Friday, August 26, 2005

If we could read the secret history
of our enemies, we would find sorrow and
suffering enough to disarm all hostility.

George Bush visited our town this week. He spoke to more than 9,000 people, crowded into the local rodeo grounds. They waved flags and sang patriotic songs, shouted slogans and laughed in all the right places. They gave the President more than 14 standing ovations.

Please don’t misunderstand. These are not na├»ve people. They’re just hopeful.

Many have seen their sons and daughters and husbands and wives leave home for extended tours of duty in a far-away and dangerous place. They need to know that their loved ones will come home safe. They want to believe that this war in Iraq is serving a purpose. They’re invested.

Just like our president.

It’s too late to go back and start over. People are dying every single day, trying to clean up a disaster that’s of our own doing. Not just “our people” either. Plenty of innocents have been lost, and most of them probably weren’t Americans.

I only hope our nation is learning the truth that “violence as a way of achieving justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind.

“It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than to convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue.

“Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.”

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Sundays Are Too Full

Words that do not carry
the light of Christ only increase the darkness.

Sunday morning services serve as space-less places. We fill them up with songs and sermons and passings of the offering plate (with background music, of course). What we really need is silence — space to listen. Why are we afraid?

Maybe it is because the openness of unprogrammed worship — in paring away the outside noise — leaves us no choice but to face the noise within: hypocrisy, phoniness, the false self we project (a fragile image).

Maybe it is because such silence seems a waste of time. We cannot exploit the silence: use it to turn a profit, make a product or persuade.

Maybe it is because we are a shallow people. It is harder to be in silence than to not be in noise. Frantic streams of words cover our spiritual nakedness. Music soothes, puts to sleep the beasts of doubt and discouragement.

“It is necessary that we find God, and he cannot be found in noise and unpeace. The more we receive through quiet prayer, the more we can give in the activity of our daily lives. In essence, it is not what we say, but what God says to us and through us. All our words are useless if they do not come from within. Words that do not carry the light of Christ only increase the darkness.”

- Mother Teresa of Calcutta