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Artwork by Paul Milliman

 

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What do I communicate to a man about the love of God by being willing to consider him an enemy? What do I say about personal responsibility by agreeing to consider him my enemy when it is only the hazard of birth that causes us to live under different flags? What do I say about forgiveness if I punish him for the sins of his rulers? How is it reconcilable with the gospel—good news—for the last word in my estimate of any man to be that, in a case of extreme conflict, it could be my duty to sacrifice his life for the sake of my nation, my security, or the political order which I prefer?

The idea that human life is intrinsically sacred is not a specifically Christian thought. But the gospel itself, the message that Christ died for His enemies, is our reason for being ultimately responsible for the neighbor’s—and especially the enemy’s—life. We can only say this to him if we say to ourselves that we cannot dispose of him according to our own will.

Taken from The Original Revolution by John Howard Yoder, 41 – 42

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Jesus Addresses the Universal Desire for Celebrity

JESUS SAID TO THE CROWDS AND TO HIS DISCIPLES, Do not do as the scribes and the Pharisees do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.

They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi.

But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one father—the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matthew 23:1–11)

A DISPUTE AROSE AMONG THE DISCIPLES as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But Jesus said to them, The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. (Luke 22:24–27)

I HAVE COME IN MY FATHER’S NAME, and you do not accept me; if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God? (John 5:43–44)

Access my previous post on this topic here.

 

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The Myth of Justified Violence: Many of Us Have Been Brainwashed From Childhood

by Dennis Byler

For as far back as there are written records of civilization, people have been fed the myth of “justified violence” from earliest childhood. The classic presentation of this myth is the story of the reluctant hero who resists his sacred duty, established by the gods, to defend the defenseless and protect the weak. In this tale, the unmitigated evil and villainy of those who do not respect life eventually compels the hero to come to his senses, avenge innocent victims and slay the evildoers. And at that point the gods intervene to right every wrong and bring forth a new age of peace and prosperity.

This plot is easily recognized in literature and film. It is conscientiously worked into children’s stories, helping shape their moral attitudes. As a children’s story, the plot sticks to its purest form in Disney’s The Lion King. Perhaps the most memorable film version is the 1952 movie High Noon, in which the pacifist convictions of Quakers are shown to be wickedly irresponsible in the face of the real, nitty-gritty evil in this world. It is also the plot of many other films, such as Braveheart and The Patriot, and much of television.

About 13,000 years ago, humanity adopted agriculture and animal husbandry, and populations grew to the point where, for the first time, large concentrations of people dwelt together in close proximity. About that time true warfare arose (as opposed to the occasional skirmish involving small numbers of nonprofessional fighters). At this time also religion arose (as opposed to a haphazard collection of beliefs and superstitions). One of the functions of religion has always been its usefulness for making this most unnatural (actually bizarre) behavior of warfare seem necessary and unavoidable. For these purposes, I include as “religion” more recent, superficially secular, phenomena such as nationalism, fascism, communism and many other ideologies. These substitute some abstraction other than gods, yet they are religious in the power of the loyalty they inspire, a loyalty so emotional, unquestionable, worshiped and beloved as to motivate people not only to lay down their lives but be willing to kill.

Exceptional individuals will always be willing to die for others, and to kill as well; but the willingness to do so on a massive scale, and for such abstract causes as justice or nation or peace or God, requires the whole society to be mobilized to indoctrinate its individuals from earliest childhood with moral tales along the lines of The Lion King.

The myth of justified violence is everywhere. It is so pervasive and unavoidable as to amount to systematic, continual brainwashing. It is the most consistent and constant moral grounding found in TV programming. Its repetition is so unceasing, it ends up being taken for unshakable moral truth. The myth of justified violence is so irresistible in its ceaseless repetition, so foundational to our earliest training in human values, morals and attitudes, that most Christians are unaware of how profoundly pagan, how unChristian or anti-Christian, this myth is. (more…)

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Recent tweets by Paul Milliman:

“The key to success is found in failing.” June 16, 2010

“I am not a creative person. I just embrace mistakes.” June 12, 2010

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