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That was a bumper sticker Sojourners published at the outset of the Iraq war more than a decade ago. American church leaders had not only opposed the war but offered an alternative: "An Alternative to War for Defeating Saddam Hussein, A Religious Initiative." We not only presented it to Colin Powell's personal council and Tony Blair, but also printed full-page ads in every major British newspaper the day before their Parliamentary debate and vote on the war. The U.K.'s Secretary of State for International Affairs, Clair Short, told me the only real alternative on the table in their Cabinet meetings was "The American church leaders' plan," which, she said, was seriously discussed.
In a township called Khayelitsha, a woman wakes well before dawn to catch a bus that will carry her to the beautiful home in Cape Town where her employer/boss/master wants his tea in bed by 7 a.m. That is what "post-apartheid" South Africa still looks like today.
"There is nothing quite like the African bush to soothe and rejuvenate." That experience was conveyed to me by a South African church leader who has been helping plan the speaking tour I just arrived for here in this beloved country.
The horrible human costs and increasing danger the world is now facing in Gaza, Ukraine, and Iraq show the consequences of not telling the truth. And unfortunately, we seem to mostly have political leaders who are unwilling to admit the truth of what's happening, deal with root causes instead of exploiting symptoms, and then do everything possible to prevent the escalation of violence and further wars. Instead we have politicians who are mostly looking for opportunities to blame their political opponents, boost their own reputations, and protect business interests. As people of faith, we are called to speak the truth in love. It's time for some truth telling.
Though immigration is a polarizing issue, the plight of migrant children at the southern border of the United States is so dire that an unlikely assortment of faith groups have found themselves standing on the same side of the fence.
I met my wife, Joy Carroll, at Greenbelt, a summer festival of faith, arts, and justice held annually in England. It was August 1994. A few months earlier, in May, Joy was one of the first women to be ordained as a priest in the Church of England. We were both speakers on a panel one day at Greenbelt, in a tent with 5,000 young people. Afterwards, we met for coffee. Joy had been an ordained deacon in the church for six years and was a leader in the movement to recognize all the gifts women had to offer both to the church and the parishes they served. She was the youngest member of the General Synod that decided to ordain women, and she was there for the historic vote in Church House Westminster in London. That cup of coffee eventually led to our marriage in 1997.
"In my life, I’ve gained the most wisdom from being in places where I wasn’t supposed to be and being with people I was never supposed to be with. Meeting and befriending people who Jesus would probably call “the least of these” has changed my life over and over again. I’ve learned more from so-called “outsiders” than I ever did from the insiders."
Co-sponsored by the Christian nonprofits Sojourners and IMA World Health, the survey also found that pastors were more likely to believe domestic violence was an issue in their community (72%) than an issue in their church (25%).
America is stunned by what is happening in Iraq right now, and happening so quickly. We may be facing the worst terrorist threat to international security so far -- despite all we have done and sacrificed. Both our political leaders and media pundits are admitting there are no good options for the U.S. now. But there is an option we could try for the first time: humility. Let me turn to two biblical texts that might provide some wisdom for both the religious and non-religious.
Sojourners, a national Christian organization, is celebrating more than 40 years of faith in action for social justice. It has become an important movement within Christianity as it continues to "inspire hope and build a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church and the world." Recently, Sojourners has taken on crucial issues such as the global economic crisis, health-care reform, immigration reform, climate change, racial justice and issues of gender.