Saturday, May 8, 2010

Hannah's Child: A Theologian's Memoir, Part 10

“I am not by nature nonviolent. It is not a natural stance. But one slow step at a time I tried to learn not to live a life determined by what I was against. Peace is a deeper reality than violence. That is an ontological claim with profound moral implications. But it takes some getting used to” (231).

“I knew we were in deep theological trouble as soon as politicians and commentators made the claim that September 11 had forever changed the world.  Most Americans, Christian and non-Christian, quickly concluded that September 11 was a decisive event.  That was exactly the problem.  For Christians, the decisive change in the world, the apocalyptic event that transformed how all other events are to be understood, occurred in a.d. 33.  Having spent decades reading Yoder and four years writing the Gifford Lectures, it was clear to me that September 11 had to be considered in the light of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus” (264).

“I argued that the Christian understanding of the cross required the church to be a counter-community capable of challenging the presumption that ‘we are at war.’  The ‘we’ in ‘we are at war’ could not be the Christian ‘we’” (266).

“The worship of Jesus is the central act that makes Christians Christian.  It is that center that connects everything together.  My work is about such connections.  I have tried to show that how we live together in marriage, how and why we have children, how we learn to be friends, and how we care for the mentally disabled are the ways a people must live if we are to be an alternative to war.  To find alternatives to war will take time.  The effort to abolish war presumes that we have all the time we need to persuade others that war can be abolished.  War is impatience.  Christians believe that through the cross and resurrection we have been given the time to be patient in a world of impatience” (274).

In these various quotations, Hauerwas makes a few important points.  First, the center of the Christian faith is Christ and the church's worship.  Christian nonviolence should stem from the church's worship.  Second, Christian nonviolence is counter-cultural.  It is foolish to the world, but the wisdom of God.  Third, Christians should remember that they are not Americans (or Canadians, Brits, Koreans, etc.) first, they are Christians first, and their allegiances are first to God and the church.  Fourth, Christians must have patience in their practice of nonviolence.  Their nonviolent resistance will not always produce immediate results.  Instead, it witnesses to an alternate way of life.  As Mother Theresa said, "God has not called me to be successful; He has called me to be faithful."

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