“HE WHO HAS EARS TO HEAR, LET HIM HEAR.”

    The following excerpts are taken from THE PRISM E-PISTLE, Wednesday, January 15, 2003 (Vol 5.2, published by Evangelicals for Social Action)

      1.”HE WHO HAS EARS TO HEAR, LET HIM HEAR.”

      “What part of ‘Thou shalt not kill’ did you not understand?” – a sign at the Oct. 26th peace march in Washington, D.C.

      “If Jesus is Lord, no other leader deserves unquestioned support.” – Gerald W. Schlabach in SOJOURNERS (Jan/Feb 2003)

      “In the days ahead we must not consider it unpatriotic to raise certain basic questions about our national character. We must begin to ask, ‘Why are there 40 million poor people in a nation overflowing with such unbelievable affluence? Why has our nation placed itself in the position of being God’s military agent on earth…? Why have we substituted the arrogant undertaking of policing the whole world for the high task of putting our own house in order?'” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

      “Thus says the Lord: ‘Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; but let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord; I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight,’ says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

      “There is no one who is righteous, not even one; there is no one who has understanding, there is no

      one who seeks God. All have turned aside, together they have become worthless; there is no one who

      shows kindness, there is not even one. Their throats are opened graves; they use their tongues to

      deceive. The venom of vipers is under their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery are in their paths, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-18)

      “Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly…” (James 4:1-3)

      ***

      “We are challenged to rid our nation and the world of poverty…we must find an alternative to war and bloodshed…It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either

      nonviolence or nonexistence,…and the alternative to strengthening the United Nations and thereby

      disarming the whole world may well be a civilization plunged into the abyss of annihilation.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Washington National Cathedral on March 31, 1968

      ***

      5.THE LOUD LITTLE HANDFUL, by Mark Twain.

      The loud little handful – as usual – will shout for the war. The pulpit will – warily and cautiously – object… at first. The great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, “It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it.”

      Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded, but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the antiwar audiences will thin out and lose popularity.

      Before long, you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech

      strangled by hordes of furious men…

      Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and

      every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and

      refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-

      deception.

      6.GOOD NEWS FOR PEACE, from MoveOn.org

      THERE’S STILL TIME TO STOP A U.S.-LED WAR ON IRAQ. The Bush administration has sought a U.N. mandate

      for war, due in large part to mounting domestic and international pressure. Despite U.S. pessimism,

      Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has agreed to U.N. weapons inspections, which haven’t found anything

      significant so far. It’s thus still possible that war on Iraq can be averted.

      In response to the threat of war, the global peace movement continues to grow. Massive demonstrations continue to be held around the world. Some activists have traveled to Iraq to act as observers and human shields. A peace group in Canada has even committed to sending a group of citizen weapons inspectors to the U.S., holding the country accountable for it’s double standards about weapons of mass destruction. ( http://www.rootingoutevil.org/index.php3/Home )

      According to a recent poll by the LOS ANGELES TIMES, most Americans don’t believe that a war on Iraq is justified. The poll concluded that “72 percent of respondents, including 60 percent of Republicans, said Bush has not provided enough evidence to justify starting a war with Iraq,” and “63 percent of respondents said war would be justified only if the United Nations finds a pattern of serious violations by Iraq, while just 22 percent agreed with the administration’s position.”

      ( http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/12/17/MN126102.DTL )

      Many major U.S. cities are signing resolutions opposing war on Iraq. For a list of cities that have

      passed resolutions, and more information on the campaigns behind them, see: http://www.citiesforpeace.org .

      The U.S. peace movement is far more diverse and technologically savvy than past peace movements.

      perhaps the best news is that massive demonstrations have already been held before any U.S. soldiers

      begin dying in Iraq, while in Vietnam, it took many American deaths to begin fueling opposition.

      ( http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=14874 )

      The antiwar movement in the U.S. has made the leap from the left to the mainstream. The work of groups such as MoveOn has helped make this happen.

      ( http://www.salon.com/politics/feature/2002/12/12/peace/index_np.html )

      Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize in what has been widely interpreted as a direct challenge to President Bush’s policies. Nobel committee chairman Gunnar Berge stated that the award “can and must also be seen as criticism of the line the current U.S. administration has taken on Iraq.” ( http://www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/europe/10/11/carter.nobel )

      (Originally published in the MoveOn Peace Bulletin, International Edition, 1/8/03, by Susan V. Thompson, Editor – http://www.MoveOn.org )

      7.THE UNSEEN GULF WAR: A photo essay, by Peter Turnley.

      “War is at best a necessary evil, and I am certain that anyone that feels differently has never

      experienced or been in it. I have always hoped that true images of conflict give one the opportunity to witness and reflect more fully on the full realities of war. After covering many conflicts around the world in the past 20 years and witnessing much human suffering, I feel a responsibility to try to contribute to making sure with my images that no one that sees the brutal realities of conflict, ever feels that war is comfortable and/or convenient…”

      To view the photo essay and respond to the photographer, go to http://www.digitaljournalist.org/issue0212/pt01.html

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      8.ON PREACHING THE TRUTH ABOUT WAR, by Tony Campolo.

      A number of prominent evangelical leaders have declared that attacking Iraq would be to enter a

      “just war.” If nothing else, I admire their certitude. They have no doubt that this war is

      moral and that God is on our side. I am not so sure. Jesus said that we must count the cost before

      going to war and I fear this coming war could cost us dearly.

      The first casualty of any war is truth. Inevitably each side cloaks itself in myths of righteousness. The Iraqis must believe Saddam’s propaganda, and we believe our president when he calls us to “go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in the world,” even as we had to believe his father when he called us “to free Kuwait.” Of course, most of us now believe that the Gulf War was more about oil than it was about freedom. Is this war really so different? Does America really represent all that is good and just in the world?

      In order to fight, a nation must also demonize its

      enemy. For this task, unfortunately, we again have

      the help of some of our clergy. On television, I

      recently heard one prominent evangelist say that

      Islam itself is evil; and another say that Mohammed

      was a pedophile. There are others who are

      suggesting that Muslims are hate-filled people who

      affirm terrorism and pray for the decimation of the

      United States. Such lies serve a terrible purpose.

      Only by demonizing our enemies can we kill them with

      impunity.

      The humanity of our ‘enemies’ doesn’t seem to register with many Christians these days. I heard one evangelical leader say that Desert Storm was carried out with a minimum number of casualties. Of course, he was referring only to U.S. casualties, because in the context of war those on the other

      side don’t matter. Only our dead matter.

      Actually, there were 35,000 civilians killed during Desert Storm. I’m grateful for the many other

      Christian leaders proclaiming that God is no respecter of persons and has as much love for Iraqis

      as he does for Americans. When Iraqis or Americans die, God weeps.

      Another way the truth suffers is when, in preparing for war, we practice a kind of collective national amnesia. Only by forgetting the past can we free ourselves to repeat it. Right now we are

      forgetting, or at least minimizing, the horrors of Vietnam. Of that conflict, historian Philip Capulo wrote, “We believed we were there for a high moral purpose. But, somehow our idealism was lost, our morals corrupted, and our purpose forgotten.” Those of us old enough to remember know all too well what those words mean. Our religious leaders must not glorify our past or tempt the young men and women who will fight this war with visions of heroism. This is not World War II. Our soldiers will not be Saving Private Ryan. And even if they were their young souls would still be at risk. Preachers should tell the truth about what happens to soldiers.

      Any and every war exposes the awful capacity for evil that lies within even the best of us. Former

      Senator Bob Kerry was given the Medal of Honor for what we called his heroism in Vietnam; however he

      only found deliverance from his repressed guilt and shame after admitting that he led a combat mission that killed more than 20 unarmed civilians, most of whom were women and children. We try to convince ourselves that such atrocities are anomalies, but in reality they are far more typical than is ever admitted by those who would make war. It is too easy for us to forget what happens to young recruits who go into battle, and to ignore the fact that more than half of the listless, disillusioned homeless on our streets are veterans. Again, we preachers must tell the truth.

      When I consider the realities of war, I wonder whether the good which may be achieved can ever

      outweigh the evil that is sure to come. Perhaps it would be best for preachers to admit, as did the

      theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, that the choice is not between the moral and the immoral, but between the immoral and the less moral. And, please let us not talk about a just war anymore.

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      PRISM encourages Christians to live out the whole of the gospel with the whole of their lives. The PRISM E-pistle is the bi-weekly ezine of PRISM Magazine and Evangelicals for Social Action. It is sent out the first and third Wednesdays of every month. To subscribe to the PRISM E-pistle, send a blank message to mailto:PrismEpistle-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Tell your friends (and enemies!). To stop receiving the PRISM E-pistle at any time, send a blank message to mailto:PrismEpistle-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com.