April 16, 2016 at 11:25 pm #14765
Enclosed find a rough draft of the first couple of chapters of a proposed book I am beginning to work on. Figured with the wars and violence that is going on this would be a topic that would be of interest to many and so present it here for thought, prayer and discussion.¬† If there is interest I will continue to publish chapters on peace particularly as patterned for us by the human Jesus himself. Although a pacifist and committed to non violence myself I realize there are other viewpoints that can be equally as valid as mine. So share them and let’s have a discussion and see what we can learn about peace and how to bring it about of if in fact I may be wrong and there is a justification for war. Hope to hear from you all.
Brother Lawrence Damien
Blessed Are The Peace Makers
Living the Jesus Way By Brother Lawrence Damien CoS
Recently the Roman Catholic Church has held a conference in Rome supported by the Vatican aimed at renouncing the ‚ÄúJust War Theory‚ÄĚ to embracing the idea of ‚ÄúJust Peace‚ÄĚ and the idea that war is never acceptable. One of the ideas coming from that conference is to study the human Jesus and what he taught and lived while here on earth. Much has been written on his divinity, his glory and second coming to earth to set up his kingdom here starting in Jerusalem. However what about the human Jesus who lived, walked and taught for 33 years in the Judean countryside and whom millions today claim to follow? What about the Gospel writers he inspired to write down his story and words so we could read them and be inspired by them? Is there one message that resonates from John the Baptist, Jesus, the Gospels and through the first Christian communities? I believe that answer is yes and it‚Äôs the message of love, nonviolence, and peace.
For centuries we as Christians have claimed to be for peace. At Christmas we talk of peace and good will towards others. Yet history shows an all together different picture of organized Christianity as we have sought to justify going to war for our own purposes. We have come with a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other. Either they convert or die. This is justified on the grounds that they are infidels denying the true faith and thus deserve what they get. Plus all their wealth can then be used to support the church, and be used for the glory of God. This was the basis for the Crusades which were to take back the Holy Lands and sites from the hands of the Muslim ‚Äúinfidels‚ÄĚ. It too was the basis for the destructions of civilizations like the Aztec and Inca empires and either the slaughter or enslavement of their peoples. Here in the United States it became the basis for forcibly taking the land from the Indians whose it was and appropriating it for our own use. Other countries would I suspect have similar stories of what organized Christianity has done to them as could many people, ethnic groups, gays, lesbian and transgendered communities, non Christian religions, various sects which although they claim to be Christian don‚Äôt fit in¬† with what would be considered traditional Orthodoxy and so forth.
Given these facts and given the current situation our world finds itself in and many ‚ÄúChristians‚ÄĚ seeming to embrace extreme ideas allowing for hate, bigotry, discrimination, torture,¬† war¬† it is time ¬†to rethink some things and take another look at what the¬† New Testament and Jesus actually say and teach and which was practiced by the early Christian Church. It is a message of hope and encouragement and one that can work. Mahatma Gandhi is perhaps being the best example in modern times of a man who took this message of nonviolence and peace to win independence for India. His approach was taken from the teachings of Jesus even though he was a Hindu. Like many he saw the organized church as the oppressors of his people. However he did like Jesus and his teachings and tried to apply them to what he did and lived. It‚Äôs that Jesus I would like to try and capture here along with his message.
- Do No Violence
Starting off I would like to look at John the Baptist. One day when he is preaching some soldiers ask him what they should do? He tells them to be content with their wages and do violence to no man. On the surface that might seem to be a contradiction as soldiers are trained to kill and destroy things. However John here is not talking about that kind of violence. Instead the word used here for violence means to intimidate that is to make someone afraid. People are afraid of what they don‚Äôt understand or can‚Äôt control. It makes them feel helpless and without hope and so they react to oppose and stop whatever is making them feel afraid or insecure. The New King James Bible sums it up pretty good when it says:
‚ÄúLikewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.‚ÄĚ
Thus if we want to be peacemakers we need to quit making people afraid. We need to quit trying to tell everyone what to do or try and prove ourselves superior to everyone else. Any time we make someone feel inferior, an outcast, and unwanted, that they have to do what we want them to because we said so, or in various other ways we are guilty of intimidation which can provoke anger and violence. Much of our problems today come from rhetoric condemning mass groups of people and even advocating deporting them based on nothing more than their religion or race. Other originate ¬†from ‚ÄúChristians‚ÄĚ wanting the right in the name of religious freedom to discriminate and deny basic rights to LGBT peoples because they go against their religious beliefs and how they define ‚ÄúChristianity‚ÄĚ. Blacks are shot and killed regularly because of the color of their skins and in many poorer neighborhoods drive by killings often gang related are a daily occurrence. Many people live in poverty because they work at minimum wage jobs which don‚Äôt pay enough to support a family on, old people can‚Äôt afford meds and food also and many are wondering if Social Security will be there for them when they get ready to retire. What will our future be like? For Americans are our best days behind us and we are doomed to become a third rate power or is our best years still in front of us? Is our world doomed to be destroyed in World War III or a nuclear holocaust? If not that then maybe global warming or over population will get us? These are some of the issues that face us and there are many other issues also which can make us feel afraid and insecure and thus intimidated.
So how can we then change this and help make people feel secure and not intimidated. As I said earlier people fear what they don‚Äôt understand or can‚Äôt control. Therefore knowledge becomes essential to understanding so people realize we are basically all alike and wanting the same things for ourselves and our families as well as for others. By giving them understanding we enable people to control the decisions they make allowing them to change their world for the better. It is by having open, frank and truthful discussions about the issues facing us and together seeking solutions that will bring a better tomorrow for ourselves and our children. It is to deal with issues now before it becomes to late and we pass the point of no return into a disastrous future for us. It is to teach tolerance and respect for those different from us so no more people have to die or get seriously beaten because of their sexual orientation, color of their skin, their sex, religion or anything else. It is to realize we are all children of God and God has no favorites but loves all equally and therefore if we are going to be true followers of God we need to do the same also. It is to work for social justice seeking to eliminate all injustice until God‚Äôs rule covers ever corner of the earth.
This is the beginning and foundation for peace making. However it is not the end. There is much more in the peace making process that we will look at as we go on especially as we look at the life, actions, ¬†and teachings of Jesus. Please join me as together we learn to become true peacemakers.
 Luke 3:14
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