Political or Spiritual?

28 09 2006

I wrote this piece for the in faith column of our local Sunday paper for this week. I wonder if you have any comment.

The War against Terror is approaching its sixth year. Following the atrocities or the 9th of September 2001 the response made by George Bush was not long in coming. Invasion of Afghanistan in order to Osma Bin Laden (still free), the Invasion of Iraq to chase Weapons of Mass Destruction (still not found), the heartbreak of terrorist murders in our capital and the more recent action of Israel against “terrorists” and the Lebanese people (not spoken against). The War against Terror has brought more terror, murder, destruction, widows, orphans and death as the cost of the U.S to “protection” of its people. The unequivocal support of our Prime minister, Tony Blair, and the Labour government in meeting terror with terror has caused many to despair over the blinkered use of violence that has caught up the innocents in its enormity.

Before the Labour Party Conference in Manchester last week I joined with the tens of thousands of people who converged on Manchester to show their opposition to the continuing fruitless use of violence to combat terrorism. But I was dismayed to see among the organised groups attending from Islamic, Socialist and Marxist groups, few Christians. I was dismayed because my belief is in the responsibility we own as people of faith to speak out. We are to stand with those who are subject to the oppression and violence of others. Christianity, Judaism and Islam share a common foundation in the faith of the Hebrew prophets. Isaiah said, in the way of the prophet to speak for God, “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” (Isaiah 1:15-17 NIV)
While you may think that such protest is unavoidably political, I would argue that to protest is unavoidably spiritual. Our religion must be substantiated by our view of the world and how we treat those who are oppressed by the actions of others.

The most powerful impact of the march against the War for me was when the shouting and drum beating stopped and we held a mass “die in.” In those minutes I reflected on the loss of life of innocents seen as “collateral damage” by the hawks of Washington and Westminster. I thought of my own children and how precious their small lives are to me. I mourned for the loss of life taken by the fear, hatred and violence of people who would better serve their cause by seeking peace through dialogue with their “enemy”. I prayed for a better world free from violence and fear for the widows and orphans made by terrorists of all descriptions. I prayed for a world free from violence and fear for my children to grow up in. If this is political it is also spiritual and necessary to follow the command of Jesus “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:43-44 NIV)

By Martin Hill

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3 responses

29 09 2006
JH

Thanks for your thoughts on this- good to hear some challenging common sense.I wonder how many people pray for Saddam and others to come into the Kingdom of God?
JH

29 09 2006
James Church

I agree this message is something that needs to be said time and time again. I fear our political opinions may blinker many Christians to right and wrong in this country. i.e. if you support labour/ the conservatives then you attempt to reconcile the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to scripture (but it is clear that they are unreconcilable). I have recently been thinking that our actions convey more about our theology than our words do. I think that fits with your spiritual and political observations.

Blessings,
James

3 10 2006
Kyle

Hello, mate!

A couple of thoughts

1. An ethic of Christian pacifism does not support the notion that violence against terror “doesn’t work.” It may or may not “work,” but the key point is that Christians are called to be non-violent because we believe and trust in God’s converting action through suffering love. The point of the War on Terror is to not suffer, whereas Christian pacifism is to choose suffering.

I think your other comments are quite on the mark: Westerners need to realize that their governments are spiritual entities, more than they would have imagined, and that Christian faith is political and bodily, also more than most of us have imagined.

pax vobiscum

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