Saturday, October 28, 2006

What it's about

Is there anyone who thinks this world is as good as it could be? I doubt it. Regardless of whether we think God created it, or what its original condition was, we can at least agree that it is no longer in anything approaching a pristine condition.

Wouldn't it be nice to heal it? Or perhaps to contribute to its healing?

What solutions have been tried? Well, of course, there's religion, which presumes to make people better. I've seen people in whom it has worked. But I fear they are the exception rather than the rule. I am a practicing Christian, but I know of the historical failures of Christians over the centuries (s.v. "Crusades," for example), and of the way Christianity is used/abused even now by those who are greedy for wealth and power (see "How Jesus Endorsed Bush's Invasion of Iraq").

And this is what distresses me. Of course, it is not only Christians who wish for power and who abuse others to gain it. History is full of examples, as are the current daily papers. But I'm not writing this to bash other religions or faiths. We all know where we ourselves have failed. That's enough.

Of course, the daily papers are also full of political attempts to make the world a better place. Is it safe to say it's not working?

And when the dialog fails, we start launching missiles. Well, sometimes we do that even before the dialog has failed -- even before we try it. Fear, distrust and (not to mention) economic interests launch us into pre-emptive strikes against those we fear -- our "enemies."

Jesus said: "Love your enemies." I take that seriously. That means, for me, that I love the Iraqi people, even those who would kill me and kill my family. I love the people of Afghanistan, even the Taliban, some of whom would like to kill me and my family. I love the people of North Korea, China, etc., etc. Loving them means I cannot kill them. It means I have to put their interests ahead of my own and count their lives just as valuable as my own.

And so, I want dialog. I want to talk about the reasons we feel it necessary to kill. I want to exonerate Jesus from blame -- and show that it is absolutely UNchristian to kill in his name, or to think that he would underwrite our national agenda. It is also, therefore, unchristian to kill on behalf of a nation (ours, or anyone’s).

I know many Christians would disagree with this position. I have an old friend – one of my oldest – who has been in the U.S. Army for many years. He’s also a Christian, and he just made Lieutenant-Colonel. We’ve been having this argument for 25 years. We still disagree, and we’re still friends.

I want Christians to be people of peace – peacemakers! If God is the God of peace, if Jesus is the Prince of Peace, we need to be peacemakers.

So, the world needs therapy. We need to talk.