Tag Archives: pacifism

Classics Challenge Book 1

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I’m starting the year of Back to the Classics Challenge off with my favorite kind of book, non-fiction. I figured that mentally, this is going to be the toughest to chew on, so I best read it now rather than over the summer when I’m nursing a newborn!
As soon as I hopped in my car to get breakfast this morning, I could hardly wait to start my first challenge book.

I am opting to read and listen, using the Podcast addict app to listen to this version while I read as desired from my free Kindle book.

I’m not even through the first chapter and am totally blown away by the eloquence of thought put into this work by passed-to-glory fellow anarchist and pacifist.
Already I’ve found an aspect we will be using in our historical document overview or using excerpts as memorization (or both) with Ambleside Online, though it is from William Lloyd Garrison, given length in Tolstoy’s first chapter. It is the Declaration of Sentiments Adopted by the Peace Convention. I just cannot stop rereading it.

I was very excited for the inclusion in the challenge for a work in translation, as I knew it would be the perfect time to dig into this Christian anarchist treasure for the first time. I’m not just invigorated by it, I’ve been challenged less than a chapter in, to conform my life ever more to the call of Christ.

I can’t wait to give a full review of this whenever I finish it!

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Practically There is No Such Thing as Anarchy, Part 2

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I have had a few people ask me what substitutions I am making with Ambleside Online in these older years, in regards to economics, the justice system, and politics, if they know I am a Christian anarchist. You can read Part 1, here.

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My allegiance lies in the symbol of a cross. It lies with a God-King-Man that sacrificed the blood and sweat and breath from Himself to give us all a great Freedom and Hope. My allegiance lies not in a body of land or in a strip of fabric, but in the Body and Spirit of my Risen Lord.

Melody is starting Year 8 in September. Until this point, aside from in my first few years feeling uncomfortable with the pointedness of Plutarch’s advocacy of good character for the good of specific people of a specific plot of land one lotteried into, and so not using it (I overcame this “dumping” I had been doing, and utilized it for examples in what to be or not be as a citizen of God’s Kingdom, serving others), I hadn’t changed anything in this regard. We have had wonderful conversations over adding Plutarch, as the books so far have been an excellent spring board for Biblical discussion, disagreement or agreement.

Year 8 is not very obviously political, and for some reason I didn’t really grasp at it until June… but there is one resource that I kept hesitating to put into my Amazon cart: Whatever Happened to Justice by Richard Maybury. We enjoyed his Whatever Happened to Penny Candy, but this one was diving into an area that I felt needed an alternative for our home – justice. Considering what our family has been through, many are surprised that I am a supporter of restorative justice. So far, this is the only complete substitution I am making to the gov/econ aspects of AO in any of the years. We will use I, Pencil, but not the book.

Year 9 dives into political “sides,” which I had seen when reviewing it’s list over a year ago. I had already decided that we would use Are You Liberal, Conservative, Confused? by Richard Maybury, with another resource or two alongside it in the school year. I have been slowly adding books into my own reading, to select for her Year 9 and had found a really wonderful book. I want her to see there are more than 2-3 options, as a Believer, to choose from in politics, and to explore more than the status quo.

If you have any beautiful, lovely, and true sources on Christian anarchism, pacifism, and/or God’s Kingdom economics, please feel free to share in the comments section!

Without any more to-do, I am going to give you my list, which will be added to as time goes on:

Any Year, Free Read

  • A Wolf at the Gate by Mark Van Steenwyk ~ I just bought this. We read through it a few chapters a night for three nights. My children didn’t want bedtime story time to end any of those nights (some nights with other stories, they love the story but are more tired than interested, so ask for a stopping point)! We smiled, cried, and Melody and I both lamented not having more books like this. With Ambleside Online’s selections appreciating the value of myths and legends, this living book on extending God’s love to everyone, through the legend of Saint Francis and a wolf, are sure to become a new free read for CMers… I hope!
    I really want more books like this!

Year 8

  • Money and Power by Jaques Ellul  ~ this is a book that I am more than excited about. As I have been reading through it, I am recognizing that this is a LOT to chew on for someone of any age, and we will have to take this part of the Feast in small bites. I am thinking a 2 year read, to allow for the great conversation.
    This is wonderfully insightful regarding the juxtaposition of capitalism and communism either view promoting itself as a societal cure – neither side advocating what Christ does, individual responsibility to lavishly and willingly share their wealth with others in need, without force.
    If you want to get an idea of Jaques Ellul, watch this 6-part YouTube series on Technology, over 20 years ahead of today’s Facebook and McDonald’s culture. Does that make me see the value in a Luddite? Perhaps a little bit more than beforehand. I still like blogging, after all. 😉
  • Changing Lenses by Howard Zehr ~ this is on the justice system, but more importantly God’s justice system and how we have a lot to change if we want to treat criminals as Christ has commanded us, while still honoring, protecting, and valuing those who were victimized. A promising book about restorative justice. I plan on dividing this into 12 readings, it having 11 chapters and a wealth of encouragement in 4 appendices. He has a meaty Restorative Justice Blog to read through, too, but that won’t be used in our scheduled studies.
  • The Politics of Jesus by John Howard Yoder ~ a general book on living out Christ in our daily living, which encompasses the political. Our actions speak louder than our vote, in essence. This has (for AO purposes) 12 tidy, but meaty chapters, so I will divide this into 12 weekly readings.

Year 9

  • Electing Not to Vote, Edited by Ted Lewis ~ I read this during this years Mother’s Feast schedule and was awed. There are several positions within this book that I myself do not resonate with, but the thought put into each essay, the Biblical leading, and the faith within these Believers was awe-inspiring. My copy is highlighted, dog-eared, and has notes all over the place. It has 9 chapters, but I wished for more! This was my “really lovely book” I mentioned above.
  • A Faith Not Worth Fighting For, Edited by Tripp York and Justin Bronson Barringer ~ this is a possibilty, and one I am leaning towards heavily.
  • Bible Studies by Richard Righter ~ I may utilize a few of these free studies over the summer between Year 8 and 9. I love them and have gone through several on my own.

Other HEO-level options

  • Nevertheless: Varieties of religious pacifism by John Howard Yoder ~ this has the same feel to it as Electing Not to Vote, but as this is written by one author rather than many, it has a rhythm to it that I appreciate. This book helped me to understand exactly what kind of pacifist I am, able to be defined with words (a pacifist of the Messianic community), and appreciate the variety of ways people support not murdering your neighbor. This has 20 chapters and could be spread out over a year or over 2 semesters, depending on how one wanted to utilize it. This is a meaty book, so I definitely would not suggest more than a chapter a week.
  • The Kingdom of God is Within You by Leo Tolstoy ~ Ambleside Online already lists some of his work in the later years, if I remember correctly. This is a classic that should not be discounted.
  • What Would You Do? By John Howard Yoder ~ This is a book based on the hypothetical questions pacifists are often asked. Perhaps better suited as a free read, for those deeply interested in this.
  • Christian Anarchism: A Political Commentary on the Gospel by Alexandre Christoyannopoulos ~ a comprehensive scope on the history of anarchy within the community of Believers (click the link and through it you can download this for free at EThOS).
  • War and Peace from Genesis to Revelation: King Jesus’ Manual of Arms for the Armless by Vernard Eller ~ many of his books are suitable for these upper years. Many of his works, except this one, are available for free here.
  • Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes by Jacques Ellul ~ this is a helpful foundation for understanding that we are all affected and influenced by propaganda, governmental and otherwise. Again, many of his books are suitable for upper years.
  • Loaves and Fishes: The Inspiring Story of the Catholic Worker Movement by Dorothy Day ~ free read
  • Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw ~ I adore this book and would put it as a free read. This is genuinely a gorgeous book. The words are inspiring, but the images/art that are within are comforting and inspiring at once.
  • Blessed Are the Peacemakers: Christ’s Teachings about Love, Compassion & Forgiveness, gathered and introduced by Wendell Berry ~ free read, very short but insightful
  • The Little Book of Restorative Justice by Howard Zehr ~ I have not gotten to read this yet, but it is a slightly altered version of one of his previously written books, as you’ll read in the preface. It is a free PDF, here.

Memorization/Liturgy

This is a liturgical prayer that the Shane Claiborne/Chris Haw crew had up at their website for their book, Jesus For President, which is now defunct (it can be sourced by using archive.org). I share this here, as it is so beautiful and I believe, of far greater value than pledging allegiance to flag or soil, both of which can and will pass away:

One: Today we pledge our ultimate allegiance… to the Kingdom of God

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To a peace that is not like Rome’s

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To the Gospel of enemy love

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To the Kingdom of the poor and broken

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To a King that loves his enemies so much he died for them

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To the least of these, with whom Christ dwells

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To the transnational Church that transcends the artificial borders of nations

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To the refugee of Nazareth

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To the homeless rabbi who had no place to lay his head

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To the cross rather than the sword

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To the banner of love above any flag

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To the one who rules with a towel rather than an iron fist

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To the one who rides a donkey rather than a war-horse

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To the revolution that sets both oppressed and oppressors free

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To the Way that leads to life

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To the Slaughtered Lamb

All: We pledge allegiance

One: And together we proclaim his praises, from the margins of the empire to the centers of wealth and power

All: Long Live the Slaughtered Lamb

One: Long Live the Slaughtered Lamb

All: Long Live the Slaughtered Lamb

Practically There is No Such Thing as Anarchy, Part 1

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I have had a few people ask me what substitutions I am making with Ambleside Online in these older years, in regards to economics, the justice system, and politics, if they know I am a Christian anarchist.
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Because of this, I am going to start a running list of what I plan to do. (Bear with me, I will get to it, but I wanted to type up some thoughts that have been going through my head in regards to this area!)


There’s a longish (compared to just giving you my list) aspect I want to cover, as this all relates to CM/AO and my “anarchist” ways. Just the other day, I was reading A Philosophy of Education by Charlotte Mason. An interesting quote stuck out at me.

 

“Practically there is no such thing as anarchy; what is so-called is a mere transference of authority, even if in the last resort the anarchist find authority in himself alone.”

~ Charlotte Mason, A Philosophy of Education, page 69

Based on her implied definition of what anarchy means (no governance/chaos), I agree wholeheartedly with this quote. I’ll get back to the definition of anarchy in a moment.

Christian anarchy, for me, came about after dissatisfaction in the Bush/Gore elections. I actually voted, y’all, and it was for Bush, the man who did not win by popular vote, but by the electoral college. Meaning that all the hype I had been told about our “votes counting” was not entirely true. Our vote only counts when the higher ups want to permit us that illusion. Despite that, my family and friends said that EVERY vote counts – it’s our DUTY to take part in the process!
After the Bush/Gore year, I looked into a third party. I liked, at the time, the idea of the Constitution Party. When I told my family and friends about this, many of them told me they “wished” they could vote third party, but voting third party was a “wasted” vote that then distracted from the two bigger parties…
It was this very inconsistency… that EVERY vote counts, except third-party votes… they are WASTED votes and they suddenly don’t count… except, scratch that… they do… no… oh, that’s right, everyone forgot about the electoral college thing….
Anyway, I digress. It was that very inconsistent “logic” that piqued my curiosity when I was in the library and happened upon Jesus for President.
I read Jesus for President, and was convicted by reading 1 Samuel 8. I tried to fight it – my cultural conditioning was very strong. I felt I was betraying every person in the country (forget about… humanity in general) to not vote between “the lesser of two evils.” As the weeks went by, I realized that by voting, we are hoping that our vision of a good country would be imposed on others through The Lesser we have put above us. Slowly, my Christian anarchist beliefs have grown and sharpened into focus.
I have never once, internally, felt like a true “anarchist,” by definitions ignorantly created or implied by the majority. 1 Samuel 8 exposed to me that I absolutely DO want authority, but not of human making. To call myself an anarchist is rather backward for me when using standard (not accurate) definition, as I want the Ultimate Authority. Regardless of whether someone does not understand the root wording of anarchy, allowing it with either the correct definition or the wrong one, makes it easier for others to understand that I do not encourage, endorse, or take part in the kind of human authority 1 Samuel 8 tells us will ALWAYS result in:

“‘This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.’

But the people refused to listen to Samuel. ‘No!’ they said. ‘We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.'”
~ 1 Samuel 8:11-20

(By the way… wouldn’t a mere 10% of your finances be a breath of fresh air right now??)

Back to the lovely Charlotte Mason, for she is whom I love regarding educational philosophy, who inspired the women of Ambleside Online and many others, and her thoughts on anarchy and politics continue, from above. Her immediate thought following the last CM quote I shared is one I do not fully agree with, after reading 1 Samuel 8:

There is an idea abroad that authority makes for tyranny, and that obedience, voluntary or involuntary, is of the nature of slavishness; but authority is, on the contrary, the condition without which liberty does not exist and, except it be abused, is entirely congenial to those on whom it is exercised: we are so made that we like to be ordered even if the ordering be only that of circumstances.
~Charlotte Mason, A Philosophy of Education, page 69

1 Samuel 8 is quite clear that human authority/kingship/rule does make for tyranny. Democratic nations are no different than kingdoms in this regard – they are not immune from God’s clear words on the result of our hearts clamoring for human rulership over the unseen, Perfect God governing our daily politics. Just take a look at our presidents (any of them), our CPS system, our justice system, our economic system… and it’s very clear that we are living out 1 Samuel 8 all over again.

If it weren’t so depressing that so many have, do, and will believe this throughout time, it would be almost comical that involuntary obedience is not considered a form of slavery to her. The kind of comical where you start out laughing and end up sobbing, really.

Liberty is not found in human governance, or in the blood of strangers from another land, but only in Christ. So, this aspect of the quote is accurate, but misguided, as I know she is advocating for human government/rulership and trying to dissuade from “anarchy.”

Back to the definition of anarchy. This is not what Miss Mason alluded to it as, nor what most think it is. Anarchy is very much a governing ideal, but quite different in heart than what the majority proposes (right by might).
As to the “except it be abused, is entirely congenial to those whom…” I just have to chuckle a little bit, because, it goes right back to 1 Samuel 8. People beg for it, but are stolen from, abused, and enslaved, our sons and daughters are taken from us and put into a system of indoctrination, while we laud the system and advocate for “more” to be done within it to make it better. It has never been any other way, in any other system of human ruling, at any time. Why? Because, according to this passage in 1 Samuel, proven through all of history… human leadership is always abusive and enslaving to those it “seeks” to serve.

To circle back around, this is why I cannot teach only of the human system of government that we are now under, but feel a compelling need to speak of honoring our High King through our learning and daily politic.

Want to see what a Christian anarchist substitutes/complements in the higher (and even one for an earlier year) of Ambleside Online? Join me tomorrow, with Part 2.

Dear God, Liberate Us

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 “He (Timothy McVeigh) came home from the Special Forces in the Gulf War, horrified, crazy, dehumanized, and became the worst domestic terrorist this country has ever seen. His essays cry out against the bloodshed he saw and created in Iraq: “Do people think that government workers in Iraq are any less human than those in Oklahoma City? Do they think that Iraqis don’t have families who will grieve and mourn the loss of their loved ones? Do people believe that the killing of foreigners is somehow different than the killing of Americans?” No doubt he had been deranged by the myth of redemptive violence. He bombed Oklahoma City in the hope that complacent Americans could see what “collateral damage” looks like and cry out against bloodshed everywhere, even in Iraq. Instead, the government that had trained him to kill, killed him, to teach the rest of us that it is wrong to kill. Dear God liberate us from the logic of redemptive violence!”

-Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw, Jesus for President

Changing, Amazing Grace, and Sexual Assault

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Oh, my spider-webbing feminine mind! I am lengthy, always, because of this. I wish I knew how to alter it, but then I always feel like the words and thoughts are lacking. Thank you, if you are willing to bear with me. In my mind, this all links together. 

I originally wrote this during Genital Integrity Awareness Week of 2014 for my old blog, and now that it is Genital Integrity week again, I thought I would share it again on this blog.

When I was pregnant with Leela, not knowing what gender my baby would be, I was a fence-sitter on the issue of circumcision. I remember saying something to a friend on Facebook about “how could it be so bad if God commanded it in the Old Testament?” I also questioned the hygiene of someone intact. Cultural (American) conditioning played a heavy hand in me, whether I wanted to admit it or not (and I didn’t want to admit it – hooray cognitive dissonance).

I asked myself if I could stomach watching a circumcision video (which should have been a big clue for me how I really wasn’t okay with it) and decided that whether I could handle it emotionally or not, I needed to watch what it was like beforehand, if I was even remotely willing to do it to a son I carried for 9 months inside of me and was going to be fiercely protective over, as any mother should be with their children.

It was not a botched circumcision video that I watched. It was “normal.” (I don’t remember the exact video – there are plenty on YouTube, even videos created specifically for drs to learn how to “properly” circumcise. Any I have seen have been absolutely gut-wrenching.Elephant in The Hospital has a brief, “safe” and average – not resulting in death – mutilation video) I couldn’t make it through even half of that video before I burst into tears. I paused it for a long time and sobbed. I made myself finish watching it, but I actually hated myself afterwards (for ever being even mildly willing to do that to a baby or allowing someone else to do it to any of my children).

Thus began a silent and slow research journey until the birth of our second daughter. I knew then that I could not allow any future son’s genitals to be cut. That was the only word I felt was “respectful” to parents who I still believed had a “choice” to do this with no medical reason, and so used it. Cut. {frown}

Being unwilling to call this more than “cut” or “circumcision,” if you stick around, was me still having issues of cognitive dissonance.

Over the last couple of months, within my third longest pregnancy, I have been more tenaciously (as much as I possibly can) researching Scripture and information about circumcision. The more I learn, the more adamant I become against it. There’s no way not to be, for me.

Just as I cannot ignore my heart crying out when children’s genitals are violated through sexual assault, I can no longer ignore it when their genitals and minds are violated for the rest of their lives sexually for “medically preventative” reasons. By “medically preventative,” I mean not currently there, such as amputating breasts when there is a family history of it, even though it is not in the patient (and even then, it’s an adult woman choosing it for herself).

I do mean sexual alterations via circumcision quite seriously. This article was the first one I read, just weeks ago, where I finally understood even a little bit, how circumcision as done today makes sex far less enjoyable for a man than having an intact/full-of-nerves (and natural lubrication) penis: Anatomy of the Penis and Mechanics of Intercourse. Don’t worry, for those of you who are squeemed-out by actual pictures. It’s medical-textbook type drawings.

What seems worse about comparing these two things… is that when a child is sexually assaulted, we at least have understanding and allow them to grieve and mourn through-out their entire lives, off and on, as issues arise from the non-consent of someone messing with their genitals and sexuality.

However, male victims of circumcision are trained and conditioned (even if “unintentionally”) by their parents and American/mutilating society at large to think that what happened to them was necessary (even though there was NO medical emergency/reason at infancy to do this and non-circumcising countries prove there very rarely will be even into elderly adulthood), so they are almost looked down upon if they grieve this assault on their genitals as adults.

There is a reason that genital integrity advocates are so vocal – just as advocates for sexual assault victims became loud and “in-your-face” in the 70’s, 80’s and beyond – they were but a few, screaming against the masses who had whispered to children and women for so very long, that maybe their sexual assault wasn’t so bad, they should feel ashamed to talk about it, it wasn’t appropriate to share, etcetera.

(I know several adult survivors, who as children in the 50’s and 60’s, told a parent about their sexual assault, and were ignored or told they should be ashamed to talk about such things. What the crap??? Praise God for advocates mostly dismantling that garbage.)

Where victims are made to feel as though they should not question what happened to them, I pray there are “crazy,” loud, non-stop people out there, who tirelessly work until victims are allowed freely to speak, without shame, if they need or want to. God help me if I am not one of them.

For me, this issue has become as important as helping secondary survivors of sexual assault. Why should it not be? Both are about adults asserting authority and control over children’s genitals. Both issues are justified in the minds of the people who assaulted (or asked a dr to commit the assault on) the child’s genitals, regardless of what they know to be respectful to any human being’s body.

When I could recognize this – that this all comes down to adults asserting authority over a child’s sexuality/body against their protests or without informed consent – that those are intricately, inseparably linked in both medically unnecessary circumcision and in the sexual assault I advocate against… I could address the cognitive dissonance I had been feeling, deeply, about this issue. I was able to call this a mutilation, an amputation, and a sinful, hateful act against children. Because asserting power over a child’s body, justifying it, in both of these “situations” is evil.

This morning, thinking deeply about a circumcision conversation I had yesterday in which some said that circumcision is not a salvation issue, I was thinking about grace. I opened the Word and the focus became God’s grace given to us. His blood offering extending grace, hope, freedom, and radical change to anyone who wants it. The same grace and love we are to extend to everyone.

Then, after reading this Scripture (all of Galatians 5), I went online to research it a bit more in depth and found an amazing article (What the Bible Really Says About Routine Infant Circumcision), that I want to share bits from later. I had not taken notice before, of the wording in several Scripture verses, of New Testament Followers of Christ’s view on circumcision. I am highlighting things here that I took note of when reading through this article:

“Paul did not believe in freedom to choose; he believed in freedom to obey God. 

~Gal. 5:11 ‘But if I still proclaim circumcision. . . then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished.’  

First there was circumcision and animal sacrifice; then there was the cross. If you hold on to the former, you render the latter worthless.

~Gal. 5:12 ‘I wish that those who are pushing you to do so would mutilate themselves!’ 

Have you ever heard Paul so intense about anything? Mutilation is his word. And it will come up again.” 

~Phil. 3:2 “Beware of the dogs! Beware of the evil workers! Beware of the mutilation! For WE are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God, and glory in Christ Jesus, and put NO confidence in the flesh!” 

Paul has three things to say about those who would still practice routine circumcision after the ushering in of the New Covenant and the final sacrifice made by Christ. First, he calls them dogs, the lowest of insulting terms in those days. (Dogs were not yet domesticated as household pets and they ran around wild in packs eating garbage and annoying the livestock.) Second, he calls them evil workers. Scripture is clear: maiming an individual, outside of a direct order from God, is evil and morally unacceptable. Third, Paul minces no words; he calls unordained circumcision what it really is – mutilation. This is the second time Paul uses this term. Ironically, those who speak up for children today are often labeled ‘extremists’ for using this same word.”

It was kind of wild to me, because the words used by Paul are harsh – one of them being an exact word I was just “chastised” over using a few weeks ago, by a Believer (the word they said I was mocking God and/or His people with was mutilation)! Had I taken note of it before, I would have promptly shared those verses that use the words I’ve been using already so the person may be less likely to “guide” any other Followers in this area, incorrectly.

This wording, which could be called inflammatory, mocking, and insulting by many, is then followed by how we should be loving one another! Clearly, speaking the Truth of circumcision is not inflammatory, mocking, or insulting, nor is it unloving. In fact, it is exactly the opposite. It is LOVE to speak the truth about circumcision, even if it is needed to be said harshly.

All of this led me to thinking about the movie, Amazing Grace.

William Wilberforce accepted Christ and could no longer stomach the excuses being made about the enslavement of other human beings and acted,  tirelessly. So tireless was he, that he made himself sick, to prevent the atrocities happening to fellow human being’s bodies and spirits.

Many others, even those who called themselves Christians, called him crazy, extreme, disruptive to their British way of life, they certainly called him “against his country” (whatever the heck that’s supposed to mean/hold sway for a Christian who holds a different Citizenship altogether), and even that the belief that slaves should be freed was “dividing the Church.” Frankly, many people who said they were fellow Christians were downright hostile and hateful to his proposal that we treat black people as equal to whites, and no longer take ownership of their bodies and violating their spirits – the ones that Christ freed. (This same garbage “Christian” protection/defense of slavery happened in America, as well.)

It’s clear in watching the “cozy afternoon” ship scene, where William has people of high influence stop in front of a stenching slave ship, that these people are experiencing extreme levels of what therapists/psychologists today call cognitive dissonance. They are horrified, tears in their eyes, close to vomiting, and some of them are shaking. They are all at a breaking point in their belief systems and they must choose to either match their actions to the knowledge/belief that slaves were treated horribly, or they must turn away completely and deny the humanity of the slaves so they could go on living comfortably – living in denial. (Here’s an interesting video on watching cognitive dissonance played out in a “small” way.)

Yet, this is what many would do. Turn away and live in denial, because it’s too uncomfortable to face the truth of slavery.


This led me to thinking of the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures. They often did extreme things, said extreme things in order to snap God’s people to attention. I mean it, I am pretty sure had I been around them, I would have thought they were insane. Cooking food over feces, ripping clothing and wailing, and “worse.” The people who claimed they were God’s people and loved Him – they called these prophets things like nuts, heathens, and more. Admonishing the prophets who were being commanded by God to shine light on the disturbing things God’s people were doing, using far less disturbing analogies… telling them to be silent, or just a little more “discreet” about what they were doing. This post, linking to direct Scripture about these prophets, is pretty great: The Crazy Prophets of the Old Testament

Yet, even still, when God’s people shout out, sometimes in extreme ways against most certainly more extreme actions/sin, the bulk of the people who call themselves His, say, “It’s too much! Chill out! You are trying to change and destroy a way of life for us that we are used to! That makes us uncomfortable!”

When will we learn?

Whether it is empowering ourselves over black people’s bodies and spirits (or any shade of melanin) for slavery, over women’s and children’s bodies for sexual gratification or dominance, asserting power over a child’s body for medically-non-existent issues while pretending we’re somehow sparing them from an unknown, or any other issue involving someone else’s temple – these are clearly salvation issues.

Christ came to do away with violence and bloodshed by offering us salvation – yet many of those who claim to be His, still want it. And they want the people who can no longer ignore these atrocities to be ashamed of speaking about it, to be more discreet, to never be extreme in response to the more extreme sin of ignoring His salvation and freedom. Our bodies are His – we are to care for them as the Temple, and treat other’s bodies the same way.

For this, my heart has been broken for weeks on end. I can’t ignore the hypocrisy any longer, and I have been desperate in prayer, words, and action, to work against this tide of cultural conditioning within the Church.

I pray I can find more to do, just as I have continued praying about doing more to help sexual assault victims and their families.

Pacifying Myself

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For all my life, I had believed, as I was taught by pretty much everyone around me (and I chose to see nothing else), that violence is wrong in every situation, save but military battle.

Over a couple-of-year period of time, I’d become more and more uneasy with it all. I struggled with Bush’s war in Iraq. I struggled, as I believe so many others did and do, that our country was using violence in the name of “peace” and “liberation.” This justified violence seemed to me just to be… violence. Yet I still pushed on, dulling my mind, telling myself that even Jesus supports fighting between nations, as long as it’s for “holy reasons.” I continued to tell myself that our Savior of peace and mercy would surely “turn over the tables” on men like Saddam, Hitler and Osama Bin Laden.

Consistently, I would come back to the nagging feeling that my sweet Jesus never once retaliated against the soldiers that for no other reason than that He was claiming to save people’s souls, beat him, mocked him, and ripped at His flesh. I would always come back to the fact that in the face of being captured in the Gethsemane garden, Jesus healed the severed ear to the wounded soldier – a soldier wounded by a disciple of Jesus, trying to defend Him. And the feeling that while Jesus turned over tables, He never once hurt another person, that just wouldn’t leave me.

Maybe it took me so long to get to the point that I could say, “I want to be a pacifist” because I recognized the violence in my own heart. It felt hypocritical to say in my heart I want one thing when my thought-life can exude so much the opposite. But I can’t aspire for something better until I admit that I want it, am willing to struggle for it, willing to die to myself for it. I could not any longer deceive myself into believing that others can or should die for my own warped sense of “peace.”

God, of course, is responsible for bringing me to this point where I was and am able to say I want to stand for His kind of peace (John 14:27). He used His Word and another good book, Jesus for President, to break my heart and move me to compassion for all of His people.

Right now is a time in my life where I am walking through a valley in my heart. I see so much wickedness within myself and want so desperately to be rid of it. It is a scary feeling to let go of the normal, the routine, the accepted. Even looking towards that which is better, healthier, holier – it’s scary sometimes, just to change. But oh, how I long for that change. How I long to look in God’s eyes at the end of this world and say, “I could be nothing other than what You wanted me to be.”

You, my church, told me it was wrong to kill

… except in war.

You, my teachers, told me it was wrong to kill

… except in war.

You, my father and mother, told me it was wrong to kill

… except in war.

You, my friends, told me it was wrong to kill

… except in war.

You, my government, told me it was wrong to kill

… except in war.

But

now I know, you were wrong, and now I will tell you, my church, my teachers, my

father and mother, my friends, my government, it is not wrong to kill except in

war

… It is wrong to kill.

-George Mizo, US army veteran