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Terror: Two planes ending 300 lives in fiery collision. Mass graves filled with the bodies of the innocent.

Terrorist: A man with a box cutter and a one way ticket in his pocket. A dictator waging war from an underground bunker.

These are the definitions in the minds of my white audience. As I speak about shalom and quote the commands of Jesus to refrain from anger, love the enemy and even sustain his life, their brows furrow. Their lens is present tense. They listen as innocent people terrorized.

But a few days ago, for the first time I can recall, I taught these same lessons to a crowd speckled with brown faces. Maybe a dozen African-Americans scattered throughout the audience, smiled and nodded as some of their white neighbors winced and grimaced. Their perspective is more than a little divergent from ours:

Terror: Abduction in the middle of the night by men with with skin a color that's never been seen. Separated from family and home and loaded onto a boat bound for who knows where. Half of your fellow travelers perish in route. Chained to a plow like an ox in the new land. Your back shredded by the whip. Your grand children "freed" by a war and a president to live in a new kind of slavery. Free to worship God, from a balcony. Free to get a drink, from your own fountain. Free to eat, but not with whites. Free to live, the way the government says you can and as long as the terrorists allow you to.

Terrorist: Any white person with a gun, or a knife, or a rope, or a whip or a cross and matches. Any police officer with a billy club or an angry dog. Any governor with state troopers. Any sheriff with an empty cell. Any Christian who believes you to be cursed by the Creator.

And if these African American students know their history they remember the choice that was once made between Huey Newton, founder of the Black Panthers, and Martin Luther King, Jr., a preacher from Birmingham. Newton: "Sometimes if you want to get rid of the gun, you have to pick the gun up. " King: "I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."

They remember that their parents' parents joined King's army, not Huey's. They chose non-violent protest over bloody revolution. And as insults and stones were thrown they marched. They marched across the South. They marched all the way to Washington. They marched to Martin's death in Memphis. They marched peacefully to freedom.

I have a question for the white faces in my audience, dimmed with disapproval: Does the shoe America is kicking her enemies with today fit Martin? You and I, well, our grandparents and their parents, were the terrorists once. They stole humans, caged them like animals, denied them the practice of their religions. They blew up a church and killed three little girls. They made it legal to rape a dark skinned woman. They lynched and burned "niggers." Their politicians and Sunday School teachers hid behind Klan hoods. And the goal of many whites was to eradicate African Americans or, at the very least, keep them from participating in our government and society. It's as if their generation wrote a chapter of the dictator handbook used by our enemies today.

Would you have argued in the sixties that terrorized African-Americans should follow Huey? Would you have argued for "regime change" and cheered an army of dark faces fighting the U.S. government for "justice, freedom and democracy" with bullets and bombs? Would you have defended their violent revolution by quoting Just War doctrine?

Is it only godly to "kick @$$" now that we're the one's wearing the shoe? What about when we were the ones so many wanted kicked?

I wondered why the darker faces in the crowd this past weekend smiled instead of wrinkled when I spoke about biblical nonviolence, until I thought about all this. Could it be that they, surrounded by white friends today who in a world before King would most likely have been their enemies, are constantly reminded of the power of non-violence and love over terror? Could it be that they know non-violence in the name of Christ is the right choice to make because they've made it before?


Blogger Chris Field said...

Wow, powerful words Shaun. What a difference one's upbringing, color, history, education, and family have in the way they view the world.

Yet another reminder that shalom is the only true way.

Blogger Andrew said...

i was cracking a smile or two that sundaymorning aswell.
i like the way you think mr. groves.

imagine yet still those not present in the gym this past weekend, those with a slightly more Native heritage to the americas. what we've got going on now cant touch manifest destiny.

how easy it is to forget.
esp. during the most segregated time in america
sunday morning.
that we're all under one banner.

"imagine all the people......"
thanks. for saying what you, or somebody else, had to say through you.

Blogger Davidge said...

hey shaun, my dad has some strong beliefs on that subject, read here to see...
The site isn't very well laid out, but it's just up for something to be up for now, we're going to redesign it soon.
By the way, long time no see! give me a call sometime, we've got some really cool things going on right now, some of which I think you would be VERY interested in...

Anonymous maxwedge said...

"You and I, well, our grandparents and their parents, were the terrorists once. They stole humans, caged them like animals, denied them the practice of their religions."

Because I am white American I am a terrorist? Are you comparing Americans to terrorists because Arab-Muslim extremists want to destroy us and make us live in dhimmitude?

First, many of those "stolen" were stolen and sold to Europeans by people with black faces. It does not make it any better, but get it straight. Blacks kidnapped and terrorized tribes that they did not get along with and sold them to white Europeans. Slavery was common practice in Africa before white devils came along. They just found a lucrative market when white people came.

Second to compare the suffrage of blacks in America to what is going on in the middle east is ridiculous. The muslims are the ones that want to drive Israel into the sea and kill maim and destroy those that do not worship their blood thirsty moon god. Blacks in America were kept down because white people did not want them to be consiered equals. Muslims are kept down by THEIR OWN backward religion and their own hatred of non muslims. They hate the west (you and I) more than they love their own children.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure I'd say these people were "surrounded by former terrorists".

As someone who is not a former terrorist, I'd hate to be considered one based on skin color. Not sure what my grandparents did, or their parents (the Hansen g-parents were both raised in an orphanage) but I'm not a former terrorist by virtue of their actions. That kind of perception seems like something the church should actively disavow.

I agree with your larger, and more central, point about perspective.

BTW, some great quotes from the Amish pacifists in the last couple days. (I still wholeheartedly disagree with pacifism, but I can recognize some good fodder for you...) One leader said they would practice forgiveness for the perp and his family, because they can readily see the fruits of bitterness. Sounds like Sermon on the Mount material...


Anonymous andy o said...

Amen and amen. Wonderfully written, friend.

I see the point made by the folks who just posted, but I must say that the situation in the middle-East is so similar to our past because this stuff is generational.

I, as well, never got on a boat and kidnapped anybody, but to deny that the choices made by my ancestors greatly affects the lives of my family and my neighbors today would be absurd.

It is our duty and privelege to work to undo the wrongs by past generations, and we have to do that racially here in America just as we need to be doing it in the middle East right now. To those folks over there, we're the people bombing their homes and killing their families, allegedly because of something done by a few radicals they probably don't know.

It must stop somewhere, and it will never stop because we kill the "bad guy." That "bad guy" is somebody's father and that kid who learns more violence instead of forgiveness will be the "bad guy" to our kids.

Blogger The Cachinnator said...

Maxwedge, your world seems small, and that is sad. At no time did Shaun say that because you are a white American that you are a terrorist. What he said was quite accurate, that we are dealing with a matter of perception. If you are an African American, then part of the way you view the world is through the knowledge that to your parents, grandparents, and so on, white Americans were the enemy and were the terrorists. That's indisputable. And now, as Shaun said, they understand what it is to forgive and struggle non-violently for peace with the very people who terrorized them.

Further, his remarks that point at perception are absolutely applicable today. We are to Muslim extremists what African Americans were to white Americans in years past. We are faced with a group of people who want to kill and destroy us. And we sit here today praising King for his non-violent struggle that achieved a just end while we assume that our only possible response to terrorism is to annihilate them. If we take the words of Jesus seriously, then we must acknowledge that our own destruction is preferable to harming others. Of course, the American government is not a Christian, so I can’t place expectations of Christian behavior on them, but I do on myself and thus I can’t support war. It's not an easy thing, and I can't truly call myself a pacifist yet, but I do place Jesus' commands above whatever perceived 'rights' I have as an American.

Also, the fact that we weren't the only ones participating in slavery doesn't mitigate our role in it. If you were the last to participate in a gang rape, would you be innocent because you weren't the first? Please.

And to say that Muslims "want to drive Israel into the sea and kill maim and destroy those that do not worship their blood thirsty moon god" and that they "are kept down by THEIR OWN backward religion and their own hatred of non Muslims" and that "They hate the west (you and I) more than they love their own children" betrays a horrible misunderstanding of Muslims and Islam and shows an incredible lack of compassion that I hope I'm only misreading. It's one thing to listen to the empty talking heads on cable news, but I have many friends and family members who are Muslim and I've lived among them. You walk the same dangerous line to so broadly paint them and slur them as any African American would to lump all white people in with the Klan.

But again, none of this is to say that we today bear any culpability for the slavery of the past. I think that's what Brant was saying, but I didn't hear Shaun saying that we were guilty in that way. What we are talking about is the perception and perspective that many African Americans have today. It's not universal, but for those at peace today, they are at peace because of the non-violent struggle of King and his companions, not because of the violent response of groups like the Black Panthers. Maybe we should follow suit.

Blogger The Cachinnator said...

Maxwedge, I just read over my comment, and I apologize for my opening remark. I take great issue with what you had to say, but I didn't mean to attack you personally, and I think that's how my opening remark comes across. Sorry about that.

Blogger Shaun Groves said...

1. To separate race from religion in the East is a mistake. The Jews are not just a religion but a race. Extremist Muslims argue that their religion is also theirs because of race.

2.How does the fact that Africans sold Africans to Europeans exonerate Europeans from my accusation that Europeans terrorized this race of people and moved them half way across the globe, banned the practice of their religion, and abused and murdered them in the process? I didn't say Europeans acted alone. This post is not meant to be and can't be a thorough history lesson on slavery. I can do that sometime, but I think it would bore folks to tears. I can name ships and process paid and captains who drove and tribes that were stolen from. But really, is that necessary to understand the basic premise here: These people over here who look like me hurt those people over there who don't look like me - so I'm wondering how the people hurting me today should be treated.

3. To say a black college student is in a room full of "former terrorists now called friends" is an artistic leap. A bad one. Maybe one I shouldn't have made. Too confusing perhaps. I struggle with being able to keep creativity (hyperbole and metaphor for example) out of my writing here, since it's so much a part of my other job as song writer. I'm going now to make myself clearer and rewrite that line to better say what it is I mean. One reason I post length articles here is to have them torn apart and revised by you guys. Thanks for showing me a mistake I missed, one I'd hate to go uncorrected.

3. No, no one in the room, me included, is a terrorist, but our people were involved in, allowed, or are associated with terrorizing a race of people simply because of their race. It was the norm was it not for whites in the south especially to hate blacks? Double click the lynching picture I've posted here and study the smile on the face of the man in the middle - the one pointing up at the hanging victim. Does he look scared of being found out as a racist by his friends and family or entertained by the death of a black man? I've lived this so there's really no convincing me it isn't true. It was normal to hate and terrorize or approve of terrorizing African Americans. My grandparents called anyone who wasn't white "niggers" routinely. My grandfather told me if I ever boxed a black man (he was a boxer) I had to hit him in the stomach. "They" don't have enough brains in their head to be knocked down with a punch there, I was told. "They" have to be knocked down like an animal, hit them in the heart and the gut, he instructed. So, yea, I consider that generation, my lineage, to be one deriving it's power and pride from terrorizing people of a different color. Not to mention the ancestors of mine we know owned slaves.

Anonymous Todd said...

So what should we do to counter the terrorists actions?

For that matter, what should we do with those who terrorizing the children in Darfur?

When the majority is fighting against a minority, do non-violent tactics have the same impact?

Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Regardless of impact they are obedient and best represent the character of Christ. That's the only reason I believe in this. It doesn't always work, then again, war doesn't either.

Let me get back to you with a better answer to "what instead" when I have more time to write.

Thanks for asking.

Anonymous Ryan G. said...

There seems to be a flaw here. You're comparing non-violent demonstrations against racsim to a modern Western society and trying to apply it to anitquated Eastern religious WAR vs. modern Western society.

It seems to me your comparison doesn't fit.

Somebody enlighten me.

Anonymous maxwedge said...

So, what's the answer? I see accusations and backwards gazing, but nothing looking forward. What do we have in common? I hear of a white guy speaking to a group of black people who felt compelled to be an apologist for all whites and slavery? Sorry, but don't speak for me. When you compare America and Muslim terror you are way off the map, brother... here there be monsters!

When I say bloodthirsty moon god, I mean it. The people that practice the religion that was spread at the point of a sword have not changed their tactics since they started their "struggle". Christianity and the west have changed, and arguably for the better. Do black folks get lynched today? Is that acceptable? Heck, no! Are there Conquistadores and warlike monks spreading the gospel? No. But I do see and hear Imams and extremists in the millions calling for the head of the pope because he quoted another pope from the middle ages duting a seminar.

"a horrible misunderstanding of Muslims and Islam and shows an incredible lack of compassion"

Caccinator, Where's the compassion from islam? I see heads being chopped of and not a peep from supposedly "moderate" muslims. Where are they? Haven't heard a peep from either one of them. Muslims are the most hateful and dangerous people on the planet. There's a link on Shaun's site here voice of the martyrs. I bet most of the martyrs are victims of islamic compassion. Go to religionofpeace.com and see what they do on a daily basis.

Anonymous Todd said...

Shaun I struggle with effectiveness vs. most like Jesus. In my head they should be the same! (This isn't based on scripture, but rather my limited interpretation of the way the world works.)

I recognize that war doesn't work, and I'm not advocating war. I'm just struggling with what our response should be as we watch innocent women and children suffer at the hands of evil men. I can't imagine Jesus sitting idly by, watching that happen. That's not to say He would rise up in violent retaliation. I just don't know what He would do.

I look forward to your thoughts and I apologize for the grevious spelling error on my blog.

Anonymous euphrony said...

I wonder what your purpose is here. At the moment, I don't care so much if your right, if Shaun's right, or if we can never find the right answer in our lifetimes. What I care more about is what your purpose is. I've seen you comment now and again here and, without exception (in my recollection), they have been comments to tell Shaun or someone else how wrong they are. Tell them rather emphatically, I might add. I wonder, do you lurk here to find only items to pounce on? You must not, or else you would not likely lurk frequently enough to comment so timely.

I wonder, do you have encouragement to offer?

Paul tells us to build one another up, not rip and tear at each other like a devouring lion. His teaching in 1 Corinthians on judging each other tells us to "judge" not critically, as the world does, but with an eye on lifting our brother up. This latter sense of judging is not the tone I have found in your comments.

I'm not saying your points have no validity. I'm not attacking your beliefs. I merely wish that, rather than see only the attack, I could also see the encouragement from your words.

Anonymous maxwedge said...

"Paul tells us to build one another up, not rip and tear at each other like a devouring lion."

And comparing white America to islamic terrorists when speaking to black folks in a crowd is building up?

Should I go away because I disagree? The TOPIC is not encouraging. What is YOUR point? I should jump in line and agree because I don't have the moral high ground? Invoking Dr King's name and comparing white America to terrorists is quite a stretch. Just say "Dr King" in a comment and you are untouchable, you can say nearly anything. I don't get the connection other than trying to be inflamatory to whites and condescending to blacks. Non violent resistance was appropriate in America, it worked. It worked in India against the Brits. America is better for it. Try nonviolent resistance in the middle east, they'll cut off your head....

"I wonder, do you lurk here to find only items to pounce on? You must not, or else you would not likely lurk frequently enough to comment so timely."

So what if I do? Oh, I get it..... only comments that agree are to be posted here. Are you telling I should go away? Then there will be no dissent and everyone can just slap each other on the back and say "great post, man.."

"I merely wish that, rather than see only the attack, I could also see the encouragement from your words."

Relax man, I'm not the devil. C'mere and I'll give ya a hug....... I just don't agree sometimes. In the long run who really cares what you or I think anyway?

Anonymous hollybird said...

Is it only godly to "kick @$$" now that we're the one's wearing the shoe? What about when we were the ones so many wanted kicked?

I love this quote... it is so true. We are so quick to look at the speck in another's eye when there is a log in our own. I think it is time we take responsibility for the daily acts of terror that we act out every day. No, I am not talking about shooting people or raping women and children. But Scripture says that the tongue is a two edged sword, and I can count more times than I like to admit how many times mine cut someone today. Is that not an act of terror? Am i not killing someone's spirit by not edifying them? Is this not as bad as other acts of terrorism that were written about here? It IS time that we turn the shoe around and kick our own you-know-whats because we all have sinned!
Regardless of race, religion, or ethnicity, we are all guilty. But there is a difference between guilt and shame. Guilt allows for amends to be made. We can be forgiven. Shame says that there is no hope for change or amends. I choose to admit my guilt, beg for forgiveness, and look for a way to make a change in my own liittle world. I believe that one person can make a difference by starting right at home with the way we act, think, live, work, play, talk, etc etc.

Thanks for the discussion... I haven't really thought of these issues before and God has convicted me of some changes I need to make.

Blogger GrovesFan said...

To wonder where the "Muslim compassion" is not valid. We cannot hold non-believers to the same standard as Christians. They, by virtue of their unbelief, don't "get it" so to speak. Reacting with non-violence toward a violent, non-Christian offender is the way to react. It's the only way to react because it's the only way they will get an opportunity to see Jesus before He actually returns.

I make no apology for the way blacks were treated in the past. I had no choice in that matter. What I do have a choice about is how I treat them, or anyone else, now. I am giving my kids a different perspective than my parents gave me. My parents were wrong in their perspective, but not any different than anyone else in the south during the 60's. I think that's what Shaun is trying to say with the analogy about his grandfather. Slavery was wrong, but it was the norm and quite legal when it was practiced.

We cannot treat the Muslim world the way they treat us; be it "justified" by world standards or not. We are not judged by the world, but by a perfect and holy God. A God who loves the muslims as much as He loves us; a God who will mourn the loss of those that do not believe The Truth and accept His gift. We can all take a lesson from Nate Saint on that. When his son Steve asked him if he would kill any Wadonai if they attacked him, his said, I cannot. I know I will go to heaven if I die, because I know the truth. The Wadonai do not know God and to kill them would be to condemn them to hell because they are not Christians. They must know the true God. That should be our attitude toward Muslims and anyone else who hasn't experienced the grace God offers to us all. To have any other attitude is not Christ-like, and we will be held accountable for that in the end.


Blogger Thomas said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Blogger Thomas said...

Shaun, thank you for bringing up this topic.

As I have read Shaun’s post and all the comments, I have become more confused about this topic. I sit here wondering if Dr. King would not have been as effective if there was not the Black Panther threatening violence if there was not change. Does peace in today’s world now need the threat of violence in order to work? With the terrorist of today who are willing to die just for the chance to kill some one who is different, will reaching out to them make a difference? How many innocent people must die before there is change. Thing were much easier with these questions when I lived a selfish life and did not seek out what God wants.

Thank you for making me think again Shaun.


Blogger The Cachinnator said...

Max, there is plenty of compassion from Islam. I know it's easier to watch Fox News and make up our mind that the people 'over there' are bad than it is to know and love individual people, but that's not what Christ would have us do. As I said, I've lived among Muslims and Jews both and count them as my friends in addition to the family members I have of both faiths. So far, none of them have tried to kill me. I hear 'peeps' and condemnation of terrorist activity from them at every turn. Even those who don't like American presence or policy acknowledge that extremist views are contrary to Islam and the Koran.

My father still travels to the Middle East at least once a year. He was raised an Arab, though he is a white American. He worked for the U.S. Air Force, yet he is a loving and peaceful man who embraces and is embraced by Arabs and Muslims. We talk every time he comes back, and every story he brings confirms what I've said here. So I'll take my family, friends, and personal experience over the talking heads who tell us it is our duty to extract revenge and kill people they know nothing about.

It is a horrible injustice to say that "Muslims are the most hateful and dangerous people on the planet." That's disgusting. What if all Christians were judged based upon the actions of Fred Phelps? There goes your argument about how reformed and advanced we Christians in the West are. You can't paint an entire group with that hateful brush.

Beth's right and you helped make her point without realizing it. "We cannot hold non-believers to the same standard as Christians." In the end, even if all Muslims were terrorists, which they most certainly are not, it would not be our place or responsibility to attack them. And we’ve got to stop referring to our enemies as Muslims. Not all Muslims are our enemy and we do them and ourselves a disservice to refer to them as such.

Max, you cited Shaun's link to Voice of the Martyrs. What does Christ have to say about loving those who hate you? If today's martyrs were all coming from the actions of Islamic fundamentalists it would be all the more reason to love them more. That's called Christianity.

But back to the topic more closely, this topic is very encouraging. How is it not encouraging to call ourselves to awaken to the call of Christ on our lives? It's not "inflammatory to whites and condescending to blacks" in the least to celebrate the accomplishments of peace. The 'oppressed white man' shtick is a bit tired. No one is asking anyone today to apologize for what our grandparents and on did. But, as Shaun said fairly clearly, it is a reality of life that African Americans today live with the knowledge that just 40 years ago, they were still being legally terrorized. And now, thanks largely to peaceful means, they live in peace.

How can we call ourselves Christian and support hating and killing our enemy? Did Jesus stutter?

Blogger Susanne said...

I'm from the Deep South, and I know that most of the people there during the 60's and earlier were not terrorists. The whole Deep South got a bad rap because of a minority made up of evil plantation owners and slave traders (and later on, church-burners and Klansmen). Most of my ancestors were dirt poor farmers who lived alongside blacks and got along with them. The pre-integration times were very different from today, though, and I'm SO glad that things have changed throughout the country (the South wasn't the only place where racial tension existed). Some people in other parts of the country are surprised to hear me say that I lived my first 25 years in Alabama and Mississippi, and my family has been in Mississippi for a few hundred years, and I never knew a Klansman. If I did, he was too embarrassed to let us know of it.

I love Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. I cry every time I hear him speak it. I can only imagine what it would have been like to hear that speech as a black person in the 60's.

I haven't been on the side of pacifism during the whole Iraq conflict, but your analogy really made me think today. Despite the fact that I was all for the Iraq War at first, I've been really convicted about it lately. I've also been wondering what Jesus would have us do. Thanks so much for the reminder that peaceful demonstrations can sometimes do more than violent ones.

Blogger Shaun Groves said...

I would have been more involved in the discussion if I'd not been out of town yesterday and today. And, I think, I would have screwed it up.

Thanks for the intelligent exchange. Educational to read over if for no other reason than to see where I failed as a writer. When more than one person takes away from something I said or wrote that which I never intended to communicate, I have to believe I made a mistake somewhere.

To clarify just one misunderstanding...

I don't think ALL whites were terrorists (in the loose sense that I'm using the word: people who seek to terrify the innocent.) I grew up in Texas and have written before about the rampant racism in my hometown growing up, but no, I don't think and didn't mean to imply that ALL whites of any era were racists. The underground railroad attests to the countercultural compassion of many whites during the times of slavery, for instance. To say ALL whites were racists and terrorists "back then" would be as off base as saying ALL Muslims are terrorists today.

BUT, I would argue, racism and terror would not have persisted as long as they did in this country if the majority of Americans were NOT racist OR apathetic about opposing it. In a democracy like ours the government is supposed to represent the will of the majority of it's citizens (participating citizens). This is one reason some argue it's worth killing to spread right? It's fair. It's an accurate reflection of the populace, not the will of one man (who could be mad).

Maxwedge, you're welcome here anytime. I knew you'd post. I looked forward to your thoughts on this. I'm glad you shared them. I cringe at some of what you write not because it is contrary to what I write - I can handle that and I'm made better by that. I cringe because of HOW you word things. I project - and this is my fault - an attitude to your words that may not be present. Certain phrases and punctuations I assume wrongly I guess are intended in a sarcastic and even rude way. In that way, you and are alike: People sometimes take away from our printed words what we never intended to communicate.

Of course if you intended to be rude I ask that you not be. And that's really all I can do: ask. That and ask you to question how effective (since effectiveness is a big part of your reasoning for choosing war over non-violence) is your present form of communication here. How well is it working to convince anyone you're right? Kindness is more convincing than the sword, even on blogs. I'm assuming you're not swing one here but just passionate and misunderstood. Am I right?

Anonymous euphrony said...

I hope no one feels like I was asking anyone to leave here. Shaun, I'd never take it upon myself to ask or imply that someone leave your place. Just trying to clarify that.

What I was saying to maxwedge is that I would like to see more than the sword that I perceive from most of his comments. I'm sure you have lots of good things to say, max, but when it always seems to come with a sharp edge . . .

Blogger Kathryn said...

". . livin' in a powder keg and givin' off sparks. . "

this is all that came to my mind. I don't feel qualified to debate. . it's good to spark sometimes. .

Anonymous maxwedge said...

I am somewhat caustic sometimes, I admit, it is not my intent to be rude. I have seen racism, institutionalized and in the flesh. From white men and from black men. I saw a white kid killed, beaten to death by blacks because he walked tohrough a black neighborhood. I have been on the receiving end of racism from black police officers, believe it or not. Cacinator stated that "The 'oppressed white man' shtick is a bit tired. " Tell that to the 22 year old man that I saw with his head broken open and his brains spilled out while the lower half of his body lay in a water filled ditch. And the two black girls that I saw standing outside the crime scene tape saying that "they killed that white boy because he's white" and told me how it happened. We can call it racism, or any other kind of -ism but the true source of it all is Satan. The Devil. All those brown shirts in Germany, white sheets in Texas and the middle east have the same source for their hatred. And that would be..... Satan. He is real and there are those that are under his control, believe it or not. I have seen far more than most have and am VERY passionate about what I believe. I do not have cable TV and haven't seen Fox News in months. My father also lived in the middle east and north Africa in the 1950's. He spoke Arabic and could pass for an Arab. He taught me about how they (muslims) view the world. All I have seen from the Islamic world is very similar to what I learned about Nazism. I believe Islam is dangerous. I see it as a form of religious fascism. My small world may be bigger some think. I am passionate because I have touched evil with my own hand, even participated, and know that we are fighting something bigger than even racism. The ultimate goal is winning of souls to Christ. Being right.... well.... Satan knows our weaknesses, whether it be hatred, sex, food, money, drugs, whatever. He just dangles the carrot and we take after it. He has it pretty easy actually. The carrot of hate seems to be pretty prevelant today. We just disagree on how to handle it.

Kindness is always the best choice. I am actually a very kind and generous person (REALLY!!). This will not earn me a place in heaven though. That comes through a sacrifice that I cannot make but only accept. I will fight if I have to, and have done so in the past. There are some things worth fighting for IMHO. I would fight to defend your right to not fight. I would fight to protect a weaker person (and have gotten my butt kicked doing it). We can beat that horse to death and never come to an agreement, and It won't really even matter. What does matter is that you, I and anyone reading this or any thing else accept Jesus as their savior. He's still working on me. He's got a lot to do still. I probably keep him pretty busy. Paul called himself the chief sinner... I'd give him a run for it.

Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Thanks for that, Maxwedge.

Now, you said...

What does matter is that you, I and anyone reading this or any thing else accept Jesus as their savior.

Having Jesus as our "Savior" includes following Jesus as our example. The two - obedience and salvation - in fact, cannot be separated. And that is why this topic and others matter so much to me. The "goal" is not to get people to believe, as I do, that Jesus is the Son of God and died to take away the penalty and power of sin for me so that they may go to a future heaven. The goal is to be an imitator of Jesus here and now, to see His will done on earth as it is in heaven through perfect imitation, only possible if we believe Jesus is the Son of God etc.

We are asked by Jesus not to believe but to follow, to imitate, to do as He did, believe as He believed, etc. The goal as Paul stated it is to "aim for perfection" and Jesus said "Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect". Interestingly, he commanded us to be perfect like our Father specifically in the was we relate to enemies...while discussing how we are to sustain the lives of our enemies as the Father has sustained the life of the just and unjust on earth by bringing the rain and rising the sun every day over His friends and foes. We cannot imitate God in every way obviously but Jesus makes it clear that in our treatment of enemies we CAN be like our Father. And commands us to do so as part of being a follower of Christ here and now, a Christian, not a mere believer.

The goal of my life, of my music, this blog and my speaking and writing, is not to get non-believers to believe but to somehow be part of God's wooing those in and outside of the Church to imitate Christ who imitated the Father. Living for a future heaven and resting on a present belief WITHOUT imitation holds no salvation. John in 1 John 3-4 says this over and over again in multiple ways. If we claim to love God but hate these people over here or don't share our material possessions over there or refuse to love this other guy, well, he calls us liars. We were never "saved" and cannot call ourselves Christians.

Even demons believe. Christians believe to the point of imitation. Imitation is limited to, among other things, loving people as God loves and loved us.

And Jesus extends the realm of this love to enemies because we were his enemies once...and says without stuttering that even tax collectors (today: terrorists and the mob perhaps?) love their own. We are sons (and daughters) of God, showing a family resemblance, imitating our Father, only when we love not just those we like and who like us but also those who despise us AND HARM US. This is what God did for us. To knowingly do anything less makes us liars who don't resemble the Father closely enough to called his kids. John's words, Jesus' words, Paul's words and not mine. Pacifism is CENTRAL and not peripheral to Christianity because it is taught as a specific way in which we are to imitate our Father, image Him to those who don't recognize Him as God and, in process, prove we are His in the first place.

Does that make sense? Does it help anyone understand better why this issue is a big one to me, why I see it as central to our faith? Am I wrong somewhere in my thinking on this? Help me understand how.


Blogger Coleman Yoakum said...

One sad, but very true thing to remember as well is that the Christians in this country have done very little to promote racial unity amongst people. Which is saddening to me, especially since it has been a principle in our Bible for 2000 years now.

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:28

Acts 10:9-19 is all about God telling Peter that all are deserving and in need of the love of God.

Paul starts every letter by saying "Grace and Peace" Grace was an common greeting for the Greek, and Peace or shalom for the Jews, another nod to racial unity.

But despite all of that, I think we can thank Hollywood, MTV, music, and other main-stream mediums for the amount of racial unity we have today more than we can thank God's people...

Anonymous hollybird said...

Coleman, I would agree with everything said in your statement except for the last. While I agree that God's people may not have done enough yet to work towards racial unity, Scripture says that every good and perfect gift comes from God. Any racial unity is a good thing, so I have to believe that God is at work in it. Maybe Hollywood, etc was used to promote it, but He and His people are in there somewhere I believe. Just a thought...

Blogger Coleman Yoakum said...

oh I agree that God rejoices in that fact that we are becoming closer as two peoples and as a global community as a whole. God did work in it, but it was not carried out by the people in the pews, but ironicly enough by the people that those in the pulpit degrade as people who are destroying our culture (i.e. musicians in rap and rock and roll, MTV, movie makers).


Blogger Chaotic Hammer said...

Shaun - From your comments above, I think you're doing well at articulating some of the finer points of what can be referred to as pacifism, or non-violence, or being a peacemaker, or whatever. I've enjoyed your work with this, and learned a lot of things from you that have challenged me in so many ways.

I think that part of the problem that starts happening when a discussion like this progresses is that people have preconceived notions about certain words, and associate certain concepts with political, rather than spiritual ideas.

Let's be honest. Many people in the U.S. who are Christ-followers would be considered more conservative or right-leaning than liberal or left-leaning. I know you know this, it's been the subject of discussions around here, and I think you have a good perspective on knowing who your audience is and how to carry your message to that audience. But even knowing all these things myself, and having watched the discussion here, I still feel certain habitual knee-jerk responses in my own heart to certain words and phrases, and still associate certain ideologies with certain other ones, regardless of whether the associations are valid or not.

"Pacifist" is typically associated with a more left-leaning political ideology. Hippies, dope-smoking, anti-establishment, tattooed, pierced, wiccan, tree-hugging, anti-war, militant pro-abortion, etc. Yes, it's stereotyping by groups, and it can be inaccurate and even hurtful, but you're still going to get that when you bring this message to many Evangelical audiences (and yes, you are well aware of this already).

(And I'm not saying that I think this is the disconnect that's occurring between you and Maxwedge in this discussion -- I'm just trying to give some additional thoughts about the overall discussion).

Again, just to be honest about this, I think that for me, that association provides one of the biggest stumbling blocks in dealing with these issues -- but I'm thinking it shouldn't. If you've ever been to an "anti-war" rally, and seen the people who typically tend to represent that viewpoint in the U.S. today, you might just see a pretty fair representation of certain things, and might think my stereotyping is not too far off. These are not "pacifists", or "peaceful" people at all, they are often (yes, getting ready make a very broad brushstroke here) vile and hate-filled, and are simply directing their anger and frustration toward the "anti-war" cause, often for political rather than spiritual reasons.

And I know, because I've seen you respond to such associations, that this is not representative of, and not even close to, what you mean or what you're talking about. But maybe there's some part of me, that I don't always want to deal with, that fears supporting political ideologies which are opposed to my own, if I make a firm decision that the totality of this message involves not just a spiritual state of being, but potentially a political position that I find distasteful. You've talked about a general aversion to politics, Shaun -- perhaps your way of dealing with this was to withdraw from political interests altogether, and become almost completely apolitical. (Or maybe the two were completely unrelated in your case, and this is only me pondering things from this viewpoint -- I shouldn't project my own feelings onto somebody else).

This message of yours (and ultimately of the Lord) is not one which needs equivocation, and over time I think I appreciate more and more that you are conveying something vitally important. I admit that what I'm doing in this comment is sort of thinking out loud in front of everyone, wondering if anyone else has similar issues to work through. Thanks for letting me share some of my scattershot thoughts.

Blogger Jesse said...

"But despite all of that, I think we can thank Hollywood, MTV, music, and other main-stream mediums for the amount of racial unity we have today more than we can thank God's people..."

That is quite a profound and stinging statement, and probably rings with some truth. I think the goal is not to point fingers at the past, but to re-imagine what our lives should look like now if we're followers of Christ.

Living in Canada, our racial issues are much different then those in the States. We've had little slavery (there was some in Nova Scotia I believe), but we have not treated the First Nations community very well. The worst example of this was the Residential Schools that the government set up that was run by the Church. There the students were not only taught that their Native culture was bad, and therefore lost their language and culture, but were often physically and sexually abused by those who run the schools.

I can't change the past, and there's plenty of blame to go around, but what am I going to do now and in the future to be like Jesus, especially to the Native community? That's the real question I need to deal with.

Blogger Shaun Groves said...

You've talked about a general aversion to politics, Shaun -- perhaps your way of dealing with this was to withdraw from political interests altogether, and become almost completely apolitical.

I don't have a dislike (is that synonymous with "aversion"?) to politics as much as an indifference. As I've said before here, I was once very patriotic, very Republican, voting the party not the man (woman). I was very pro-war, pro-defense, pro-nationalism etc. I pledged allegiance to the flag and to the union for which it stands. Old Glory hung on my wall. The first I ever had with my wife, then just my friend, was over her NOT voting. I called her a bad Christian for it and asked her how God was going to make the world better if Christians didn't participate in government. I was once the opposite of who I am today.

What's happened to me has been exacerbated by my country's treatment of my father, a soldier I've written about here before, but I was on this trajectory long before he was shafted by the government he fought for. And that government has recently, finally, paid him for his troubles. (Though that is hardly justice in my mind.)

This change in me started when I studied the Sermon on the Mount relentlessly and I found myself taking all of what Christ taught in it very literally and seriously, EXCEPT for his teachings on love of enemy. Divorce? Yea, that's bad. Lust? Bad too. Murder? Yep. Anger? Oh yea. God meets my needs? Sure. Don't worry? Absolutely. Salt and light? Duh. And on and on. But love my enemy? Must be some context or language thingy that makes that mean what I want it to mean.

It's the only part of the Sermon I played games with to tailor to my politics. I dug deeper, learned a lot about the early Church and it's relation to nation and why that relationship was set up, observed the very different approaches to this matter by theologians of the past and of different denominations than my own and of different nationalities. I felt duped after all this study. I felt like I'd been sold an interpretation that didn't hold up, that wasn't consistent with so much else I believed already to be true about Christ.

I compromised between war as the supreme solution to conflict and pacifism, found the happy medium: Just War.

Then 9/11 hit. And we declared war on Iraq. And using the Just War doctrine I knew it wasn't justified. But I heard preachers, my own in fact, arguing that God was for us starting this war, that it was His will and we are His people. There was a bunch of Israel stuff thrown in too for good measure. I was suspicious of the Just War doctrine then, so easily shaped by generation after generation to justify the next wave of warfare. Always changing shape, putting new words in God's mouth every hundred years or so.

I dug deeper and concluded that Just War was a bogus doctrine not supported by scripture as much as it was founded on human need for a more practical and less sacrificial and costly theology. Plus, bonus, Just War allows Christians to continue to live in harmony with and please a warring Caesar who treats them so well well (eg. President Bush, Constantine, etc). It seemed to me it was the tool of pragmatism, not a biblical stance on war. (It's authors rarely used scripture to form it either.)

I dug deeper for another way besides Just War or pacifism. I read Yoder, Hauerwas, Bonhoeffer, numerous Anabaptist and Mennonite statements and writings on this issue. I parsed languages and read commentaries and listened to people on all sides. And I still am doing all these things. And where it's left me is believing Jesus meant what He said about loving the enemy literally. It applies to all Christians of all generations and nations. We are citizens of Heaven, and Heaven has no borders and flags and skin color.(Phil 3)

I am indifferent to government, believing that the real problems of the world and in me are spiritual in nature, emanating from a place in us which legislation and bombs cannot reach. I love it when government helps the good guys. I'm thankful our government does a lot of that. BUT the good work is the work of the Church ultimately and not Caesar. When I sit down to figure out what I want the government to do for us I discover my list is made up entirely of tasks handed to the Church, not to Caesar. So I render the list to the Church and not Caesar and expect her to do her job.

So, welfare is fine, but the Church should employ and educate the poor. Abortion laws are dandy but the Church should mentor girls and boys before they begin having sex, and adopt children and buy sonogram machines and pay doctor bills and counsel families. And war is often, if not always, fought because the Church has neglected her responsibilities to end poverty (spiritual and physical), love children, educate, heal, and pray. (And that's not an exhaustive list).

So, I'm not upset with government. I'm thankful for it and believe it has a God-ordained job to do (Romans 13). I just don't have as much faith in it as I do the Church. In that sense this is not a negative belief of mine regarding nation - it's not a criticism of country as much as it is a pep rally for Christianity: DO YOUR JOB AND THE WORLD WILL CHANGE!


Blogger GrovesFan said...

Great explanation Shaun and on the money too. I too have done a lot of studying, praying, thinking and changing about war, politics, government, etc. I have to hold myself accountable first and foremost for how I treat others and respond to their needs, regardless of how others respond. I too am thankful for my government and all it does. I still think we live in the greatest nation in the world, but I don't place more faith in my country or government than I do in God. My eternity has already been determined, and I need to make sure I'm doing all I'm called to do to see that others share in that same eternity.


Anonymous Ryan G. said...

Wow. Something just clicked.

Anonymous Stephen said...

Shaun, along the same lines, I just read this on another blog (a right-wing political blog): "The bravery that firemen, policemen, port authority workers and ordinary men and women displayed on 911, along with the courage the United States military show the world on a daily basis, remind us that under God this world's greatest hope for peace and freedom is the nation we call home. May God bless America."

That is the kind of political philosphy that I disagree with 100%.

Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Explain why, Stephen. What exactly is wrong with that statement, as it hits you?

Blogger GrovesFan said...

For me it's inaccurate because God does not need our nation (or any other for that matter) to bring about his peace. His peace will not be known on this earth as we know it. To say that America is the world's hope for peace implies that the US is capable of bringing it about, and that's not true. Not in the world perspective of peace and certainly not in God's definition of peace. Not to say that America is a bad place. I love America and I'm proud to be a citizen, but I'm not relying on my country to secure the impossible. That's God's job and He'll do it in His time. It's my job to make sure I don't do anything to keep others from knowing the real peace too.


Anonymous keith said...

Thanks for the insight on your views on pacifism. It is very enlightening and encouraging… positive (as in not negative, as you said) and encouraging. ;)

I see a distinction between most of the spiritual leadership in my life over the past decade who emphasize sharing the “gospel” with people so that they can be “saved” and you who place emphasis on imitation and wooing others to imitate Christ. I was going to ask you how these ideas connect for you, but looking back over your comments, I think you already did a good job of that. This is what I gather: you think that belief (in Jesus as the Son of God, His death and resurrection, etc.) is important but choose to focus on imitating Christ (obedience) in your influence on others. You think that belief is of equal importance… less important? I guess I would appreciate more thoughts on how these two responsibilities, helping others believe and helping others obey, connect in your faith. I guess obedience and belief are both wrapped up in imitating Christ in a way, but belief is more nuanced for us than for Jesus due to our lack of divine nature (i.e. not being God). It’s more than just “believing as He believed.” Jesus does tell us to believe… and obey.

Anyway, your comments on this post have been among the most insightful words on this blog. Thanks for investing so much into it. It’s worth it. You’re moving things… like my bedtime (yawn).

Anonymous Stephen said...

I agree, Beth. The kind of political philosphy I mentioned implies (in my mind, at least), that we and God are in trouble if the U.S.A. doesn't fix the world's problems. It puts its trust in a nation-state, not in God. And then you get people like Becky Fisher (featured in the new documentary Jesus Camp) saying things like "George Bush brings credibility to Christianity" and ties them further together.


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