An actual conversation I had the other day

Me: (sitting at a picnic table in the sun reading Dale Brown’s Biblical Pacifism)

He: Pacifist? You’re a pacifist? At a Christian music festival? (we were at Cornerstone)

Me: Yes, for the first 300 years of the church’s existence they were very nearly universally committed to nonviolence and opposed to Christians participating in the military.

He: How can you be a Christian and believe in peace?

I was so stunned I didn’t even really know how to reply. I mumbled something about being not of this world, owing allegiance to a higher kingdom than the nations of this world, but I was in such disbelief over the statement of this person who claims to be (and surely is in his own way) a follower of Jesus that my coherent thought process was quite interrupted.

I’ve seen a shift in the fest over the past few years, in the seminars especially but also in the attitudes of a number of festival-goers, away from individualism and into a longing for community; away from blind adherence to the principle of “whatever works for the Republican Party” to a more critical engagement of politics (or at least disillusionment with the Party); away from a mainstream “youth group” attitude into a deeper searching for the mystery of God and the intersection of the spiritual and our this-worldly existence. This conversation reminded me that, even though some paradigm shifts are occurring, we still have a long way to go in communicating the fact that the Gospel of Christ is the proclamation of shalom and freedom from the cycle of chaoskampf politics by which one group is constantly struggling for power over another, even as others resist that power – the fact that our faith is rooted in Genesis, where God creates the world out of primal goodness, not violence (as in Enuma Elish), and the restoration of God’s goodness through the resurrection power of Christ, and not only in Exodus which, while a powerful story of God’s liberation that is highly relevant in this time for those who are oppressed, is only a part of the story and not the whole.

I don’t have a lengthy argument here; I’m just going to let it rest at that for now. I’m going to be away from the Internet for about a month probably, I may or may not have access at times while I’m away but it’s unlikely. That won’t really change much for this blog since I’ve only posted a few times a month lately (and not at all in June), but now at least you know I have a reason for not posting much in July. I keep up the hope that at some point I’ll be able to commit more thoughts to writing here, but for now I bid you charis and shalom and pray that the God of peace will be with you over the coming weeks, especially as so many USAmericans celebrate what they misguidedly call “freedom” on Thursday.

Don’t forget, if you haven’t done it yet, to register for the Jesus Radicals conference in August! Nekeisha Alexis-Baker and I will be presenting the “Anarchism and Christianity: A Primer” session.

Shalom to you.

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