Nonviolence and the Violence Burning Inside

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I have been committed to nonviolence ever since I read Tolstoy’s essays on Civil Disobedience at culler Jr. High in Lincoln, Nebraska. I also read Mennonite texts I had picked up at the local thrift store pointing a better way than abdicating the church to a state’s self serving Just War theory.

As a budding pacifist my stance had more to do with my own literalistic reading of scripture than it did an internal commitment to the life altering nature of being a peacemaker.

It wasn’t far into my working class high school experience that I found those intrigued by my pacifism. I was an oddity, even amongst those who followed a more strident form of Christian literalism. Some thought it a good opportunity for machismo to threaten a masculinity that I already rejected. Others admired my principles. Yet few agreed in practicality that my literalist interpretation of the text was practical or feasible in bringing change.

I wish I could say that my inner peace matched the ideal I thought Jesus commanded of me. I was internally troubled by the unrealistic and psychologically destructive growing cultural phenomenon called evangelicalism. Evangelical’s low view of humanity and an unrealistic view of the divine created an impossible ethic. I found myself desperate to reach unattainable levels of certainty about salvation. Plus, I had not yet learned that evangelical’s unbiblical obsession with individualism actually created ego issues that worked strongly against the non-violence that I was committing my life.

When I left the evangelical fold I stripped away, deconstructed everything I new about faith. This deconstruction included my naive utopian ideals of pacifism and
Non-violence. What is left? How does a person that does not take the bible literally or now yearns for faith rooted in the 21st century maintain views of non-violence?

Over the next few posts I hope to elucidate my current views on non-violence that have grown over that 20 year period. The reason for this excursive into my personal views of non-violence are for your scrutiny, but more for myself. I want to see if I can coherently speak about non-violence and my commitment to it currently. Strangely issues of peacemaking, non-violence and tactics have been more important over my last two years of ministry. So, it is time for a check in and possibly a check up. I hope you will enjoy the reflections and know that for me full life is always my main goal.

The next post will be my reflections on a definition of violence.

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