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MrZoom

pornography and violence; pacificism revisited

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: You want to know how simplistic it is for me? When it was time to blast

: Osama out of his cave, I simply couldn't picture Jesus putting on his

: helmet, climbing into the bomber and frying people.

Yeah me too

(altho' I'd also add that another reason is that for all that blasting they still haven't actually got him)

Actually now I'm on it you also said:

"I, in fact, think pacifism is too hard to ever be tried, at least by nations"

but of course that is what the Danes did during WW2

Matt

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Ron: \"I, in fact, think pacifism is too hard to ever be tried, at least by nations\"

but of course that is what the Danes did during WW2

That's a part of the WW2 story I don't know about: I'll be curious to read more about it.

I do think, though, that even if the occasional country follows through with something like pacifism, just as the rare person follows through with this belief, it will never be widespread, and it won't - in the big and public story - prevail. I'd love to be proved wrong, but I don't think my choice for peace (or Denmark's) will ever be more than a blip on the graph of human history. My faithfulness to my marriage won't mean that everyone else will follow suit - "the adulterous will always be with you" - but I'm still called to live that out in my own life. I see pacifism in a very similar way.

I'm eager, though, to find out more about the Danes. Sounds like a story I need to know about.

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Well I heard it a few years ago, but then this summer read about it in more detail (albeit in a work of historical fiction) in Leon Uris' "Exodus".

Not necessarily the most reliable source, but on this issue there's no reason to doubt him (plus I'm sure its backed up elsewhere too).

Matt

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MattPage wrote:

: : You want to know how simplistic it is for me? When it was time to blast

: : Osama out of his cave, I simply couldn't picture Jesus putting on his

: : helmet, climbing into the bomber and frying people.

:

: Yeah me too

: (altho' I'd also add that another reason is that for all that blasting they

: still haven't actually got him)

Oh sure they did. The dude hasn't released a video in how long, now?

: : I, in fact, think pacifism is too hard to ever be tried, at least by nations

:

: but of course that is what the Danes did during WW2

Eh? These apparently aren't the same Nazi-collaborating Danes on whom Carl Dreyer based his version of Caiaphas in the script to his never-made Jesus film.

As to the question of pacifism, all I would say at this point is that the traditional Anabaptist belief in non-violence is actually rooted, first and most fundamentally, in the Anabaptist belief in church-state separation, and the belief that, while the followers of Jesus are called to be his disciples (and therefore to turn the other cheek, etc.), we also believe, as per Romans 13, that God has ordained the earthly powers for a reason, and that the earthly powers do not weild their swords in vain -- it is through them that God punishes those who do evil, etc.

The tricky question is, what happens when society changes, so that Christians (including Anabaptists) are no longer an oppressed and powerless minority, but can now be voted into office and are given the power of the state? Do they decide NOT to punish evildoers?

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MattPage wrote:

: : You want to know how simplistic it is for me? When it was time to blast  

: : Osama out of his cave, I simply couldn't picture Jesus putting on his  

: : helmet, climbing into the bomber and frying people.

:

: Yeah me too

: (altho' I'd also add that another reason is that for all that blasting they

: still haven't actually got him)

Oh sure they did.  The dude hasn't released a video in how long, now?

I actually heard he's in pre-production on something. It's not on IMDb yet, but probably soon. I believe it's a remake...

: : I, in fact, think pacifism is too hard to ever be tried, at least by nations

:

: but of course that is what the Danes did during WW2

Eh?  These apparently aren't the same Nazi-collaborating Danes on whom Carl Dreyer based his version of Caiaphas in the script to his never-made Jesus film.

Caiaphas was a Dane? So Mel's movie isn't anti-Semitic at all - it's anti-Dane!

God has ordained the earthly powers for a reason, and that the earthly powers do not weild their swords in vain -- it is through them that God punishes those who do evil, etc.

The tricky question is, what happens when society changes, so that Christians (including Anabaptists) are no longer an oppressed and powerless minority, but can now be voted into office and are given the power of the state?  Do they decide NOT to punish evildoers?

Indeed! Some of those conundrums are at the centre of my play REFUGE OF LIES, which had to do with the Jacob Luitjens case. (Luitjens was a Mennonite, accused of having collaborated with the Nazis in Holland in WW2. My play was precipitated by a headline in Christian Info: "CHURCH STANDS BEHIND LUITJENS." Which brought a lot of these questions to the fore.)

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Sheesh. I thought I was shaped by the radical claims of the gospel of grace: now I realize it was just a bumper sticker....

If I were going to respond to your post in terms of the limitations of bumper-sticker thinking, the bumper sticker I would pick would be not "Make Love Not War," but "What Would Jesus Do?" biggrin.gif

To wit:

You want to know how simplistic it is for me? When it was time to blast Osama out of his cave, I simply couldn't picture Jesus putting on his helmet, climbing into the bomber and frying people. And when I tried to imagine myself putting on the helmet He'd refused.

I'm not sure how useful it is to try to picture how Jesus would or wouldn't respond to specific circumstances not described in the gospels, especially when framed in a modern context (putting on helmets, climbing into bombers, etc.).

One factor, of course, is that Jesus' human life on this earth is too far removed from ours culturally; another is that our picture of what he was like as a person is too limited by the source data. Beyond that, we know he was God, and idealize him on the basis of our own imperfect ideas about good and bad. We also know that he had a specific mission in life, and this can interfere with our attempts to imagine him living out other vocations.

Going back to your earlier post, Ron, many Christians would say they can't picture Jesus watching a movie with nudity or explicit sexuality (I just had a conversation with one last weekend). Speaking strictly for myself, I'm not sure I can picture him watching many of the films we talk about, or even investing as much energy into film as we do.

I can't even imagine him, really, as a husband and father. I can imagine him in a domestic context being loving and gentle and wise, but the Jesus in my imagination is so, I don't know, self-possessed, and somehow elusive -- not to mention devoted to the whole world -- that I just can't picture him really belonging to one woman and their children. I'm not sure whether my inability to abstract the Jesus of my imagination from my understanding of his vocation is a failure of imagination or a clarity of faith, but either way I can't picture it.

OTOH, while I can't imagine Jesus as a husband and father, I can certainly imagine him attending a wedding and giving his blessing, and I can't imagine him considering or regarding marriage itself as a bad thing. I can imagine him counselling singleness for some people, and being against certain marriages, but not being against marriage per se.

Likewise, while I can't imagine Jesus fighting as a soldier, and while I can imagine him being against certain conflicts, I just can't see him saying, "Unless a soldier lay down his arms and cease from fighting, he cannot be my disciple." I can imagine him saying "Go and sin no more," but not "Go and fight for your country no more." I can imagine him saying "If any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also," but not, "If any one attacks your wife, give him your daughter also."

But all of that is incidental, since what we can or can't picture Jesus doing isn't a particularly useful measure of anything.

What I think is often more useful is to look for the leading of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church down through history. Not that everything Christians have ever done, even with Church sanction, has been in line with God's will, but the Holy Spirit does lead Jesus' followers and his leading can be discerned in the life of the Church. In that connection, when I look at the history of Christian pacifism and Christian support for wars believed to be just, while I do find militant Christians being at times led astray into wrongful violence and unjust wars, I cannot conclude that pacifism reflects the mind of the Church and the leading of the Holy Spirit. (Then again, I'm not an Anabaptist for largely the same reason, so take it for what it's worth.)

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So Mel's movie isn't anti-Semitic at all - it's anti-Dane!

At work, on my lunch hour, this statement has eaten its way into the center of my whimsy and there keeps me in quiet hysterics for some time now...

Great discussion. I've no time to enter it now, but nice stuff.

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What I think is often more useful is to look for the leading of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church down through history.

Beautifully stated SDG. I think this is exactly right, and serves as a model not only for this discussion, but any discussion in trying to determine what the Christian path might be.

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SDG wrote:

: OTOH, while I can't imagine Jesus as a husband and father, I can

: certainly imagine him attending a wedding and giving his blessing, and I

: can't imagine him considering or regarding marriage itself as a bad thing.

: I can imagine him counselling singleness for some people, and being

: against certain marriages, but not being against marriage per se.

:

: Likewise, while I can't imagine Jesus fighting as a soldier, and while I can

: imagine him being against certain conflicts, I just can't see him saying,

: "Unless a soldier lay down his arms and cease from fighting, he cannot

: be my disciple." I can imagine him saying "Go and sin no more," but not

: "Go and fight for your country no more." I can imagine him saying "If

: any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also," but

: not, "If any one attacks your wife, give him your daughter also."

Oh my. SDG, you are a god. We are not worthy to read your posts.

Well, you know what I mean.

Seriously, that was brilliant. Wish I had thought of all that.

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Sheesh. I thought I was shaped by the radical claims of the gospel of grace: now I realize it was just a bumper sticker....

If I were going to respond to your post in terms of the limitations of bumper-sticker thinking, the bumper sticker I would pick would be not "Make Love Not War," but "What Would Jesus Do?" biggrin.gif

Well, now this thread has both Jason AND I chuckling. Nice one, Mr G!

You want to know how simplistic it is for me? When it was time to blast Osama out of his cave, I simply couldn't picture Jesus putting on his helmet, climbing into the bomber and frying people. ....

I'm not sure how useful it is to try to picture how Jesus would or wouldn't respond to specific circumstances not described in the gospels, especially when framed in a modern context (putting on helmets, climbing into bombers, etc.).

Oh, my problem has nothing to do with the anachronism there. Heck, I've staged Jesus plays in all kinds of different settings - my anachrometer is completely busted. Neither can I imagine him putting on a Roman armor and picking up a spear for battle, or taking a zealot's knife and slicing a Roman throat.

But yes, I admit, there's something, well, "simplistic" about this way of seeing it. It's not the beginning and end of my thinking on it, but it's in the middle of it.

...our picture of what he was like as a person is too limited by the source data. Beyond that, we know he was God, and idealize him on the basis of our own imperfect ideas about good and bad. We also know that he had a specific mission in life, and this can interfere with our attempts to imagine him living out other vocations.

The points are strong ones. I guess I would just say that Jesus was not silent on the topic of violence, and the things He did say about violence seem to line up closer to pacifism than its alternative.

I can imagine him saying \"If any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also,\" but not, \"If any one attacks your wife, give him your daughter also.\"

I'm with Peter - that's very well put! All I can do is shrug, and keep pondering this.

What I think is often more useful is to look for the leading of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church down through history. ...In that connection, when I look at the history of Christian pacifism and Christian support for wars believed to be just, while I do find militant Christians being at times led astray into wrongful violence and unjust wars, I cannot conclude that pacifism reflects the mind of the Church and the leading of the Holy Spirit. (Then again, I'm not an Anabaptist for largely the same reason, so take it for what it's worth.)

Well, it does come down to this, at least in the context of our discussion. When I think of "the leading of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church", I think first of "my" church, the Mennonites. And I honestly believe that the Holy Spirit was leading them to make a correction to some of what the rest of Christendom had wrong.

I wouldn't be surprised if the day comes when, once again, I retreat from my pacifism. There's certainly a big part of me that values the peace I live in, recognizing that I have it because policemen carry guns and use force - even deadly force - to preserve that peace. As someone remarked in the context of The Lord Of The Rings - the peace of the Shire was a very great good, but it existed only because of the Rangers around their borders, and battles in far off lands.

I just don't know.

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Oh my.  SDG, you are a god.  We are not worthy to read your posts.

Well, you know what I mean.

Seriously, that was brilliant.  Wish I had thought of all that.

8O

Aw shucks, Peter, you makin me blush. People will say we're in love.

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One factor, of course, is that Jesus' human life on this earth is too far removed from ours culturally;

I don't see as much discrepancy. There was a huge movement in Judaism to take Israel back by force & Jesus could easily have chosen that path. Instead he doesn't he chooses the peaceful path everytime.

another is that our picture of what he was like as a person is too limited by the source data. Beyond that, we know he was God, and idealize him on the basis of our own imperfect ideas about good and bad.
But this cuts both ways (I know you deal with this pobjection below vis a vis the guidance of the Spirit)

Going back to your earlier post, Ron, many Christians would say they can't picture Jesus watching ...nudity or explicit sexuality. Speaking strictly for myself, I'm not sure I can picture him watching many of the films we talk about, or even investing as much energy into film as we do.
I sometimes I wonder that, but then I remember he didn't have the lust issues we tend to.

I can't even imagine him, really, as a husband and father. I can imagine him in a domestic context being loving and gentle and wise, but the Jesus in my imagination is so, I don't know, self-possessed, and somehow elusive -- not to mention devoted to the whole world -- that I just can't picture him really belonging to one woman and their children.
Interesting. I find this dead easy. I wonder if its linked to the celibate priests tradition in your church?

Likewise, while I can't imagine Jesus fighting as a soldier, and while I can imagine him being against certain conflicts, I just can't see him saying, \"Unless a soldier lay down his arms and cease from fighting, he cannot be my disciple.\" I can imagine him saying \"Go and sin no more,\" but not \"Go and fight for your country no more.\" I can imagine him saying \"If any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also,\" but not, \"If any one attacks your wife, give him your daughter also.\"
But can you imagine him saying "Love your enemies, until they do X and then you can use whatever force is necessary to stop them ? Because I just can't. The idea of Jesus with any kind of weapon just seems wrong to me. Besides there's one heck of a difference between "giving him your daughter" and opposing the one in a non-violent way.

What I think is often more useful is to look for the leading of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church down through history. Not that everything Christians have ever done, even with Church sanction, has been in line with God's will, but the Holy Spirit does lead Jesus' followers and his leading can be discerned in the life of the Church.
I kind of agree with that to an extent, but its those anomalies that bother me. When the church has been so wrong on violence in the past (I can't actually think of any actions you would propose as examples of the church getting it right OTTOMH) it makes me at kleast question why we should take this as read as the example we should follow. But then I suppose I'm a protestant so again it coms down to an approach.

In that connection, when I look at the history of Christian pacifism ... I cannot conclude that pacifism reflects the mind of the Church and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Why not exactly?

Matt

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Ron wrote:

: When I think of "the leading of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church", I

: think first of "my" church, the Mennonites.

Eh? I thought you were a Lutheran?

MattPage wrote:

: The idea of Jesus with any kind of weapon just seems wrong to me.

What about that stuff with the knives in Luke's version of the Last Supper? To say nothing of Jesus brandishing his whip in the Temple.

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: What about that stuff with the knives in Luke's version of the Last

: Supper? To say nothing of Jesus brandishing his whip in the Temple

Yeah I thought someone would mention those. If by "stuff with the knives" do you mean the bit in Luke 22 about the 2 swords? Well I find any reading of the passage a bit weird. The disciples sound like they're showing off to me, but it all seems bizarre. I guess "that is enough" can be read either as "yeah 3 would really be too many", or as "quit it" (and the bit before is more metaphorical). Its a shaky interpretation I admit, but I guess that we tend to work ou which passages are primary and shape the ones that don't fit so that they do. In any case Jesus never says to use the sword he just says to buy one.

As for the whip in John, I stand by what I said above. The idea of it just seems wrong. Regardless of whether its in the bible it does seem wrong at least to me, even if the fact that it is in the bible might mean it isn't. I dunno.

FWIW I feel more comfortable with it now I understand Jesus's actions here to be his prophetic enactment of what was going to happen to the temple, rather than his "clearing" of it.

Matt

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Ron wrote:

: When I think of \"the leading of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church\", I

: think first of \"my\" church, the Mennonites.

Eh?  I thought you were a Lutheran?

I was a teenage Lutheran. (Now there's a drive-in feature for you.) But these days I'm at a Mennonite church. To be perfectly honest, all I can really stand by is "Christian" - but in the pacifist tradition among the Mennos certainly appeals to my return to pacifism these past few years.

MattPage wrote:

: The idea of Jesus with any kind of weapon just seems wrong to me.

What about that stuff with the knives in Luke's version of the Last Supper?  To say nothing of Jesus brandishing his whip in the Temple.

Luke? No comment. I'll have to read it again: it's not very familiar to me.

The whip? I have no problem with that. I'm completely opposed to war, but I'm not opposed to every single use of force (not all pacifists are Amish, you know). I don't believe Jesus would flog somebody, but whatever it was he did do with the whip, I figure it was justified. (I bet Jesus just breathed an immense sigh of relief, and can now wear his WWRD bracelet with a clear conscience.)

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SDG wrote:

: Aw shucks, Peter, you makin me blush. People will say we're in love.

Betcha don't smooch as well as my girlfriend does!

(And no, uh, I do not wish to perform the necessary experiments that would settle this bet.)

Ron wrote:

: I was a teenage Lutheran. (Now there's a drive-in feature for you.)

smile.gif

: But these days I'm at a Mennonite church. To be perfectly honest, all I

: can really stand by is "Christian" - but in the pacifist tradition among the

: Mennos certainly appeals to my return to pacifism these past few years.

Ah, well, I don't know whether you're attending a GC or MB church, but just remember, the Mennonite stance on "pacifism" is more complex than a lot of the more left-leaning Mennonites will allow for. See the essay I wrote on sectarian pacifism for a UBC course on the history of war here, and see the article I wrote for BC Christian News last year here.

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Just reading through some old threads. Since I'm a relative newbie, I missed out on these discussions. I've had to think about the place of sexuality/sensuality in art quite a bit over the last few years and am not quite sure where I stand (unfortunately).

It's interesting, isn't it, that we never seem to have graphic sex between two sexually *healthy* people.

Nicholas Roeg's DON'T LOOK NOW provides an interesting exception to the rule. It features one of the most famously graphic love scenes--and it's much more graphic than, say, EYES WIDE SHUT, which gets some mentions in this thread--but it's a sex scene that is focused on the expression of normal marital intimacy. Roeg actually added it to the film late, hoping to off-set the many scenes of the couple arguing.

Edited by Ryan H.

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