One major area which keeps me absent from churches these days: lack of dilalogue about war, and what to do as a a people to “stand apart” from this; even OTHER than attending mass demonstrations. What proclaims PEACE other than carrying signs that say PEACE or countering the nationalistic yard signs or by utting up “PEACE” or “No War” yard signs. What makes for what Stanley Hauerwas names a “Peaceable People”?
I think one clue is in the David Hilfiker article I linked to yesterday. It is systemic in many ways. Our role as God’s people is to be about the formation of a peaceable people by habit, and as a result , growing and forming people who are able to withstand the assumptions and indoctrinations of the culture which sees war as the “only answer”, even though it be cast as “regrettable” in some of the more liberal instances, or downright nationalistic and idolatrous in their support and justification in other cases.
The bottom line is that this subject is avoided like the plague in even “Progressive” churches. Somehow , the idea that Jesus “laid down his life willingly” rather than “respond in kind” or even advocate that OTHERS take up the call to respond in kind (he actually condemned that approach –ie. “Put away your sword”) is totally ignoed; co-opted by the majority of Christians, and even some denomination’s leadership (the Southern Baptist— I won’t lay that on all of their people, even though they share in that guilt by not questioning their leadership or raising their voices in protest.)
But even in churches outside of the sway of the Religious Right , there is a deafening silence.
I mentioned the formative processes above. These must be intentional. This goes much deeper than simply talking and perhaps having a book discussion on a Walter Wink or Daniel Berrigan book (even though I would like to be in one of those; as a part of an ingrained, disciplined, formative structure effort) . One way to add just one little piece to that effort would be for church’s blog or a church’s bloggers to carry that conversation out on the blogosphere, but there has to be a conversation of that nature actaully happening. If there is not, perhaps a blog would here be a way to get that conversation moving inside the walls of the church, from the encouragement or questioning of the individuals who are “talking church” in the extended conversations of blogs. Indiviudals who blog on this issue who also have churches where their people read one another’s blogs can , by this, provide an opportunity for that church to discuss and tackle this issue which members are blogging about. At the same time, churches can indicate a personal interest in the lives of their members who blog by actually reading the blogs as a valuable resource in getting to actually know that person. There have been numerous articles about “watching what your kids are doing on MySpace by going and reading”; by the same token, why can’t a church show a similar interest in following the journeys of their members who blog?
If the Cluetrain Manifesto, which is not a “church book” can recognize this basic fact of blogs as a window into what concerns people and what their passions are, why not the church, as an equipper and partner in the faith?