Peace & Peacemaking

Levi Miller, peace and justice and the Mennonite chattering class

crossposted from As of Yet Untitled

Dried Love in the Mist seedpods

For the last few weeks, I’ve been wrestling with how to respond to Levi Miller’s column on "peacenjustice". My first reaction was one of anger and frustration. No wonder the Mennonite church has had such a hard time integrating peace and justice into our whole denomination! The director of our publishing house mocks it as a buzzword and sees it as a product of "cultural chatterers." Miller seems to see shalom (the bible’s word for peace and justice) as a little more then a worn out fad. It was much loved by the Sandinistas and Sojourners in the ’70s, but it is time to grow up and move on.

Over the weeks, I wrote several paragraphs expounding on my outrage at an old white guy maligning a theology of liberation that challenges the unjust status quo. (more…)

Can radical book tours change the world?

Over at Jesus Manifesto, Mark Van Steenwyck offers a challenge to the social-change-through-book-tour model:

It seems to be assumed that the way we can build a movement in our society is by wring books, building platforms, and then touring around using our amassed social capital to woo large numbers of people to being a part of the movement. This often, it seems to me, leads to a sort of coopted radical space where folks never have to go beyond the figure head who is leading the movement.

As more and more Christians in the US begin to wake up to the radical message, the question of “So what next?” becomes more and more important. Though Mark names Pete Rollins as the inspiration for his post, he just as easily could be talking about Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson Hart-Groves, the authors of the New Monasticism movement. It seems that every couple of months, I see a new book out from Jonathan or Shane. I’m sure they are all quite good, but I’m not convinced they are pushing the envelope much beyond Irresistible Revolution, a book that clearly reached a new evangelical audience with a message of radical, Jesus-centered Christianity. Many new Christian Peacemaker Teams recruits continue to tell me Shane’s first book was the where they first heard about CPT.

So, you say that social change isn’t about writing books and touring (or blogging for that matter)? Then what is it about?? (more…)

The things that make for peace

This piece is cross-posted from Electronic Intifada

As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” Luke 19:41-42

Dominus Flevit on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem is the name of a church and a site of pilgrimage for many Christian travelers to the “Holy Land.” Literally, Dominus Flevit means “the Lord wept” in Latin and is remembered as the site where Jesus stopped to look out over Jerusalem to weep and ask this striking question to all who would follow him.

An unavoidable question: Do we recognize the things that make for peace? Are they right in front of us, hidden from our eyes?

The language of peace often surrounds us. In a place like Palestine, the language of peace gets thrown around on a regular basis. One can see it when surveying the expanding colonization of the occupied West Bank in recent decades, in particular during those times of “peace” process. Or when one passes through an Israeli military checkpoint and is greeted with “shalom” — the Hebrew word for peace. And one also encounters it on the International Day of Prayer for Peace, where Palestinian Christians and Muslims alike gather to resist the daily violence they experience through prayer and protest.

When I read a text such as this one from Luke’s gospel, I cannot help but feel like Jesus is speaking directly to me, to us. Indeed, these words are a challenge to all of us who would make use of the language of peace.

This is a subversive text. And it reminds me of a story about what the language of peace in Palestine-Israel looks like, a story from Hedy Sawadsky, a relief worker with the Mennonite Central Committee in the Middle East in the 1960s who was challenged by a Palestinian woman: “what you’re doing here is fine, but it is only band-aid work … go home and work for peace and get at the root causes of evil and war.” (more…)

A novel about anime, peacemaking and kidnapping

This is a letter to YAR readers from Kathleen Kern, a colleague of mine at Christian Peacemaker Teams as well as a novelist. I was a fan of her first novel, Where Such Unmaking Reigns and I’ve also read the manuscript she describes below.

Hi,

Last year, I completed a second novel featuring the work of a fictitious group called Reformed Anabaptist Peace Teams. I’ve posted the following on a number of anime websites, and checked with the local anime club at Rochester Institute of Technology, but have had still had no takers for more
than year. A YAR suggested I post my request here:

This year, I completed my second novel, the main character of which, Spike Darbyfield is emotionally invested in only two things: her younger sister, Margie, and higher end Japanese Anime series [the ones I mention the most are Blood+, Samurai Champloo, and Cowboy Bebop.] From others in her family,
colleagues, clientele, and the rest of humanity, she maintains an ironic or contemptuous detachment. When an Iraqi militant group kidnaps Margie while she is working for a human rights organization in Iraq, the crisis creates openings in what Spike has perceived as her invulnerable exterior, allowing
those who care about her to begin relating to her (and her to them) in different ways. (more…)

Jarrod McKenna hiding in training area to halt US and Australian military training exercises

A few years ago I published an interview on YAR with Jarrod McKenna, an Australian Christian and activist. Since then, Jarrod has occasionally participated in discussions on YAR and I’ve had a number of phone conversations with him as part of building a Christian Peacemaker Teams presence in Australia. He’s a committed and passionate advocate of Christian nonviolence.

The Bonhoeffer 4
photo via Indymedia

Today, Jarrod and 3 other Christians are hiding in the Shoalwater Bay military training area in order to stop joint training exercises by Australians and US troops in which they practice invading a Muslim town. (more…)

Would you like to train with Christian Peacemaker Teams in London?

For the last couple years, I and others been working to organize a training for new CPTers in Europe. Earlier this year we announced that we had enough applicants to move ahead with a CPT training for new corps members in London in October. This week, we are on the brink of having to cancel that training due to lack of participants. In this final push for trainees, we are opening it up to those of you in North America (or others outside Europe) who might be interested in traveling to London for the month long training from October 1st through October 31st. Aside from the transportation costs to get there, all other costs would be covered including room and board. (more…)

Jesus Radicals! Anarchism and Christianity

New Heaven, New Earth: Anarchism and Christianity Beyond Empire
August 14 & 15, 2009

Location
Caritas Village
2509 Harvard Avenue,
Memphis, TN 38112

This year’s anarchism and Christianity conference, hosted by Jesus Radicals, will look squarely at the economic and ecological crisis facing the globe, and point to signs of hope for creativity, for alternative living, for radical sharing, for faithfulness, for a new way of being. We are living in a karios moment that will either break us or compel us to finally strive for a new, sane way of life. The question we face at this pivotal time is not if our empires will fall apart, but when they will fall–and how will we face it? We hope you will join the conversation. (more…)

gay/evangelical love

Love is an orientation

Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community
Andrew Marin
InterVarsity Press
Published: March 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8308-3626-0

If you were to meet Andrew Marin (and providing you have some experience with Evangelical culture), it might strike you that he looks, acts, and talks like the epitome of a twenty-something Evangelical guy.  His hair is cut pretty short.  When I heard him speak, he was wearing long khaki cargo shorts and an oversized striped polo shirt.  He is effusive and outgoing in mannerisms, and when he speaks, he loves to interject words like “awesome” and “pumped up” into his emotional-wallop-packing anecdotes and series of simple, Bible-verse backed points.  Stock Evangelicalish phrases seem to work their way un-self-consciously into every other sentence.

In his own words (paraphrased from what I remember), he is what his large Evangelical church in a (quite) affluent Chicago suburb raised him to be: an outgoing, straight, conservative, Bible-believing alpha-male.  And he doesn’t just appear to be this.  He truly is this, and he fully claims it.

So… this has all been just to set up some tension over everything else I want to say about Andrew Marin, his eight year of work in the GLBT (gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered) community, and especially his new book published by Intervarsity Press, “Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community.”  For those who don’t know me, I grew up very Christian and very Mennonite, went through a lot of pain figuring out my sexual orientation, am gay, and currently approach the church and the Bible with a lot of ambivalence over whether they’re fundamentally good or bad (and whether they lead one toward Christ or kill any possibility of actually encountering Christ.)  Add that to the tension.
(more…)

A Platform for MCUSA

I have been involved in some pretty strange things—a church planter of an all-homeless/mentally ill congregation; encouraging leaders of a mosque in Bangladesh to re-think Jesus; dumpster diving for Jesus, and so recently becoming the poster child for dumpster diving in Portland (Check out http://www.portlandmonthlymag.com/issues/archives/articles/0409-holy-diver/ and read a recent article about me—heck, just look at the pics!). Stuff like that. But when I got a call from MCUSA a week ago, that took the cake.

Someone nominated me to be the Executive Director of MCUSA.

At first I figured it must be a joke. Who would, in their right mind, think that I—radical pastor who has to bite his tongue every time he speaks to a middle class person—would make a good Executive Director? Someone just did it for a lark, I thought. Or perhaps I was recommended by someone who just wanted to shake things up. Well, that would do it. Me as taking Jim Schrag’s place? Just unthinkable. (more…)

Military Counseling Network seeks Young Anabaptist Radical

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 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 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.

For more information, e-mail mcn@dmfk.de. 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.

Coming Clean: A Confession

[Note: This post was originally posted at Cramer Comments. I understand that its revelation may not be quite as shocking here.]

I have a confession to make.

Some of my friends and colleagues are already fully apprised of what I am about to say. But for many other family members and peers, all they know is what they have heard in rumors or gleaned from suggestive comments on previous blogs.

Today I must put this mystery to rest. Today I must accept myself for who I really am and trust that others will learn to accept me for who I am too. (more…)

Christmas Day in Palestine

Crossposted from SammerTime

12.25.2008

I awoke to the sound of light rain on the tin roof. Quite pleased after checking my watch and realizing I slept in much longer than usual, I stepped outside to find an unusual morning. Light rain was falling and fog had enveloped the valley in which At-Tuwani lies. The Palestinian town to the north was obscured by the fog, as were Ma’on and Havat Ma’on, an Israeli settlement and illegal Israeli outpost, respectively. The South Hebron Hills, the name that denotes the greater area of which At-Tuwani is a part, is usually marked by clear skies and clear visibility for miles. This Christmas morning, the scene was different as Ma’on and Havat Ma’on were seemingly disconnected from At-Tuwani due to the fog.

The residents of Ma’on and Havat Ma’on are significant perpetrators of the system of oppression that makes life difficult for Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills. Ideologically-driven Israeli settlers inhabit these areas and often carry out acts of violence and terror against Palestinian farmers, shepherds, and schoolchildren. (more…)

The Trouble with Thanksgiving: A Reflection by Nekeisha

Thanksgiving makes me nervous.

For years, I’ve gotten a sinking feeling in my stomach as the month of November draws to a close and this day looms. On the one hand, Thanksgiving is about joy and gratitude. It is a time when I travel to see family and friends, welcome a few days of rest and look forward to the holiday season. In my mind, I know it is a good thing to have a day where the sole emphasis is to give thanks to God for all God has done. I also appreciate the opportunity to celebrate all my loved ones do and are to one another.

And yet Thanksgiving reminds me of a beautiful but altogether itchy sweater. Sure it looks good on the rack in my closet. It is slimming, well-made, gorgeous color—everything you could hope for in a sweater. But if I put it on I’m guaranteed to spend the whole day tugging, scratching and feeling downright uncomfortable. Try as I might, I can’t shake that weird feeling about that good ole holiday. It gets to the point where weeks in advance I’m trying to come up with other things to say besides “Happy Thanksgiving.” And since “Happy Day Off” doesn’t cut it I go ahead and mutter the greeting anyway, wheels still turning for a suitable substitute. (more…)

Ministry to the Outcast

In every society there are the rejected that Jesus is intensely interested in assisting. But the church often is in the place of judging the outcast at the side of the rest of society. Below is my vision, based on Jesus’ ministry, of how the church should look when they are responding to the outcast as they should. These are also the principles on which my ministry is based:
All true ministry has the goal of leading a people to faith in Jesus as Lord and living that out in their lives.

Identification—I Cor. 9:19-23
Some within a congregation that will take on the role of an outcast in order to reach them. Get rid of the separation between the “server” and the “served”.

Offer to be Family—Mark 2:15-17; Luke 15.
Total love of the “sinner”, and an offer to partake in acceptance. This is the major felt need of the outcast—social acceptability. To offer acceptance is not to have the outcast feel that acceptance—this only comes with an acceptance of forgiveness and inclusion in the community. This sense of family cannot be created by a program, but one can use a program as a base-point to increase this acceptance.

Listening—James 1:19
You cannot meet anyone’s needs until you know what they are. Get past the first hurdles in order to discover their real needs (e.g. no one needs money, money is a means to meet the real need)

Benevolence
Trying to meet their needs, but doing so with dependence on God. Those with resources, give what you have (Luke 12:33); those without, pray for healing (Matt 10). To give what we have, may be to offer what God alone has to give, instead of the petty resources we have (Acts 3:1-8). (more…)

Chicago police, racism and the powerlessness of the gun in Rogers Park

crossposted from As of Yet Untitled

This afternoon I was sitting in my office downstairs from our apartment when I noticed the yelling volume outside had gone up significantly to a low roar. I looked out the window and saw that the number of kids walking home from nearby Sullivan high school had grown to a critical mass. Either something had already happened or was about to.

I walked out the front door and saw that one of Charletta’s big plastic planters was broken, dirt and plants spilled out on the ground. On the corner of Pratt and Bosworth, 30 or 40 kids were milling around. One squad car (car number 9602) was there, but the officer was still sitting in his car, smoking a cigarette.

As I walked toward the corner I watched a swirl of motion erupted as four or five kids took swings with their legs and fists at a sixth boy. As I continued walking toward the corner, the officer sitting in his car did nothing but sit and smoke his cigarette. By now the victim of the attack was on the ground as the other kids took turns kicking him. As I got closer, the officer began to back his car up, almost running over the kid on the ground. Then as soon as it had begun, it ended. The kid on the ground was apparently not hurt too badly as he was also quickly away from the scene.

After it was clear that the violence was over, the officer finally got out of his car. (more…)