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Wayne Northey
I've been privileged to contribute to Clarion Journal from time to time.
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Hi Paul. Another article to consider is: "Why Many Police Are Barely Distinguishable From Racist Vigilantes" ( I have read so many similarly damning articles over many years about American police forces. I've been an American social watcher for a few decades. And as mentioned, I've read--and seen--a lot that is damning about police behaviour in Canada. "Power corrupts . . ."--Lord Acton Blessings.
Hi again Paul. I will further add a link to an article, to a book, and to two posts on my website ( The article is entitled: "Trump Didn’t Invent State Violence Against Protesters — But He’s Escalating It". It is here: The final paragraphs read: What these last months have laid bare isn’t that Trump’s national security agenda is anomalous; but, rather, that the system of control embodied by DHS, by Customs and Border Protection, by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the various other agencies, has evolved to the point where it now primarily serves to aid and abet authoritarianism. These ugly times have provided us a warning: that the military-industrial state [I always say: the police-military-prison-industrial state], the national security infrastructure that Dwight D. Eisenhower warned about 60 years ago, is now in full bloom. Trump didn’t cause that bloom to come out of nowhere; rather, his presidency is, at least in part, the end consequence, the coming to a head, of decades of fetishization of state-sanctioned violence and brutality. Unless we now embark upon a fundamental reckoning with these forces that have been allowed to fester and then to grow largely unchecked within the U.S. body politic over the decades (and, indeed, over the centuries), the very threads of democracy will, at ever-greater speed, come unraveled. *** The book is An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King. The book may be found here: The description reads (a brilliant case is made, though as one learns in reading it, its finding in favour of the King family received scant media attention): On April 4 1968, Martin Luther King was in Memphis supporting a workers’ strike. By nightfall, army snipers were in position, military officers were on a nearby roof with cameras, and Lloyd Jowers had been paid to remove the gun after the fatal shot was fired. When the dust had settled, King had been hit and a clean-up operation was set in motion-James Earl Ray was framed, the crime scene was destroyed, and witnesses were killed. William Pepper, attorney and friend of King, has conducted a thirty-year investigation into his assassination. In 1999, Lloyd Jowers and other co-conspirators were brought to trial in a civil action suit on behalf of the King family. Seventy witnesses set out the details of a conspiracy that involved J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, Richard Helms and the CIA, the military, Memphis police, and organized crime. The jury took an hour to find for the King family. In An Act of State, you finally have the truth before you-how the US government shut down a movement for social change by stopping its leader dead in his tracks. *** The first of my posts is a bit of a dog's breakfast, since I keep adding to its initial posting done May 30, 2020: Cornel West Says ‘Neo-Fascist Gangster’ Trump and Neoliberal Democrats Expose America as ‘Failed Social Experiment’. There is lots there about the police and much much more about lots more! . . . It may be accessed here: *** Finally my post, with much added commentary, linking to a "The Atlantic" magazine article, tells the long history of the horrific treatment of Blacks in America, entitled: The Case For Reparations. Superbly researched and written. It may be accessed here: The above is some of the "additional homework" alluded to in my first response that we Whites must do, indeed, not only in America (I'm Canadian and must too confess mea culpa in, by favourable happenstance, benefitting hugely downstream from massive mistreatment of indigenous, Blacks and others) but throughout the colonized world. This understatement is simple: It ain't pretty . . .
Thanks Josh. Great insights! I have a close relative who simply and airily dismisses all that historical horror towards aboriginal peoples. More, he rails against indigenous leaders who dare to suggest we settlers have any responsibility whatsoever to make things right. Sadly, that view is still dominant in Canada and all over the colonized world. It's a form of fundamentalism obdurately insulated against any trace of empathy, shut off from any kind of moral suasion/culpability, incapable of/unwilling to recognizing Truth. On the order of: "God said it! I believe it! That settles it!." To which one says: Dreadful! An excellent set of resources by the Christian Reformed Church is: The Doctrine of Discovery, Manifest Destiny, and American Exceptionalism ( Mennonite Church Canada through Steve Heinrichs has also developed many outstanding resources. See: MC Canada Indigenous-Settler Relations ( On my website, ,there are resources under "indigenous" ( and "aboriginal" ( for starters. To catch on to the prophetic in Scripture is not to read the "Left Behind" series. That takes one in the diametrically opposite direction of biblical faithfulness--even if, outside the Bible, the all-time world bestseller!. It is rather two things (at least): 1. Having eyes to see, ears to hear 2. Connecting dots. We humans/followers of Jesus don't tend to do well at either . . . Thanks again. Blessings Wayne
Hi Paul. I especially appreciated your compassion towards the end of the article. I can generally agree with the first part: indeed, "There is none righteous, no not one". You cannot go into much detail in a brief article. You obviously wanted to speak out about the despicable behaviour of many protesters in Portland, the sense of abandonment by elected officials towards the police. Above all you rightly wanted to speak up for your son and by extension his and your family. I have spent 46 years working within the criminal justice system, in promoting Restorative Justice as a peacemaking not a warmaking response to crime. I have been a prison guard, but have mainly worked in church-based volunteer programs contexts with untold numbers of prisoners/returning citizens; and alongside many criminal justice professionals including police--in the Canadian context. A few observations: 1. "To Protect and to serve" in America, as in other democracies invariably begs the questions: Who is being protected? Who is being served? What laws? Whose Order(s)? A major 2017 study, To Protect and to Serve: A History of Police in America (2017) points to answers that depend on multiple variables such as era, location, origins, etc. To say the very least: policing in America began in brutal slave patrols that "protected and served" alright: but hardly slaves; hardly nonwhites. And the law and order upheld in America's long police history did not generally favour nonwhites . . . Perhaps the greatest possible understatement about police in America (in most democracies). . . 2. Anecdotally: If I disbelieved the stories about police and prison guard behaviour, let's say two-thirds of the time, in 46 years I have heard overwhelmingly too many damning statements about police and prison guards. Two major Royal Commissions in Canada did exhaustive reviews of provincial justice systems in two provinces: Manitoba and Nova Scotia. The book Justice Denied: The law versus Donald Marshall tells the story in the latter case. Both commissions found that from the first encounter with police, to all subsequent engagement of professionals in the criminal justice system including the Attorney General of each province, deeply embedded racism fundamentally informed the operation of the system at every level. These findings have been consistent with any number of Canadian studies about racism in the Canadian criminal justice system. A major study as recent as two years ago discovered that Black Toronto residents 20 times more likely to be shot dead by police--though making up about 10% of the population. (See: I could go on, for I've spent an entire career studying justice issues--and into retirement. In this regard, Dorothy Day always rightly referred disparagingly to "That Dirty Rotten System". 3. One more book by Canadian criminologist, Thomas Gabor, who published a study in 1994 based upon a vast array of research largely done in North America: 'Everybody Does It!': Crime by the Public ( I've always maintained that the subtitle could have been "There is none righteous, no not one.". In it, he details 22 crimes routinely committed by police across North America from the fairly innocent such as mooching, all the way up to the most serious and violent . . . A riveting, positively peer-reviewed study. Enough said! Horrific indeed when police are being harmed by angry mobs. But even a superficial study of police budgets in America reveals also a horrifically violent reality that has generally only been increasing with the acquiring of surplus military equipment . . . I respect your loyalty to your son, Paul. No doubt justified. But I encourage you to do some more homework too . . .
Thank you, Jessica. Simply and beautifully expressed! I SO identify with the last verse!
I was privileged to have lived with Clark Pinnock as student renter at Regent College from 1974 to 1976 in a basement room of a house he had bought in Kitsilano (Vancouver). I told him and Dorothy (his wife) a few times that my claim to fame would be that I once rented a room from Clark Pinnock… For that first year, lifelong friends psychology professor (Dr.) Mack and Joan Goldsmith and daughters rented the main floor. That’s a claim to fame too! Mack was the first “scholar-in-residence” Regent hosted. We all participated delightedly in a Pinnock-led Bible Study group in their home. I had been forewarned that my theological categories were about to be enlarged under the tutelage of Clark. That from a fellow PBer (Plymouth Brethren) adherent who had studied under him at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS). (I’d also been direly warned against studying at Regent College by other fellow PBers because “they” did not accept the first 11 chapters of Genesis “literally” (please see in response a book review here:; and because “they” taught “amillenialism”. No one warned me however that I might be forced (indeed “kicking and screaming”) through two much more excruciating conversions at Regent College, both directly due to Clark Pinnock, in particular an interterm course he taught in 1975 called The Politics of Jesus, based on John Howard Yoder’s book first published in 1972: 1. Christian spirituality is meaningless if not expressed in the political/social. In other words, it is above all incarnational! (Surprise – it actually includes the dirty-fingernails “earth-bound” public square and space!) 2. The way of doing politics in the social realm is the non-violent way of the Cross. (Surprise – it actually means nonviolence!) In other words: being “in Christ”/“a new creation” eschewed all forms of Gnosticism, all forms of redemptive violence. Wow! This began actually to sound Christian to me! To be such consequently meant aligning oneself with the grain of the universe (Stanley Hauerwas) or the moral nature of the universe (Nancey Murphy and Geore F.R. Ellis) that we were to aggressively pursue in a creation-based ethical arc established in Genesis One. If only in subsequent Hebrew and Church history I say from the rooftops! As Ron indicated in this article, Clark never changed his mind (which he was ever wont to do if confronted by an alternative compelling theological argument) about point one of my double conversion story at Regent College. But he subsequently reverted to a pre-Christian (indeed pre-creation) ethic concerning violence – without compelling theological argument so far as I know. Which means he was all too (contextually) human! On two occasions, each in response to articles he had written, once in Faith Today, once in Christian Week (both Canadian evangelical periodicals) I questioned his backing capital punishment (in the former) and American engagement in the First Gulf War (in the latter). On both occasions, he was shortly afterwards back at Regent College to teach a summer course. On both occasions I invited him by lengthy letter to dialogue. He both times graciously acceded. On the issue of capital punishment, I quoted Pinnock against Pinnock. He had previously taken a strong position against retribution at a 1976 Corrections conference I had co-organized (and later published the proceedings of, and other articles, under Mennonite Central Committee Canada, entitled Crime Is a Peace Issue). In the latter case, on a beautiful summer evening we walked about the University of British Columbia campus, not as I had hoped in deep theological engagement – there was none – but talking more generally about our families and life. Which was great nonetheless. Clark never changed his mind again about either viewpoint. Though friends told me that Clark had attended with indication of warm appreciation, a conference at McMaster University on emergent Restorative Justice that I had been unable to go to. I wrote Clark after the second encounter with more on my theological concerns, summed up in my claiming that his ethic now stopped at the end of the Hebrew Bible – though even there he missed the “torah of nonviolence” (Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb) that coursed through that tradition, that I had first also learned from him in a marvelous Amos/Galatians course he co-taught with Carl Armerding in 1974. But in each case, he presented no counter theological argument. I concluded as Ron: that Clark, my first teacher then mentor in the nonviolent way of the Cross had indeed lost his way in favour of a vapid republicanism so contrary to everything Christ. But I long-since made my peace with Clark. Well, there never really was conflict per se. You may wish in this regard to read my tribute to him on this website at his passing: In that tribute I mention that Clark: • set me by example (he was a prison volunteer under M2/W2 when I first met him) and encouragement on a 40-year career (just retired in 2014!) in peacemaking criminology within criminal justice; • endorsed my coming-of-age novel that amongst other things wrestles with State violence against international and domestic enemies, and ultimately with violence in a doctrine of hell as “eternal conscious torment”. I just re-edited it and posted notice on my website here (including some downloadable chapters):; • infused me with a passionate embrace of spirituality as incarnational and nonviolent that like God’s hesed in Psalm 30:5 is for a lifetime! Clark’s aggressive passion for theology and the “theo” subject, his utter openness to “truth” and changing his mind regardless of praise or censure, his humility and profound faith have impacted me like no other for forty years and counting!
Amen, Brad! Larry, how about working on Brad's challenge? I've sure missed the friendship! BTW: You may wish to read my novel about our West Berlin experience, and give me your observations. It's called "Chrysalis Crucible":
Thanks to Steve for a very sensitive response to the Omnibus Bill. And thanks to Henk for your comments. "The fog of war" is an expression of battlefield confusion that aptly applies to all Western Christian attempts to justify a nation’s engagement in war according to “just war” criteria; criteria that have been neither biblical (from St. Augustine onwards who first proposed such), nor met in any Western Christendom war (according to John Howard Yoder – see: Errol Morris did a documentary by the same title in which former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara openly admits the Western Allies committed massive war crimes that could have found them guilty at a War Crimes Tribunal – had they lost the War! Since President Nixon’s administration first coined the expression “war on crime” to promulgate same, and a subsidiary “war on drugs”, there has been a similar “fog of war on crime”. No scientific criteria from any criminological/juridical realm justifies such violence; no credible biblical view of justice can ignore shalom (as Henk suggested) as ultimate goal. Despite this, a current Conservative Christian cabinet member told me approvingly in good faith that thirteen Conservative Christian MP’s totally support the current government’s anti-crime initiatives because they are “balanced”. (Though “balance” is hardly a biblical category of a God who indiscriminately lavishes rain and sun on the evil and good!) Though there is not a shred of evidence to support the legitimacy of most of this government’s anti-crime initiatives. As to this second point, I encourage people to peruse a collection of evidence-based responses to the Conservative government’s anti-crime initiatives by clicking on this page,, and cursoring down to over two dozen articles and counting under the title: “Responses to the 2011 Omnibus Bill C-10, “Safe Streets and Communities Act”, and similar legislation”. There appears to be at work in this case indeed a “fog of war on crime” that is at once profoundly anti-scientific, and profoundly anti-Christian. (See my article,, on this website as one brief pointer to the biblical issues.) Even more blaring “fog horns” are needed to “whistle-blow” the “nofar” (no facts, no analysis, no research) and the ethical bankruptcy ("pharisaism" in Jesus' world) of these anti-crime measures. Steve Bell showed us however how to “blare the truth in love”. May thousands “Go and do likewise”! A good place to begin is a visit, phone call, letter, etc. with/to your MP, and your MLA. Tell the latter that you want the province to refuse to pay for any of the Conservative crime bills unless they meet rigorous scientific and biblical ethical scrutiny.
Thanks for posting this! We in Canada are not immune. Prime Minister Harper's Conservatives have gone after Canada's domestic enemies through a total (soon) of 29 new crime bills ( that will significantly more than double the current roughly annual 5 billion dollar cost of Canadian criminal justice), through measures designed to massively increase punishment, especially incarceration, despite the abject failure of such according universally to criminologists and 30-years experience in the United States (see for instance: Now that Canadian "domestic enemies" are "eliminated", Harper is ominously setting his sights on international enemies according to a recent Maclean's interview with same. See: This is profound evil at work under the guise of "democracy and freedom" - Canadian-style. Arguably Canada has never been in such danger in its history - or so dangerous! Tragically, it is in part the Christian Church that is spurring and cheering Harper onwards! When will we ever "see" - and turn from our wicked ways? (See Marci McDonald's "The Armageddon Factor":
Thanks Brian! This was very powerful! The Western Church has been heretical (like the Pharisees in their entrenched false religious choices) for so many centuries, and so ubiquitously/iniquitously on this great-gulf-fixed divide of God the eternal Lover and Restorer of our souls versus God the Sentencing Judge, that Western Christendom with devastating consequences simply lost its way - as far back as Augustine. Tragically, Augustine's Pharisaical false choice/false gospel teaching dominated Western Roman Catholicism and Protestantism/Evangelicalism ever since. To now sound the sweet biblical note by contrast to most Christian leaders in the West creates impossible dissonance and presents as "heretical". What a perversion/inversion of the Gospel that "amazing grace/how sweet the sound" has been transposed into "amazing retributive justice/how sour the cacophony!" One has "eyes to see/ears to hear" this travesty or one does not. This travesty that leads to the triple evil of the Western Church's embrace/endorsement of "just war", "just retribution", and "just hell" is the ultimate bane of Western Christendom's anti-Christ anti-Gospel. I posted a link to your podcast onto our Restorative Justice website ( - see, "M2/W2 Promotional Materials") here: I entitled it: "God is Like Jesus: The Spiritual Heart of Restorative Justice". Thanks and blessings! Wayne
Thanks Brian for this. "Forgiveness" is the future because forgiveness is God's Kingdom Come.
Thanks Brad. I feel necessarily and appropriately admonished by you (not for the first time!)... To paraphrase Doug Frank cited above: " In our very protests of [Gospel faithfulness], we find occasion for our deepest self-deceits." Sigh... Thanks for your gift of wisdom and a gentle spirit. Wayne
Hi Eric. Wes Howard-Brook and John Dear are decades-long authors/activists in the area of nonviolence and empire. What is (relatively - 2010) new is this publication that offers such breadth and depth to that theme. Church of course also offers nothing "new" in calling us regularly together. It is however constantly needed life-saving reminder of who is Lord! For the majority of English and American evangelicals, it remains impossible to acknowledge their dominant political ethos in the last two empires - the American Empire still in desperate hegemonic throes - as their own foundational reality out of which slavish allegiance "Christ is Lord" is urgent clarion call. Blessings. Wayne
Thanks Sheila! We (Denys, Brad, Ron, your husband and I) were so blessed just two weekends ago by your gentle reading of those poems and others at your home tucked away in the remote BC wilderness: a most perfect ending to a wonderful day hike to the snowline at Jumbo Pass! I believe Clarion Journal plans to publish more, as you absolutely must continue to write more!... Blessings and profound thanks. Wayne
Heh Flyn! Thanks for your response to the parable. I say this carefully from limited experience: Orthodox believers from other traditions too often think they have "arrived", and discard their own spiritual nurturing that brought them to Orthodoxy. And those long in Orthodoxy can lack graciousness in openness to learning from other traditions (with at times a sense given by them of there being nothing to learn...), which is sad. I'd further say that the Bible is more than (mere) "potatoes": better the sine qua non "meat and potatoes" metaphorically that ultimately sustains all traditions. That said, having been raised on sola scriptura, the parable resonated because I have seen the Bible so misused and misinterpreted that I'm convinced the Bible can be tragically too readily closer to a poison, as such a distinction is explicated by René Girard between "pharmakos/pharmakon", as English "Gift" is linguistically linked to the German "Gift", meaning poison. (See the brief article on this here: As my generous atheist aunt once said compassionately of a close relative about her devotion to the Bible, an aunt to whom this relative had tried to be a witness for years: "I sometimes think Marie would be so much happier if she stopped reading her Bible." Sadly, for all "Marie's" (not her real name) devotion to the Bible, she was uptight and lacking in the joyous abandon of discovery of that "Pearl of great price"! precisely it seemed because of her (poisonous) religious devotion to the Bible... My aunt had a point indeed about that kind of sola scriptura... You know the type too, Flyn. Trust you and family are doing really well. Wayne
Thanks Ron! I'm humbled by how much more there is to learn and deepen in following Christ through return to the ancient routes/roots. Wayne
Hi Paul! Five years later, I'll respond. This after your urging me to read another book critiquing "restorative justice" so central to the Gospel as compellingly presented by Chris Marshall in "Beyond Retribution" noted above. I reviewed that book you urged me to read (with disapproval), here: I am not "ad hominem" towards C.S. Lewis and others: on the contrary, I respect for instance greatly Lewis' pointing to the ancient routes/roots of Christian theology ultimately centred on Christ. I am however critical of these authors for missing so significantly the centrality of "peace" in the New Testament - reprised in the ancient church traditions. (A classic website on this is "In Communion: Website of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship", found here: The best recent (massive) treatment of this is by Willard Swartley, reviewed here: Jesus' "yellow journalism" in Matthew 23 does embolden one, if respectful towards, say, a Nicodemus... I wish you well. Wayne
A great parable! Thanks so much.
Thanks, Brian. This has been the Church’s tragic legacy for centuries. I try to show this in my piece in this journal, “War and Hell”. It includes a book review of "The Other Side of the Good News" by Larry Dixon, whose conclusion of “eternal conscious torment in hell” for every non-believer is warmly endorsed in the Preface by J.I. Packer. Larry and I were fellow evangelists in West Berlin who once proclaimed Jesus together. We now worship a different “Lord”, one, in his and Packer’s case, who is quite prepared to give all enemies, temporal and spiritual, hell. I wrestle with this in my novel "Chrysalis Crucible" – as both tragic motivation for evangelism, and execrable “scared straight” tactic for the unbeliever. Jesus’ teaching on the other hand says: The litmus test for love of God is love of neighbour; and the litmus test for love of neighbour is love of enemy. To the extent one fails to love one’s enemy/ies, to that extent one fails to love God. This is the central atonement teaching and God’s model in Christ in Romans 5:6 – 11. This is “Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus” according to Phil Zuckerman in a provocative posting here: Evangelicals indeed reject Jesus outright on hell and war. Evangelicals teach that the only ultimate fearful entity in the cosmos to be saved from is a “god” who will give eternal conscious hell to everyone who fails to embrace “Jesus as Lord and Saviour”. This is a heresy (false teaching) and a travesty beyond imagining. The vast majority of evangelicals and Roman Catholics (see Father Emmanuel Charles McCarthy on this here: in the United States – and worldwide – subscribe to such a doctrine of hell and to such eradication of enemies. Like I said: tragic.
I'm a former non-ethnic Anabaptist/Mennonite convert who still fellowships at a Mennonite Church. But my wife and I decidedly dropped the "Anabaptist/Mennonite" label and our church membership as final straw after a sermon earlier this year by Vic Thiessen, former Director of the London Mennonite Centre, who presented an Anabaptist/Mennonite triumphalism as distasteful as all others, along the lines of this conference last year:, where the claim was made after citations from Gregory Boyd, Brian McLaren and Tim Sine (repeated by Thiessen in his sermon): "From all parts of the globe, church leaders (evangelical, mainline, emerging church) are calling for Anabaptists to lead the way in the development of a holistic theology with integrity that addresses the world of the 21st century. The influence of Anabaptists in the UK during the past thirty years is an example of this." Thiessen in his sermon continued (for us) ad nauseum in according Anabaptist Mennonites absolute pride of place in this renewal "conspiracy" whose time had come in the 21st century. This contemporary Anabaptist/Mennonite hagiography is found repeatedly in Thiessen's work, reflected for instance here: I would encourage Pastor Thacker to consider how blind one tends to be to one's own "idols closer to home". Not one ethnic Anabaptist/Mennonite in our fellowship heard the scapegoating "nauseum" (à la René Girard) in that sermon. Astounding claims were made for instance that no other church tradition but Anabaptist/Mennonite ever got/gets it about the faith/works dichotomy, etc. Thiessen's sermon, others heard by us in fellowship at our Mennonite Church the last 20 years, continued claims of this sort by fellow church-members (one in full praise of Thiessen's sermon at that same church service by a professor of church history, another awarding uncritical accolades at the same service by a university professor, our church pastor with a repeated preferential commitment to Anabaptist/Mennonite theological/ecclesiological uniqueness, many claims by fellow MCCers over my 12 years of work with Mennonite Central Committee Ontario and Canada, etc.), indicate one thing: Anabaptist/Mennonite "snipe" are real. We remain in fellowship at our Mennonite Church, but are nurtured by many other traditions, ancient and modern.
Thanks Ron for drawing attention to “the weightier matters of the law”. I first met Dr. Packer on a Regent College committee to select a new ethics professor after Dr. Klaus Bockmuehl had died. When Dr. Packer heard that I worked at the time for the Mennonite Central Committee Canada, he offered me a spontaneous and succinct critique of Anabaptists. While I share with you, Ron, that Anabaptists were part of the “DNA of schism” that at the Reformation sowed ever since disunity in the body of Christ, that was not Packer’s critique who idolizes the Reformed tradition. In response, I remember quoting James (2:18): “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do…” In short, the “Sanhedrin” in Jesus’ day as in ours fails to do “justice, mercy and faithfulness” (Jesus in Matthew 23:23 – quoting the high water Hebrew Bible ethical text of Micah 6:8: He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.) When I was doing my Master of Theological Studies at Regent College, I was given a Systematic Theology reading list of a few thousand pages drawn up by Dr. Packer. When I eventually mentioned to him that (as I recall) only one publication was not by or about Reformed theologians/theology, he smiled and said his philosophy was getting to know one tradition well before examining others. I was grateful at the time that he was on a Sabbatical and another list was made available that represented instead 2,000 years of Christian thought. Over against the “Sanhedrin”, we are called to this profound ethical impulse: “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’( Matthew 9:13) ” Matthew’s Gospel twice quotes Jesus quoting Hosea (6:6): “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” In the end all theology (“acknowledgement of God”) is heresy (false choice) if its central dynamic is not mercy towards/love of neighbour. This is the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2–17; Deuteronomy 5:6–21) boiled down to two by Jesus (Matthew 22:37 – 40 on which “All the Law and the Prophets hang…”) boiled down in Paul (Romans 13:8 – 10) and James (2:8) to one Royal Law: “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.” In this context, Hosea, Jesus, Paul and James would have all added, “you are doing right ‘theology’ ”. Love is “the most excellent way” (I Corinthians 12:31, 13:1 – 13), for “God is love (I John 4:16).”
Thanks Brad for this post. Years ago I asked Ron to be a spiritual mentor. It has been an amazingly rich journey since! I know of others, you too, who acknowledge that! I have also long since been (re)oriented by the Red Tory tradition in my understanding of politics: this over against Anabaptism through which I first was introduced to the notion that Christians should even care about same: a major conversion for me! (That new embrace was in turn over against my church upbringing in the Plymouth Brethren tradition that was profoundly a/anti-political.) This first conversion happened for me at Regent College in 1975 through an interterm course by Clark Pinnock entitled "The Politics of Jesus", that drew on Anabaptist theologian John Howard Yoder's famous 1972 publication by the same title. My second "conversion" at Regent College was: the Jesus way of doing politics is the nonviolent way of the cross. It is this second point that most clashes with the Red Tory view of the state, with in fact all views of the state that authorize it to do (in particular lethal) violence. No theorist, Red Tory or otherwise, has ever demonstrated how Christians can "love your enemies" and authorize/participate in (in Augustine's terms - who was the father of Christian doublespeak on violence) running a spear through the enemy's gut, hacking off his head, shooting an arrow through the heart, and Christians' making up entire armies for the state with said purposes as Augustine envisioned; or hanging the criminal, burning him at the stake, beheading same; or otherwise in more modern "humane" ways dropping smart bombs, deploying guided cruise missile, creating massive instant overkill with conventional or nuclear weapons; or electrocuting, injecting lethal drugs, using a firing squad, etc., etc., etc. Is not the state profoundly anti-Christian so long as it arrogates to itself and Christians (Red Tories included) authorize (sole) prerogative of committing lethal violence? My favourite quote on this is New Testament theologian Richard Hay's final words in chapter 14 ("Violence in Defense of Justice") from The Moral Vision of the New Testament: A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics,Harper,1996: *** One reason that the world finds the New Testament’s message of peacemaking and love of enemies incredible is that the church is so massively faithless. On the question of violence, the church is deeply compromised and committed to nationalism, violence, and idolatry. (By comparison, our problems with sexual sin are trivial.) This indictment applies alike to liberation theologies that justify violence against oppressors and to establishment Christianity that continues to play chaplain to the military-industrial complex, citing just war theory and advocating the defense of a particular nation as though that were somehow a Christian value. Only when the church renounces the way of violence will people see what the Gospel means, because then they will see the way of Jesus reenacted in the church. Whenever God’s people give up the predictable ways of violence and self-defense, they are forced to formulate imaginative new responses in particular historical settings, responses as startling as going the second mile to carry the burden of a soldier who had compelled the defenseless follower of Jesus to carry it one mile first. The exact character of these imaginative responses can be worked out only in the life of particular Christian communities; however, their common denominator will be conformity to the example of Jesus, whose own imaginative performance of enemy-love led him to the cross. If we live in obedience to Jesus’ command to renounce violence, the church will become the sphere where the future of God’s righteousness intersects—and challenges—the present tense of human existence. The meaning of the New Testament’s teaching on violence will become evident only in communities of Jesus’ followers who embody the costly way of peace. *** The best massive study on this is Willard Swartley's Covenant of Peace: The Missing Peace in New Testament Theology and Ethics, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006. I could only wish the Red Tory tradition had wrestled/wrestles with this profound denial of the Gospel in its positive embrace of the state. I just don't see it! But I stand to learn lots more, and could be corrected in this view, I'm sure - and to which I'm open. And... this is not new to you or to Ron! With love and care. Wayne
Thanks, too Arthur for your irenic posts. One scholar I neglected to mention, Chris Marshall, wrote a defining text on a Christian response to crime: "Beyond Retribution: A New Testament Vision for Crime and Punishment" (Eerdmans, 2001). More about him and his publications here: Some further reading that has occasioned alarm are the following. I believe we are experiencing the slow erosion of human rights in Canada not unlike Niemoeller's scenario, though history in repeating itself is invariably contextual, never inevitable. This reminds of the proverbial heat being turned up on the unsuspecting frog in the water until too late. Please see:;;;; I am reading much more. Ron Dart calls this "connecting the dots" in "The Armageddon Factor" by Marci McDonald, reviewed elsewhere on this site. (Where one need not agree with every example, but discerns concerning patterns. One need not be alarmist nor conspiracy theory friendly either. One just knows "The heart [my heart!] is deceitful... (Jer. 17:9)".) Jesus in Matt. 26:41 says: "Watch and pray..." We need to take this to heart in this context. Some new victims, possibly democracy itself, are in danger of crucifixion in Canada. Conrad Black (who as prisoner and historian "knows" some things) says cogently in the article on Canada's inhumane prison system: "The principle that the rape of the rights of the least is an assault on the rights of all is attributed to Jesus Christ and is at the core of Judeo-Christian civilization and the rule of law in both common and civil law jurisdictions." Again, Lord have mercy on us all! Wayne
Glory to Jesus Christ! Hello Ron- I really appreciated this review; I think you have gotten right at the heart of Fr Alexandar's weakness, even while appreciating his strength. I have been encouraged to find some scathing and deeply probing critique of the (modern) Republican Party (and its ethos), by some of the more politically (classically) Conservative Orthodox in the blogosphere (I'm thinking of the Ochlophobist; Second Terrace; and Information and Belief weblogs in particular). Nevertheless it is a great sadness that early Orthodox immigrants to America failed to look deeper than the surface "moral issues" they agreed with in the Republican party, and thus in their efforts to 'Americanize' their faith this has been the party of favour (perhaps less so among Greeks). Only at a superficial level can one comfortably associate theological conservatism with (what passes for) political conservatism. And yet- given that Orthodoxy is of course theologically conservative- the demographic that tends to convert, tends also to bring their "political baggage" with them. Since most of us tend to *be* superficial in our faith, this baggage tends to be Republican baggage. It will be many many decades- if not a century even- before 'the mystical theology of the Orthodox Church' really settles in to the bones of the living stones She is being populated with here in North America. Until then, we who see differently just love and suffer with each other. :) Thanks again for an insightful commentary; -Mark Basil (PS you never did respond to my question about the "evidence" that James was the biological brother of Jesus.)
Thanks, Eric. Your poem captures well the tragedy of "desire" turned inward. An outstanding book, with chapter 2 teasing out the dynamics of desire in Genesis is: "The Genesis of Desire" by Jean-Michel Oughourlian (Michigan State University Press). He has been impacted by the work of René Girard on understandings of mimetic desire. His book offers compassion and explanation, above all hope, for relationships broken by the ravages of desire. In this context we (must) learn to confess: "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God... (Psalm 42:1)". Gerald May says in "Addiction and Grace" that God is the only non-addictive "entity" in the universe. Hence Jesus' supplying the two greatest commands as our ticket to salvation/freedom. Thanks again. Wayne