I’ve learned that today, September 21, is an International Day of Peace. A quick scan of this website (currently not responding, presumably because of high traffic) tells me that the associated enterprise is too politicized for my taste, but there are many less worthy things to be aware of and involved in. I’m glad to know of this.
Apparently coincidentally, last Sunday evening, I attended a peace-oriented lecture at the local Roman Catholic college:
The lecture’s title promised great challenge and inspiration, but the content was actually somewhat disappointing. The speaker, Cory Lockhart, appealed primarily to two sources: one of the popes and Martin Luther King, Jr. The two seemed to be treated almost equally, which is fine but perhaps offensive to a full-bore RC believer. Aside: in our country, in our time, it sometimes seems that nonviolence is inextricably associated with M.L. King, Jr. That King obviously advocated nonviolent responses with good reason, and with some good effect, but his work and causes constitute only one area of the whole picture of what it means to be a peacekeeper, a peacemaker, and/or an advocate of nonviolence. Missing a royal (!) opportunity, the speaker largely overlooked spotlighting Jesus as an example of nonviolence.
Lockhart did appear sincerely convicted—and experienced, in that she has engaged in “peacekeeping efforts” in Israel and environs. I learned too little about her actual activities, so I was not compelled to become involved in Middle East peacekeeper teams, but there is something deep within me that wants to do something like that one day.
Lockhart’s presentation style was not particularly engaging, and I had hoped for a more robust set of creative suggestions to live as a peacemaker. I also wish her fish net had been more inclusive. She of course needed to be aware of the makeup of her audience of about 200, which surely included no more than four non-Roman Catholics. At the very least, I figure lots of Roman Catholic college students (some of whose professors required their attendance, no doubt) were introduced to the idea that one doesn’t have to support war efforts in order to be a “conservative” (which most of them surely consider themselves). I wish the students had also been treated to some solid scriptural work with, say, Matthew’s gospel or Romans 12-14, but the mere fact that they heard someone talking as a believer about peace and peacemaking was valuable.
Back in July 2016, just after my book Subjects of the Kingdom was complete, I saw this shirt in a fast food restaurant. (I wrote about it here.) It was very encouraging to know that someone was teaching young people at a camp that Jesus was and is interested in peace.
In fact, it is always encouraging to know that others are thinking about peacemaking and somehow, devotedly or nominally, seeking to disconnect Christianity from the use of force. The existence of International Peace Day is even a nice addition to the plethora of special days observed—and far more significant than National Pepperoni Pizza Day, which occurred yesterday.
But I’m still not sure I have much idea how to live as a peacemaker—practically, in my world and beyond.