Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Matters of Faith:  Religion, Conflict, and Conflict Resolution
By Bridget Moix (taken from “The Handbook of Conflict Resolution”)
            “A brief survey of the most entrenched, deadly conflicts around the world suggests an urgent need for increased understanding of the role religion plays in human disputes.  From the Middle East to Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka to Sudan, the Balkans to Nigeria, from the poor Acholi region of Northern Uganda to the financial centers of New York City and London, the destructive power of religiously motivated violence has been a stark, horrific reality for people around the world.  Read more…

War Has Almost Ceased to Exist: An Assessment
By John Mueller
“In 1911, the eminent British historian, G.P. Gooch, concluded a book by elegiacally declaring that ‘we can now look forward with something like confidence to the time when war between civilized nations will be considered as antiquated as the duel, and when peacemakers shall be called the children of God.’  And in that year’s edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, Sir Thomas Barclay predicted, in the article on “Peace,” that ‘in no distant future, life among nations’ would be characterized by ‘law, order and peace among men.’“  Read more

Drones, Accountability and Authorized Use of Military Force
Blogs by Michael Shank

“Armed drones, at first blush, are a boon to America's military toolkit, as President Obama reinforced in his counterterrorism speech [recently]. Drones, in the short run at least, could mean fewer U.S. troops deployed and fewer American lives lost.”  Read entire blog here
More blogs from Michael Shank:

Friday, January 17, 2014

Martin Luther King and Loving Your Enemies

by Peter Slade

Just before Christmas, I read in the Guardian the surprising story of Anita Smith. She is the widow of Ronnie Smith, the American teacher in Benghazi shot down in the street by Islamic militants. The photograph accompanying the article shows an attractive young couple and their child in Austin, Texas: a scene utterly removed from the people and streets of Benghazi. The reason Anita  made headline news around the world is that she claimed in a CNN interview that “I don’t want any revenge --I want them to know that I do love them and I forgive them.” In her interview she explained why Ronnie and his family went to Benghazi, “He wanted to shine the light and the love of Jesus to the Libyan people . . . it was just about the love and forgiveness that we know from God.”
Anita acknowledged that her response to Ronnie's violent murder seemed unlikely: “It may sound crazy,” she told Anderson Cooper, “but it is God’s Spirit putting this inside of me.” The Spirit had led her to write a letter. “I want all of you--all of the people of Libya--to know I am praying for the peace and prosperity of Libya. May Ronnie's blood, shed on Libyan soil, encourage peace and reconciliation between the Libyan people and God.” When Cooper asked Anita how she would explain Ronnie’s death to their son Hosea, she said she will tell him, “There is no greater thing to live your life for than for Jesus.”My initial reaction was one of dismissal: how can her announcement have any grounding in reality? It seemed like a weird and inappropriate response; she is just saying what she thinks she has to say; she is falling back on religious platitudes. Does she even appreciate that these people might try and kill her too? How irrational, how naïve, how foolish.
I confess that my prejudices and presuppositions lay somewhere behind my incredulity.  I am used to hearing such things from Mennonites and Quakers, but it is not what I expect from a white evangelical from a large multi-campus, non-denominational church in Austin, Texas.
Analyzing my reaction, I realized there was more at work than my own prejudices. I realized that for me, the irrationality/naïveté/foolishness of loving your enemies only hit home when someone with enemies actually said they love them. I suspect this is true for others. After all, most of us play with the notion of loving and forgiving enemies far from the context of actually having to deal with enemies. I usually file this commandment away under the category How To Deal With Annoying People not under How to Respond to Someone Who Wants to Kill Me.
This Martin Luther King Day I would like to suggest that we need to revisit the well worn stories of Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement and ask ourselves why we don’t react to them with the same surprise and incredulity.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Drone Strikes and Daggers

By Dr. Craig Hovey

Last month we learned that a US drone strike on suspected Al-Qaida terrorists killed at least 13 people in Yemen who were on their way to a wedding. Many, perhaps all, were innocent.

Let’s talk morality. Too many of our public debates over violence and war are only legal debates, not moral ones. Discussing the second amendment in the gun debate is useful when debating law, but it is beside the moral point. After all, the first amendment legally protects your right to gossip, but doesn’t make it moral. Even though we will disagree on the particulars, let’s acknowledge that many more things are legal than are moral.

And nevermind accusations that the US drone program is illegal. But for now: What makes it immoral?