Saturday, August 27, 2005

the downward spiral of violence

proverbs say, 'with many words, transgression is unavoidable." this is a tough proverb for us all, but especially for those who talk a lot in mass media. if you keep up with the news even remotely, you have heard pat robertson's latest news making remarks about how the u.s. should "take out chavez" the current president of venezuela. this is how pat stated in on the video clip i saw from the 700 club at the cnn website: "You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop." though pat has attempted to clarify his words, on t.v. and his own website, and has apologized for his words, his remarks continue to echo throughout the world and illicit various responses.

media matters is calling on abc family to discontinue robertson's broadcasts that airs three times a day, while the helsingin sanomat the biggest daily subscription-based newspaper in scandinavia reports that "the finnish christian digital tv channel stops broadcasts of pat robertson's 700 club".

an article entitled "Furor erupts over Robertson's call for assassination" chronicles many responses to pat robertson's words, including responses from officials in venezuela. there have been various responses from the christian community as a whole. jim wallis at sojourners is calling for pat robertson to retire, in his article "Pat Robertson: An embarrassment to the church," while ted haggard is trying to be a peacemaker between the media and pat, as well as president chavez and u.s. missionaries. the bbc news reported that "the venezuelan government temporarily suspended permits for foreign missionaries on friday so regulations for preachers in the country could be tightened." christianity today chronicles different responses from other leaders in the christian community, as well as article entitled "Latin American Evangelicals' Life Just Got Harder" which shares some of the unfortunate damage that these words may inflict upon some evangelical christians in venezula. james talks about the tongue being like a small flame that sets a whole forest on fire.

proverbs says, "life and death is in the power of the tongue." in other words, our words make a difference, which is why we should take james' admonition and be slow to speak and quick to listen. when i read and think about all of these words and reaction to words, i am left thinking more deeply about the words i speak. more than that, about the meditation of my heart and what i really think about jesus' mission and the endless cycle of violence. for the mouth simply speaks from that which fills the heart. so what we think about violence may be the larger issue here. when i look at jesus' life, i see a man who conquered evil by laying down his life, not by picking up his sword. what does that mean for those of us who call ourselves christ-followers?

my recent studies in the gospel of mark have taught me a lot about jesus, his mission and his ways. it doesn't take long to realize how much jesus says through his actions, and so when jesus is casting out "legion" not only is he casting out demons, but through this very real and "symbolic action" jesus seems to be saying something about violence. for the roman army was broken up into what? legions. if you want to learn more about this, you can download this talk for free from the the resource page at kairos los angeles. you can find it under the series entitled "living in reality." the talk is entitled "traveling to the other side" and was given on june 26th, 2005. the issue of violence is addressed at the later part of the message, though best understood by listening to the entire message. there is obviously much more to understand about this difficult and controversial topic. which is why i have posted a listmania on books that have shaped my thoughts about nonviolence at amazon.

let me leave you with some words to ponder from martin luther king jr. - who seemed to understand the words and life of jesus in many profound ways, as well as the downward spiral of violence:

"Violence as a way of achieving justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than to convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers."


At 9:49 PM, Anonymous Tyler Krohn said...

JR, great thoughts. Dr. King always makes me go, "hmmmm." However, I must suggest that this issue of assasination that Pat Robertson has stirred doesn't seem so simple to me. At times leaders are left with the choice of assasinating a leader or committing troops and innocent civilians to the slaughter of war. If the spiral of violence is certain, which it often is, which path should be considered the "moral" path?

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At 2:34 PM, Blogger Jason Hesiak said...

Dear Mr. Tyler Krohn,

Obviusly, the issue is not a choice between assisination and war. The choice is between the kingdom of God (the creator, the giver of life) and the kingdom of Satan (the destroyer, the choker, the attacker). Christ gave his willing enough and faithful enough in bringing the kingdom of GOD to DIE, if nothing else simply becuase he was NOT willing to choose the ways of the destroyer. And Christ had the faith that God WOULD bring HIS way, without us having to take matters into our own hands (stealing God's position from Him, as we did with the first sin, all the rest are the same). Actually, of course, Christ WAS the coming of God's way, but that, for our purposes now, just raises the stakes, and is ALL THE MORE REASON to NOT see the narrow choice between assasination and war, but to see, truly, God's kingdom of peace, patience, love, humility, and kindness - come, HERE, NOW. That would mean NOT killing Chavez, and believing in God that His will will in fact be done (because it will)! To kill the guy, therefore, would simply be weakness and fear, not, of course, gifts of the Spirit.

Jason Hesiak


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