We will fight for peace, but we will do no violence.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Imagine your city council telling the police department how many people it had to keep in jail each night.

That's effectively what Congress has told U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement with a policy known as the "detention bed mandate." The mandate calls for filling 34,000 beds in some 250 facilities across the country, per day, with immigrant detainees.

When NPR visited the Department of Homeland Security's detention center in Florence, Ariz., hundreds of men — nearly all from Latin America — were lining up for lunch. They were caught by the Border Patrol or, if apprehended away from the border, by local police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. People can stay behind the razor-wire fences for days, weeks or years.


Monday, December 30, 2013


"While many Americans have been led to believe the war in Afghanistan will soon be over, a draft of a key U.S.-Afghan security deal obtained by NBC News shows the United States is prepared to maintain military outposts in Afghanistan for many years to come, and pay to support hundreds of thousands of Afghan security forces.

"The wide-ranging document, still unsigned by the United States and Afghanistan, has the potential to commit thousands of American troops to Afghanistan and spend billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars.

"The document outlines what appears to be the start of a new, open-ended military commitment in Afghanistan in the name of training and continuing to fight al-Qaeda. The war in Afghanistan doesn’t seem to be ending, but renewed under new, scaled-down U.S.-Afghan terms."

Read Full Story Here>

Friday, December 27, 2013

War No More

"He shall judge between the nations,
and shall decide disputes for many peoples;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore." - Isaiah 2:4

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Wisdom From Above

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” - (James 3:17-18)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Isaiah had a dream, a God-inspired dream.
Isaiah was a poet, a God-intoxicated poet.
He had a Messianic dream that he turned into a prophetic poem.
It goes like this—

In days to come
the mountain of the LORD’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised above the hills;
all the nations shall stream to it.
Many peoples shall come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore.

-Isaiah 2:2–4

Swords turned into plowshares.
Spears into pruning hooks.
Tanks turned into tractors.
Missile silos into grain silos.
The study of war abandoned for learning the ways of the Lord.
Instead of academies where we learn to make war,
there will be universities where we learn to wage peace.
The cynic will laugh (for lack of imagination), but this is Isaiah’s vision.

And every Christmas we borrow another of Isaiah’s poems to celebrate the birth of the child who makes these dreams come true—

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who live in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined…
For all the boots of the tramping solidiers
and all the uniforms stained in blood
shall be burned as fuel for fire.
For unto us a child is born,
unto us a son given;
the government shall be upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onward and forevermore.

-Isaiah 9:2, 5–7

Isaiah in his prophetic poems frames the Messianic hope like this:

A Prince of Peace will establish a new kind of government, a government characterized by ever-increasing peace. Weapons of war will be transformed into instruments of agriculture. At last the nations will find their way out of the darkness of endless war into the light of God’s enduring peace.
This is Isaiah’s hope. Christians take Isaiah’s hope and make a daring claim: Jesus is that Prince of Peace! Jesus is the one who makes Isaiah’s dreams come true. From the day of Pentecost to the present this is what Christians have claimed.

But then a doom-obsessed dispensationalist performs an eschatological sleight of hand and takes the hope away from us. On one hand they admit that Jesus is the Prince of Peace who has come, but on the other hand they say his peace is not for now…it’s only for when Jesus comes back again. Bait and switch. Yes, swords are to become plowshares…but not today. For now plowshares become swords; but in our day, it’s war, war, war! They abuse Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem in the first century by always applying it to the latest contemporary geopolitical events. They replace the hope of peace with an anticipation of war! They find a way to make war a hopeful sign.
Think about that for a moment! And here is the worst irony: It was precisely because Jerusalem failed to recognize Jesus as Isaiah’s Prince of Peace right there and then, that they rushed headlong into a war that ended with their own destruction!

End-time prophecy “experts” keep trying to force the same mistake on us in our day. We should refuse. I am a conscientious objector to the doom-obsessed, hyper-violent, war-must-come, pillage-the-Bible-for-the-worst-we-can-find eschatology of Hal Lindsey and his tribe. We must reject that kind of warmongering misinterpretation of Scripture. Jesus doesn’t call us to give a “prophetic interpretation” to the latest war and rumor of war. Jesus calls us to be peacemakers and lead the way out of the darkness of retributive violence into the light of Christian reconciliation. But we haven’t done a very good job of it. So it’s time we started believing what we say every Christmas:

The Prince of Peace has come!

Isaiah says that in the last days the nations will come to Mount Zion and learn the peaceful ways of the Lord. That’s when weapons of war will become implements of agriculture. Well, let’s believe it! The Apostle Peter said on the day of Pentecost that the last days have arrived. (see Acts 2:14f) The writer of Hebrews said that in Christ we have come to Mount Zion. (see Hebrews 12:22f) Obviously, with the passing of two thousand years it should be clear that Peter didn’t mean the end of time was imminent, rather he meant exactly what Jesus himself had been saying — that the waiting was over, the time was fulfilled, and all that the prophets had foretold was coming to pass in the present. The writer of Hebrews means that what Isaiah and the other Hebrew prophets had described as the nations flowing to Mount Zion to learn the way of peace has been inaugurated with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

Let me say it clearly: If you are waiting for something to happen before you beat your sword into a plowshare and your spear into a pruning hook, you can stop waiting! If you confess that Jesus is the Prince of Peace foretold by the prophets, you can start being a peacemaker…today! You don’t need to wait for anything else. You shouldn’t wait for anything else!

As followers of the Prince of Peace are we ready to bid farewell to Mars? We must be. The god of war has had his day. His day ended on the first Easter. In his death and resurrection, Christ has abolished war. Christ made it clear on the cross that war will no longer be the way the world is transformed. The cross exposes the use of violent force as a shameful practice to be renounced. Yes, Jesus has abolished war. The King of Kings won his kingdom without war. Jesus proved there is another way.

Jesus is the other way. The question, “what are you willing to die for?” is not the same question as “what are you willing to kill for?” Jesus was willing to die for that which he was unwilling to kill for.

Jesus won his kingdom by dying, not killing. Ruling the world by killing was buried with Christ.

When Christ was raised on the third day he did not resurrect war. With his resurrection the world is given a new trajectory, an eschatology toward peace.

Merry Christmas!
War is over!



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Unto Us

"For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." - Isaiah 9:6

Monday, December 23, 2013

Censoring: Animal Farm

It’s one thing to have your alteration notes handed down by the empty suits at a movie studio; it’s quite another when they’re coming from the Central Intelligence Agency.

This 1955 animated adaptation of George Orwell’s classic was one of a handful of films produced by the CIA in the 1950s as anti-Communist propaganda, and it originally concluded (true to the novel) with the farm animals looking back and forth between the pigs and the humans, unable to determine which was more exploitative.

But the CIA had the filmmakers remove the humans from the equation, so that the final film only indicted the (Communist) pigs, and not the (capitalist) humans.

Friday, December 20, 2013


"Death and the fear of suffering unto death...serve as the deterrent system of every empire in history.  The law of violence is that death is supreme.

But if death so rules the world, what about those whose kingdom is not of this world of death?

What about those who through interior struggle have been given the grace to overcome the fear of death?

What about those who refuse to submit to the law of violence, who refuse to pledge allegiance to the empire of death?

For those liberated from the fear of death, the law of violence is powerless.

Nonviolence is the overcoming of death by a fearless love."

- James Douglass,The Nonviolent Coming of God.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christ or Anti-Christ?

If Jesus is the Prince of Peace, the anti-Christ is the Prince of War.

If Jesus heals, the anti-Christ sheds blood.

If Jesus says we should love our enemy, the anti-Christ says we should torture them.

If Jesus commands us to bless those who curse us, the anti-Christ urges us to make war against them.

If Jesus says we should pray for those who persecute us, the anti-Christ says we ought to oppress and imprison them.

If Jesus tells us to care for the poor, the anti-Christ says we should just ignore them.

If Jesus says his disciples will not fight, the anti-Christ encourages us to glorify violence.

If Jesus says we should turn the other cheek, the anti-Christ says we should destroy the aggressor.

Who does the Church most resemble?

 Are we of Christ, or are we of the anti-Christ?

Let us pray.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Collateral Damage, the Media, and 'The War You Don't See'

During World War One, 10% of all casualties were civilians.
During World War Two, the number of civilian deaths rose to 50%.
During the Vietnam War, 70% of all casualties were civilians.
In the war in Iraq, civilians account for up to 90% of all deaths.
 -The War You Don’t See by John Pilger. 

Watch the trailer for the film:

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Nuclear Submarine Officer to Conscientious Objector: Mike Izbicki

WW2: Worse Than You Remember

The Japanese military during the 1930s and 1940s is often compared to the military of Nazi Germany during 1933–45 because of the sheer scale of suffering. Much of the controversy regarding Japan's role in World War II revolves around the death rates of prisoners of war and civilians under Japanese occupation. Historian Chalmers Johnson has written that:
It may be pointless to try to establish which World War Two Axis aggressor, Germany or Japan, was the more brutal to the peoples it victimised. The Germans killed six million Jews and 20 million Russians (i.e. Soviet citizens); the Japanese slaughtered as many as 30 million Filipinos, Malays, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Indonesians and Burmese, at least 23 million of them ethnic Chinese. Both nations looted the countries they conquered on a monumental scale, though Japan plundered more, over a longer period, than the Nazis. Both conquerors enslaved millions and exploited them as forced labourers—and, in the case of the Japanese, as (forced) prostitutes for front-line troops. If you were a Nazi prisoner of war from Britain, America,Australia, New Zealand or Canada (but not the Soviet Union) you faced a 4% chance of not surviving the war; (by comparison) the death rate for Allied POWs held by the Japanese was nearly 30%.
According to the findings of the Tokyo Tribunal, the death rate among POWs from Asian countries, held by Japan was 27.1%. The death rate of Chinese POWs was much higher because—under a directive ratified on August 5, 1937 by Emperor Hirohito—the constraints of international law on treatment of those prisoners was removed. Only 56 Chinese POWs were released after the surrender of Japan. After March 20, 1943, the Japanese Navy was under orders to execute all prisoners taken at sea.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Who Needs A Gun?



Our discussions typically start from the right to own a gun, go on to ask how, if at all, that right should be limited, and wind up with intractable disputes about the balance between the right and the harm that can come from exercising it. I suggest that we could make more progress if each of us asked a more direct and personal question: Should I own a gun?

Finally, there’s the idea that citizens need guns so they can, if need be, oppose the force of a repressive government. Those who think there are current (or likely future) government actions in this country that would require armed resistance are living a paranoid fantasy. The idea that armed American citizens could stand up to our military is beyond fantasy.

Once we balance the potential harms and goods, most of us — including many current gun owners — don’t have a good reason to keep guns in their homes. This conclusion follows quite apart from whether we have a right to own guns or what restrictions should be put on this right. Also, the conclusion derives from what makes sense for each of us as individuals and so doesn’t require support from contested interpretations of statistical data.

I entirely realize that this line of thought will not convince the most impassioned gun supporters, who see owning guns as fundamental to their way of life.

It’s one thing to be horrified at gun violence. It’s something else to see it as a meaningful threat to your own existence. Our periodic shock at mass shootings and gang wars has little effect on our gun culture because most people don’t see guns as a particular threat to them. This is why opposition to gun violence has lacked the intense personal commitment of those who see guns as essential to their safety — or even their self-identity.


Doesn't Violence in the OT Mean Pacifism Isn't Biblical?

By Nathan R. Hale

A common objection to Christian non-violence is often articulated as follows:

A unified view of Scripture demands we accept justified violence based on the Old Testament. It takes unnecessarily complex hermeneutics to wiggle out of the fact that God both commands war (the invasion of Canaan) and instituted laws for self defense and capital punishment in the Mosaic Law.

A close look reveals this isn’t true.

On the national front, we have in the Old Testament a defined nation-state (Israel) that is being directly used by God to punish surrounding people groups and nations. This is holy war (commanded by God) and is restricted to Israel.

In the NT, however, Jesus reveals to us through the Apostle Paul that God’s chosen people is no longer a single nation-state, but rather a gathering people across national/ethnic boundaries whose fight is not against flesh and blood (cf. Eph. 6:12; Gal. 3:38).

The battle lines and purposes have been redrawn.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Matt Damon and A Call for Civil Disobedience to End War

Matt Damon reads from Howard Zinn's speech, "The Problem is Civil Obedience." Zinn (1922-2010), author of A People's History of the United States, was a historian and social activist.

"We all have an enormous responsibility to bring to the attention of others information they do not have, which has the potential of causing them to rethink long-held ideas."
-Howard Zinn
 For more, visit Voices of a People's History.

Our Moloch by Garry Willis


"We guarantee that crazed man after crazed man will have a flood of killing power readily supplied him. We have to make that offering, out of devotion to our Moloch, our god.

The gun is our Moloch. We sacrifice children to him daily—sometimes, as at Sandy Hook, by directly throwing them into the fire-hose of bullets from our protected private killing machines, sometimes by blighting our children’s lives by the death of a parent, a schoolmate, a teacher, a protector. Sometimes this is done by mass killings (eight this year), sometimes by private offerings to the god (thousands this year).

The gun is not a mere tool, a bit of technology, a political issue, a point of debate. It is an object of reverence. Devotion to it precludes interruption with the sacrifices it entails. Like most gods, it does what it will, and cannot be questioned. Its acolytes think it is capable only of good things. It guarantees life and safety and freedom. It even guarantees law. Law grows from it. Then how can law question it?”

Adoration of Moloch permeates the country, imposing a hushed silence as he works his will. One cannot question his rites, even as the blood is gushing through the idol’s teeth. The White House spokesman invokes the silence of traditional in religious ceremony.

“It is not the time” to question Moloch. No time is right for showing disrespect for Moloch.

The fact that the gun is a reverenced god can be seen in its manifold and apparently resistless powers.

How do we worship it? Let us count the ways:

 1. It has the power to destroy the reasoning process. It forbids making logical connections. We are required to deny that there is any connection between the fact that we have the greatest number of guns in private hands and the greatest number of deaths from them. Denial on this scale always comes from or is protected by religious fundamentalism. Thus do we deny global warming, or evolution, or biblical errancy. Reason is helpless before such abject faith.

2. It has the power to turn all our politicians as a class into invertebrate and mute attendants at the shrine. None dare suggest that Moloch can in any way be reined in without being denounced by the pope of this religion, National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre, as trying to destroy Moloch, to take away all guns. They whimper and say they never entertained such heresy. Many flourish their guns while campaigning, or boast that they have themselves hunted “varmints.” Better that the children die or their lives be blasted than that a politician should risk an election against the dread sentence of NRA excommunication.

3. It has the power to distort our constitutional thinking. It says that the right to “bear arms,” a military term, gives anyone, anywhere in our country, the power to mow down civilians with military weapons. Even the Supreme Court has been cowed, reversing its own long history of recognizing that the Second Amendment applied to militias. Now the court feels bound to guarantee that any every madman can indulge his “religion” of slaughter. Moloch brooks no dissent, even from the highest court in the land.


Friday, December 13, 2013


Want to know what the United States Army thinks war will be like in 2030? According to a recent study, the answer is "Pretty much the same."

Taken from an article at

"Army leaders recently conducted a “deep future” war game to play out a military conflict 15 years from now, coined “Unified Quest,” and held at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle Barracks, Pa. Defense One was invited to listen in as dozens of Army brass and civilian and foreign counterparts conducted an after-action review at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C."

"Even with new innovations and evolving threats, the Army’s vision of what war might look like and the challenges they would face in the year 2030 isn’t all that different than today."

While this is far from "Good News", it does reveal that our military leaders have plans to be at war in 2030, and beyond.

War? War goes on. It never changes. It just gets more profitable.

Another shocking thing in the report was that, in the future, the Army's goal is to be more like Al Qaeda:

"One official said he wants to find a way to harness private-sector capabilities with military-grade security, a future where a soldier can talk to his commanders with just an iPhone. “Al Qaeda is doing it. Hezbollah is doing it. They leverage existing networks. Five to six years from now, that’s what I want,” one official said. “That’s the kind of innovation we need.”

One day, if our military leaders' dreams come true, America might actually be as "innovative" as some of the best terrorist organizations in the world.

Now, doesn't that make you feel better?


GOD DAMN GUNS by Katherine Willis Pershey

"Jerome was a Counselor-in-Training after years of coming to camp as a camper. He was fifteen and always smiling, bright white teeth standing out against his dark skin. He laughed a lot, too.

He laughed the day I yelled at him for diving headfirst from the dock into the shallow lake. At twenty years old, I was the head lifeguard. I felt a wave of panic as I waited for him to resurface. As soon as he did my panic was replaced with fury; the last thing I needed was a CiT modeling dangerous behavior. I started to holler but couldn’t sustain my anger. He laughed and laughed and laughed as he apologized profusely and swore he wouldn’t do it again.

He was so joyous, so young, so beautiful, so classically invincible."


Thursday, December 12, 2013


By James Douglass

Transposing Jesus' Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matt. 18:23-35) into our time, produces the following reading:

Compare the Kingdom of God to a financial lord who wished to settle accounts with his debtor nations. When he began reckoning, they brought to him one who was the President of a Nation that owed him three trillion dollars - the United States. And as the nation could not pay, the lord ordered that austerity measures be adopted by its government. Hencefort all government services were to be cancelled, millions of employees were to be dismissed, and all health, welfare, and social security payments were to be suspended until the United States could pay their debt. Every available resource was to go toward mounting debt-service payments.

So the President of the United States fell on his knees before the financial lord, imploring him, "Lord, have patience with us, and we will pay you everything." And out of pity for him and his people, the lord of that president released him and forgave him the debt.

But that same president, as he went out, came upon the president of a small African country that owed the United States 100 million dollars. Seizing him by the lapel, he said, "Pay what you owe." So, his fellow president fell to his knees and besought him, "Have patience with us and we will pay you everything." But he refused and his economic advisors forced austerity measures on the African country, whose people died of malnutrition whilie their own resources were used to service the debt.

When the presidents of the other debtor nations saw what had taken place, because of their great distress they were moved to solidarity. And they went and reported to their financial lord all that had happened and their resolve to stand together: "We shall not pay our foreign debt with the hunger of our people."

Then the lord summoed the president of the United States and said to him, "You stupid man. I forgave you and your people all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow president, as I had mercy on you? Look what you have done now! Those nations are in solidarity, and all of us who have held them in debit will be ruined!"

And in anger the lord delivered him and his nation to austerity measures and a great depression, and  both the president and the lord then fell from wealth and power.

The world's largest debtor nation is not Brazil, or Africa. Nor is it any of the other third world countries whose people are being starved by the austerity measures imposed by the International Monetary Fund.

The greatest debtor in history is the militarily most powerful nation in history - the United States of America.

These two characteristics: military might and trillion-dollar debt, go hand-in-hand. It is not accident that during its two trillion dollar military buildup of the 1980's, the US added a corresponding two trillion dollars to its federal debt.

[From the book, "The Nonviolent Coming of God" by James Douglass; page 106-106]

Here's Why Fast Food Workers Want Better Compensation

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Exposed: The National Security State Beast.

From Jeremy Scahill's interview with HuffPost.Uk:

There is a national security state beast, also in the UK, created over many decades, almost completely unaffected by the democratic process. It can outlast any politician, no constituencies apart from war.
The only beneficiaries are large corporations. Ultimately, there is an epic battle between large corporations and ordinary people. Part of what I’m trying to do is unmask that conflict, but I have no illusions about how difficult that is.

“But if we don’t confront that, don’t realise that the entire system of corporations being in control of political systems is leading us down a road of disaster, then we’re doomed. The premier issue should be to get corporations out of our political process.

“On a broader level, if a state like the US asserts a right to assassinate people in any country it pleases using its weaponised drones, it sets a dangerous precedent. It’s only a matter of time before one of the other 80 nations that possess this capability starts to do it.
“The gloves come off. And then what kind of world do we live in?”


TEDxOrangeCoast - Shelene Bryan: "Embracing Uncomfortableness As Innovation"

Friday, December 6, 2013

Christian Oxymorons

In the Central African Republic there are men with machine guns who are killing other people. They refer to themselves as "Christian Militants" but don't you believe it for a minute.

There is no such thing as a "Christian Militant" who goes around shooting his enemies. Just as there is no such thing as "Open Secrets" or "A Fine Mess" and just as no one can ever be "Almost Pregnant" or "A Little Drunk", there can also never be any such thing as a "Christlike Killer".

Would Jesus throw a grenade into a Mosque? Would Jesus bust a cap into someone who didn't agree with his views? Would Jesus set a bomb to kill innocent people at a train station?

No, he would not. How could anyone ever imagine that he would?

That is why a "Christian" - which by definition is someone who follows the teachings of Jesus - can never take a weapon in hand and fire a bullet into their heart. Because once that person does such a thing, they cease to be like Jesus.

Certainly, Christians are capable of failure when it comes to following Him. We've all fallen short of the high calling of Jesus Christ. And for those who have killed others in war, or in the line of duty, can always repent of their sinful actions and receive the full and complete forgiveness of Jesus.

But what a Christian cannot do is to continually kill others in the name of nationalism, or political ideology, or "freedom" or anything else. Not even in the Name of Jesus. Especially not in the Name of Jesus.

So, when you read news stories like this one you can't accept the words "Christian Militant" at face value. There is no such thing as a "Christian Militant" who takes the life of other human beings who are made in the image of Christ.


Nation Grieves As Police Kill Someone For First Time In Their History

"The nation was in shock. This does not happen in our country," said Thora Arnorsdottir, news editor at RUV, the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service.

She was referring to a 59-year old man who was shot by police on Monday. The man, who started shooting at police when they entered his building, had a history of mental illness.

It's the first time someone has been killed by armed police in Iceland since it became an independent republic in 1944. Police don't even carry weapons, usually. Violent crime in Iceland is almost non-existent.

"The nation does not want its police force to carry weapons because it's dangerous, it's threatening," Arnorsdottir says. "It's a part of the culture. Guns are used to go hunting as a sport, but you never see a gun."

In fact, Iceland isn't anti-gun. In terms of per-capita gun ownership, Iceland ranks 15th in the world. Still, this incident was so rare that neighbors of the man shot were comparing the shooting to a scene from an American film.

The Icelandic police department said officers involved will go through grief counseling. And the police department has already apologized to the family of the man who died — though not necessarily because they did anything wrong.

"I think it's respectful," Arnorsdottir says, "because no one wants to take another person's life. "
There are still a number of questions to be answered, including why police didn't first try to negotiate with man before entering his building.

"A part of the great thing of living in this country is that you can enter parliament and the only thing they ask you to do is to turn off your cellphone, so you don't disturb the parliamentarians while they're talking. We do not have armed guards following our prime minister or president. That's a part of the great thing of living in a peaceful society. We do not want to change that. "


"You are not your job.
You're not how much money you have in the bank.
You're not the car you drive.
You're not the contents of your wallet.

The things you own end up owning you.

What are we? We're consumers. We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession.
Murder; crime; poverty; these things don't concern me.
What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy's name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra."
-Tyler Durden

Thursday, December 5, 2013


How can those who say they follow the Prince of Peace shoot their enemies? How can those who say they have experienced the transformational power of love and forgiveness kill 12 civilian citizens and wound 30 others? How can Christians murder children?

It has to start with a redefinition of the term "Christian" from "one who obeys Jesus" to "one who is in agreement with a set of doctrinal statements". Then one may behave however one likes without doing violence to the concept of "being like Christ" as a prerequisite for identifying with Jesus.

Over and over again, we read news items with headlines that reveal the sad news:

"Christian Tutsi's Slaughter Thousands Of Their Hutu Brothers in Rwanda"

"UN Reports That Armed Christian Groups Known As "Anti-Balaka" Have Killed 12 Muslims in Central African Republic"

Is this what Jesus had in mind? Did Jesus come to earth as an infant, and teach us to love our enemies, turn the other cheek, bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us - and Himself forgive those who nailed him to a Roman cross - so that those who come after Him could form an army and slaughter their enemies?

This is the same Jesus who said, "My Kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my disciples would fight." (see John 18:35-37)

So, if we fight, are we truly His disciples? Or are we fighting for the wrong kingdom?

Yes. When we take up arms and kill our enemies we are doing so for the kings and kingdoms of this fallen world.

As a follower of Jesus, there are many things worth dying for, but there is nothing - nothing - worth killing another human being for.

What could make me betray my Lord Jesus and take another life in disobedience to His clear commands to love and forgive? If I am more loyal to my nation than I am to Jesus, then I am not fit for His Kingdom.

“If any man come to Me and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple." - Jesus (Luke 14:26)

So, let's be clear: Someone who is like Jesus cannot take up arms and kill another human being. Anyone who does this, in the name of God, or country, or patriotism, or national pride, or "freedom" is doing so in outright defiance of Jesus.

If Jesus is Lord, then let us obey His commands:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 4hat you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:43-48)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

CONSUMERISM: If You Don't Buy Things What Are You?

"There's the television. It's all right there - all right there. Look, listen, kneel, pray. Commercials! We're not productive anymore. We don't make things anymore. It's all automated. What are we for then? We're consumers, Jim. Yeah. Okay, okay. Buy a lot of stuff, you're a good citizen. But if you don't buy a lot of stuff, if you don't, what are you then, I ask you? What? Mentally ill. Fact, Jim, fact: If you don't buy things - toilet paper, new cars, computerized yo-yos, electrically-operated sexual devices, stereo systems with brain-implanted headphones, screwdrivers with miniature built-in radar devices, voice-activated computers..."

Thursday, November 28, 2013

INTERVIEW: Salim Muyaner - A Palestinian Christian Seeks Reconciliation

In the documentary, “With God On Our Side”, there is a scene which impacted me on a very emotional level. Palestinian Christian Pastor, Salim Muyaner, was talking about his visit to a Christian church in Houston, Texas. After he spoke to the congregation several people came up to him to shake his hand. One man said to him, “I love the Jewish people! I’ve always wanted to meet a real Jew from Israel.” Salim shook the man’s hand and said, “I too love the Jewish people, but I am not a Jew, I am a Palestinian.” At those words the man yanked his hand away from Salim and without saying another word turned and walked away, leaving Salim awe struck and speechless.

This foolish response illustrates perfectly how many Christians in America are programmed to respond to the words, “Palestinian” and “Israel”.  If we can treat another brother in Christ like this, based solely on our political ideologies, then we have a very serious problem.

Like many Christians in Palestine, Salim Muyaner can trace his family lineage all the way back to the indigenous community of Christians that developed after Pentecost. Some are Jewish, some are Arabic, some are Greek, and some of them are Palestinian, but together, they are all followers of Jesus.

“Many of us are Greek Orthodox, or Byzantium Christians,” says Salim. “In recent years there has been a movement, led by both indigenous Christians in Palestine, and also the ‘Jews to Jesus’ Christians in the States, to share Christ. So there are an increasing number of people in Palestine who would label themselves as Christians, or as Messianic Jews. Approximately 8,000 from Jewish descent in recent years, have come to Christ.  Among the Palestinian Muslims right now, around 200 people have recently come to Christ in Israel and Palestine. In Galilee it’s around 100 people. There is a growing movement of Palestinian Muslims who are coming to Christ,” he says.

In fact, all over the Middle East there are a large number of people who are coming to put their faith in Christ. “Mostly in Iran,” Salim says. “About half a million, to a million – the number is disputed – but this is largely a reaction to the Islamic regime of Iran. Also in Algeria there is a big movement to the Lord. And also bigger one in Egypt, which is in reaction to the Muslim Brotherhood there.”

While these Muslims are open to embracing Jesus, not many of them are as open to the baggage that sometimes comes along with the Gospel. “We call it MBB, or Muslim Believers Background,” he says. “The American evangelical church has embraced a lot of American culture values. Because of this, many Christians (in America) are very Republican, Conservative, etc. In the last 20 years, American Christians have really hindered the Gospel. Especially some prominent evangelical leaders who have a very militant expression about Palestinian people.”

For many of these Muslims, this politicization of Christianity has driven them to avoid the name “Christian”, preferring instead to say that they are Muslims who follow Jesus, or “Isa”.

This same politicization of Christianity is where Salim’s negative experience in Houston finds its roots. Because American Christians are largely influenced more by their politics than by their Bibles, they can justify treating a fellow Christian like an outsider simply because they are Palestinian (and therefore an enemy of the Jews who are assumed to be “God’s chosen people.”)

“There is a kind of fear to criticize and challenge that premise in the media,” notes Salim. “The documentary (“With God On Our Side”) came about to alert Christians, but as you know there was a big backlash to this in certain Christian circles.”

This backlash is fueled by a dominant theology known as “Dispensationalism” which is the most commonly taught doctrine in America today. This doctrine (which only surfaced in the 1800’s under the teaching of a man named John Nelson Darby) suggests that Israel (the Jews) are separate from the Church in God’s eyes. This new teaching – which no Christian prior to the 1800’s ever believed – gave rise to Christian Zionism and propagated the idea that the Jews must rebuild their Temple in Jerusalem in order to fulfill prophecies in the New Testament.

The real problem with this theology is that it therefore pits American Christians against Palestinian Christians, which in itself should be enough for us to see how flawed it really is. At worse, following Dispensationalism to its logical conclusions involves cheering on the systematic oppression of an entire nation of people (the Palestinians) so that the Jewish Nation can dominate the land and Jesus can return to earth.

““The problem with Dispensationalism is more political than theological. It’s largely popularized by the likes of Hal Lindsay, Moody Bible College, Dallas Theological Seminary, Tim LaHaye’s “Left Behind” Series, and the Scofield Bible where we see an end times theology that is all about the world coming to an end. As a result, many Palestinian Christians feel they have no voice in American Evangelical Churches,” says Salim. “As you read (in a recent Charisma magazine report), different Christian groups in America have raised up to $210 million dollars to help fund secular Jewish activities that oppress Christians and Muslims in Palestine. Who are these Christians? People like John Hagee, and the Fellowship of Jews and Christians.”


Another blind spot for American Christians is that there is a genuine Palestinian Christian church in the land of Israel today, and they desperately need our support. “We are actively seeking reconciliation and actively evangelizing,” he says. “We want to be a source of blessing to our neighbors. We are seeking a ministry of reconciliation.” To that end, Salim started a ministry known as Musalaha which works towards reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians based on the Biblical principles of peace, justice, and love. The name Musalaha comes from the Arabic word for 'reconciliation'. The mission statement from their official website states:

 "Musalaha is a non-profit organization that seeks to promote reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians as demonstrated in the life and teaching of Jesus. We seek to be an encouragement and facilitator of reconciliation, first among Palestinian Christians and Messianic Israelis, and then beyond to our respective communities."

Salim started Musalaha in the ‘90’s after the first Intifada against Israeli army caused a split in the believing community in Palestine. “My faith is built on the cross of Jesus and how we are called to love each other,” he says. “We cannot deny the centrality of unity in the Body. Jesus prayed that we would be one. How can you say that you love God who you don’t see, but you hate your brother and sister that you do see? In this divided land the Church of Jesus is here and is called to be peacemakers and to love our enemy. As believers in the Messiah we are called to bring people together - Jews and Palestinians together who follow Jesus, and then Muslims and Jews.”

As passionate as he is about this calling, Salim knows that the task ahead of them is much greater than they can imagine. “The gap is huge,” he admits. “How do you bring people out of hatred and mistrust? Our future depends on our relationship to our neighbors. We cannot do this. We cannot, but Jesus can. We also cannot outsource our responsibility. The body needs to embrace its calling to be the hands and feet of Jesus.”


One of the major reasons for the success of Musalaha is that they have brought together Messianic Jews and Palestinian Christians and Muslims to something called ‘The Desert Forum’. “These are opportunities for people who come from different backgrounds and faiths to neutralize the hatred and to bring people to look into each other’s eyes and see they are all created in God’s image,” he says.

These Desert Forums have allowed people from different faiths to see one another as people made in the image of God, and to develop empathy for one another as members of the human race. What’s more, whether they are Jewish or Palestinian, Christian or Muslim or Jew, they all share a feeling of being oppressed and in danger. By sharing these experiences with one another they are empowered to help one another.

“As you know, Jesus from the cross reconciled, not just individuals, but also the Greek, the Roman, the Jew, the Barbarian. Paul, in Ephesians speaks very clearly about ethnic hostility and how Jesus heals all of this from the cross,” he says. “As much as radical Islam has divided the Muslim world, it has also split the Christian world in how it reacts. We have churches, mainly evangelical, with a theology about the Jews in the end times that develops a bipolar view which sees only Jews and Christians versus everyone else who is on the side of Satan. If you try to pray for Palestinian Christians (in many churches) you will meet a challenge,” he says.


The average person is not aware of American Foreign policy in the Middle East and how it hurts people. “People (in the States) need to know that when you have negative Christian words spoken in America they are immediately spread across the Middle East. It’s not a healthy situation. As a result you find that many Middle Eastern people in general like American people for their generosity for their hospitality, but as they perceive Americans supporting Israel (which oppresses them) they are confused.”

One problem with this brand of end times biblical theology is that it breeds fear and paralyzes Christians from doing anything for their brothers and sisters in Christ who happen to live in the wrong part of the world. “The worst aspect of this is when we divorce people and nations from ethical responsibility. Many evangelical churches are not relevant in society and many young people are upset about that. We are the people of Wilbeforce,” says Salim, “but now we have withdrawn from society. We’ve lost our ability to become salt and light. People are surprised now that the church has no influence on society anymore. Ask ourselves why are there poor people? What about our system? Why isn’t the Church leading the way to solve these problems?”
The other challenge to American Christianity today is that being a Christian is much more about what you believe and not who you are. “The church lost its prophetic voice. In the bible you have the priest, the king and the prophet. Once the church lost influence in society but continued to grow in size and amass wealth, we began to fall into the seductiveness of political leaders and now they think that they will win influence. But politicians want our money but not our ethical influence,” he says. “Prophets need to speak to power but power corrupts. We’ve been mesmerized by power like someone blinded by strong light. That process creates confusion.”

As the Christian church aligns itself more with political powers, the mission becomes blurred. “We have become like the radical Muslims and the Rabbinical Jews who want to put laws in place to force people to behave in certain ways, but this is not from the heart. American society is now quite a bit divided. God is giving an opportunity to the American church to be transformational to society. That’s the direction we are called to. The solution won’t be by laws or fighting by certain laws to change society. We need to get out of our nice suburbs and into the places where the people are suffering.”
“It’s difficult to be a voice for God’s kingdom. The pressure we are under is between the empires (western Christianity and Israel and radical islam). We need to embrace the Kingdom of God. The seductiveness of western empire and fear of radical Islam will lead to escapism. We need to stay here and be a witness and to be awakened to the call upon us to present the Kingdom of God and not be overwhelmed by the pressure of the two empires,” he says.

It is a fact that not too many aware that there are Palestinian Christians. There’s no place for us in the Middle East. We are not welcome and we’ve been told that by all parties. The church here needs to be encouraged,” he admits.

“We don’t need to be flooded with money. That will spoil us. We need a wise engagement in areas where we can contribute to a better understanding of how to reach our neighbors and find an area where you can be involved with us like leadership training, youth ministry, women’s ministry, etc.

“Saying that, we are having problems with political groups from outside which are threatening to split us. There are groups (Joel Rosenburg and the United Christians for Israel) who hold conferences with thousands of people, and others that have concerns with a justice-oriented approach who want to advocate for the Palestinian Christian church but the danger is that then you become like those you advocate against,” he warns.

“We have embraced that for a long time. Historically, we were not holding on by choice, but by necessity to survive. The Anabaptist position is embraced by all Palestinian Christians. With the 2nd Intifada the church took a position against weapons and suicide bombers. Non-violent engagement is our position. Myself and others have spoken very strongly against that.
“The nonviolent position is very strong among Palestinian Christians, but we need to be careful not to fall into the victim of the battle. For example, we had a conference called “Christ At The Checkpoint” and one Christian writer came and wrote against us because Tony Campolo was a guest. We are more than just one person. Musahala has hundreds of messianic Christians and Jews involved in the reconciliation process. The Christian media in the US refuses to give us a voice there because in certain circles we are called humanistic and others want to only promote their Christian Zionist agendas,” he says.

“You cannot have justice without reconciliation. Justice is a byproduct of people sitting together and settling their grievances and if you only talk about that you won’t settle the issue. Social Justice is closer to the biblical view but we want biblical justice.”

To learn more about Musalaha and Salim Muyaner, visit

Interview by Keith Giles

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Israeli Encountering Palestinian Identity

[Reprinted from Musalaha E-Newsletter with permission]

One weekend in October, our newest women’s group decided to meet together.  It was a Friday, a generally busy day for many.  The weekend is coming, we are making last minute preparations before Shabbat, planning activities for our children, and some of us are still at work.  Life gets in the way, and some of the 20 women who were registered began to call, “There was a death in the family,” and “My children need me this weekend.”  These all too often last minute cancellations are spiritual attacks that we can encounter in our events.  Yet, still 13 of our women were eager to meet. We spent the day discussing our identity. 

While a seemingly obvious discussion regarding our national, religious, and ethnic identifications, it’s not so easy to determine which identity we value most.  We often hold up signs and ask our participants to go to one or the other, “Jewish” or “Arab,” “Israeli” or “Palestinian,” “Christian” or “Messianic” or “believer.”  Yet when we begin to compare these identities and ask our participants to choose between their identifications – for example, “Palestinian” or “Christian” (or “Jewish” or “Messianic”), it becomes more complicated.  One participant chose “Palestinian” over “believer,” as she said her faith is between her and God, but her identity on this earth is in relation to others, and she is Palestinian.  Yet most chose their religious identity (“Christian,” “Messianic,” or “believer”) as their primary identification.

One of our Israeli participants wrote the following of her experience that weekend:

Our first small group meeting was challenging and inspiring. After a time of worship, a talk about identity, and a group exercise, we were divided into two groups, Israeli and Palestinian. Our task was to draw a picture of our identity as a group.

The Palestinian ladies drew a picture with a prominent Palestinian flag on the right. Small islands of land, they explained, indicated the cut up portions of the West Bank with Gaza cut off and alone. A large house stood next to a path, representing their homes and family life. On the other side of the path was a gigantic olive tree, representing the land they treasure, and a church similar to one in the home village of one of the ladies. The dividing path was long, seemed stony, and almost looked bloody because of the red marker used to draw it. The path was narrow but clearly divided all that they loved. The path ended near the top of the picture where there was a Bible and a cross.

One of the ladies went on to explain, ‘This is the long narrow path that Jesus said we have to walk on. We are committed to His Word, and the cross and the Bible represent the Kingdom of Heaven, our true home.’ And joy was evident in her expression as she shared.

Yet also evident in that drawing was the pain, the suffering, and the blood shed for the sake of giving up all to follow Jesus. I was so challenged. My Arab sisters had already made sacrifices to follow Jesus, but they were willing to give up everything for Jesus; Am I?

Later we had a precious time of prayer. I am looking forward to getting to know these dear sisters better. For now politics and borders separate us. We will never really be able to share in each other’s lives as we could if we were neighbors. But we can pray for each other, and I am looking forward to the day when I will have eternity to get to know them, and many other precious saints in the only Kingdom of which every person can become a citizen —the Kingdom of Heaven.”

By Debbie (Israeli Participant)


Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Teen Thrown In Violent New York Prison For Years Without Ever Having Been Convicted

Bronx resident Kalief Browder was walking home from a party when he was abruptly arrested by New York City police officers on May 14, 2010. A complete stranger said Browder had robbed him a few weeks earlier and, consequently, changed the 16-year-old's life forever.

Browder was imprisoned for three years before the charges were dropped in June 2013, according to a WABC-TV Eyewitness News investigation.

At the time of the teen's arrest, Browder's family was unable to pay the $10,000 bail. He was placed in the infamously violent Rikers Island correctional facility, where he remained until earlier this year.

Now that he's free, the young man is speaking up about his experience.

"I spent three New Year's in there, three birthdays...," Browder, now 20, said in a recent interview with WABC, adding that he was released with "no apology."

In October, Browder filed a civil lawsuit against the Bronx District Attorney, City of New York, the New York City Police Department, the New York City Department of Corrections and a number of state-employed individuals.

The official complaint states Browder was "physically assaulted and beaten" by officers and other inmates during his time at Rikers Island. The document also maintains the accused was "placed in solitary confinement for more than 400 days" and was "deprived meals." In addition, officers allegedly prevented him from pursuing his education. Browder attempted suicide at least six times.

In an interview with The Huffington Post, Browder's current lawyer Paul Prestia summarized his client's experience as "inexplicable" and "unheard of." Based off one man's identification, Browder was charged with robbery in the second degree, he notes. It took three years to dismiss these charges, even though it was, in Prestia's words, a "straightforward case to try."

"The city needs to be held accountable for what happened," Prestia said. "[Browder] had a right to a fair and speedy trail, and he wasn't afforded any of that. He maintained his innocence the entire time, and essentially got a three year sentence for that."

Still, when Browder was offered a plea deal in January, he refused to take it, because he did not want to plead guilty to the crime, WABC-TV notes. (Had Browder been tried in a timely fashion and pled guilty to the crime, Prestia told HuffPost, he might have spent less time in prison.)

Prestia adds that his client has suffered lingering mental health problems, and though he's currently going to school for his GED, he's "clearly way behind from where he would have been."

"We need someone to be held accountable," Prestia said. "This can't just go unnoticed. To the extent that [Browder] can be financially compensated -- although it's not going to get those years back for him -- it may give him a chance to succeed."

The District Attorney's office said it was unable to comment, as Browder's allegations are currently the subject of ongoing litigation.

Incidentally, Browder's claims about his experience at Rikers Island are consistent with findings from a recent report commissioned by the New York City Board of Correction. The report, obtained by The Associated Press, notes that the use of force by prison staff has more than tripled from 2004 to 2013, from seven incidents of force per 100 inmates, to almost 25. Additionally, the number of self-mutilation and suicide attempts by Rikers inmates have increased by 75 percent from 2007 to 2012. According to the report, 40 percent of the city jail's 12,200 inmates are mentally ill, and many of these inmates are placed in solitary confinement "holes" as punishment. 

Credit - Amanda Scherker

Monday, November 25, 2013

Almighty God Action Figure

Because your kids are never too young to learn God wants to smite you.

When one raises an eyebrow at the interpretation of the violent passages in the Old Testament, many will label you a heretic. Yet, I hope this depiction of "God Almighty" puts a pit in our stomach.

However, as the Peace Pastor comments, this is a "Sick. Twisted. Unbiblical. Repulsive. Completely American Protestant expression of how to 'reach' our kids for 'Christ.'"

New marketing ploy for Evangelical America: Appeal to our hankering for military-grade weapons and "a commitment to make someone bleed." Paint God as that.

And let's not even get into the fact that "God Almighty" is depicted as a white man.

So, do we chalk this up to: A clever joke, or another example of Fashioning God in Our Image?

[As the saying goes: "God created man in his own image. And man, being a gentleman...  returned the favor."]

To which are we more likely prone in America?

To quote Keith Giles' new prophetically written post, "America is an Empire, and like all Empires, America rules by death and fear and the sword. All while pretending she is for freedom and truth and democracy." Read the rest of America, Not Beautiful here, and then make up your mind on your own.

In the mean time, Benjamin Corey (of Formally Fundie) responds to "God Almighty" Action Figure with this reminder of who God is:

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
 he does not treat us as our sins deserve

or repay us according to our iniquities.”
-Psalm 103

Saturday, November 23, 2013

"Renisha McBride and the Imago Dei" by Drew Hart

If you don't know the name Renisha McBride, you may have missed the news story of the 19 year old woman who crashed her car and, injured from the wreck, sought help from a nearby residence, who was then fatally shot by the homeowner in what some are calling a case of self-defense gone wrong. Others are quick to point out that this may be a case of racial profiling: it's important to note that McBride is an African American woman; her shooter, a white male.

Blogger and professor, Drew Hart offers a Biblical-narrative lens for this modern-day tragedy. He writes:
...Racialized biases pervade every encounter in America. On top of that, black women always must confront not only being black, and not only being a woman, but being a black woman. Renisha McBride had to navigate this difficult space, and on November 2, 2013, it became a death-dealing space.
For anyone, who while gazing at a black woman, thinks they know her essence and nature instantaneously must now realize that Jesus still stands in deep solidarity with marginalized women. No matter how much we stigmatize black women, Jesus reminds us that they are made in the Image of God and therefore prophetically asks us all “Do you see this woman?”
His critical lens is an important one to develop as we interact with culture and news reports. If Jesus navigated contemporary American culture, who would he identify with? At which moments would he whisper, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like this."

Read the rest of Drew's blog as he imagines out loud "Do you see this woman"—as Jesus would?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Freedom Song Friday: "We Are America" - Esperanza Spaulding's New Music Video Protests Guantanamo Bay

Esperanza Spaulding — Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter — released a new video which levels its aims at Guantanamo Bay by raising awareness of the Guantanamo Bay inmate hunger strike, and pleads with Congress to shut down the prison. In her words:
What motivated you to start this whole project to begin with, what was the spark?
It was the first time I heard about the hunger strike. I was touring in Europe and I was appalled and embarrassed about what was happening. I remember I started researching online to see what I could do about it and I saw that I could download this action pack. With that you had some important info to use to call your representative. And I did, I did call my representative and Senators. In fact, I got a letter back from one Senator who basically said that she was not going to proactively deal with it but that they would ‘keep my comments in mind’, or something like that. But I really wanted to do more. And my band actually came to me first and said they wanted to do something too.

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