During the hours of my sleep how will God prepare to use my obedience, service and speech when morning breaks? I go to sleep to get out of the way for awhile. I get into the rhythm of salvation. While we sleep great and marvelous things are happening, things far beyond our ability to create. Then when we rise, our work can settle into the context of God’s work. Our human work can be integrated into God’s holy work.
~ Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places (via Inward/Outward)
NEW YORK—Responding to recent events on Earth, God, the omniscient creator-deity worshipped by billions of followers of various faiths for more than 6,000 years, angrily clarified His longtime stance against humans killing each other Monday.
"Look, I don't know, maybe I haven't made myself completely clear, so for the record, here it is again," said the Lord, His divine face betraying visible emotion during a press conference near the site of the fallen Twin Towers. "Somehow, people keep coming up with the idea that I want them to kill their neighbor. Well, I don't. And to be honest, I'm really getting sick and tired of it. Get it straight. Not only do I not want anybody to kill anyone, but I specifically commanded you not to, in really simple terms that anybody ought to be able to understand."
Worshipped by Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike, God said His name has been invoked countless times over the centuries as a reason to kill in what He called "an unending cycle of violence."
"I don't care how holy somebody claims to be," God said. "If a person tells you it's My will that they kill someone, they're wrong. Got it? I don't care what religion you are, or who you think your enemy is, here it is one more time: No killing, in My name or anyone else's, ever again."
The press conference came as a surprise to humankind, as God rarely intervenes in earthly affairs. As a matter of longstanding policy, He has traditionally left the task of interpreting His message and divine will to clerics, rabbis, priests, imams, and Biblical scholars. Theologians and laymen alike have been given the task of pondering His ineffable mysteries, deciding for themselves what to do as a matter of faith. His decision to manifest on the material plane was motivated by the deep sense of shock, outrage, and sorrow He felt over the Sept. 11 violence carried out in His name, and over its dire potential ramifications around the globe.
"I tried to put it in the simplest possible terms for you people, so you'd get it straight, because I thought it was pretty important," said God, called Yahweh and Allah respectively in the Judaic and Muslim traditions. "I guess I figured I'd left no real room for confusion after putting it in a four-word sentence with one-syllable words, on the tablets I gave to Moses. How much more clear can I get?"
"But somehow, it all gets twisted around and, next thing you know, somebody's spouting off some nonsense about, 'God says I have to kill this guy, God wants me to kill that guy, it's God's will,'" God continued. "It's not God's will, all right? News flash: 'God's will' equals 'Don't murder people.'"
Worse yet, many of the worst violators claim that their actions are justified by passages in the Bible, Torah, and Qur'an.
"To be honest, there's some contradictory stuff in there, okay?" God said. "So I can see how it could be pretty misleading. I admit it—My bad. I did My best to inspire them, but a lot of imperfect human agents have misinterpreted My message over the millennia. Frankly, much of the material that got in there is dogmatic, doctrinal bullshit. I turn My head for a second and, suddenly, all this stuff about homosexuality gets into Leviticus, and everybody thinks it's God's will to kill gays. It absolutely drives Me up the wall."
God praised the overwhelming majority of His Muslim followers as "wonderful, pious people," calling the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks rare exceptions.
"This whole medieval concept of the jihad, or holy war, had all but vanished from the Muslim world in, like, the 10th century, and with good reason," God said. "There's no such thing as a holy war, only unholy ones. The vast majority of Muslims in this world reject the murderous actions of these radical extremists, just like the vast majority of Christians in America are pissed off over those two bigots on The 700 Club."
Continued God, "Read the book: 'Allah is kind, Allah is beautiful, Allah is merciful.' It goes on and on that way, page after page. But, no, some assholes have to come along and revive this stupid holy-war crap just to further their own hateful agenda. So now, everybody thinks Muslims are all murderous barbarians. Thanks, Taliban: 1,000 years of pan-Islamic cultural progress down the drain."
God stressed that His remarks were not directed exclusively at Islamic extremists, but rather at anyone whose ideological zealotry overrides his or her ability to comprehend the core message of all world religions.
"I don't care what faith you are, everybody's been making this same mistake since the dawn of time," God said. "The Muslims massacre the Hindus, the Hindus massacre the Muslims. The Buddhists, everybody massacres the Buddhists. The Jews, don't even get me started on the hardline, right-wing, Meir Kahane-loving Israeli nationalists, man. And the Christians? You people believe in a Messiah who says, 'Turn the other cheek,' but you've been killing everybody you can get your hands on since the Crusades."
Growing increasingly wrathful, God continued: "Can't you people see? What are you, morons? There are a ton of different religious traditions out there, and different cultures worship Me in different ways. But the basic message is always the same: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Shintoism... every religious belief system under the sun, they all say you're supposed to love your neighbors, folks! It's not that hard a concept to grasp."
"Why would you think I'd want anything else? Humans don't need religion or God as an excuse to kill each other—you've been doing that without any help from Me since you were freaking apes!" God said. "The whole point of believing in God is to have a higher standard of behavior. How obvious can you get?"
"I'm talking to all of you, here!" continued God, His voice rising to a shout. "Do you hear Me? I don't want you to kill anybody. I'm against it, across the board. How many times do I have to say it? Don't kill each other anymore—ever! I'm fucking serious!"
Upon completing His outburst, God fell silent, standing quietly at the podium for several moments. Then, witnesses reported, God's shoulders began to shake, and He wept.
Greg Boyd has posted on his participation in Christiane Amanpour’s CNN documentary entitled God’s Warriors. (I'm going to need to track that one down on the net as I missed it.) Make sure to read the whole thing, but here's an excerpt:
Jesus was a revolutionary on social issues, so his followers are to be
revolutionaries on social issues. Jesus entered into solidarity with
the poor, so his followers are to enter into solidarity with the poor.
Jesus revolted against racism by the countercultural way he treated and
spoke about non-Jews, so his followers are to revolt against all forms
of racism. Jesus revolted against classism by the way he embraced
social and religious “rejects,” so his followers are to revolt against
classism. Jesus revolted against sexism by the counter-cultural way he
treated women -- even women of ill-repute -- so his followers are to
revolt against sexism. Jesus revolted against legalistic religion that
oppressed people, so his followers are to revolt against legalistic
religion that oppresses people.
Jesus was a radical social
activist, so his followers must be the same. It’s just that Jesus never
once placed any trust in the government of his day to address social
issues. He rather just addressed social issues by how he lived and
taught. So too, we who are Jesus' followers are to place no trust in
government to address social issues. We’re simply called to address
them by how we live.
Following Jesus’ example, we’re to place
our trust in the power of the cross – the power of self-sacrificial
love – not the power of the sword. We’re to trust the power of Calvary,
not Caesar. And this is why I believe those who spend their time and
energy trying to control the political arena “in Jesus name” are
profoundly missing the point. Our job is to love, serve and sacrifice
for sinners – not argue about passing laws against them. For we are to
know that, whatever sin we see in others, our sin is much worse (Mt.
"Jesus was a revolutionary on social issues, so his followers are to be revolutionaries on social issues." We could stop right there and spend the rest of our lives contemplating, and more importantly acting on that one, as Christendom in my view has sold out to Rome (or is Rome) a long, long time ago. One of the things we talk about in our Streams of Justice group is the fact that dissent, or disagreement, is such a foreign concept to Christians--we're all so busy trying to be nice. What's it going to take to understand that it's OK to be against something?
Oddly enough, as I've been watching the goings on in Quebec I've also been reading Naomi Klein's Fences and Windows. As the People of God we have a lot to learn. Lest we lull ourselves into believing Rome is receptive to voices of dissent, check out this story from the CBC which Brian added in a comment to the previous post. (Also see the Globe's take, and the YouTube video.)
I'm reminded of Walter Brueggemann's thoughts from The Prophetic Imagination, where he speaks of "compassion as criticism." I would add to that the notion of "protest as compassion". So I believe Boyd is right - we must first and foremost speak out through our living differently. However, we must also speak out directly. Like Boyd, I don't believe we should rely on the government to do it right. But, I must also speak out when I believe they are doing it wrong. If we're not part of the solution, we are part of the problem. We must refuse to participate in these systems, and unfortunately silence is participation. If we remain silent in the face of injustice we are implicitly supporting the system of injustice. There is no neutral ground here.
Perhaps I'm gaining an appreciation for the idea that persecution can come with following Jesus.
"George Bush and Felipe Calderon joined Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for a few days at Montebello, Quebec to talk about trade, global warming, and according to Linda McQuaig, secret plans to divert Canadian water to the States. Of course, the protesters are out in force, and the Mounties have surrounded the joint. Brian Gable of the Globe got it right in his clever editorial cartoon. ::Globe and Mail"
As an introvert I’ve previously expressed my misgivings regarding the unavoidable conclusion that transformation only occurs in community. Alas, sometimes I wish I could stay home and read a book, or take a pill, and be changed, but it just isn’t so. Transformation is the key to the Kingdom. And so in our little faith community we’ve been focusing on this issue of transformation; what Jesus had to say about it, the theories behind it, but also the practical aspects of it. What do we need to do? Much of our collective experience has taught us that we can’t wait until we feel ready for the next step, as that feeling may never come. (This is particularly true if that next step is in opposition to the status quo. It seems like the universe just doesn’t want us to change, to question, to rock the boat, to wake up.) Sometimes we need to step out and take that the plunge. When we do we may experience that unsettling sensation of not feeling anything under feet, but it usually passes as our brains and hearts catch up to our new reality.
We’re also big proponents of sacred space. As one who often rails against the false dichotomy of the sacred and the secular, this may sound like a contradiction, but I don’t believe this is the case. While there is no secular, no place where God isn’t, our experience has shown us that it is possible to be more intentional about creating space where God’s presence seems more readily felt. For the past 4 ½ years Sue and I have been living in 720 square feet of space. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very nice place, and we’ve been fortunate to have it. But it is small, and it doesn’t really allow for creating any sacred space separate from the main living area. After this much time it feels like the walls are starting to close in on us.
And so, for the past six months we’ve been looking for a new place. And yet…
Because of the stratospheric nature of the property market here in BC we’ve had to look at older places, and places off the North Shore , and places farther out. Needless to say we’ve had little luck. More to the point, however, it just hasn’t felt right. As self-righteous as it may sound, the thought of taking time and resources to meet our own needs in such a major way hasn’t been sitting right with me. All I can say is my heart has not been in the process.
And then it hit me.
In reality I’m sure it hit Sue a long time ago, but she’s been waiting for me to come to the same conclusion. In our circle we’ve been talking around the idea of communal living as the next step in the journey. In some ways it’s been a safe conversation to have. After all, we’re just talking. We’re not actually going to do it, right?
This fall Sue and I are moving in with Jen, Pete, Daniel (age 12) and Sarah (age 10).
We’re going to experiment with what it means to live together. We’ll have (some) common meals, and biweekly house meetings where everyone gets to speak up. Sustainability is also going to be a big emphasis: recycling, composting, gardening… we’re determined to shrink our environmental footprint.
Lest anyone think I’ve completely abandoned my capitalistic roots, this move also makes sense economically. We’re selling our place while the market is red-hot. If we were to buy somewhere else it would take everything we had. This way we’re freeing up resources for other uses.
We’re going to try our best to document our adventures in living at Delta House (we’ll be living in Delta, BC.)