I get a mention in Christianity Today

… well, in their weekly Political Advocacy Tracker.

Also from Sojourners: Justin Fung discussed this week’s ABC story on a weapons manufacturer that inscribed citations to Bible verses on gun-sights it made for the U.S. military. Justin Fung wrote on Sojourners’ God’s Politics blog, “It’s absolutely mind-boggling to me that carved onto weapons of war are words of truth and peace—words from a man who embodied and heralded a kingdom characterized by peace, and from a man who announced an alternative to empire and spoke of faith, hope, joy, gentleness, goodness, and peace. How in the heck do these things go together?” On Thursday, the company announced that it would cease the practice.

Apart from the misspelling, I’m humbled by the mention and encouraged by the quick and responsible action taken by Trijicon. That said, the phrasing makes it sound like I was much more responsible for the company’s action than I was.

By the grace of God, my voice was only one of thousands raised in protest, and credit belongs to everyone who stood up for their faith in the Prince of Peace.

UPDATE: Misspelling corrected, thanks to the editors of CT. 🙂

Advertisements

Suffering

I read these books a few years ago, but they still speak truth–perhaps even more so in light of the earthquake in Haiti and our current economic climate.

… it’s only when you hit bottom and are desperate enough that things start to get better. (Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis, 105)

… we are learning how to suffer well. Not to avoid it but to feel the full force of it. It is important that churches acknowledge suffering and engage it—never, ever presenting the picture that if you follow Jesus, your problems will go away. Following Jesus may bring on problems you never imagined.

Suffering is a place where clichés don’t work and words often fail. … And it is in our suffering together that we find out we are not alone. We find out who really loves us. We find out that with these people around us, we can make it through anything. And that gives us something to celebrate.

Ultimately our gift to the world around us is hope. Not blind hope that pretends everything is fine and refuses to acknowledge how things are. But the kind of hope that comes from staring pain and suffering right in the eyes and refusing to believe that this is all there is. It is what we all need—hope that comes not from going around suffering but from going through it. (Bell, Elvis, 170)

La vie est dure. Life is hard. It is hard to be a Christian, but it is too dull to be anything else. (Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus, 43)

“We hunt people for Jesus”

My friend Heather spent two and a half years in Afghanistan doing photography and communications work for developmental NGOs. She wrote this blog in response to video footage of an American military chaplain encouraging soldiers to “hunt people for Jesus.”

Training the military to convert those at whom they point weapons is not only a grave misuse of power, but a reinforcement of extremists’ stereotypes, putting American lives at risk.

Hensley’s language of “hunting people” and “sending the hounds of heaven after them” suggests nothing but conquering; it implies perpetrating violence against, and the oppression of, people created in the image of God. Jesus told a parable saying “As much as you’ve done to the least of these, you’ve done it unto me.” Why? Because our treatment of those on the fringes — the widow, the orphan, the alien and stranger … our perceived enemies — is indicative of the moral climate of our society. Our treatment of these is an outworking of the way we love our God.

Jesus did not live and breathe in a political void. Jews had been waiting and waiting for the Messiah to come — for their savior to overthrow the Romans in a violent revolution. Yet Jesus chose not to engage militarily. Instead, he loved and he died. This is my Jesus — leading a life in which love disarms arguments, heals the chasms of stereotype, and makes the feared Other part of the family.

As one of the blog commenters pointed out, Jesus’ words to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:15 don’t often get much coverage from the pulpit:

You cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

Advocating debt relief for Haiti


(Photo: James Addis/World Vision)

Rich Cizik, David Gushee and Steven Martin over at New Evangelical Partnership have written a petition entitled, “A Christian Call for Forgiveness of Haiti’s Debt.” Many people have been advocating for it as a way to assist Haiti on its long road to recovery and stability, but here’s the first actual petition that I’ve come across. Please sign it, and pass it on to others.

The country and people of Haiti have enough to deal with without crushing debt added on top of it all. Let’s do what we can to help our Haitian brothers and sisters back onto their feet.

“Who Would Jesus Shoot?” Rendered Moot

After an outcry from Christians and people of other faiths, Trijicon has released a statement saying it will no longer imprint Bible verses on its gunsights. Thank you, Trijicon, for your quick and responsible action on this matter.

Who would Jesus shoot?

In case you haven’t already seen this, it’s been discovered that gunsights on weapons used by British and American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are inscribed with coded biblical references, including:

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

It’s absolutely mind-boggling to me that carved onto weapons of war are words of truth and peace, words from a man who embodied and heralded a kingdom characterized by peace, and from a man who announced an alternative to empire and spoke of faith, hope, joy, gentleness, goodness, and peace. How in the heck do these things go together?!

On the website of Trijicon, the US-based manufacturer, it states: “We believe that America is great when its people are good. This goodness has been based on biblical standards throughout our history and we will strive to follow those morals.” Which of course is clearly congruent with SHOOTING people.

Clearly.

No wonder Christians have a bad name. You’d think we’d learned our lessons from the Crusades, the Inquisition, etc. But apparently not.

UPDATE (Jan 20, 2pm EST): Now cross-posted over at God’s Politics.

UPDATE (Jan 20, 4pm EST): If you’d like to sign a petition asking the Pentagon to stop using weapons branded with Bible verses, you can do so here.

Young Christians lament injustice

Last night, I was privileged to lead hundreds of young Christians in a time of lament as part of the Poverty and Advocacy track at Urbana 2009. We came together to cry out to God on behalf of those suffering from injustice and oppression, and particularly, as part of the Human Wrong Initiative, on behalf of millions of children trapped in modern slavery: in forced prostitution, forced labor, or recruited to be child soldiers. We came together to mourn the wrong that we see in the world, following the biblical precedents of the psalmists, of the prophets, and of Jesus, in engaging with God in prayer to seek change.

My role was to prepare the way for lament: to lay the biblical foundations, to provide a framework for engaging in lament, and to encourage a safe environment in which lament could take place. The rest was up to the students and God.

And boy, did we meet with God …

One of the last points that I made was that biblical lament stirs us to action and partnership with God. In Luke 19, Jesus wept over Jerusalem. He cried, “Oh, if you only knew the things that make for peace …” And then he went and cleared the temple. My prayer for those who engaged last night is that they use that session as a launching pad to do great and mighty things in the service of the kingdom of God.

[You can find recorded webcasts of the main Urbana 09 events here.]