Christian Pacifism: It’s A Bible Thing.

Jim Foxvog from Plow Creek Mennonite Church in Bureau County, Illinois, has a great page set up on the biblical basis for Christian pacifism. This is an excellent source of scripture quotes for forming one’s conscience on the issue of pacifism and faith.

Plow Creek Mennonite (mission statement: “A global village practicing the peace of Jesus”) is a great Christian community providing a powerful spiritual witness in middle America. Stop by and visit if you are ever in rural Tiskilwa, Illinois.

“What would Jesus do? [WWJD] ” Christians rightly ask. Jesus was perfectly capable of self defense.  He chose not to defend himself, to let his enemies kill him and even asked that his murderers be forgiven.  We are to follow in his ways.  There’s a great bumper sticker: “Whom would Jesus bomb?” [WWJB]  We are specifically called to follow Jesus example of suffering love and non-retaliation (1 Peter 2:21). Jesus died for the life his enemies (Rom 5:8,10).  Jesus gave this as the specific reason to love our enemies, “so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:45 ) — to be like him! Jesus was questioned about the death penalty.  God specifically commanded it in the Old Testament.  Jesus did not say it was undeserved.  His answer: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone” (John 8.7).  Does not the same reasoning apply to a nation seeking to “punish” another “evil nation”?

God will take care of us and is fully capable of handling those who do evil. We should not fear people, even those who could kill us (Matt 10:28).  This is the basic truth, not some sweet cliché. We are conquerors in all things by being in Jesus — nothing can separate us from the love of God (Rom 8:37-39).

It is a deeply held popular belief that the only way to stop evil is with by violent force.  This is the theme of most adventure stories of all genres, of comic books and TV shows and movies.  If we trust violence more than we trust God, this is idolatry. God’s truth is that our real enemies are spiritual (Ephesians 6:12) and are to be opposed by spiritual means (2 Cor 10:4). Our culture teaches us to oppose evil with violent force. But God, who created the universe,  shows us that the world is not founded on violence, but is built and designed differently.  Love is what works because that is how the totality of all that is was designed.–Jim Foxvog (Biblical Pacifism: Christian Pacifism is Scriptural Position)

May 26: Prop 8 and Dred Scott

dred-scottDo you think the California Supreme Court was aware that it was handing down the Prop 8 decision on marriage equality on the anniversary of Dred and Harriet Scott’s manumission?

I hope the odd coincidence of history is predictive and, despite California’s court decision, the U.S. will soon be celebrating the “manumission” to marry for whosoever will.

On March 6, 1857, after an 11-year court battle, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Dred Scott, an African-American slave, had “no rights that a white man need respect.”

On May 26, 1857, Taylor Blow, a son of Scott’s original owner, purchased Scott and his family in order to set them free.

Dred Scott was born a slave in Virginia about 1790. He was sold to a doctor who later moved to Illinois and eventually to Missouri with all his property. In 1846, Dred Scott filed a suit in Missouri seeking freedom for himself, his wife, and two daughters. He based his case on the fact that slavery was prohibited in Illinois, and because he had lived there, he had been freed.

Scott’s pursuit of their freedom when on for seven years in various courts, with one higher court after another reversing previous decisions. Throughout the ordeal, the children of Dred Scott’s original owners gave him financial support. Finally, after the Missouri Circuit Court ruled that “once free, always free,” Scott’s case went to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The federal Supreme Court ruled that Scott had no right to sue because blacks were not U.S. citizens. Scott and his family were returned to their owner.

Fifteen months after Scott had been freed by the Blow family, who were Catholic, he died of tuberculosis. When Dred Scott died on September 17, 1858, the Blow family arranged to have him buried in the Catholic Calvary Cemetery of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

Revoking Blagojevich’s Poetic License?

I have to say that I admire Rod Blagojevich’s steadfastness as a patron of the arts. His deft use of poetry in all things political is a shining example of how a strong liberal arts education can serve one well in positions of responsibility and leadership.

blago-orig

Following his impeachment this week by the Illinois House of Representatives (114-1), Governor  Blagojevich concluded his near-messianic final press conference with another flash of poetic insight. (Last year he recited the opening lines of “If” by that manly Colonialist curmudgeon Rudyard Kipling, who also, by way of reminder wrote “The White Man’s Burden,” which Blagojevich did not even need to recite aloud.) Blagojevich ended his stint this week as Illinois governor with lines from Alfred Tennyson’s “Ulysses,” concluding:

And though we are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Comparing himself to the epic hero Ulysses is not out of character for the governor. (In fact, he had is own Greek chorus standing at his side.) And attempting to sell a senate seat, shaking down children’s hospitals, gagging a newspaper’s editorial board must indeed have felt like waging a war against the gods of fate. It makes sense that former Gov. Blagojevich concluded with the end of Tennyson’s poem. The beginning of it might have cut a little too close to home:

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Matched with an agèd wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

I like Jon Stewart’s idea of a Senior Poetry Advisor. I think President Obama should appoint one. There’s definitely a poem out there for every political occasion and no one wants to make a poetical faux paux on their first–or last–day of political office.