So You Want to Give World Peace to Your Mother for Mother’s Day?

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

World Peace. Now there’s something your mother would love-the kids not fighting! But it will take some doing. FTD is not showing this item on their webpage. Hallmark may have a singing “What a Wonderful World” gift card. Good luck finding that one right now.

In the meantime-between War and Peace, that is-I suggest that you at least call mom and thank her for her wisdom, her support and her prayers on your behalf.

 

World Peace. If you think about it world peace comes when the world is ordered in such a way that man, a free moral agent, doesn’t repeat the history of self-centered reason leading to violence and to exclusion. I’ll tell you what I mean a little bit later in the post.

To better understand man’s secular attempts at world order read former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s new book “World Order.”

As a foreign diplomacy expert and an experienced and well-read confidant of several presidents and policy institutes, Kissinger provides the reader of “World Order” years of insight into centuries of cultures, societies and homogenous people groups that have formed political entities. In the aggregate, these entities whether during strife or in peace, would become known as the “world order.”

World Order by Henry Kissinger

World Order by Henry Kissinger

Out of a political will based mainly on reasons of security through power, countries with formal boundaries and armies would form. But, this did not happen without the give and take of diplomacy and frequent battles over territorial claims. The flux of national wills would determine the world order at any given moment.

Today’s tenuous world order, as viewed from the U.S., includes aggressive-always seeking to expand Russia, passive-aggressive imperial China, the tinder-box known as the Middle East and the ever obtuse North Korea.

Today’s world order also includes the incendiary radical Islamists who are central to Iran’s deployed political will of “do or die” theocracy. There are non-state terrorist groups aligned with Iran. All this and sectarian strife: neighbor against neighbor.

As I see it, the stability of today’s world order borders on chaos. Cyber black-hat communities and international terrorists may hack, steal, deface and destroy information systems necessary for a nation’s financial and political security. There are no territorial borders in cyberspace, no rules of engagement, no easily determined policy of retaliation and only a faint hope in a firewall as means of deterrence. As technology rapidly advances, Kissinger warns, so do the implications of world order rapidly taking a turn for the worst.

In talking about the role of internet as it affects human consciousness by tailoring truth to the user Kissinger notes, “Western history and psychology have heretofore treated truth as independent of the personality and the prior experience of the observer. Yet, our age is on the verge of a changed conception of the nature of truth…

The concept of truth is being relativized and individualized-losing its universal character. Information is being presented as being free. In fact, the recipient pays for it by supplying data to be exploited by persons unknown to him, in ways that further shape the information being offered to him”

On the same page Kissinger asks, “Where, in a world of ubiquitous networks, does the individual find the space to develop the fortitude to make decisions that by definition, cannot be based on consensus?

AND thanks to nebulous foreign policy decision-making by the Obama White House, nuclear proliferation is increasing! Nuclear armament is now considered a necessity by countries such as Sunni Saudi Arabia. The Saudi are concerned about Shia Iran and nuclear asymmetry.

Currently, U.S. foreign policy appears to be a policy based primarily on President Barack Obama’s vision of himself and his desired legacy. Could it be that Obama wants to see himself as egalitarian with Iran to the point of doing to Israel what he does to America over and over?

The only sure thing we have learned about Barack Obama’s World Order policies which effect both domestic and foreign issues is that Obama’s allegiance is to his far left political ideologies and has never been with America and its lessons-learned traditional values. Oh sure, nice ‘flowery’ speeches are made in kabuki theater-like moments but his passive-aggressive actions and his evocative denigrating words are reminders of his early-60’s radicalized mindset. He is not for peace. Obama is a divider of classes, races and genders. World Peace is the last thing on Obama’s mind. He wants “transformational change”, whatever that is. It could mean that the U.S. becomes the People‘s Republic of Obama.

Remember, Obama was mentored by radical leftists, leftists who pledged their allegiance to the “Goddamn America!” flag. Barack Obama was taught to denigrate America within a vision of world order that does not embrace our historical roots. Those roots are of no value to him.

Obama mentions Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King and yet has no clue as to the depth of moral character or the extent of sacrifice each of these larger than life men had brought to America. These two men so endeavored with their prayers and decisions to bring about reconciliation and peace, not Obamic division for political gain.

Obama’s “Dreams from My Father” reveals to us that he is always looking over his shoulder, looking for Jim Crowism, for colonialism, for unabashedly proud Americans. He wants to shame America and Israel into submission to his political will, a will that only knows a radicalized world order. Little wonder he ‘empathizes’ with the Iranians, giving them the benefit of many realized doubts. But, that’s enough writing about our lame-blame President. He will be out of office in twenty months. Mothers, rejoice!

 

  1. Let’s start over.

So you want to give World Peace to your mother for Mother’s Day? It will take some effort on your part to make this happen.

First I recommend to you Miroslav Volf’s book, “Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation”. This book is mentioned in a video within my post “The Problem of Evil, A Good God and a Different Way to Be Human“. N.T. Wright brings up the book while discussing forgiveness.

Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf

Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf

Here is one passage from the chapter, “Violence and Pain”:

The Enlightenment has left us with an alternative: either reason or violence. Nietzsche and his postmodern followers have demonstrated aptly that reason itself is violent (Nietzsche 1990, 43), adding in their honest moments the horrifying thought that violent reason can be transcended only in the violence of un-reason (Foucault 1988, 285). The cross of Christ should teach us that the only alternative to violence is self-giving love, willingness to absorb violence in order to embrace the other in the knowledge that truth and justice have been, and will be, up held by God. Does the cross teach us to abandon reason along with violence? Is its message that the immediacy of self-donation is the only antidote to the immediacy of violence? Certainly not. We cannot dispense with reason and discourse as weapons against violence. But the cross does suggest that the ‘responsibility of reason” can replace neither the “consciousness of sin” (Apel 1988, 17f) nor the willingness to embrace the sinful other. Instead, reason and discourse themselves need to be redeemed to the extent that they are implicated in the agnostic and sinful relations of power. Only those who are willing to embrace the deceitful and unjust as Christ has done on the cross, will be able to employ reason and discourse as instruments of peace rather than violence.” (emphasis mine)

Second, in the same video mentioned above N.T. Wright discusses forgiveness in light of Volf’s book.

Is forgiveness weakness? Is forgiveness capitulation of power, a loss of reason? Or, is forgiveness true power, true freedom and true embrace of the other. Is forgiveness the means to true World Peace?

Forgiveness is part of a larger reconciliation package: where evil has happened, it needs to named for what it is and in a sense shamed and then dealt with. “Where real evil has happened it needs to be addressed.” Forgiveness and reconciliation addresses what has actually happened. Within this context of embracing the “other” people are brought together. New life, new order is restored. Amazingly powerful and new possibilities including healing of communities will occur. World Peace ensues.

As Wright describes in the video, shutting the door of your heart to God’s forgiveness leaves us on inside looking out. I would add that a root of bitterness begins growing down through the floor boards making you decision to move through the growth to open the door difficult and then, later, almost impossible.

These are heavy concepts but you love your mother so take on these truths and become a peacemaker for Mother’s day.

“Blessings on the peacemakers! You’ll be called God’s children”-this Mother’s Day.

~~~

Added 8/12/2015: “Every politician who is involved in this (#IranDeal) will have blood on their hands.”

Exclusion & Embrace in the Garden of Good & Evil

Tomorrow, before I receive the Body and Blood of the Lord I will again kneel and pray the Lord’ s Prayer:

Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,

The power, and the glory,

For ever and ever.

Amen.

(Traditional, taken from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, 1662).

And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.

Wow, Lord, you want me to forgive that person or that group who has done me so much harm and who even now shows so much hatred towards me?!

When someone wrongs us often our first thought is to retaliate, to lash out and to return to the ‘other’ the same pain caused to us. But, then, at other times, our response may be to become silent and later, perturbable to others. We will constantly gripe and complain, projecting onto others the self-justifying anger and resentment that we bear from the original hurt. The inception of unreality quickly takes shape. It’s not the reality from above.

The story of revenge is as old as the Scriptures but Jesus put an end to this cycle of anger born out of an unforgiving spirit.

Think about the following words in the context of personal relationships and also in the unfolding drama of human relationships across the globe.  Global warming, as a public ‘issue’, is silly compared to the rage, hate and evil which turns brother against brother in a continuing cycle of violence.

Quotes from Miroslav Volf, Exclusion & Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation

“Forgiveness flounders because I exclude the enemy from the community of humans even as I exclude myself from the community of sinners. But no one can be in the presence of the God of the crucified Messiah for long without overcoming this double exclusion ~ without transposing the enemy from the sphere of monstrous inhumanity into the sphere of shared humanity and herself from the sphere of proud innocence into the sphere of common sinfulness. When one knows that the torturer will not eternally triumph over the victim, one is free to rediscover that person’s humanity and imitate God’s love for him. And when one knows that God’s love is greater than all sin, one is free to see oneself in the light of God’s justice and so rediscover one’s own sinfulness.” (p.124)

“Only those who are forgiven and who are willing to forgive will be capable of relentlessly pursuing justice without falling into the temptation to pervert it into injustice.” (p.123)

“When God sets out to embrace the enemy, the result is the cross. On the cross the dancing circle of self-giving and mutually indwelling divine persons opens up for the enemy; in the agony of the passion the movement stops for a brief moment and a fissure appears so that sinful humanity can join in (see John 17:21). We, the others ~ we, the enemies – are embraced by the divine persons who love us with the same love with which they love each other and therefore make space for us within their own eternal embrace.” (p.129)

Volf on the Parable of the Prodigal Son:  “relationship has priority over all [moral] rules” that reconciliation ~ the ultimate goal of justice – could be made complete.” (p.164)

“Without entrusting oneself to the God who judges justly, it will hardly be possible to follow the crucified Messiah and refuse to retaliate when abused. The certainty of God’s just judgment at the end of history is the presupposition for the renunciation of violence in the middle of it. The divine system of judgment is not the flip side of the human reign of terror, but a necessary correlate of human nonviolence. (p.302) (emphasis mine)

Also consider forgiveness as practiced…

Cornelia “Corrie” ten Boom (April 15, 1892 ~- April 15, 1983) was a Dutch Christian Holocaust survivor who helped many Jews escape the Nazis during World War II. Listen to her story here and this short video about her forgiveness.

How to stop evil:

“To triumph fully, evil needs two victories, not one. The first victory happens when an evil deed is perpetrated; the second victory, when evil is returned. After the first victory, evil would die if the second victory did not infuse it with new life.”

– Miroslav Volf
The End of Memory, Remembering Rightly In A Violent World

 *****

Romans 12:21: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

*****

“The only way to overcome evil is to let it run itself to a standstill because it does not find the resistance it is looking for. Resistance merely creates further evil and adds fuel to the flames. But when evil meets no opposition and encounters no obstacle but only patient endurance, its sting is drawn, and at last it meets an opponent which is more than its match.”

–Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Safe Distance

Myrna waited for the commuter at her usual spot. This morning, icy winter wind coursed down the tracks slamming up against her.  Trying to stay warm she shifted her weight back and forth.  Every so often she would turn her face into the wind in hopes of seeing the train’s headlight coming down the tracks.  At 5:39 the train arrived.  No one else had been waiting for the train. This fact seemed odd to her but the day, being the Monday after Christmas, she thought it was possible.

 She found her usual seat, a single on the upper deck, and settled in.  As she did, the train lurched forward, leaving the station. She hadn’t noticed a conductor when she boarded and from the empty seats it appeared that none of the regular passengers were on board. Looking down from her seat she did see a man with tattered dirty clothes.  He was bent over in his seat and rocking back and forth.

 The train ride to the city usually took an hour and ten minutes. Myrna pulled Flannery O’Connor’s The Complete Stories from her tote, found her place in the book and began reading. She had promised her son that she would read this book.

 The compilation of stories had been given to her on Christmas day.  Her son Ethan handed it to her just as he was telling her that he had become a Christian.  Myrna had been quite taken back by this news. She had thought that Ethan was an intellectual atheist just like herself.  She had raised him to be a well-adjusted man of the world.  She shuddered to think about gooeyness of religion smothering her son. 

 Though she had been raised a Lutheran, Myrna, later decided that Christianity had its place for the weak and dull of mind, for those not willing to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. She believed that learning was the key to life.  She went to night school.  She applied herself. Life was what you made it, she told herself.  And, she didn’t need a savior.  Saviors were for those who needed saving from themselves.  The savior myth of a dying god was just another story like Homer’s Iliad.  Her Literature teacher had told her so.

 And, Myrna certainly wasn’t going to waste time bending the knee and genuflecting before someone she couldn’t see and relate to. Besides, there were children in this world who are hurting.  Why would a god who is supposed to be love let such things happen to children?  She wouldn’t let bad things happen to her baby. In fact, she felt she was god enough for Elliot and for herself. Ethan was raised to respect knowledge.  Myrna had steeled him with a good college education. He was well-adjusted and not like his father.

 When the train arrived at the next stop Myrna looked out into the morning darkness and saw only blowing snow under street lights. She didn’t see any other movement.  No cars. No people. After a minute, the train started up again. She heard no one get on the train.

 Looking down from her seat, Myrna was able to see an old woman sitting behind the homeless man.  From the look of her clothes, the woman must have been destitute. She thought how strange to hear no one board the train and yet another passenger was sitting below. She brushed this off as not paying attention to what was happening and returned to my book.

 As the train headed east to the next stop she sat thinking about Ethan’s father. Ten years ago she divorced her son’s father.  She had had enough of the man.  Her son’s father thought himself a woman.  He wanted to live as a woman.  How absurd. Any fool, she thought, knows that DNA has the final word.  Why mess with a genetic constant. Does he think he’s god? 

 At the beginning of their marriage she did tell Ethan’s father that she had a friend who was transgendered but, she had no idea at that time that the children’s father was in the same mold.  As time went on she learned about him and decided that this relationship was not what she wanted.  He wasn’t of any use to her. She would have no part in him.  She didn’t want him. She decided that he was only good for the money he could provide. She told him, “I don’t want you. I want your money.”  She took him to court, divorced him and made him pay for what had become in her eyes a relationship with a freak of nature, a perverted third kind of person. She felt the divorce was the right thing to do:  “bar this miscreant from Myrna and the kids” is what her attorney told the judge.

 The matter was settled as far as Myrna was concerned.  She was not going to embrace “That THING!”  Just thinking about these things again filled her with more icy resolve.  She pulled her coat around her shoulders and returned to the book.

 Thumpety-thump.  Thumpety-thump. Thumpety-thump.

 After fifteen minutes, the train slowed down, pulling up to the next stop. As before, there was no movement, no sound. And, again, she looked around and saw another person now seated on the train.  This time it was a boy of about ten years of age. He sat down with the old woman. In front of them the homeless man sat rocking back and forth.  Myrna’s curiosity was awakened.  Do they let homeless people ride the train on cold winter days? She questioned to herself the sense of letting people ride a train who didn’t appear to have any money to pay for the ride. She thought, “I am paying for my ride and their rides.  Why isn’t the government paying for all of this?  With only a part time job and the monthly child support over, there is barely enough for me to get by. Why doesn’t somebody make this right? “

Except for the rocking tramp, the old woman and the youth the train was empty. Again Myrna wondered: “Is this a government holiday? Am I the only one going to work today?”  She quickly brushed this thought from her mind when she noticed across from her a young man seated, reading a newspaper.  “Where the hell did he come from?”  There hadn’t been any sound except for the train bell clanging and the constant thumpety-thump of the train running down the tracks.  The man appeared normal so Myrna felt better.  She now wished she had some coffee.  She wished her mind was stirred enough to discharge the other passenger phantasms.

 Another stop brought her closer to the city.  As the train came to a complete stop she turned her eyes from her book.  She peered down to the lower level, hoping to see if anyone came on board.  Yet, as before, there was no movement, no new passengers.  She put the book down on her lap.  There, right in front of her, sat a grey-haired woman. Myrna gasped.  The woman sat still, looking forward.  Myrna reached up and touched her shoulder, but there was no response.

 “Excuse me.  Is today a government holiday?” Myrna asked.

 No response.  Myrna then heard a whimper coming from down below.  The waif was now rocking back and forth, crying softly.  With a shudder, Myrna sarcastically wondered “How strange. Is this the train from hell?”  She couldn’t wait to get off the train and get to work.  She needed facts and figures, calculations and foundation plans to straighten her mind.  She looked down at her watch.  The time was 5:40 am!  The battery must have died, she thought.

 Holding her cell phone close to the window for a signal, Myrna called her boss.  His answering machine came on.  The deep voice reassured her.  He was a reasonable man her boss. He was smart and strong.  Well-adjusted.  She left him a voice message saying that she would be a little late.  She hung up and put the cell phone away. Looking up from her purse, she now saw a dozen people on the train’s upper deck: six people were sitting in a row directly in front of her and the frozen older woman. Six other people sat across the aisle sat facing them. No one was talking.  Their faces were dull, eyes barely open.

 Myrna’s heart began pounding.  Fear and anger flushed her face. She liked to be in control of things.  It was time for her to be at the station.  She wanted to get off the train, stretch her legs and get moving.  She needed circulation. She needed some fresh air. She needed to be at her desk with all her things around her just like before.

 The train lurched and then picked up speed.  Myrna leaned back into her seat no longer able to read.  Looking around she saw that every seat was now filled.  People were all around her but no one was talking.  It was deadly silent in the car.

 Thumpety-thump. Thmpety-thump.

 After a minute, the train braked and came to a sudden stop. Myrna turned her head to listen. She hoped the engineer would tell the passengers why the train had stopped. She was anxious to leave this theatre of the absurd.

 Looking through the window she saw a moonless black morning.  Out of habit she looked again at her watch.  5:40 am.  She knew that the train had been running for at least an hour, making the usual stops, and yet the train seemed to be no where near the downtown station. She wondered what the hold up was. She got up and walked down the tightly wound staircase to the first level of the train to see what was going on.

 Inside the coach vestibule, there was no one. No one could be seen in the other half of the coach.  No conductor asked for her ticket.  Myrna looked back into her car and saw the same lifeless people.  Nothing had changed.  It was good to be standing here, she thought, though not really sure that anywhere on this train was good. At that moment the north doors pulled opened and a gush of artic wind swept in.  In came a woman, a tall woman, who looked uncannily familiar.  Myrna thought she had seen those blue eyes and that pensive look somewhere before. Something clicked in Myrna but the thought soon vanished as the woman walked past her into the car where the others sat. 

 “Caution!  The Doors Are About To Close.” The booming voice on speakers warned.

 The tall woman sat down next to the homeless man.  He stopped rocking and sat up.

 Myrna, feeling peeved and not making sense of it all, decided to stay in the vestibule until the train reached the station.  No more foolishness for her, she reasoned, she must stay focused.

 With a loud clanging bell the train pulled into the station.  Myrna stood alone in the vestibule waiting for the doors to pull back. When they did, she stepped down and with a loud bothered sigh of relief said, “Thank God!”

 The station was empty.  The hallways and vendor shops were deserted.  Myrna, instead of being concerned, decided that she was beginning to like the peace and quiet.  She had become adjusted to the situation.  Her two feet felt strong under her.  It felt good and liberating to be walking to work.

 As she walked though the main lobby she felt as if she had left something behind.  An unnerving thought suddenly crossed her mind:  “Those eyes.  That look.  Ethan?  No, I am losing it.  Elliot lives in New York, she reminded herself.  Ethan is well-adjusted.  No. No. Absolutely Not.  And those people.  Did I know them? Haven’t I seen them before?  No.  No way.”  Without a further thought Myrna headed for the street door.

 Outside, wind-whipped snow lashed down empty streets and alleys, the air’s turbulence unleashing howling wraith-like gusts. The normally sun gilt buildings now stood before Myrna as dark and monstrous cyclopean structures.  With head down and jaw set Myrna pushed steadily onward towards work, disregarding the enduring chill she carried with her.

© Sally Paradise, 2011, All Rights Reserved

Exclusion & Embrace

Quotes from Miroslav Volf, Exclusion & Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation

“Forgiveness flounders because I exclude the enemy from the community of humans even as I exclude myself from the community of sinners. But no one can be in the presence of the God of the crucified Messiah for long without overcoming this double exclusion – without transposing the enemy from the sphere of monstrous inhumanity into the sphere of shared humanity and herself from the sphere of proud innocence into the sphere of common sinfulness. When one knows that the torturer will not eternally triumph over the victim, one is free to rediscover that person’s humanity and imitate God’s love for him. And when one knows that God’s love is greater than all sin, one is free to see oneself in the light of God’s justice and so rediscover one’s own sinfulness.” (p.124)

“Only those who are forgiven and who are willing to forgive will be capable of relentlessly pursuing justice without falling into the temptation to pervert it into injustice.” (p.123)

“When God sets out to embrace the enemy, the result is the cross. On the cross the dancing circle of self-giving and mutually indwelling divine persons opens up for the enemy; in the agony of the passion the movement stops for a brief moment and a fissure appears so that sinful humanity can join in (see John 17:21). We, the others – we, the enemies – are embraced by the divine persons who love us with the same love with which they love each other and therefore make space for us within their own eternal embrace.” (p.129

Volf & the Parable of the Prodigal Son:  “relationship has priority over all [moral] rules” that reconciliation – the ultimate goal of justice – could be made complete.” (p.164)

“Without entrusting oneself to the God who judges justly, it will hardly be possible to follow the crucified Messiah and refuse to retaliate when abused. The certainty of God’s just judgment at the end of history is the presupposition for the renunciation of violence in the middle of it. The divine system of judgment is not the flip side of the human reign of terror, but a necessary correlate of human nonviolence.” (p.302)