Conscientious Objection

When should we insist on peace and nonviolence?

In the past few months, we’ve discussed how to handle churches that stray from their nonviolent roots, why we should refrain from commenting on situations we don’t know in-depth, and why those of us in comfortable lives should hold their tongues when people in uncomfortable lives outside of North America use violence. Yes, that’s a simplistic way of saying it, but it’s a decent summary.

My question is, when should we insist on peace and nonviolence? When should we, as people committed to the peacemaking roots of our church tradition (and not because it is our tradition, but because we believe it, too), stand up and say, “Nope, I’m not going to let this get watered down”? If a person with a U.S. military background comes into our churches and says, “Don’t tell people in Palestine not to throw rocks when people point guns at them,” how do you respond? Should we insist on peacemaking and nonviolence for ourselves but decline to comment on how others live? Can we live in church fellowship with those who say otherwise, and if so, does this mean asking them not to promote their beliefs in our churches? (more…)

Christian Peace Witness raises more questions than I had before

Yes, I call myself a pacifist. And yes, I went with a group from my area as a reporter on the Christian Peace Witness. If alarm bells are ringing in your head about my capacity to be objective, you’re not the only one.

Here’s why I thought I could do it: While overall I oppose war and violence, I have a lot of questions and issues with the war in Iraq. The CPW was a response to that war specifically, not a call to disband the U.S. military or whatever. The more I learn about Iraq, the more I realize it’s an intensely complex situation that has no easy answers. I don’t pretend to know what should be done there. Not to mention I didn’t seek out the CPW—it came to me when the local trip coordinator contacted my editor to see if we’d do a story. I looked at the info and realized it would be a much better story if I went with them. My editors know our readers eat it up when local people do interesting things, so I ended up doing a front-page package deal of three stories and lots of photos for Sunday’s paper. (more…)

Prayer Requests at a Mennonite Church

This is the poem from today’s Writer’s Almanac. I don’t know if [I’m] allowed to post this poem, but Garrison Keillor apparently got permission to post it on the Writer’s Almanac Archive.

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Poem: “Prayer Requests at a Mennonite Church” by Todd Davis from Some Heaven (buy it here). © Michigan State University Press.

Pray for the Smucker family. Their son Nathaniel’s coat and shirt were
caught in the gears while grinding grain. Nothing would give, so now
he is gone. We made his clothes too well. Perhaps this is our sin. (more…)

Update on conscientious objector Agustin Aguayo

Back in September, Michael wrote about Agustin Aguayo here on YAR. Today Agustin was found guilty of desertion in a US military court in Würzburg, despite 3 years of attempting to get out of military service as a conscientious objector. According to the Independent, “He faces up to seven years in prison, a dishonourable discharge and loss of pay.” This development is the latest in a very long struggle for Agustin, so please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. [Update: The Washington Post reports that Agustin was sentenced to eight months in prison, which means that, given timed served, he’ll likely be out in a few weeks.]

Michael, as the director of the Military Counselling Network (MCN), is quote in a number of articles on the case. This probably means he’s been answering lots of media calls recently and may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. Keep him and MCS in your thoughts as this case may mean lots of increased publicity for them as well as increased interest from soldiers. They’ve been advertising for help on YAR recently as you may remember.

Anabaptist Radical Needed as Military Counselor in Germany

I’ve spent the last two years doing a job I love, working with American servicemembers who have been changed by their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the same way that the Pentagon technically has the right to extend a soldier’s active-duty service indefinitely during a time of war, so too do these soldiers have a right to get out early in certain situations. And war has the power to transform people. That’s where a military counselor comes in.

In a time when peace churches are having a hard time finding ways to be proactive in response to our country’s wars, this work gives us just that opportunity. More than protest, more than letter-writing, more than being “against stuff.” We can do better by providing alternatives.

In this position, you’ll learn to understand military law, military culture, and what’s really going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. There will also be opportunities to travel in the US and Europe to speak about issues of war and peace, explain what servicemembers who have been in the war actually say about it, and bring the Christian peace witness into the international debate. In the years I’ve worked in this capacity, I’ve had the opportunity to speak in dozens of venues in the US, Canada, Germany, France, Spain, Holland, and Israel/Palestine.

For more information, read the attached documents or e-mail me at mcn@dmfk.de. I’m sorry to be leaving the job, but it’s a great opportunity for someone to bring in fresh ideas and perspective. Feel free to pass this info on to other people who might be interested. For more information about the organization, check out www.mc-network.de.

The ‘Reign of God’ is among you…

The Associated Press reported, on October 8, that 75 people attended the funeral of Charles C. Roberts. About half of the “mourners” were Amish.

In a world run by retaliatory violence, a community near Lancaster PA took a chance on the Reign of God.

That’s history. It’s irrefutable. It’s staggeringly convicting. It’s Anabaptism – lived.