Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Where Have You Gone, Ralph Bunche?

In an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times, http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0802-30.htm Erin Aubrey Kaplan contrasts the horrible approach to “peacemaking” by Condaleeza Rice with that of Ralph Bunche, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950 for securing an armistice between Israel and the Arabs. Bunche, the first African American to win the Nobel Peace Prize, had turned down an appointment as Asst. Sec. of State because he would not live in Washington, D.C.’s segregated housing. He helped to form the United Nations and became Under-Secretary for the former colonies as they came under UN “trusteeship” on the way to independence. When Israel was formed in 1948, every Arab nation declared war, seeing Israel as a Western colonial force. There seemed no chance to get any co-existence between Israel and her Arab neighbors, but Bunche’s armistice held until the Six Day War in 1967.

When did the U.S. stop producing brilliant diplomats like Bunche who could make peace? When did we get to the place where we can only make war? We say that we are “spreading democracy,” but that doesn’t seem to be what we are spreading: death, pain, hatred, sectarian strife, civil war, instability. Are these now our only legacies? Are there no Ralph Bunche’s left among us?

Dear God, we thank-you for the life of Ralph Bunche, political scientist, sociologist, diplomat and peacemaker. We ask for you to raise up his like today for we sorely need folk in his mold. Amen.


August 4, 2006 Posted by | foreign policy, heroes, peacemaking | 1 Comment

Books Not Bombs to the Middle East

Faithful America, the online peacemaking program of the National Council of Churches, USA,
is launching a campaign through Church World Service to buy school supplies for Lebanese children. School as it has previously been known will probably not resume for Lebanese children for some time, but Church World Service is partnering with the Middle East Council of Churches to give as much a semblance of sanity and order to these children’s lives as possible. (I only hope for similar campaigns for the children of the Gaza Strip who are continuing to suffer while global attention is focused on Lebanon.) While this may seem like a small action amidst the spiral of violence, I believe all creative campaigns like this should be supported. These are “creative transforming initiatives” for peace as my mentor, Glen Stassen is fond of saying. You can read more about the program
and take action to support it here: http://www.faithfulamerica.org/article.php?id=78
and, if you have an mp3 player, you can listen to the conversation between Faithful America’s Vince Isner and Aline Papazian, a Lebanese relief worker with the Middle East Council of Churches here: http://www.cyprop.com/faithfulamerica/alinecall.mp3 .

Dear God who blesses peacemakers and not warriors, help us find ways to be peacemakers, now.

August 4, 2006 Posted by | books, peacemaking | 6 Comments

Addicted to Militarism: Israel and the U.S.

Robert Scheer writes about Israel’s addiction to the drug of militarism here: http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0802-20.htm It’s true enough and is fueling the current crises in Gaza and Lebanon, although Scheer fails to mention that Israel’s enemies seem equally addicted to violence–in a spiral of mutually reinforcing addiction. But the real enabler of Israel’s addiction is her supplier, the U.S.A. According to Ru Freeman, the U.S. gives $ 15,139, 178 per day to the Israeli military. (See http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0803-24.htm ). And, as with many suppliers of drugs, we are at least as addicted to militarism as Israel, as Dwight David Eisenhower warned (http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/indust.html ) so many years ago.

Is there a Betty Ford clinic for nations addicted to militarism? Maybe a 5-step program, a War-Mongers Anonymous? Hmm. The first step is to recognize a problem. Can we in the U.S. and Israel recognize our addiction–always seeking military solutions first to any problem–can we recognize we are sick? Can the world survive until we get better? Maybe the world is seeking an Al-Anon: Living with powerful nations like Israel and its supplier the U.S., militarism addicts?

Dear God, you are the only Higher Power who can deliver us now. Come to us in compassion and heal us, we pray.

August 4, 2006 Posted by | Israel, peacemaking, U.S. politics | Comments Off on Addicted to Militarism: Israel and the U.S.

Why Be Baptist?

Dr. Jim West has been writing a series of brief posts, “Why I Am a Baptist” over on his Petros Baptist Church blog. I’ve been following them and they are great in their brevity and clarity. They are not attacks on other parts of the Body of Christ (Jim’s huge admiration for the Reformer Huldrich Zwingli and the Lutheran NT scholar Rudolf Bultmann alone would prevent THAT kind of “we’re better Christians than you are” triumphalist nonsense.) but testimonies about the traditional strengths of this Christian tradition. Here’s a link to the entire excellent 6-part series:

Enjoy them and, gentle reader, if you are from some other Christian tradition, consider why you are United Methodist or Lutheran, Church of God, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, “Old” Catholic, African Methodist Episcopal, or whatever denomination or tradition within the Body of Christ you occupy. Why are you this kind of Christian instead of some other? If you feel like sharing those reasons with others, let me know. This could be a blogfest form of a liturgical practice we Baptists call “testimony.”

If, gentle reader, you are of some other faith or no faith at all, feel free to share that, too. For how else shall we learn of each other except to share?

August 4, 2006 Posted by | Baptists | 2 Comments