Tag Archives: Politics

Being Perfect is Easy

One of the most theologically divisive passages in scripture is from the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Interpretations of this passage run to every extreme, from claiming that moral perfection is something that Christians can live for an indefinite period (see John Wesley’s A Plain Account of Christian Perfection) to claiming that Christians can’t be expected to do any good at all, and that this impossible standard is set up simply to drive us into desperation and, finally, into grace (see Martin Lloyd-Jones,Studies in the Sermon on the Mount).   

It’s very interesting seeing the casuistic gymnastics theologians will go through in order to fit this statement into their framework, but it’s particularly amusing when the meaning of the passage is so clear.  The most important word is not actually ‘perfect,’ it is ‘therefore.’  In interpreting the Bible (any literature, really) words like ‘therefore’ are incredibly significant, because they show the authors train of thought.  

So what do we see right before this passage?  

You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (src)

It’s so clear.

The perfect that Jesus demands of us is the perfection of God’s love.  To be perfect, total, undiscriminating in our love, as God is.  This isn’t moral perfectionism, and this isn’t something we have to build toward over years of gradual sanctification.  There is no reason to think we couldn’t begin doing it today.  We only have to realize that it is the way of Jesus, to make no difference between friend and enemy, neighbor or foreigner, reliable or untrustworthy, victim or persecutor.

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.  It’s easy.  You just do it.

No Greater Love: Idolatry in Patriotic Art

Nationalist Christians often conflate scriptures referring to Christ or to the church with concepts about America or her heroes.  Now, this should not surprise anyone.  Christianity is socially powerful; it’s natural that politicians and others who wish to enlist Christians in their cause will cynically twist scripture to their own ends.  What should shock us is how eagerly some Christians buy into this abuse of scripture.  I’ve reviewed before the American Patriot’s Bible, and numerous pieces of kitschy art.  But here’s a piece that takes the idolatrous cake.

This is a piece from nogreaterloveart.com, called Armed with Valor

Ironic: The passage the site is named for is John 15:13, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  Jesus is being self-referential here.  He is the one who exhibits the greatest love by laying down his life.  What is more, while soldiers certainly make many sacrifices for their friends, loved ones and nations, their goal is certainly not to lay down their lives but to lay down their enemies’ lives.  As General Patton famously put it, “Your job isn’t to die for your country, but to make some other poor bastard die for his.” 

Ironic: The soldier is armed with valor, one imagines, but is also armed with an assault rifle. I imagine it’s somewhat easier to display valor when armed with an assault rifle.  I imagine it’s also much more difficult to demonstrate love while holding one. 

Sad: This piece was not composed by some propaganda department vying for Christian recruits.  It was composed by a sincere Christian, who feels that the U.S. soldier exemplifies the great love of Christ.  He is not referring to the general sense of sacrifice/honor/camaraderie that can be developed in wartime situations, either. He sees America as distinctly embodying Christianity.  Here is another piece by the same artist:

This piece is called The Difference Between Us and Them.  The different manifests itself in two forms: “secular” American images like the flag and the eagle, and “religious” images like the angel wings.  But it’s all religious imagery, of course, and the eagle bridges the gap by being apparently a spiritual being, perhaps a stand-in for the dove of the Holy Spirit.  Doves, of course, are images of peace while eagles are predators, hunters.  The difference between us and them would appear to be that God supports us, and enables us to shelter the weak through our use of force.

What do you think?  Am I reading too much into these images, or do they reflect a sincere conflation of God with country?

Wesley on “Being a Christian First”

John Wesley was the founder of the Methodist church.  He never meant to found a separate movement, and until his dying day he insured that Methodism remained only a movement within the Anglican church.  Nevertheless, the movement continued to move and developed its own organization and ordination.  

Timothy Tennant is the President of Asbury Theological Seminary.  In a recent blog post he reflected on how John Wesley models how Christians of all stripes must learn to reflect on the whole Christian tradition, and not focus myopically on their little branch.  He said,

John Wesley models for us the power of learning from other Christian movements.  He was a great student of the Reformation.  He was a student of Puritanism.  He was a student of pietism.  He was a student of Eastern Orthodoxy.  He was a student of the Patristics.  Over the course of his writings he criticizes all of these movements, times and writers.  But the “people called Methodist” also learned to glean the best from all these movements.   The Methodist emphasis on experience (fourth plank of the quadrilateral) is clearly drawn from the German pietists.  The Methodist emphasis on prevenient grace is drawn from the early Greek fathers of the church.  Wesley’s emphasis on salvation by faith alone resonates fully with the Reformation, even while Wesley embraced so much of the “catholic” tradition.  What a great model for us today.  We are Christians first before we are Methodists or Baptists or Pentecostals.  We must be good students of the whole movement, always learning, always listening and always reflecting. 

Sounds just right to me.  

What do you think?  What have you learned from other traditions, and where have you allowed other traditions to influence or challenge your thinking?  If you cannot think of an example, is that the result of a conscious decision, or might it reflect an isolated perspective?  

Subtle Idolatry: The American Patriot’s Bible

I often speak of the dangers of nationalism, and of the kind of worship the nation-state demands of its citizens.  (As William Cavanaugh points out, how many Americans would be willing to kill for their religious beliefs?  How many have been willing to kill for their nation, even for their belief in abstract national principles like freedom and democracy?)  But while many of the people I talk to understand my concerns in principle, they suggest that I’m being creating strawmen, or worrying too much, or simply being paranoid.

But here comes a book – an edition of the Bible, in fact – that precisely illustrates my concerns.  Here comes a Bible that explicitly links Christmas to July 4th, identifies the American soldier to the suffering Messiah, and equates the United States itself to the church of God.

I find it hard to imagine the Christian, however patriotic, who would not see these claims as making a functional idol of the United States.  This means that to accuse anyone of making such claims in the name of patriotism is an extraordinary claim.  Fortunately, the American Patriot’s Bible is very candid in the claims it makes, and I will examine the above three from its pages.

Since I was sent this Bible by the fine folks at Thomas Nelson publishers, let me begin by describing the book itself.  It is a beautiful edition.  It is hardbound, with a relatively understated artistic style that I find very appealing.  The American Patriot’s Bible is preceded by quite a few plates for information about family history, including immigration records, military service records and baptismal records.  Also included are maps of the United States and a list of the fifty states, with capitol city and the date each state was added to the union.

There is a general introduction to the Bible, as well as a single-page introduction to each book.  The book introductions are very general, with one paragraph describing the context of the book and one relating some theme of the book to American history.  The intro to 1 Thessalonians, for instance, describes a radio address of Ronald Reagan, where he talked about the importance of “being in constant prayer,” and about the role of prayer for other American leaders.  There are also occasional comments on specific verses scattered throughout the text, ranging from small notes like “Harry S. Truman placed his hand on Matthew 5:3-11 as he took the oath of office in 1949″ to half-page sidebars relating verses to specific events in U.S. history.  Also scattered through the text are 4-page inserts on various topics, such as the use of scripture in American monuments, or the role of scripture in American westward expansion.

For the most part, this is all well-executed, and I can understand why someone would find this Bible an attractive addition to their collection; even as a family Bible to be passed down.  But the commentaries don’t simply include some Americana or Presidential trivia.  They go beyond patriotism and even nationalism to make claims for the United States that should make both Americans and Christians uncomfortable.

In a comment on Col 2:7, the American Patriot’s Bible links the birth of Christ with the birth of America.  The section is called “The Christmas/July 4 Link,” and quotes with approval from John Quincy Adams, who asked during an Independence Day speech,

Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the world, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day?  Is it not that in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior?  That it forms a leading event in the progress of the Gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth?

So here Adams links the birth of Christ with the birth of the United States, and suggests that the Declaration of Independence has created the first society capable of living out the Redeemer’s mission on the earth.  Of course, the Bible suggests a different “social compact” capable of living out the Redeemer’s mission, but it is not centered around a nation.  It is the church.

Adams was not the first American leader to attempt to co-opt the church’s role as the mediator of God’s saving activity, and he is not the only one quoted approvingly by the American Patriot’s Bible. A common reprieve among politicians is that the United States is a city on a hill, a light in the darkness.  Obama, Bush and McCain have all used this language in recent years.  This is language Jesus applies to his followers in the Sermon on the Mount, and it’s hardly surprising that national leaders try to steal this language for themselves.  What is surprising that Jesus’s followers would not only permit but encourage this theft, as the American Patriot’s Bible does when its commentary on Mt 5:14 is called “God’s covenant people,” quoting Puritan leader Peter Bulkley, who described the Puritan colonies (not yet the United States, of course) as “a city set upon a hill, in the open view of all the earth… We profess ourselves to be a people in covenant with God, and therefore… the Lord our God… will cry shame upon us if we walk contrary… [ellipses in original].”

Making the claim that America is God’s covenant people is audacious, surely, but there are Christians in America who would defend even such a claim.  But the American Patriot’s Bible goes beyond this questionable move when it equates the United States with God and the U.S. army with Jesus.  The commentary on John 3:16 is titled “Freedom Abroad,” and it quotes with approval Colin Powell, when he said that

Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and omen into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those who did not return.

Let’s leave aside the ludicrous claim that the United States has never expanded its territorial control through bloodshed, and look at the underlying theology of the American Patriot’s Bible in placing this quote as a commentary on John 3:16.  “God so loved the world that he gave his only son;” and the United States so loves the world that we give our sons and daughters.  The sacrifice of a soldier is a great sacrifice – not only in the possibility of their dying but in their willingness to put aside the normal unwillingness of a person to kill – but it is the very definition of idolatry to compare a person’s sacrifice to the sacrifice of Christ.  What is more, to compare the role of a soldier (who in the words of General Patton, tries not to die for his country but make some other poor bastard die for his) to the suffering servant of Isaiah 55 is to make a mockery out of Christ’s death, when Christ himself had armies at his disposal and did not deign to use them.

The American Patriot’s Bible may not have been a misguided idea.  Why shouldn’t there be an edition of the Bible specifically for those who love America and want to study and celebrate its theological heritage?  But the American Patriot’s Bible in practice is an exercise in subtly misplaced worship, and thinly subverted readings of the scriptures.  Yet I don’t think its editors meant to create a controversial text, which is precisely why I warn against the dangers of patriotism and nationalism  for believers.

Conservatives, Liberals and Diversity

Neo-Anabaptist Scot McKnight has written a response to a recent Slate article entitled “Liberals: Don’t Homeschool Your Kids.” The primary argument of the Slate article is that #homeschooling can never be progressive because homeschooling by its decentralized nature cannot serve the needs of society at large.

McKnight counters that a diversity of perspectives benefits a polyglot society more than the monolithic perspective a 100% compliant public school system would foster. He writes,

Aren’t we better off in a society that draws on folks who got different sorts of education? Some progressives seem to think a diverse society is one where every 14-year-old in America arrives at school, pledges allegiance to the nation’s flag, takes out an American history textbook shaped by panels of bureaucrats in California and Texas, and proceeds to be guided by a teacher with a state issued credential in how best to pass a standardized test. Who is celebrating diversity, the champions of putting every kid in the education wonk’s vision of the ideal classroom, or the folks who want some kids to start their day interacting with multi-ethnic classmates while others start their school day praying and still others learn about raising backyard chickens?

It is interesting to me that liberals/progressives generally claim a monopoly on embracing diversity, when my understanding of conservatism (based largely around the local agrarian insights of a Wendell Berry or, dare I say, Thomas Jefferson) is based precisely around preserving specific instances of diversity.

As McKnight summarizes, “society as a whole requires people who challenge the prevailing system if it is to identify the few who can offer new insights.” Clipped from its context defending homeschooling as one choice among many (and McKnight emphasizes that it may not be the best choice), this could be part of any progressive mantra.

What do you think? Who has the corner on diversity? Is either homeschooling or its eradication more likely to benefit society as a whole?


The Horse and the Rider

Detractors of Christian nonviolence often point to one of the central images of
Revelation as a counterpoint to the straightforward commands of Jesus to his followers to love even their enemies and do good to those who would harm them.  In one of its most extreme permutations, we have Mark Driscoll saying,

“In Revelation, Jesus is a prize-fighter with a tattoo down His leg, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is the guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.”

But Revelation consistently relates depicts Christ’s beat-up form as normative, as it refers to him over and over as the lamb, the lamb that was slain.  As Richard Hays has said, “A work that places the Lamb that was slaughtered at the center of its praise and worship can hardly be used to validate violence and coercion.”  Revelation, taken as a whole, seems to depict a pacifist church seeing its members killed off by an oppressive tyrant, while singing hymns to a God who was himself tortured to death by an oppressive tyrant.    The task of the church seems to be to wait and hope.

So what do we do with the sword and the rider?  Even when we notice that the followers of the Lamb do not participate in any kind of battle but are simply to remain faithful, are we left with the idea that Jesus will do our dirty work for us?  It’s not so clear.

Notice that it is specifically the “the Word of God” being depicted in chapter 19 as the rider, and that the sword is not held in his hand (contra Driscoll), but comes from his mouth.  Notice also that the phrase sharp (double-edged) sword is the same one used elsewhere to refer specifically to scripture, which is also called the Word of God.  It seems that the tyrant is overthrown not by steel but by truth, truth so powerful the author can only depict it in martial imagery.

As Willard Swartley summarizes,

Christian resistance – not returning evil for evil, but a willingness to suffer for the cause of Jesus Christ – echoes the central theology of other parts of the NT. What Revelation adds is the central figure of the slain Lamb. The paradoxical image of victory through suffering love forms the heart and soul of Revelation’s christology. Suffering love marks the authentic followers of the Lamb.

Swartley then cites with approval a passage from Walter Pilgrim,

The Apocalypse adopts a stance toward the state that is radically different from the two other New Testament traditions. Here we find an understanding of the political structures as d

ising resistance. emonic, historical embodiments of injustice and evil. In response, the church is encouraged toward an ethic of uncomprom

What do you think?  Does Revelation depict a pacifist churc

h, waiting and hoping for God’s action?  Does Revelation depict a military Jesus, whipping up support for a grassroots militia?  What is the central message of what is likely the most political book of the New Testament?

America’s Unjust War

As I’ve detailed before, there are two major ways of thinking about wars.

Realists believe that war is a simple necessity, and must be handled realistically.  You will try to minimize civilian casualties, and try to obey international treaties, but you will do these things for realistic reasons: to minimize blowback and the creation of new terrorist groups, and to ensure further cooperation with world governments.  Henry Kissinger was very prominent and straightforward in aligning himself with this way of thinking.  If you watch movies like The Bourne Identity you will see this kind of thinking exemplified.

Idealists, on the other hand, hold that certain ideals are more important than these “realistic” concerns, whether these ideals are matters of tradition, religious belief, morality or hopes for the future.  These ideals will mediate the wartime activities the idealist will engage in, even when those activities would be advantageous from a realist perspective.  In the Christian tradition in particular, two forms of idealism have emerged: pacifism and the just-war tradition.

Christian just-war theorists hold to the ideal that God has revealed a moral code that applies not only to Christians but to all mankind, easily summarized as “love God, love others.”  Loving other can mean using force to defend victims from aggression, but also means loving the attacker in the process.  So where the just-war doctrine has flourished, the church has developed a tradition to make concrete what that means: it means things such as not intentionally killing non-combatants, making terms of surrender clearly known, using proportional force, using all possible means prior to using force, caring for surrendered and imprisoned enemy combatants, and so on.  Just-war theorists do not believe these concepts apply only to Christians, but that they are moral laws that apply to all humans, so just-war theorists have tried to persuade governments to adopt these as military policy, and to see these concepts embedding in laws and international treaties so that even realists will follow them, even though they do not share the Christian’s ideals.

Christian pacifists agree with all of the above ideals (that killing non-combatants is wrong, etc.) but in addition hold an ideal that Christians are called to imitate Christ specifically in his refusal to utilize violence against the injustice of the world, and rather to suffer on behalf of the world.  Christians pacifists will join with just-war theorists to call on their national governments to use just force, but do not see the nation as a force called to be pacifist in its own right.  From the pacifist perspective, only the church is a community capable of living nonviolently, because only the church recognizes that Christ is Lord.

All of this I take to be uncontroversial, though it is admittedly oversimplified. (John Howard Yoder wrote a short book entitled Nevertheless: Varieties and Shortcomings of Religious Pacifism that identified and critiqued around thirty different forms of Christian pacifism; there is no way to speak for all at once.)  I take it to be uncontroversial that Christians, when confronted with the choice of participating in an unjust war or unjust action in war (even where the policy is not embedded in national or international law) has the duty to refuse that service.  What should be uncontroversial but is not is that the United States is currently ideologically committed to an unjust war: the so-called war on terror.

In the last two weeks a bill passed the Congress permitting the government to imprison U.S. citizens detained on U.S. soil indefinitely without trial if that person is suspected of being a terrorist.  Radical conservatives like Rand Paul and radical liberals like Denis Kucinich spoke out against the bill, but it passed overwhelmingly.  The language of the bill allows suspected terrorists to be held in military prisons without charges or trial, as enemy combatants, “until hostilities end.”  Meaning, until the “war on terror” is won.  So this is not merely a metaphor, like the war on drugs or the war on poverty.  This is an actual war with actual military agendas and actual wartime legislation.

And a war on terror cannot possibly be a just war.  A just war requires that the enemy be given terms they can meet in order to surrender, requires the possibility of surrender in the first place (who could surrender on behalf of “terror”?), requires proportional force, requires the capacity to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants.  For these reasons, from a Christian moral perspective, terrorism has to be dealt with as a criminal issue, not a military one.  That could be justified, but this cannot.

As such, I feel that all Christians at this time are called to lay down arms and refuse to fight this unjust war.  Further, I feel that all Christians are called to come together to witness to the state the injustice of its actions, its ideology, its framing of this war.  This recent bit of legislation is just one example, but one that even realists can oppose for its realistically frightening implications.

What do you think?  Is the war on terror a war?  Can it be a just war?  At what point are Christians expected to allow their morals to dictate their loyalty to the nation?

Sometimes Money Divides Us: The Possibility of “Economic Friendship”

Money is a way of turning unlike things (services, rare metals, time) into a common medium for exchange.  In that  way, money can bring together two people who are looking to exchange such unlike things.  But sometimes money can keep people apart as well.  Just picture two neighbors: one guy who fixes refrigerators for a living and needs his car fixed; one guy who fixes cars for a living and needs his refrigerator fixed.  But in this economy, both have been laid off and neither can afford to hire anyone to fix his broken stuff.  Money is a common medium keeping them apart.  If they are going to get together, it will be because they stepped outside of the money economy.

In many of our churches, we shy away from discussing money for fear that the subject will offend parishioners, drive them away, and divide us from one another.  Occasionally you’ll get a sermon about tithing, or about money managements or stewardship, but even in intimate small groups, where people will openly ask one another, “When did you last look at porn,” nobody will ask each other, “How much do you make each year?  What do you do with your money?”

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove considers this reticence a strong division within the church.  He suggests a practice of “economic friendship,” following Jesus advice to “use money to make friends (Luke 16:9).”  He says,

[I]f your church is anything like most, you probably has some members with what we call “surplus capital.”  Others in your congregation most likely carry some debt – a mortgage at six percent interest or a credit card at sixteen percent that won’t be paid off for forty years.  Now, imagine a conversation if people from those two groups sat down for a family business meeting to talk about money.

Some exchanges could probably be arranged among this group at no cost to anyone.  If the person with extra money invested in a mutual fund with an average six percent yield agreed to cash out her investment and pay off her brother’s credit card bill, she could save him an incredible amount of money in compounded interest.  If he, in turn, paid her back at the same rate that the mutual fund had been paying, she would go none the poorer for it.  But they would both probably get to know one another better.  Who knows what gifts they might discover that they have to share with one another?

Wilson-Hartgrove observes that this isn’t even a generous act, it’s simply a decision to invest in relationships with fellow church members rather than investing in large financial institutions.  Christians in the church are being divided from one another (or remain divided) by their daily decisions to deal with financial institutions instead of trying to follow Paul’s command to “bear one another’s burdens.”

What do you think?  Does money sometimes divide us?  How so (or how does it not?)  Do such economic friendships have any place in the church?  Do economic practices fall under the purview of the church?

Pope Benedict and the Free Market

Popes have a history of theological exactitude in addressing economic matters.  Being more concerned with theology than with business, they have the freedom to do this, directing Christians away from profit as an end unto itself and toward a higher end, namely love of God.  This week saw the 20th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Centessimus Annus, which was itself written at the 100th anniversary of Rerum Novarum.  Both encyclicals approach individual and world economic concerns from a strictly theological perspective.

Rerum Novarum is a masterpiece, centering on the holy family and Joseph in particular as its starting point for meditating on economic concerns.  Pope Benedict, speaking at the anniversary event on Oct 15th, echoed this theme by reaffirming the family, rather than the return of profit, as the center for Christian thinking about economics.

“Charity in truth, in this case, requires that shape and structure be given to those types of economic initiative which, without rejecting profit, aim at a higher goal than the mere logic of the exchange of equivalents, of profit as an end in itself,” he said.

Simple justice is not enough to drive the free market to serve this end, Benedict argues.  The free market, left to itself, will not lead to the flourishing of actual families.  Neither can we delegate the task to the government, asking the state to force the market to do good.  What is needed is for Christians who engage in business (which is practically all first-world Christians, as the decision of where to buy your groceries is business) to aim at higher goals than profit.

“It is not the task of the Church to find ways to face the current crisis”, he concluded. “Nonetheless, Christians have the duty to denounce evils, and to foment and bear witness to the values upon which the dignity of the person is founded, promoting forms of solidarity which favor the common good, so that humankind may increasingly become the family of God”.

What do you think?  Does Benedict XVI have a realistic grasp of the global market?  Is there a “Christian way” to participate in the national or global economy?


2011 Nobel Peace Prize Awarded

The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to three African women “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”

The most prominent of the three winners is perhaps Leymah Gbowee, who engaged in non-violent protests of the conditions of women and children during the 2003 Liberian Civil War.  She was a mother of six, working as a trauma councilor to former child soldiers when she realizes that “if any changes were to be made in society it had to be by the mothers.”  This led her to a strategy of non-violent social protest that began with local women praying and singing in a fish market, and culminated in thousands of women engaging in sex strikes and hunger strikes until they forced a meeting with the Liberian President and persuaded him to negotiate with the rebel forces.

Through these and similar efforts they forced an end to the civil war.

Gbowee has since worked closely with Mennonite church in the United States and worldwide in constructing her Women Peace and Security Network Africa, a large organization structured on principles of non-violent social formation.

In her memoir, published 2011, she wrote “I read Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi and the Kenyan author and conflict and reconciliation expert Hizkias Assefa, who believed that reconciliation between victim and perpetrator was the only way to really resolve conflict, especially civil conflict, in the modern world. Otherwise, Assefa wrote, both remained bound together forever, one waiting for apology or revenge, the other fearing retribution.”

She also writes that her time working with Mennonites has taught her about the importance of “restorative justice.”

Restorative justice was… something we could see as ours and not artificially imposed by Westerners. And we needed it, needed that return to tradition. A culture of impunity flourished throughout Africa. People, officials, governments did evil but were never held accountable. More than we needed to punish them, we needed to undo the damage they had done.

I think this awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize makes much more sense than Obama’s, though I think I understand what the committee was intending when they awarded it to Obama.  It is nice to see the actual work of peacemaking and reconciliation receive some attention, especially amid the sea of voices (including Obama’s at his own acceptance speech!) who claim that peacemaking is nice as a side project, but that real peace comes from the end of a gun.

It would also be nice if the church developed a reputation for being involved in this sort of thing.

What do you think of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize?