Christian Peacemaker Art Gish Dies at 70

Christian Peacemaker Art Gish with flock in Hebron.

As news spreads of the tragic death of Art Gish, world-renowned Christian peacemaker, in a farming accident near Athens, Ohio, more memories and reflections are pouring in. (See yesterday’s post for more.)

“He has been an inspiration to me for more than 36 years.”–Dale in Melbourne, Australia

“Have spent hours, days with him and I have never heard a harsh personal word towards anyone only love and deep concern. Now I have heard him seriously criticize the violent policies and actions of governments and individuals supporting those governments but never personal attacks on anyone.”–Kathleen

The Athens News ran a story on Art in their later edition that gives more details on his death and life:

Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly reported that Gish was disking a field on a tractor at his Amesville area farm around 9:30 a.m., when he apparently drove too close to the sloped edge, flipped the tractor over and was trapped underneath. The vehicle caught fire, and Gish perished in the blaze, Kelly said. The Amesville Fire Department and SEOEMS responded, as well as the sheriff’s department.

The Mennonite Publishing Network, which distributes two of Gish’s books about his work in the Middle East, said he had been active in peace and social justice work for the past 50 years, beginning with his work as a conscientious objector with Brethren Volunteer Service in Europe from 1958-60.

He also worked in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, and had been actively involved in opposing U.S. wars abroad since his youth. He had worked with Christian Peacemaker Teams in the Middle East since 1995.

Both Gish, 70, and his wife, Peggy, of 13206 Dutch Creek Road, have been well-known figures in Athens’ progressive community. Peggy Gish, who is currently in Iraq, also made repeated trips to the Middle East to work with Christian Peacemaker Teams there.

On a regular basis, one or both of the Gishes could be found with a few other people standing on Court Street outside the Athens County Courthouse, holding signs calling for peace, in a weekly lunch hour vigil.

He also was a regular fixture at the Athens Farmers Market, where he sold organic produce and other goods from his farm.

Over the years, Gish submitted dozens of letters to the editor to The Athens NEWS and other local newspapers on peace and justice issues, as well as religion and morality. He repeatedly placed first in the reader-nominated Athens NEWS Best of Athens awards, as “Best Leading Citizen.”

Gish gained worldwide attention in 2003, when the Associated Press distributed a photo of him defying an Israeli tank, to try to block it from destroying a Palestinian market in Hebron.

Read the whole Athens News story here. To learn more about Art, read his books:

Beyond the Rat Race
Living in Christian Community
Hebron Journal: Stories of Nonviolent Peacemaking
At-Tuwani Journal: Hope and Nonviolent Action in a Palestinian Village

Military Empire Requires Religious Blessing

“What will be God’s if all things are Caesar’s?”–Tertullian (160–220 AD), De Idolatria

“In Christian theology, it is not nations that rid the world of evil—they are too often caught up in complicated webs of political power, economic interests, cultural clashes, and nationalist dreams. The confrontation with evil is a role reserved for God, and for the people of God when they faithfully exercise moral conscience. But God has not given the responsibility for overcoming evil to a nation-state, much less to a superpower with enormous wealth and particular national interests. To confuse the role of God with that of the American nation, as George Bush seems to do, is a serious theological error that some might say borders on idolatry or blasphemy.”–Jim Wallis, Dangerous Religion (Sojourners, September-October 2003)

Contact the GI Hotline if you are or someone you know:

*is in the U.S. military and wants to get out

*is considering joining the U.S. military

*is being pursued by an army recruiter.

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Martin Espada’s new collection of poetry

My friend Joe Ross is blogging over at LiveWrite about Crucifixion in the Plaza De Armas, the newest collection of poems by Martin Espada. Joe writes:

Just the other day, I received a copy of Martin Espada’s new collection of poems Crucifixion in the Plaza de Armas. While many of these poems are published elsewhere in Espada’s work, it is beautiful to have them in one collection. This book represents a gathering of all his Puerto Rico poems. As he says in the Introduction: “…they are all set, in whole or in part, on the island of Puerto Rico.” In a sense, these are poems of “place.” Yet sometimes the “place” of these poems, is more political or emotional than geographic.

Joe and I were honored to have Espada contribute his fantastic poem “God of the Weather-Beaten Face,” about Iraq war conscientious objector Camilo Mejia, to the poetry collection against torture we edited called Cut Loose the Body.

Read Joe’s whole review of Crucifixion here..