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Brian McLaren, World War I and the New (Old) Heroism

On July 29, 1914 the first shots of the Great War were fired from gunboats on the Danube River. Austro-Hungarian artillery shelled Serbia from the river and the war that was supposed to be over in weeks or months lasted four and a half years, nearly wiping out a generation of young men from across Europe. Wikipedia’s WWI entry reports that “The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I ...

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Never Again To Us

“Israel regrets every injury to civilians. I call on the residents of Gaza: Don’t stay there. Hamas wants you to die, we want you to be safe.” This is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as quoted in the Jewish Daily Forward, cleansing the nation’s collective conscience. Is it really that easy to sweep away the moral sting of violent action? A captive population is being pummeled with missiles. Well ...

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The Oxymoron of Peace

“At the same time, values and ideas which were considered universal, such as cooperation, mutual aid, international social justice and peace as an encompassing paradigm are also becoming irrelevant.” Maybe this piercing observation by Roberto Savio, founder of the news agency Inter Press Service, is the cruelest cut of all. Geopolitically speaking, hope — the official kind, represented, say, by the United N ...

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Battling to the End in Israel/ Palestine

Sometimes a blog just writes itself. I’m preparing to attend the annual academic conference on mimetic theory being held near Munich, Germany July 21-24, 2014. We will be focusing on René Girard’s book on war called Battling to the End in the context of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. Girard’s analysis of war centers on his reading of another famous treatise written in the aftermath o ...

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Investing In Peace: Israel, Palestine and the Presbyterian Church.

A couple weeks ago, I decided I would write in support of the Presbyterian Church USA’s decision, by a narrow vote of the 221st General Assembly, to divest from three particular businesses that facilitate the occupation of the Palestinian territories by Israel: Caterpillar, Inc., Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions. While I feel anxiety speaking up on such a controversial topic, I am proud of my childho ...

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The Bible is Not A Myth: God’s Patience with a Tone Deaf People

I don’t know where God gets the patience. We are absolutely the most difficult people to communicate with! As the Letter to the Hebrews begins, “Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets.” Many and various ways – thank you, God for trying everything you could think of to get through to us. And then, as Hebrews continues, “in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son”. A ...

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The Resurrection Effect: Guns, God’s Sovereignty, and the Last Word

It seems like violence will never end. Portland. Seattle. Las Vegas. Isla Vista. Almost every day in Chicago. Not to mention Boko Haram, the conflict in Ukraine, and the continued war in Afghanistan. The Huffington Post just reported that “If it’s a school week in America, odds are there will be a shooting.” Since the Sandy Hook tragedy in 2012, the United States has averaged 1.37 school shootings per week. ...

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Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and America’s Sacrificial Crisis

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is free from the Taliban, but his freedom comes at high cost. That cost reveals America at our worst. The United States is in a sacrificial crisis and we can do better. Indeed, we need to do better because our greatest threat is not an outside enemy, be it the Taliban or Russia; our greatest threat is ourselves. Hours after President Obama declared the release of Sgt. Bergdahl, rumors and ...

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Learning to Love Our Enemies: Boko Haram and Nonviolent Faith in Crisis

As I sit here beginning to write, the final hour of Mother’s Day is dwindling to a close. My daughters are sleeping peacefully, and I feel blessed by these beautiful little people that Alex and I are nurturing, teaching and loving together. I watch them, safe and comfortable, and know that I would do anything for them. And as I consider all I do to ensure their safety and help them know that they are precio ...

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Nietzschean Lies vs. Christian Truth

I have long been aware of mimetic theory’s critique of philosophy’s inability to tell the truth about violence. The depth of the problem, however, was only recently made clear to me by this article in the New York Times: Abandon (Nearly) All Hope by Simon Critchley, professor of philosophy at the New School for Social Research. In his defense of philosophical realism, Prof. Critchley gives voice to a pervas ...

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