links: this went thru my mind

 

Anger, faith, outrage & righteous indignation: A Handy Guide To Christian Outrage

“I fear we are so focused on defending the Bible that we have lost sight of Christ.”

Church: 6 Things the Church Can Learn from Jimmy Fallon

“The Church could learn a few things from Jimmy Fallon, the new host of the “Tonight Show.” And it’s no surprise, really. Jimmy has said in interviews he once wanted to be a priest in the Roman Catholic Church and was influenced early in life by his experiences as an altar boy. But he never felt he could really be a priest because he couldn’t keep a straight face. As a priest myself, it’s always good to be reminded that our image in culture is often a dour one when it should be a joyful one.”

Cinema, film, movies, Noah & the Great Flood: Noah’s Co-Writer Explains the Film’s Controversial Theology

“What we want the film to make you think about is the core question of Genesis: The nature of goodness and wickedness in men’s heart, and whether that should be responded to with justice or mercy, the relationship between mankind and the world around him to the sacred. Those are the questions we grappled with.”

Creation, interpretation, new heavens and earth & re-creation: Guest Post: A New Earth or a Renewed Earth? Reflecting on a Theology of the Last Things

“From the words of the prophets in the Old Testament leading up to and culminating in the teachings of Jesus and then passed along through the writings to the early Church, there is a sense that God isn’t giving up on the creation that was called “good” from the very beginning.  In fact, there is very clear Scriptural evidence that God has always had every intention of renewing and restoring the entire created order, rather than destroying it. This is a strong assertion, being that it contradicts the teaching and understanding of many Christians who believe that God will one day destroy the heavens and the earth…and then take them away to a spiritual heaven to live for eternity.”

Forgiveness, photography & reconciliation: Portraits of Reconciliation

“Last month, the photographer Pieter Hugo went to southern Rwanda, two decades after nearly a million people were killed during the country’s genocide, and captured a series of unlikely, almost unthinkable tableaus. In one, a woman rests her hand on the shoulder of the man who killed her father and brothers. In another, a woman poses with a casually reclining man who looted her property and whose father helped murder her husband and children. In many of these photos, there is little evident warmth between the pairs, and yet there they are, together. In each, the perpetrator is a Hutu who was granted pardon by the Tutsi survivor of his crime.”

Nonviolence, pacifism, personal security & police protection: Non-Violence and Police Protection

“… while I believe I am called to swear off all violence, I don’t believe it would be hypocritical for me to call the police if someone were to break into my house, even though I know that these police carry guns and may perhaps use them against the thief.  Consider that immediately after Paul told Christians to love enemies, to never retaliate, and to leave all “vengeance” to God  (Rom.12:17-21), he went on to teach them that one of the ways God “exacts vengeance” is by using the sword of government, which is why Christians are to “submit” to it  (Rom.13:1-7).”

Success: The Intoxication of Success

“In a world where success is the measure and justification of all things the figure of Him who was sentenced and crucified remains a stranger and is at best the object of pity. The world will allow itself to be subdued only by success. It is not ideas or opinions which decide, but deeds. … The figure of the Crucified invalidates all thought which takes success for its standard.” [quoting Dietrich Bonhoeffer]

links: this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

American exceptionalism & military intervention: Is Vladimir Putin Right?

“… Putin does have this to say in response to American exceptionalism: ‘There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.’

Desensitization, evil, forgiveness, labeling & violence: Good and Evil: Wearing Hitler [required reading]

“We think we have corralled evil to somewhere else, somewhere where “they” live, but then we hear evidence that suggests that if someone just puts on a white coat and pretends to be in charge we will push whatever button they tell us to.”

Government, nonviolence & pacifism: * Responding to Critics of a Pacifist View of the Syrian Crisis (parts 1 & 2) * Can Christians Ever Use Violence? A Discussion with Preston Sprinkle (Part 1); * Can Christians Ever Fight for Peace? A Discussion with Preston Sprinkle (Part 2) [all four of these entries are essential reading]

* “…  to say “God uses the sword-wielding authorities to punish wrongdoers” entails that every time authorities use their sword, God is using them. In logic, this is called a non sequitur – viz. ‘it does not follow.’ If I say, ‘Uncle Joe uses cow dung to fertilize his field,’ it doesn’t mean that every time Uncle Joe’s cows crap they’re fertilizing his field! This is why I stated that God doesn’t approve of the violence of governments: he simply uses them, as much as possible, as he finds them.”

* “Our call is to put on display an alternative to all the kingdoms of this world by refusing all violence and laying down our lives for others – even, and especially, those who identify themselves as our enemies.”

* “… before we ask the question, ‘Can a Christian be president,’ we need to first ask the question, ‘Does the Bible, especially the New Testament, allow Christians to use or command others to use violence to confront evil?’ Put more broadly: ‘Is there anything in the New Testament that encourages believers to put aside their Christian ethic for the sake of their vocation?’”

* “What if America killed all the bad guys, defended its borders, and exported democracy to every nation on earth? What would this accomplish? Would this further the kingdom of God? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe it would steer everyone’s gaze away from Jesus as the only true source of peace and toward America as the world’s savior—pax Americana. Rome almost did this in the first century: robbers were nearly stamped out, the Parthians were kept at bay, and Barbarians to the north posed little threat for hundreds of years. Pax Romana. And in Revelation 12 and 13, John said that they were empowered by Satan.”

links: this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

Capital punishment & the death penalty: “Is Capital Punishment in Harmony with Divine Law?”

“The children of God can take no part or lot in the work.”

Compulsory patriotism & nationalism: No, Thanks: Stop Saying “Support the Troops”

“I do not begrudge the troops for availing themselves of any benefits companies choose to offer, nor do I begrudge the companies for offering those benefits. Of greater interest is what the phenomenon of corporate charity for the troops tells us about commercial conduct in an era of compulsory patriotism.”

Full contact sports: N.F.L. Agrees to Settle Concussion Suit for $765 Million

“The settlement, announced Thursday, will be seen as a victory for the league, which has nearly $10 billion in annual revenue and faced the possibility of billions of dollars in liability payments and a discovery phase that could have proved damaging if the case had moved forward.”

Justice, restorative & retributive: A Better Story: How Our Understanding of Justice is Radically Re-defined by the Gospel [essential reading]

“Reflecting the assumptions of the surrounding culture, Christian theology has classically framed mercy as being in conflict with justice. This goes way beyond theology however, and can be found as the assumptions underlying any national debate over the use of state violence, whether in regards to crime or international conflict and war. To ‘bring about justice’ means punishing, it means violence, it means seeking to harm. Conversely, mercy means to refrain from violence. It is thus understood as an inaction. So in short: in this framework justice means inflicting harm, and mercy means doing nothing.

“Because these are our culture’s default understandings of both justice and mercy, it is common for people to think that the only way to address crime or conflict is by inflicting harm, by the use of violent force. It is either that or doing nothing, we think. … Because the options are framed in this way, many Christians reject the teaching of Jesus to love our enemies because they think it entails doing nothing in the face of evil, which would be unloving and morally irresponsible. We need to protect the vulnerable from harm, don’t we? We need to care for the wellbeing for ourselves and our loved ones. So while people may regret the need to respond with violence, they feel they have no alternative but to respond to violence with violence. It’s regrettable, but what choice do we have? How else can we stop violence?

“The tragic irony is that inflicting violence and harm in the name of justice does not in fact stop violence at all; it perpetuates it. … the fruit of this kind of ‘justice’ is that it makes things worse. …

“That’s where the gospel comes in.”

Lord Jesus, Obama, Syria & warfare: * War on Syria? No [required reading]; * How A Reluctant Obama Ended Up Preparing For War

*”We call ‘Lord’ a man who told us to love our enemies but in his name make enemies to promote our values. We call a peaceful man “Lord” and then favor those who divide in order to conquer. … Why do we call him ‘Lord’ and not do as he says?”

* “‘It seems to me that we are going to be engaged in a strike because he had a lack of wisdom to avoid laying down a red line,’ says Rajan Menon, a political scientist at City College of New York. ‘This is the second time the red line has been crossed, so now he’s boxed in.’”

links: this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

V-for-violenceFaith & genocide: “God is Innocent” : Rwamasirabo on the Genocide in the Church at Nyange, Rwanda

“… bright hope in the face of grotesque betrayal.”

God & violence: The “Third Way”: Seeing God’s Beauty in the Depth of Scripture’s Violent Portraits of God [required reading]

“… if we assume that we must dismiss Scripture’s violent portraits of God to solve this problem, we are going to find that we will have to dismiss a great deal of the Bible! In fact, once you subtract divine acts of violence and divinely sanctioned violence from the biblical narrative, it is not clear that any coherent narrative remains! …

“I consider both the Synthesis and the Dismissal Solutions to be unviable for followers of Jesus. And for all who understand Jesus to reveal a non-violent God while also embracing all Scripture as God’s Word, this means we have no choice except to look for a third alternative. My claim is that this “third way” is present, at least in a seminal form, in the NT itself.”

Nuclear weapons: Hiroshima and the Transfiguration: A Meditation

“I believe that the continued existence of nuclear weapons will make their use inevitable. I believe that when this happens, the consequences will be uncontrollable and yield evil beyond our wildest imagination. I believe that the only way to prevent this occurrence is to abolish nuclear weapons multilaterally and verifiably. And I work toward that end because I believe that world-gaining and soul-saving are diametrically opposed.”

Sentencing & prison: With Holder In The Lead, Sentencing Reform Gains Momentum

“I think there are too many people in jail for too long, and for not necessarily good reasons.”

War: Father And Son Coaxed From Jungle 40 Years After Vietnam War

“Four decades ago, Ho Van Thanh fled the fighting in his native Vietnam, disappearing into the jungle with his infant son, Ho Van Lang. This week, father and son emerged for the first time — an enfeebled Thanh carried in a stretcher, and Lang wearing only a loincloth made of tree bark.”

links: this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

V-for-violenceAmerican public opinion, culture & military service: Public Esteem for Military Still High

“Americans continue to hold the military in high regard, with more than three-quarters of U.S. adults (78%) saying that members of the armed services contribute “a lot” to society’s well-being. … the military still tops the list of 10 occupational groups, followed closely by teachers, medical doctors, scientists and engineers. A solid majority of the public says each of those occupations contributes a lot to society.

“By contrast, just 37% of Americans surveyed think the clergy make a big contribution to society, about the same as in 2009. … even among adults who say they attend religious services at least once a week, only about half (52%) rate clergy in general as contributing ‘a lot’ to society.”

Capital punishment, death penalty & executions: Will the Supreme Court Make an 11th-Hour Intervention in Georgia

“A mentally retarded man is scheduled to be executed next Monday, and he has an appeal pending to the Supreme Court.”

Drones: Who Would Jesus Drone?

“…  being a Christian inevitably means many things — it means being baptized, partaking of the Lord’s supper, and belonging to a community marked by the confession that Jesus Christ is Lord. Likewise, being a Christian means lamenting the violence carried out by those powers and principalities that coercively seek their own lordship over God’s good creation — powers and principalities like America.”

Jesus, non-violence, the Book of Revelation & violence: Book of Revelation: Friend or Foe to Nonviolence

“Revelation is a violent book, but the violence is not dished out as much as it is absorbed. And although there’s a lot of bloodshed, it often flows from the veins of Christ and His followers, not from His enemies. In fact, Revelation supports Christian nonviolence more aggressively than any other biblical book.”

links: this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

V-for-violenceCapital punishment & the death penalty: * The Heresy of Capital Punishment [required reading];  Some Responses to Critics Regarding Capital Punishment

* “”It is my considered opinion that belief that capital punishment, at least as it is known and practiced in the U.S. today, is a heresy when espoused by Christians. It manifests an embrace of the myth of redemptive violence by humans and flies in the face of the ethic of Jesus which forbids violent retribution. It is absolutely, incontrovertibly contrary to love. And it is, as practiced in the U.S. today, manifestly unjust.”

* “… if we’re going to appeal to the authority of the God of the Old Testament to support capital punishment, then … to those of you who use Romans 13 to argue that Christians should support capital punishment: Do you then … And, to those of you who demand proof texts before I oppose capital punishment (or call it a heresy): What do you say about … to those of you who refer to the OT’s commands to execute certain people: Do you then … And, finally, to those who like to think of Jesus as a warrior …”

Gun control: How Could We Blow This One?

“More Americans die of falling televisions and other appliances than from terrorism. Twice as many Americans die of bee or wasp stings annually. And 15 times as many die by falling off ladders.

“Most striking, more than 30,000 people die annually from firearms injuries, including suicides, murders and accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. American children are 13 times as likely to be killed by guns as in other industrialized countries.

“Doesn’t it seem odd that we’re willing to spend trillions of dollars, and intercept metadata from just about every phone call in the country, to deal with a threat that, for now, kills but a few Americans annually — while we’re too paralyzed to introduce a rudimentary step like universal background checks to reduce gun violence that kills tens of thousands?”

Military & special forces: The Future of U.S. Special Operations Forces

“U.S. special operations forces are doing more things in more places than ever before. They are now active in some seventy countries and, since 2001, have seen their combined budget nearly quintuple—a trend that seems likely to continue.”

Non-violence & pacifism: It’s Easy to be Pacifist in Indiana. Try Gaza! [essential reading]

“If the early church was pacifist, or close to it, would that impact your views for today?”

this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

V-for-violenceBackground checks, gun control, & legislation: President Obama: We Have Not Forgotten What Happened in Newtown

“Right now, 90 percent of Americans — 90 percent — support background checks that will keep criminals and people who have been found to be a danger to themselves or others from buying a gun. More than 80 percent of Republicans agree. More than 80 percent of gun owners agree.”

Churches of Christ, military service, pacifism, Restoration Movement & war: Alexander Campbell, Tolbert Fanning, David Lipscomb: A Nineteenth-Century Anti-War Triumvirate [required reading]

“Alexander Campbell, Tolbert Fanning, and David Lipscomb had three things in common. They all lived during the nineteenth century. They were all ministers in the Church of Christ … And they were all vehemently anti-war. … All wrote well before the horrors of World War I, with Campbell and Fanning writing their anti-war works even before the carnage of the so-called Civil War. … I shall present Campbell’s anti-war views from his famous ‘Address on War’ that was originally delivered in May, 1848, in Wheeling, Virginia, published in the Millennial Harbinger in July the same year … I shall present Fanning’s anti-war views from his March 1847 article in the Christian Review titled simply ‘War.’ … I shall present Lipscomb’s anti-war views from his 1889 book, Civil Government: Its Origin, Mission, and Destiny, and the Christian’s Relation to It, which was originally published as a series of articles in the Gospel Advocate from 1866 to 1867.”

Fear & war: Threats of Annihilation Normal for South Koreans

“Nowhere is there the slightest inkling that anyone in this second largest metropolitan area in the world — is fearful or even anxious about the stream of threats emanating from North Korea.”

Guns & statistics: Children’s Defense Fund: Protect Children, Not Guns The Truth About Guns [essential reading]

“A gun in the home makes the likelihood of homicide three times higher, suicide three to five times higher, and accidental death four times higher. For every time a gun in the home injures or kills in self-defense, there are 11 completed and attempted gun suicides, seven criminal assaults and homicides with a gun, and four unintentional shooting deaths or injuries.”

Holocaust: Explaining the Holocaust to Our Nine Year-Old Daughter

“This is part of the beauty and the tension we experience as an interfaith family. We have two beautiful traditions, with rich spiritual practices, that do much good in the world. At the same time, we share a tragic history, in which the Lutheran theology to which I’ve dedicated my life in ministry was twisted in order to justify killing my wife’s ancestors. I am constantly aware of it, especially when I preach and teach, and at times find it difficult to reconcile.”

Shootings: One Nation Under The Gun: Thousands Of Gun Deaths Since Newtown

“The Huffington Post has tracked gun-related deaths in the United States since Newtown. Click here for an interactive map of those who have died.”