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7/27/2006

EAVESDROPPING ON THE DIFFERENCE

I eavesdropped on a conversation this morning over at Leaving Munster and thought the crowd here might like to pick it up and add on...seeing as how we're mostly the Americans in question. What do you think makes for so much difference of thought among the churches here on this issue?:

LISA [An American; you can tell by the spelling and grammar]: Now, here’s what I find really interesting. While evangelical America is willing to embrace violence, Quakers, Anabaptists, Mennonites, and so forth shun it. The different in approach doesn’t lie in religion: same sacred text, same Christ. With these denominators being common, isn’t the difference essential secular: teaching and approach? The teachings of one group emphasize one thing and the teachings of the other group emphasize something else.

GRAHAM [A European of some kind; you can tell by the "thus" and "perhaps"]: I think that there is a more essential difference than that. All of these groups oppose the Christendom marriage of Church & State. And that opposition is central to their identity. Thus, they are free to let the words of Christ take precedence over the welfare of the Nation-State. Perhaps then, in that sense, they have a different Christ and a different text.

13 Comments:

Blogger graham old said...

'A European of some kind; you can tell by the "thus" and "perhaps"...'

:-D

7/27/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

That's a compliment, by the way.

What kind exactly?

7/27/2006  
Blogger Amy said...

I'm not sure that when people "support" violence, they are thinking directly of the welfare of the nation-state. Most often, they are thinking of protection. Protection of loved ones. Protection of the innocent.

7/27/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Protection of loved ones.

I can go with you there, Amy. (btw, I'm not going to dominate this topic, I swear. Feel free to post without fear of being pounced on by the resident pacifist, alright?)

BUT, when we as an on-line community have talked about non-violence here before what's come up ALWAYS are words like "national defense", "freedom", "democracy" etc. Is the unsaid belief, I wonder, that if we don't war then we'll lose our way of life or our very lives or our loved one's lives which are tied to and preserved by the nation-state? It's as if some of us might believe the nation-state is the One we cannot live without, unable to imagine a life after America is taken over by Muslims, communists etc. Is there life without the nation we love? Could God want us to be without her someday?

7/27/2006  
Blogger Amy said...

Yeah, I definitely think there is the fear of losing the life we know.
And I will be honest. The thought of living in a Muslim controlled country doesn't make me feel good. (particularly being female) That doesn't mean I think we need to go war, but I guess it means that I still struggle daily to trust God.
I can imagine my life without America. I have lived overseas and want to live overseas again. I like the convenience of living here. I love my family. But I know that my life is about loving people who are different than me and somehow through loving them, having the hope of introducing them to Jesus. And in my opinion, more than protesting war, that is the way I can help bring peace to this world. One individual at a time. Increasing communication. When my Japanese students used to ask why I taught English, that was my answer. To build communication. To help us understand each other. To make friends.
I don't think of myself as "supporting" violence, but I'm not fully in the pacifist camp either. I know that violence will never end, but maybe I can be the vessel God uses in one life to bring peace to a troubled heart.
This probably doesn't make sense.

7/27/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Thanks for what you do for peace, Amy.

7/27/2006  
Anonymous Drew P said...

This is an interesting thought. Something I've been trying to work through ever since Shaun's thought provoking shlogging on Just war (approx. 1 year ago). I still haven't reached any conclusions other than that our reasons for going to war are not always virtuous or justified. But I'm not ready to rule out all wars, yet... Anyway, Shaun said, "Is the unsaid belief, I wonder, that if we don't war then we'll lose our way of life or our very lives or our loved one's lives which are tied to and preserved by the nation-state?" I think this generally is the unstated belief of our American Christian culture, yet I think this generally is indicative of a self-centered attitude, and a lack of trust in our Lord. I like the way that Derek Webb put it:
"In God we trust
and the government is on His shoulders
in God we trust
through democracy and tyranny alike
in God we trust
He uses both good and evil men"

As an aside, I think it's amazingly wonderful that a Christian can post about having a pint in a pub, and the conversation has not yet degenerated to a discussion on alcohol. I envy that.

7/27/2006  
Anonymous keith said...

I apologize for not answering your question directly, Shaun, but I felt moved to respond to some other comments made in the post to which you linked. You said we could “pick it up and add on,” so here’goes.

Lisa said:
“The people who claim to follow the man who laid down his life parse his words and reach back into the Old Testament for reasons to continuing [sic] killing and to continue returning violence with violence.”

Not that I agree with every argument that uses OT passages to support violence, but why criticize someone for “reaching back” into the OT for anything? Jesus did it all the time. This criticism should be leveled at specific statements that may use certain passages inappropriately, not people in general.

Lisa said:
“I and most of the people with whom I associate see the violence being carried out in Iraq, in Guantanamo and elsewhere as a direct outgrowth of evangelical ethic. We have the leader we have because of evangelical America, and his policies, foreign and domestic, continue to epitomize in my opinion the public expression of the ethics and morality of the constituency he so faithfully courts. This ethic has given us war, torture, secrete [sic] prisons: all sorts of state-sanctioned violence. Forget pacifism: if the people who claim to follow Christ support just what we have before us today the world is indeed lost.”

“The public expression of the ethics and morality of the constituency he… courts”? I do not believe that the wardens at Guantanamo or the “secret prisons” came to Bush’s constituency and asked, “Do you mind if I kick this guy around a bit? I think his second cousin’s father-in-law might know someone who might be associated with a terrorist. Thanks for your support.” Such overgeneralizations, when leveled at a diverse group of people, widely miss the mark.

7/28/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Good points, keith. For an attorney, Lisa does tend to over-generalize - or maybe that's BECAUSE she's a lawyer ; )

Lawyers may send angry e-mails to stevencurtisfanmail@charter.net

SG

7/28/2006  
Blogger Amy said...

"But I'm not ready to rule out all wars"

yes, that's how I feel. I shy away from extremes. I think most war is unnecessary and wrong. Most violence is unneccessary and wrong. But I can't say it's always wrong no matter what.

7/28/2006  
Blogger Chaotic Hammer said...

I'm right there with many of you. I'm not settled on matters of violence and pacifism, war and peace, and how it all fits in to how we personally live for the Lord.

And for me, I think I've decided that's a good thing, at least for now. I have to keep seeking answers, and keep seeking the Heart of God to know what I can do to serve Him, and what He would have me to do. I'm not nearly as certain about many things as I used to be, but I'm much more certain that the One who has called me loves me unconditionally, and wants me to go and give that love away to others.

Maybe if I can start to get that part right, even a little, He will see fit to show me a little more about the bigger picture.

7/28/2006  
Anonymous maxwedge said...

Some things ARE worth fighting for. You sleep soundly in your beds at night because those that came before you did fight for the things they believed in. You have the right to disagree and have the peace you have because others were willing to fight. Sacrifices were made for you to disagree by those willing to fight and use violence. Take the weak "moral high ground" and do nothing, while others make your world safe. War is what it is. You do not live under the rule of a tyrant because some will fight. Mankind gets further away from God and the lines between right and wrong get blurred to many eyes. Instead of choosing a side, some choose to split the difference and claim to be above violence. Sometimes choosing violence is necesary. It is easy to be safe and be for peace.

7/30/2006  
Blogger graham old said...

"What kind exactly?"

The real kind, of course! ;-) British. (sorry for never having replied to your email, btw.)

7/31/2006  

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