>Watching TV


>So it’s been 5 days since the G20 summit wrapped up in Toronto. Does anyone remember what that was all about?

Last Saturday I switched on my television to be greeted by a live image I had never thought possible on the streets of my city. “Toronto the Good”, as the city likes to think of itself is known for its tolerance and multiculturalism. But last week I watched in horror and disbelief while a group of self-described anarchists ran wild and largely unchecked through the financial district, smashing windows at the nation’s top banks while a police car, parked in the middle of the intersection burned out of control. The images were streamed live over the internet and reprinted the next day on the front page of every major newspaper from New York to Mumbai.

Canadians often lament that the world ignores us tucked away up here on top of the giant and much more influential United States. Former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau once described our relationship to our neighbours as that of a mouse in bed with an elephant. To be honest, most of us like it that way. We’re quiet and unassuming by nature which makes those moments when the world does take notice all the more meaningful. Remember the Vancouver Olympics? But when the attention is negative, as it was last week the national embarrassment can be palpable.

For the last 5 days the story of the G20 has been all about that burning car. While world leaders were meeting just a few blocks away, making deals and pronouncements about such weighty issues as economic growth, international security and the health and welfare of women and children living in poverty the only story that seemed important (sensational?) enough to be shown on television was the fact that a few thugs decided to take over our streets in protest.

What should have been a story of Canada’s arrival on the world stage, while we brokered deals on deficit reduction and banking laws and committed billions of dollars to aid maternal health in Africa, is now a story about police brutality and the stifling of free speech. What exactly where the protests all about? Nobody knows. At least nobody is saying. To hear the media tell it, and the images on my television screen seem to back it up, the entire story is about the conduct of police.

In his 1973 novel, “Gravity’s Rainbow” author Thomas Pynchon wrote; “If they get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about the answers.” While I’m sure the quote is out of context this is pretty much how I feel about the media, the riots and the recent G20 meetings. Not only are we asking the wrong questions, nobody seems to care about the answers.

It used to be media’s job not only to show us what was happening but to explain what it meant. Today, in our culture of near limitless choice and competing platforms, media has abdicated that responsibility in favour of sensationalism designed to grab and hold our attention for as long as possible, or at least until the next commercial break. Gone are the days of long and detailed editorials that can engage the public’s thinking and affect real change.

At one point, while watching the riots un-fold I saw a banner in the crowd, which stated simply “Capitalism Sucks!” Really? Did you grow and weave the cotton for that bed sheet yourself? It was at that point that I knew the opportunity for intelligent discourse was lost, even if the author of that banner understood the real issues they didn’t have the ability to express themselves beyond a banal and meaningless invective. I found myself wondering aloud to my empty living room “where have all the smart people gone?” They certainly weren’t on my television that day.

This is the Art of Re-direction at its best or worst depending on how you look at it. David Copperfield beware, you’ve got nothing on the news media. The politicians know this and they count on it. How many of the protesters realize that they were actually playing right into everyone’s hands?

Torch a police car and suddenly nothing else matters. The politicians can make all the back room, closed door deals they want while the people are mesmerized watching the fire.

>Welcome to Tornado Season


>Thoughts on my Greatest Personal Fear

We had our first Tornado warning of the year on Wednesday. According to the Government of Canada peak Tornado season in Southern Ontario are the months of June and July.

When I was a child I was deathly afraid of tornados. The thought that a storm could become so violent that it would whip the wind into a rotating funnel capable of uprooting trees, lifting houses off their foundations and tossing full sized pickup trucks around like toys was terrifying to me.

It all started when I was 8 years old. I grew up in a region of Ontario that the government had dubbed “tornado alley.” Every spring we would have to sit through a slide show and learn drills on what to do should a violent storm hit. It didn’t matter that the so called tornado alley usually only spawned one or two major storms a year or that the actual risk of injury was statistically insignificant (about the same as getting struck by lightning), what mattered, as one of my teachers put it, was that we had a healthy amount of “respect” for the weather.

The result for an 8 year old with a vivid imagination wasn’t a healthy amount of respect, it was complete terror. To this day I have never been able to sit through the opening sequence of the Wizard of Oz without first checking on the weather network.

One year, at the urging of one of my more intuitive teachers, I completed a science project on tornados. You see this teacher knew the key to overcoming fear was knowledge. I did my home-work; I learned everything there was to know about tornados, how they form, how they behave, how to predict them and how to react to them. Through it all a funny thing happened, my fear dissipated considerably.

You see, our imagination is far more powerful than we realize. We are constantly coming up with outrageous scenarios that start with “what if” or “what about”. The whole purpose of those types of questions is to paralyse us with fear and prevent us from taking appropriate action. The truly sinister thing is that businesses and government know this and they want us to be afraid, fearful people are easier to manipulate.

Advertisers play to our fears every day by emphasising the negative result and then hold out a ready-made solution. The entire modern advertising industry is based on fear and politicians are experts at manipulating it. MIT professor Noam Chomsky called the whole phenomenon “Manufacturing Consent.”

Every year, at the start of tornado season I remember my fears but I also remember what they have taught me. They taught me that knowledge is the key to conquering fear and how to recognize when fear is irrational. The only way to get over our fears is to confront them rationally. In doing so we can recognize them for what they are and react appropriately.

So now ask yourself a few questions;

1- What are you most afraid of?
2- When did you first realize you were afraid?
3- Was it something you came by naturally, or where you taught?
4- Who taught you to be afraid?
5- What was their motivation?
6- How did you react?
7- Have you done your home-work?

Remember what Franklin D Roosevelt said at the height of the great depression. “The Only Thing We have to Fear, is Fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” I especially like the last half of that quote, most people stop with the first half but it’s important to note that the biggest problem with fear is that it paralyzes us and when that happens the battle is already lost.

The politics of fear and manipulation is a real spicy meatball. I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of something big here. This might take a while to dig through and honestly I have no idea where I might end up, stick around, we’ll figure it out together.

>Your Turn – What do YOU Know To Be True?


>Okay to be honest, for the past week I’ve been watching too much World Cup Football to stay focused on my writing. So now’s your chance to write The Earworm!

Last week’s post started some really interesting conversations for me, both on and off line, so I’ve decided to open it up and ask you all the same question.

In 500 words or less, tell me what YOU know to be true. I can’t promise that I will be able to publish everything and if I think your comments need to be edited I’ll send them back for your approval first.

If you don’t want your comments to be published that’s okay too, just say so. But I still want to hear from you.

Just a couple of rules;

1- Keep it brief. I have a really short attention span, especially when England is playing.
2- Please refrain from using explicit language, it’s just common courtesy right?
3- If you`re going to quote scripture or other wisdom writing, please give the appropriate chapter and verse reference so we can all go and look it up for ourselves.
4- No anonymous responses please. You know my name the least you can do is give me yours.

That`s it, rev up your keyboards and have fun.

Now back to The World Cup – GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAL!

>What Do You Know To Be True?


>A good friend of mine asked me that question at the beginning of this year. I was taken aback but never one to give knee jerk answers I said, “I’ll get back to you”. It’s been almost 6 months and earlier this week I finally gave him an answer.

I know a lot of things to be true but the real journey in life, for me at least, is learning to accept the truth.

I just finished reading “The Great Divorce” by C.S Lewis. In it Lewis shows us a profound grasp of what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. It is a place so real, so solidly built on truth and goodness that it can be painful for humans to even walk on the grass at first. In this allegorical story, when you first arrive in heaven you are given a guide, someone from your past life to help you. Everything is revealed by your guide, all questions are answered and the truth is laid bare.

One of the most profound moments in the story comes when a man who prided himself in on having an open mind in life meets his guide and continues to ask questions while refusing to accept the answers, every answer, no matter how plain only leads to another question. Finally his guide becomes frustrated and responds;

Thirst was made for water; inquiry for truth. What you now call the free play of inquiry has neither more nor less to do with the ends for which intelligence was given you than masturbation has to do with marriage.

How many times have you heard someone comment that truth is all in the interpretation, or that there are kernels of truth in all things? That’s just poppycock! Truth is the absence of falsehood. A kernel of truth is not enough to make something right which is otherwise wrong. Conversely, all it takes is a tiny bit of falsehood to spoil the truth.

When I was a boy my father attempted to make fruit wine, goose berry I think. He did everything himself, harvested the fruit, squeezed out the juice, added the yeast and carefully sealed it up in the bottle. Everything was going well until one day he noticed something floating on top of the liquid, barely visible to the naked eye, it was a vinegar fly. Somehow the seal had been broken and the entire batch, months of work, had been spoiled by something no bigger than a speck of dust.

That’s what a kernel of falsehood does to truth. But if we take an eye dropper and place a drop of fine wine into a vat of vinegar we don’t suddenly get wine do we? To get at the truth you first have to eliminate all that is wrong. To take the analogy further rather than drop that fine wine into the vat of vinegar, you remove it, as far away as possible from any potential corruption. You protect that drop of wine like the precious and vulnerable commodity that it is.

Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is like a “pearl of great price”, something to be cherished at the exclusion of all else.

Again the kingdom of heaven is like a man who is a dealer in search of fine and precious pearls, who, on finding a single pearl of great price, went and sold all he had and bought it. [Matthew 13: 45,46]

Lewis makes it very clear that no questions remain in heaven all you have to do is accept the answers. To continue to question, after you’ve found the truth would be like dropping fine wine into a vat of vinegar.

So what do I know to be true? Jesus said it best…

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” [John 8:31,32]

It all comes down to the things He taught.

>The G20


>In just a few weeks Toronto will play host to the world when the G20 economic summit comes to town. City officials and federal politicians are desperate to show the best that Canada has to offer but I’m afraid that all anyone will see is a tightly choreographed event full of hand-shakes and photo ops.

That’s not Canada’s fault, the whole idea that the leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies would be able to sit down and agree on anything of substance in just 48 hours is ludicrous. We already have a long standing system in place where the world can come together and discuss issues of real consequence, negotiate settlements and adopt resolutions given the time and attention to detail that they deserve, we call it the UN. Of course the UN is a paper tiger that nobody pays attention to anymore and nobody really pays attention to the G20 either, but that’s a posting for another time. What is Canada’s fault, and the fault of every other host country in recent memory, is the way they are handling dissenting voices.

Last week the story broke that the bill to Canadian taxpayers for security alone at the summit will be nearly $1 billion. The lion’s share of that is not for security inside the venue, it’s for the crowd control required for the protestors outside.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has defined a security perimeter of 50 blocks resulting in widespread displacement of citizens and the cancellation of passenger rail service into the city. No ordinary citizen is going to be able to get close enough to even smell the venue, let alone disrupt anything. I work downtown and am considering taking a few days off just so that I don’t have to run the gauntlet of security check points to and from my middle class job.

You would think that by now some politician somewhere would start to wonder why these protestors keep showing up. There must be something going on that they feel strongly enough about to risk arrest and permanent hearing loss, (the city of Toronto bought three noise cannons capable of blasting 143 decibels in order to help disperse crowds), but thanks to the security personnel the world leaders won’t see or hear the protestors and will be able to remain blissfully ignorant to their cries.

It used to be that politics was local. You could call your MP or Congressman and be heard. Nowadays more and more of the decisions that affect ordinary citizens are made in corporate board rooms on the other side of the world. Not only are the politicians not listening, they have abdicated their power and they couldn’t save us even if they wanted to. (See British Petroleum)

Of course, when the big corporations get into trouble they turn to government for bailouts claiming that if they fail they’ll take the whole economy down with them. The sad fact is; that’s not far from the truth so government caves and the bill trickles down to the ordinary citizen. (See Wall Street Banks, and General Motors)

At the end of the day government mortgages our future to pay for a bankrupt past. Huddling for two days in a posh Toronto hotel isn’t going to solve anything. Sooner or later the loans will be due and the people who are going to have to pay are sitting behind a billion dollar fence over a mile away.

>My Last Word on Pacifism (for now)


>Last time I signed off by promising to wrestle with the concept of Pacifism vs. Jihad. What I had intended to explore was how we reconcile the warrior God of the Old Testament with the kinder, gentler God revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. While I do intend to talk about that at some future date I don’t feel that I have had enough time to fully study and research this concept. Be patient, I’ll come back around to this theme eventually.

For now I want to wrap up my thoughts on Christian Pacifism and move on. I’ve spent a lot of time here lately because I feel it’s a key concept to my life’s mission and where I want to go but I don’t want to belabour the point anymore. I have more to say on a lot more topics and this blog was never intended to become a long winded sermon. Thanks for hanging in the there with me none the less.

When I started this series of posts back on April 16 (“It’s All There in Black and White”) I fully expected a lot of you to disagree with me. What surprised me was that the most vigorous disagreement did not come from my fellow Christians.

Let’s be clear here, I am calling Western Christians who have been raised on Just War theory and Church sponsored violence to abandon almost 1700 years of doctrine and embrace a radical application of the words Jesus actually spoke. I thought this was radical stuff, so the relative silence I heard tells me that maybe, just maybe, 9 years after 9/11 Western Christians are finally getting tired of Just War rhetoric and are ready to consider that there might be a third way. If that is indeed that the case, bravo!

I did get a lot of feedback though and as I said the most vigorous disagreement I received came not from Christians but from people of other faiths and some with no particular religious affiliation at all. At first I was surprised by this until I considered the words of the late John Howard Yoder, former professor of Theology at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary and Notre Dame;

I do not know what I would do if some insane or criminal person were to attack my wife or child, sister or mother. But I know that what I should do would be illuminated by what God my Father did when his “only begotten Son” was being threatened. Or by what Abraham, my father in the faith was ready to sacrifice out of obedience; he was ready to give up his son because he believed in the resurrection.

You see the bottom line is that Pacifism doesn’t make sense without the resurrection of Jesus. If you don’t believe in Jesus’ resurrection or that we have eternal souls then a pacifist response is irrational and in the case of defending a weaker party, even immoral, as one fellow blogger put it.

Belief in resurrection does not end with “good” people going to heaven. The hard fact is that belief in resurrection also means that “bad” people go to hell. When Jesus laid down his life for us he was modeling pacifism in the extreme. He could have easily called down an army of angels to defend Himself whipping every Roman soldier or Pharisee from the face of the earth. Why didn’t He?

I believe Jesus refrained from violence because preserving human life, regardless of our sinful nature is more important than anything. Jesus had mercy on his oppressors because he loved them enough to give them every possible opportunity to repent and go to heaven. The bible tells us that at least one Roman soldier who observed Jesus death did just that. [Matthew 27:54]

There are no degrees of Sin. We live in a sinful world and we all fall short at one time or another. It is through the resurrection that we are all saved from eternity in hell. We all need Jesus to be merciful because if he wasn’t we’d all be dead already. It’s our job as Christ followers to emulate Him in every way possible and that includes laying down our own lives rather than taking a life.

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. [Romans 3:22-25a]

>Jesus was a pacifist too.


>A lot of people will disagree with me on that point, especially Western Christians who’ve been raised on Church sanctioned violence and modern Just War theory. But if you take a close look at Jesus own words and early church history, prior to gaining a significant amount power under Constantine, and read the New Testament in light of that first century context you’ll start to see things in a whole new light.

Bottom line; Constantine got it wrong and we’ve been living with the consequences of his error (sin) for nearly 1700 years.

You see Jesus never intended to set up a new religion at all, let alone one that would hold as much power over civilization as Christianity would one day command. On the contrary, Jesus wanted to tear down the old religious system and replace it with a new kind of covenant that would provide people direct access to the father without the need for a religious or political system at all. Remember the Jews only had a king in the first place as a result of a compromise God made with them through the profit Samuel. The entire political structure of the Old Testament was never part of God’s original plan. The fact that the Christian Church would eventually join with the state and form one of the most powerful political forces on the planet, a force that would leave oppression, coercion, torture and outright murder in its’ wake is a tragedy of epic proportions.

It is true that Christianity has lost a lot of its political power. The Catholic Church has been in decline since Gutenburg invented the printing press and Luther encouraged people to start to read the Bible. More recently authors like Charles Hitchens and Richard Dawkins have advanced the view that religion in general is nothing more than a relic of the dark ages and one of the last hold outs against enlightenment.

While I disagree with Hitchens and Dawkins on the broader points I do not dispute or lament the fact that Christian political power is on the decline. In fact I welcome it. The subtitle of Christopher Hitches 2007 book couldn’t be more correct, “god is not Great; How Religion Poisons Everything.” [Emphasis mine]

The truth is that Jesus never meant for us to hold real power over people anyway and it all starts with the way he viewed his kingdom.

“My kingdom,” said Jesus, “doesn’t consist of what you see around you. If it did, my followers would fight so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But I’m not that kind of king, not the world’s kind of king.” Jesus (John 18:36 The Message)

It is important to remember that the New Testament was written in a time when freedom of religion for Christians simply did not exist. There is plenty of teaching, from both the apostles and Jesus himself on how to react to oppression, stand up for human rights and submit to authority but no teaching that gives any adequate instruction on how to steward political power or which would give credence to a Just War theory.

Why? Because the authors didn’t have any religious freedom! Most of the New Testament was written from prison cells.

When Christians kill they usurp God’s authority. The bible is rife with stories of God’s mercy against even the most corrupt and sinful regimes. God is merciful and when he decides to end someone’s life he doesn’t need our help, the cities of Saddam and Gamorah were destroyed by a natural disaster and Ananias simply dropped dead.

I’m over my self-imposed 500 word limit and I can already hear your objections. What about the God sanctioned wars and killing in the Old Testament? What about Hitler? I’ll get to that but I had to layout the frame work first.

Up next Pacifism vs. Jihad. Stay tuned.

>Pacifist Not Passive-ist


>It’s inevitable; whenever I mention that I’m a pacifist, there is always someone, somewhere who has to try and come up with a ridiculous scenario in which I would be forced to take someone’s life or at least respond violently. This is a gross misunderstanding of the word. Most people don’t realize that pacifism has nothing to do with being passive.

Pacifists pacify, it’s that simple. We pacifists often engage in some very active responses to violence and injustices of all kinds.

For me it stems from how I understand God’s creation of humanity;

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

God created man (not just men but man in the non-gendered sense, the implications of which are far too deep to go into at this point) in his own image. Just a few verses later, in looking back over all that He had created He pronounced it “good“.

God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. Genesis 1:31

So – if you truly believe that man is created in God`s image, and that all of His creation is good – then you cannot treat anyone as worth less than yourself. I once heard it said that the greatest lie ever told is that some people are just worth more. Logically if that were the case then some people would have to be worth less and it is that sentiment of worthlessness which leads to poverty, disenfranchisement, oppression and ultimately war.

One of the most effective ways to diffuse violence or just to short circuit oppression is to help people see each other`s humanity. That`s what Jesus was talking about when he told his followers to turn the other cheek.

If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. Matthew 5:39

It`s important to note a seemingly small detail about Jesus` words here. In a time when left handedness was shunned the fact that Jesus made the distinction that it is the right cheek is significant. Think about it, if you are facing someone who is right handed, in order for them to strike you on the right cheek, they have to hit you back hand. An act of aggression like that implies a disdainful attitude toward the victim, as if they are an inferior. By standing there and taking it and then turning back the victim is forcing the aggressor to look upon them as an equal. The other examples Jesus uses in that same passage, like offering the cloths off your back or going the extra mile are also acts that would reinforce a person`s humanity in the eyes of their oppressor.

Honouring humanity is what active pacifism is all about. It`s refusing to take up arms for your country not because you don`t want to take sides but because your loyalties do not lie solely with your government. (Another spicey meatball that I don’t have time to get into right now.)

Pacifism is about getting in the way of conflict and forcing the combatants to look at each other as humans, created in the image of one loving God. And that my friends sure as hell isn’t passive…

>Galassenheit, and Other Funny Words


>If you’ve been following for a while, by know you should have figured out that I’m a pacifist. I updated my profile last week to emphasize that fact.

Before you get any crazy ideas about coming down to my house and robbing me while I sit by and watch, pacifism as a way of life is not passive. If attacked I will defend myself, up to a point. I recently learned a better word to describe the philosophy of pacifism; galassenheit.

Galassenheit is a German word that doesn’t have a direct English translation. The best definition I could find was in the book Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy – Kraybill, Nolt, and Weaver-Zerche. The authors define galassenheit as the attitude of yieldedness or submission to the will of God. It is lived out through yielding to one another, renouncing self defence and giving up the desire for justification or efforts at revenge.

Amish theology grew out of the Anabaptist movement of Southern Germany, Switzerland and Holland in the 16th century. I was raised Mennonite and today am a member of a Brethren in Christ congregation which both point back to the Anabaptists as their origin. Although the Amish are the most visible of the Anabaptist minority, with their traditional dress and distinctive lifestyle, they are not the only Anabaptists in the world today. The vast majority of us blend in to society undetected. We can be found in all walks of life, working in any profession, wearing the latest fashions, driving cars and even writing blogs.

I’ve talked a lot lately about Peace and Justice, Oppression and Reconciliation. In order to achieve these goals I think we need to better understand the theology of galassenheit and for that we need to turn our eyes and ears back to Jesus.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth – Jesus (Matthew 5:5)

Meek is another one of those words that we’ve forgotten the meaning of in the last few decades. Dictionary.com goes so far as to say that the word is obsolete and has been replaced in the common vernacular with words like gentle or kind and then goes on to give a further list of synonyms – forbearing, yielding, unassuming, pacific, calm, and soft.

Did you catch it? Right there in the list of synonyms; yielding and pacific – Sounds like galassenheit to me!

But how does a person like that inherit the earth? Further down in Matthew 5 Jesus gives us another hint.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. – Jesus (Matthew 5:38-42)

Whenever I hear my fellow Christians talk about trying to maintain their way of life politically, religiously or lifestyle related I wonder if they understand meekness. Christians in the west have, since the time of Constantine, held a lot of power but Jesus does not teach his followers how to hold on to power. Instead he says that the meek, those who are yielding, will gain it all.

In other words, if you want power give it away! How many Church Leaders, Fortune 500 CEOs, Military Officers and Politicians would take that deal?

Let’s all work on our meekness and galassenheit today…

>It’s All There in Black And White


>

Both read the Bible day and night, but thou read black where I read white. – William Blake

The more I study the scriptures the more I am convinced that religion, especially Western Christianity, has it all wrong.

I’ve started to write this post a few times but I always abandon it because as I read it back I get too emotional. I tend to get angry but then usually end up just sad and tired when I think about how religion has distorted the plain and simple teachings of Jesus Christ.

I find myself getting drawn into arguments with my fellow Christians over doctrine and politics that when examined in the light of scripture are either irrelevant or plain as day. I also get drawn into arguments with non-Christians that centre on the sins of church history when my response should be one of compassion for the pain my predecessors have caused.

Somewhere in the two millennia since Jesus death his message has been terribly distorted for the political gain of an elite few and the masses have swallowed it hook line and sinker. Sadly the true message is still there in black and white, if we’d just look it up.

Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? – Jesus (Luke 6:46)

Many people have tried to explain away some of Jesus more difficult and politically incorrect teachings with arguments about translations and first century context. While it is important to understand what was going on in Israel at the time of Jesus and it is equally important to understand a bit of the Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew languages the Bible was originally written in we also need to recognize that all English translations of the Bible ever published are remarkably similar and the message remains consistent whether you prefer the King James, New International, Revised Standard or any other of the hundreds of translations that are available to us today.

And what is that core message? Jesus was asked that same question;

Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. (Matthew 22:37-40)

Love, plain and simple, love God first and love your neighbour. Elsewhere Jesus further explained that neighbours also include our enemies and those who persecute us.

The saddest fact of all is that Christianity as a religion has been one of violence, oppression and segregation, yet Jesus, whose intention was to tear down the religious system not build a new one, was a teacher of peace, love and inclusion. There are no caveats in His teaching that allow us to condemn, persecute or oppress those who do not agree with us as Constantine and his brethren would have us believe. There is no wiggle room that can be used to justify witch hunts, crusades or inquisitions like the medieval Catholics invented. And there is no such thing as the redemptive violence or just war that most western evangelicals promote today. Those who would use scripture to justify such things are quite simply stretching the translation beyond all reasonable linguistics and misunderstanding historical context.

I could go on for days but I try to keep my postings as close to 500 words as possible. I will expand upon and back up my position in the coming weeks. For now I just leave you with this parting thought. If Jesus is your Lord re-read his longest sermon found in Matthew 5-7, submit to his authority and do as he says. I promise you, your life will never be the same.