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.'”

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. 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.'”