Thursday, August 27, 2009

Jesus for President: Section # : The greatest speech you never heard!!!

Here is part of a speech printed in Jesus for President by the Chaplain who blessed the Atomic Bombing, which is especially fitting as we just marked the 64th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombings on August 6th and 9th.

"Sixty years ago, as a Catholic Air Force chaplain, Father George Zabelka blessed the men who dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Over the next twenty years, he gradually came to believe that he had been terribly wrong, that he had denied the very foundations of his faith by lending moral and religious support to the bombing. Zabelka, who died in 1992, gave this speech on the 40th anniversary of the bombings. He left this message for the world:
As a Catholic chaplain I watched as the Boxcar, piloted by a good Irish Catholic pilot, dropped the bomb on Urakami Cathedral in Nagasaki, the center of Catholicism in Japan.

I never preached a single sermon against killing civilians to the men who were doing it...It never entered my mind to protest publicly the consequences of these massive air raids. I was told it was necessary--told openly by the military and told implicitly by my Church's leadership.

I struggled. I argued. But yes, there it was in the Sermon on the Mount, very clear: 'Love your enemies. Return good for evil.' I went through a crisis of faith. Either accept what Christ said, as unpassable and silly as it may seem, or deny him completely.

For the last 1700 years the Church has not only been making war respectable: it has been inducing people to believe it is an honorable profession, an honorable Christian profession. This is a lie.

For the 300 years immediately following Jesus' resurrection, the Church universally saw Christ and his teaching as nonviolent. Remember that the Church taught this ethic in the face of at least three serious attempts by the state to liquidate her. It was subject to horrendous and ongoing torture and death. If ever there was an occasion for justified retaliation and defensive slaughter, whether in form of a just war or a just revolution, this was it. The economic and political elite of the Roman state and their military had turned the citizens of the state against Christians and were embarked on a murderous public policy of exterminating the Christian community.

Yet the Church, in the face of the heinous crimes committed against her members, insisted without reservation that when Christ disarmed Peter he disarmed all Christians.

Christians continued to believe that Christ was, to use the words of an ancient liturgy, their fortress, their refuge, and their strength, and that if Christ was all they needed for security and defense, then Christ was all they should have. Indeed, this was a new security ethic. Christians understood that if they would only follow Christ and his teaching, they couldn't fail. When opportunities were given for Christians to appease the state by joining the fighting Roman army, these opportunities were rejected, because the early Church saw a complete and an obvious incompatibility between loving as Christ loved and killing. It was Christ, not Mars, who gave security and peace.

Today the world is on the brink of ruin because the Church refuses to be the Church, because we Christians have been deceiving ourselves and the non-Christian world about the truth of Christ. There is no way to follow Christ, to love as Christ loved, and simultaneously to kill other people. It is a lie to say that the spirit that moves the trigger of a flamethrower is the Holy Spirit. It is a lie to say that learning to kill is learning to be Christ-like. It is a lie to say that learning to drive a bayonet into the heart of another is motivated from having put on the mind of Christ. Militarized Christianity is a lie. It is radically out of conformity with the teaching, life, and spirit of Jesus.

Now, brothers and sisters, on the anniversary of this terrible atrocity carried out by Christians, I must be the first to say that I made a terrible mistake. I was had by the father of lies. I participated in the big ecumenical lie of the Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox churches. I wore the uniform. I was part of the system. When I sad Mass over there I put on those beautiful vestments over my uniform. (When Father Dave Becker left the Trident submarine base in 1982 and resigned as Catholic chaplain there, he said, 'Every time I went to Mass in my uniform and put the vestments on over my uniform, I couldn't help but think of the words of Christ applying to me: Beware of wolves in sheep's clothing.')

As an Air Force chaplain I painted a machine gun in the loving hands of the nonviolent Jesus, and then handed this perverse picture to the world as truth. I sang 'Praise the Lord' and passed the ammunition. As Catholic chaplain for the 509th Composite Group, I was the final channel that communicated this fraudulent image of Christ to the crews of the Enola Gay and the Boxcar.

All I can say today is that I was wrong. Christ would not be the instrument to unleash such horror on his people. Therefore no follower of Christ can legitimately unleash the horror of war on God's people. Excuses and self-justifying explanations are without merit. All I can say is: I was wrong! But, if this is all I can say, this I must do, feeble as it is. For to do otherwise would be to bypass the first and absolutely essential step in the process of repentance and reconciliation: admission of error, admission of guilt.

Thank God that I'm able to stand here today and speak out against war, all war. The prophets of the Old Testament spoke out against all false gods of gold, silver, and metal. Today we are worshipping the gods of metal, the bomb. We are putting our trust in physical power, militarism, and nationalism. The bomb, not God, is our security and our strength. The prophets of the Old Testament said simply: Do not put your trust in chariots and weapons, but put your trust in God. Their message was simple, and so is mine

We must all become prophets. I really mean that. We must all do something for peace. We must stop this insanity of worshipping the gods of metal. We must take a stand against evil and idolatry. This is our destiny at the most critical time of human history. But it’s also the greatest opportunity ever offered to any group of people in the history of our world – to save our world from complete annihilation." (Jesus For President, pp. 221 - 223)
What implication does this have for us? Can we ignore this example? Can we ignore the research this saint brought? Here is the sentence that ends Section 3, it is so hopeful, I feel we all need to hear it:
"But throughout the ages, beautiful saints have lived faithfully, giving us hope that a set-apart people can fascinate and bless the world" (JfP, p. 224).
Hebrews 13:20-21: "May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Jesus for President: Section @, Part 6

Controversial post about violence. Are we called to complete non-violence? I believe so. I have been having a huge debate with members of the seminary I will be attending in a few weeks. Here is a passage from Jesus for President that really stuck out to me and fits with what I ahve been thinking about immensely:
"There is another young man, a decorated veteran of the 1991 Gulf War, who felt that the world killed the good in him. You might remember reading the letters he wrote home from the war. He told his family he felt like he was turning into an animal because day after day it became a little easier to kill. His name was Timothy McVeigh.

He 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 Irag are any less than those in Oklahoma City? Do they think that Iraqis don't have families who grieve and mourn the loss of their loved ones? Do people believe that the killing of foreigners is different from the killing of Americans.' [Essay on Hypocrisy] No doubt he had been deranged by the myth of redemptive violence. He bombed Oklahoma City in hopes that complacent Americans could see what "collateral damage" looks like and cry out against the bloodshed everywhere, eve 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" (Jesus for President, p. 214).

"I am a soldier of Christ and it s not permissible for me to fight."
St. Martin of Tours, 315-397

Christians, instead of arming themselves with swords, extend their hands in prayer."
St. Athanasius

Murder, considered a crime when considered singly, is transformed into a virtue when the do it en masse."
St. Cyprian (200-258)

"If you enroll as one of God's people, heaven is your country and God your lawgiver."
St. Clement of Alexandria

"Christ, in disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier."
- Tertullian
(Jesus for President, p. 216)
Think about these things clearly. Pray about them that God would show us where we are wrong and on the right track as I do. Bless the Lord and pray his blessing on the world, not just our country, for God will not answer it if we limit it. We are citizens of another country, with brothers beyond all borders and love for our enemies.

Blessings and Peace!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Jesus for President: Section @, Part 5

"In the Market We Trust"
I had a liberal, secular professor in my senior year of college at Chico State. There is a redundant statement. But if this professor was liberal at Chico State, they were pretty liberal, but it is in her that I saw Christ shine brilliantly, more so than many Christians I encounter. We discussed world problems the globe over and each time her heart bled in all the ways Christ's did. I saw her teach with fury about injustice, I saw her walk with humility in her own struggles against the world and try to make sense of the things of God. She looked like Micah 6:8, "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

There is one phrase that stood out to my over the course and it had little to do with the actual lecture. We ended up talking about poverty and poverty reduction. I mean, we all want poverty reduction, don't we? But then she said something so Jesus, I will never forget it. She said, "We all need to scale back our lives, buy less, become more simplistic, meat should be only on special occasions, become poorer to elevate those around us." As simple and maybe obvious as this statement might be, she said it and my jaw dropped. As many times as I read Christ to say this same thing, and never once heard a Christ-follower say it, blew me away. Even more than this, many Christians today preach a view far more destructive. Wealth and money and materials are NOT hurtful in and of themselves. These Christians would be right and biblical to say this, but they go to such great lengths to say, live, teach this, that they have blurred the lines where comfort actually does start to destroy us a bit each day. I mean, no one ever thinks they have crossed the line until their world collapses and as Christians we should be so much smarter than to have to have our world collapsed because we have so desecrated God's word. I mean, not only do we have personal and collective testimony to evidence the destructive and deceitful powers of wealth, but it has literally be revealed to us by prophets and God himself (Matthew 13:22, just to name one of literally a thousand). Here is what Jesus for President says:
Another, possibly the greatest, unholy aspect of our economy is its exploitation of people. While our economy floats on cheap oil, it too is carried on the backs of cheap laborers. If we ask, Why do so many of our products come from China? we can certainly say this is aided by the cheap oil for shipping, but it's essentially founded on easily exploited labor. The hundreds of thousands of jobs that have been lost in the United States testify to "job creation" in foreign countries. Left in the wake are our neighborhoods, blighted with hundreds of abandoned factories and hundreds more abandoned homes. Christians have no problem helping the poor. But question whether our 'blessings' are borne on the backs of the poor and things get messy. The call to 'Make Poverty History' needs a partner: 'Make Affluence History...' Into the economics of the world, the letter of James speaks a word of rebuke: 'The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty' (5:4). This isn't simply about fairly paying the immigrants who mow our lawns; it's about the way our world's economy siphons wealth from the poor up to the rich. And we are all apart of it." (Jesus for President, pp. 188-189).

What is our role? Are we comfortable in our participation? What does Christ command of us? What does simplifying look like? Do we justify affluence far more than scripture allows?

Christ, May you heal us and open our eyes that have been closed from birth. May we be healed of this blindness of not seeing your Kingdom and our empire as different entities. We repent of our action and inaction in the subjugation and violence committed on our behalf for material possession. May we cast off all things that hinder us from running the race well. May you grant us the fortitude to resist the latest fashion trends and non-important technological advances. May you grant us peace, not as the world offers, but your peace in this generation of hyper-speed. May we see comfort as a great enemy. But mostly may your love and hope shine through us, to our enemies, to our friends, but most of all, to those we have forgotten about and showed only apathy.

Blessings and Peace!

P.S.
I literally just heard Ashton Kutcher say that if fat people gave poor people more food we would solve the problems of obesity and poverty at the same time. To which Jimmy Kimmel replied, just try prying the pizza from my hands. I don't know what is more telling, their conversation, or my watching this dribble.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Jesus for President: Section @, Part 4

This passage is definitely interesting. It has been interpreted many different ways, but this is one of my favorites. I will post the Scripture and the JfP's interpretation:

"This title was written on her forehead:
MYSTERY
BABYLON THE GREAT
THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES
AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus."

(Revelation 17:5-6)

"After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. With a mighty voice he shouted:
"Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!
She has become a home for demons
and a haunt for every evil spirit,
a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird.
For all the nations have drunk
the maddening wine of her adulteries.
The kings of the earth committed adultery with her,
and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries."

Then I heard another voice from heaven say:
"Come out of her, my people,
so that you will not share in her sins,
so that you will not receive any of her plagues;
for her sins are piled up to heaven,
and God has remembered her crimes.
Give back to her as she has given;
pay her back double for what she has done.
Mix her a double portion from her own cup.
Give her as much torture and grief
as the glory and luxury she gave herself.
In her heart she boasts,
'I sit as queen; I am not a widow,
and I will never mourn.'
Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her:
death, mourning and famine.
She will be consumed by fire,
for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.

"When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her. Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry:
" 'Woe! Woe, O great city,
O Babylon, city of power!
In one hour your doom has come!'

"The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes any more— cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and bodies and souls of men."

(Revelations 18:1-13)

Crazy passage but cool meanings. A plea from heaven for us to flee! JfP gives us their view:

“John’s language couldn’t be clearer: we are to 'come out' of her, literally to pull ourselves out. Let's be honest: this is Rated R…Scholars point out that this is erotic language and that the words John uses are the same ones used for coitus interruptus – to interrupt sexual intercourse before climax. As John is speaking of this steamy love affair with the empire, he calls the church to ‘pull out of her’ – to leave the romance with the world and be wooed by God, to remember our first love, to say no to all other lovers.”
We should all consider the call of the one who comes from heaven and calls out to us so that we may come out of her unless we share her sins. Unless we partake in her adulteries as all the kings and merchants of the earth have.

As I read these interpretations, I want to clarify a couple things:
  • This is their interpretation, albeit a good one, but one nonetheless, in all its glories and foibles.
  • Claiborne (Author) wants us to be careful to use Great Whore instead of prostitute because "the term 'prostitute' implies a context of poverty and male-domineering sexual exploitation, whereas, 'whore' implies seduction and adulterous licentiousness" (148).
  • Personifying Cities as women is in no way intended by scripture or the authors to demean women but a play on the femininity/ masculinity of the pronouns found in its original language (Greek and Hebrew). This is beautiful thing that we have lost in the English language.
  • I am not advertising this particular blog on my twitter or facebook due to the explicit content.
Blessings and Peace!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Jesus for President: Section @, Part 3

What is this this picture saying? How can this be justified? One could possibly say, "We are to be subordinate to the state, Romans 13 says so." Ok, for the sake of not arguing, why even fly the Christian flag? Let me clarify my own opinion a bit. I think Christian flags are uber-cheesy and not appropriate, but that aside, let me see it from your point of view. You have a flag, that you give value and power to represent, symbolically, the Kingdom of Christ for you, as a believer. You then choose to fly it under a secular authority that does not represent Christ. I looked up the rules, there is no law, only etiquette. At the very least, "When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags should be of approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace" (Flag Rules and Regulation, Rule 11). We can fly a Christian flag at equal size and height on a separate flag pole. This is just etiquette. We can actually fly it above the American Flag. Maybe a better question is: why do we even fly American flags? Our Kingdom and patriots are not of this land. Some would say that we need to be thankful to such a beneficent empire for giving freedom of worship. I assure you, no secular government can hinder or grant me any more or less freedom than I received through faith. True worship is in spirit in truth (John 4). There is no way any human could deprive either of these things from me.

Here is another excerpt from Jesus for President:

"...we find that Paul offered a biting critique of power and a creative path of revolutionary love. We might remember Paul urging his friend Philemon to illegally welcome back home a fugitive slave, Onesimus, as a brother, instead of killing him for running away. This is a scandalous subversion of Roman hierarchy. Paul was just as radical as Jesus. Remember that the Paul who "be subject to the authorities" is the same Paul who was stoned, exiled, jailed, and beaten for subverting the authorities... Is it possible to submit and to subvert? Paul's life gives a clear yes, as does Jesus' crucifixion" (Jesus For President, 161).

"And years later, as the love affair between church and empire grew more intimate, the emperor Theodosius proclaimed Christianity as the state religion of the empire, making it a crime not to be a Christian. That's when things got even messier. The first recorded instance of Christians killing pagans occured shortly after, and before long, the militant church conquered lands and people throughout Europe, compelling them to be baptized or die. Under Theodosius' decrees, temples from other religions were ordered to be destroyed, if not just declared abandoned, to be renovated and reused later as Christian temples. And those who had formerly renounced the sword now filled the Roman army; every Roman soldier would be required to be a Christian... Moving from persecuted to persecutor, the church had become the church militant and triumphant. The kingdom of God that been known through a king who rules with a towel, a donkey, and a cross had become the empire of Christendom. In the name of the one who taught us to love our enemies, the church burned its enemies alive" (JfP, 163).

Let us see our problem, repent and change. A healthcare program is awesome, but not our main focus. We need to remember our first love and the Answer of our hope. Protesting for wordly power in a way Jesus would have dreamed about is just crazy and hurting the church. You who are fighting for America, have pledged allegiance to the wrong kingdom. More on this kingdom next time. Just a hint though, it is one of the most explicit (sexual and revolutionary) scripture passages I have ever heard.

____________________________________________
P.S.
Just got back from Spirit West Coast. David Crowder was so good!
Just got back from camping with the youth. Great foundation laying!
Was greeted by:
  • My iTouch and Macbook pro (this coupled with my iMac act work means I have officially become that guy and am expecting my Prius, Black-rimmed glasses, and Starbucks frequent visitor card to come soon.)
  • Erik and Amanda Scofield had their baby boy. Ari is doing well and we expect them home very soon!