley Hauerwas [required reading]

“If a people do not exist that continually make Christ present in the world, war will always threaten to become a sacrificial system. War is a counter-church. War is the most determinative moral experience many people have. That is why Christian realism requires the disavowal of war. Christians do not disavow war because it is often so horrible, but because war, in spite of its horror – or perhaps because it is so horrible – can be so morally compelling. That is why the church does not have an alternative to war. The church is the alternative to war. When Christians lose that reality, that is, the reality of the church as an alternative to the world’s reality, we abandon the world to the unreality of war.”

Pain: God’s Gift of Pain by John Byron

“Pain is a gift from God.”

Worship: 9 Things that Christian Worship Should Be by Zac Hicks

“Christian worship should be expectant of an encounter with God.”