Fast for Gospel Nonviolence 2014 – Seventeenth Helping

FAST FOOD (2014): Seventeenth Helping

“First of all we Christians are people who adore God. We adore God Who is love, Who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him!”

Pope Francis, 6/21/14

Reverend George B. Zabelka was the Catholic chaplain of the 509th composite group of the Army Air Force on Tinian Island in the South Pacific in the summer of 1945. The 509th composite group was the atomic bomb crews. Before that assignment, he was chaplain to another Air Group whose mission was to firebomb the cities of Japan. By his own testimony during this time, to use his words, “I said nothing.” When questioned as to why he said nothing, his usual answer was, “We were there to pay back the Japanese for Pearl Harbor.” He would then continue that nothing that he was ever taught or that any authorities in the Church or the State ever said or suggested that there was anything unchristian or immoral about what was happening from Tinian Island. Since he was a highly educated man and had received excellent recommendations for his pastoral care of souls in both his diocese and in the military, and since he read the Gospel every day at Mass, he had to know of Jesus’ command, “Love your enemies” and of his commission to the Church and the apostles and by extension to him as a priest of the Church to go forth and baptize “and to teach them to obey all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19). His response to such an inquiry would be, “I knew what Jesus said in the Gospels. But all my life, I and every other Catholic in the world was given an interpretation of what He said that permitted Catholics to engage in the acts that war required. There was never a question in my mind or in my conscience that I was doing anything evil or sinful by not raising the issue–with those who were placed in my spiritual care –of the possible immorality sinfulness of  burning men, women, and children to death from the air”

He said that when he led Catholics or Christians in prayer on Tinian Island and they said together the Our Father, no one but no one thought that “The Father” they were praying to included the Japanese as his beloved and infinitely valued sons and daughters. For Zabelka and his congrgarion ‘our’ meant we Americans and our allies, and did not include their enemies. This, of course, was a theological error according to the teachings of the Catholic Church and the Gospel. But operationally, on the ground in Tinian Island and in the Catholic Churches all over the United States, no one, regardless of their rank in the Church, thought or spoke about the fact that “The Father” that they were all praying to was also The Eternal Father of every Japanese man, woman, and child. He therefore felt no moral need – in fact, it never entered my mind – to bring up that truth of what ‘our Father’ meant to those Army Air Corps men in my spiritual care.

Zabelka, 37 years later in his life, publically said regarding his silence in the face of activities that were as far removed from Jesus’ teaching as hell is removed from heaven, “I was brainwashed.” This analysis of the moral situation he found himself in was correct, and the evidence to verify it as correct is Himalayan. For example, a few years ago in London, England, a statue was unveiled in honor of Charles Harris. In his time, he was known as ‘Bomber’ Harris. Harris was the leader of Bomber Command, the air group that conducted the fire bombings of German cities, killing and maiming millions of civilian men, women, and children. In later years, Harris was often referred to as “England’s Eichmann.” Despite this, a few years ago there in London stood the Queen Mother, surrounded by upper echelon ecclesiastics from all the major churches garbed in full canonicals, honoring Charles ‘Bomber’ Harris. They, like Zabelka, when confronted with Jesus’ teachings of “Love your enemies, Put up the sword, Love one another as I have loved you” would simply defend their position of engaging in mass human slaughter under the with the support of Jesus by saying that they interpret those passages in a way that allows the to do what they did and still be following Jesus.

A priest has recently come to my attention who was a military chaplain but who is now retired and doing parish work in his diocese. From the altar and in private conversations and at Church gatherings he is forever waxing eloquent about the goodness, greatness, and Christian faith of those American ‘heroes’ he was chaplain to during the American conquest and destruction of Fullajah. I would submit that he, like Zabelka, and like those ecclesiastics of distinction gathered around the statue to honor Charles ‘Bomber’ Harris, was brainwashed into believing evil was good, into believing that doing the opposite of what Jesus taught as the Way and Will of the Father was the same as doing what Jesus taught.

Further evidence to substantiate  Zabelka’s anaylsis of what he did – or rather didn’t do – can be found in the deadly and dead silence of the American Catholic bishops, individually and as an Episcopal conference, regarding the 10 years of American and British human slaughter and maiming in Iraq, largely executed by American and British Catholic Christians. Only one bishop out of the entire group of approximately 300 American bishops told the people of his diocese that such destruction of innocent human life, in utero and extra utero, was intrinsically evil and that they should not participate in it. He said to his people that this war utterly contradicts the teachings of Jesus and in no way could honestly be said to meet even the minimal standards of Catholic morality: namely, the norms of the Catholic Just War Theory. Other than this one bishop, every other bishop“said nothing” to the people of his diocese. During his time on Tinian Island the number of humans breings, mostly civilians, destroyed by those Catholics for whom Rev. George Zabelka had immediate spiritual and moral responsiblity ran into the tens of thousand. He said nothing to any of them and by his silence gave spiritual and moral consent in the name of Jesus to what they were doing when they were carpet bombing Japaneae cities. The American Catholic Bishops between 2003 and 2013 also said nothing concerning the participation of those  Catholics for whom they had immediate spirtitual and moral resposibility as they trapes off to a country seven thousand mile away to kill and maim millions of people. Their calculated and politically crafty and cunning strategy of silence imparted all the consent a catholic boy or girl needed to sign up 6to go to Iraq and kill ragheads.

All of the above Christians, with the exception of the one bishop I mentioned, are in possession of or possessed by an image of God that in no way can be found in the person, life, or teaching of Jesus. If for Christians Jesus is as Saint Paul says, “the invisible image of the invisible God,” then the image of God from which the bishops and priests above were deciding for themselves, and for others, right from wrong, good from evil, the will  and theway of God is an image of God that is nothing more than a figment of their imaginations. The image of God from which a Just War Theory is derived also owes nothing to Jesus’ person, words and deeds. It relies on an image of God that is the product of  philosophical spacualtions (Cicero, 65 BC) rooted in some very limited perception of self, of humanity and of the universe, whose only validation is some logically correct us of reason. But, what some logically correct use of reason can build up, some  other equyally logicasl use of reason can tear down. For the Christian, when he or she is confronted with a God image or :truth” garnered, from a reasoned philosophical reflections that contradicts the teaching of Jesus, his or her Lord, God, and Savior, then the Christian must part company with his or her philosophical sense of truth. regarding their rationally constructed image of God as a false image of God. Because, for the Christian Jesus is the truth and the true image of God because Jesus is God incarnate.

Jesus is not a philosoper. He is the Self-revelation of the true image of God and the true content of God’s Will and Way. It is this by the  fact that He is God in the flesh. The Church has no commission from Jesus to teach philosophy. Its commission from Jesus is “teach them to obey all that I have commanded you.”

Communicating to those Christians in one’s spiritual care, explicitly by word or implicitly by silence, that they here and now can go out and slaughter other human beings in war amounts to parting company with the image of God as revealed by, with, and in Jesus and to instead choose to be an agent and a propagandist for an image of God that has nothing behind it.. How else could the absolutely clear meaning of the “Our Father” image reveald by Jesus be interpreted as the Father of “We American” but not the Father of the “Japs” or “ragheads” whom “We” are lethally trashing by the millions? You can bet your bottom dollar that such a grotesquely contorted interpretation of “Our Father” has money and power as its major hermeneutic. As the eminent Catholic Biblical scholar, the late Rev John L. McKenzie articulates the issue: “If the Roman Catholic Church were to decide to join the Mennonites in refusing violence, I doubt whether our harmonious relations with the government would endure the day after the decision. I believe that both here and elsewhere the Church can avoid persecution by surviving as it has so far, that is by being the lackey of  the establishment of wealth and power, that is, by not being the Church. Pope and Bishops must proclaim the entire reality of Jesus Christ. They must proclaim that Western men and women will escape the ultimate horror only by attending to the person and words of Jesus. Like Paul, that is all they have to say; so for Christ’s sake, let us say it.

Both the Hebrew prophets and Jesus are clear, where more is morally demanded, silence is evil. Both are also equally clear that there is no more dangerous choice that an individual or a group can make than giving oneself over to and proclaiming as God that which is not God.


Fast for Gospel Nonviolence 2014 – Sixteenth Helping

FAST FOOD (2014): Sixteenth Helping

“We adore God Who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him!”

Pope Francis, 6/21/14

Since a person’s image of God is so intertwined with his or her self image, from where does a person acquire his or her image of God? It is not just the First Commandment; it is a fact of human existence that God is beyond imaging. God is imageless, beyond description, beyond understanding, invisible and incomprehensible. The best that reason alone can do is to say, “God is.” Whether God is love, as Pope Francis proclaims above, or loveless, whether God is a father or a terrorist, whether God supports homicidal violence or finds it an abomination, all this and everything else is beyond human capacity to know by reason. All that can possibly be known is God is–IAM. Other than this, what kind of God God is and what God expects of people is beyond human comprehension. People can pontificate with a passion that God is this or God hates that, but on the basis of reason alone it is all gossamer, 100% pure conjecture. That’s fact, not opinion.

So the images people have of God in paintings, films and literature are just the imaginary products of reason brought to bear on their dreams or nightmares, their loves or hates, their self interests or sufferings, etc. Such image, whether pictorial or propostional have no reasonable theological or moral validation even if a billion people accept them–because the quantity of people agreeing with a picture or proposition about God cannot validate the truth presented by that picture or proposition. When Noam Chomsky, a world renowned academic authority in the field of linguistic, is asked, as he often is, “Do you believe in God,”  his answer is always the same: “Tell me what you mean by “God” and I will tell you whether I believe in God or not.” I suppose if someone did tell him what he or she meant by God, Chomsky’s question to them would be, “By what method have you validated as the truth your description or definiton of God?” If they say “By reason,” the ball game is over. If they say, “By faith,” that is acceptable for them. But it is then a subjective understanding of God, which they experience as true but for which there are no means objectively available to others to validate its truth .

Of course, if God is incomprehensible beyond mere “isness”–IAM–and if people, because of the structure of the human brain long to know, “Where did I come from? Why am I here” and “Where am I going,” then we have the greatest market that ever existed in which to make a buck or a billion bucks–and it is wide open to every flimflam artist, every con-man, every huckster, every entrepreneur on the planet generation unto generation. At which point the word “religion” becomes synonymous with “a den of thieves.” No image of God, pictorial or propositional, is  beyond sale, if the need for that particular image exists in a person or a group for some reason. The amount of loot to be raked in for proclaiming, marketing and selling a particular image of God is in direct proportion to how desperate the need is in those who buy it or buy into it.

If a religion is receiving millions of dollars a year from the government or the military or the economic elites of a society, it better not be marketing, or start marketing, an image of God that undermines the moral validity of what the people in those institutions are about–even if it is mass murder.

In most institutional religions, and Christian institutions are no exception, money, its acquisition and its maintenance, is a major, if not the primary, hermeneutic for interpreting the meaning of “God” and of any Sacred Scriptures they may believe that they possesses. It is, for example, the hermeneutic by which Jesus’ teaching, “Love you enemies,” is interpreted as including moral permission to terrorize, torture and slaughter enemies. When Jesus states, “You cannot serve two masters, you cannot serve God and money” (Mt 6:24), did He ever hit the nail on the head! Did He ever put front and centre the temptation and the malignant, life destroying, spiritual cancer present within most religious institutions, including Christian institutions, down to this day.


Fast for Gospel Nonviolence 2014 – Fifteenth Helping

FAST FOOD (2014): Fifteenth Helping


“We adore God Who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him”

Pope Francis, 6/21/14

 In the mid-1970s the most popular weekly sitcom on U.S. TV was All in the Family. Its main character was Archie Bunker, a white, Christian, middle age, middle class, poorly educated, politically and religiously conservative father of the family. In one episode Archie is told that his daughter Gloria, and son in law, Mike, are getting a divorce. Instantly he begins reviling his son in law, a political liberal whom he never really liked, blaming the divorce on him and his liberal friends with their “Godless atheism” and their ideas. Hanging around with them is the cause of it, Archie lashes out and God will make Mike pay for this.

As the show progresses, however, it is revealed that his daughter’s adultery is the reason for the divorce. Archie, God fearing Christian man that he is, immediately turns on his daughter in fury and begins to castigate her, telling her that he wants nothing more to do with her and she is no better than her liberal atheist husband. As the show moves forward a bit further, it becomes apparent that Mike’s behaviour toward Gloria for a long time before the adultery was extremely destructive.

The conclusion of the show has Archie raging on towards both Mike and Gloria, getting more and more bewildered as he speaks about who is responsible. Finally he burst out in confusion, “Who is going to be punished here? Someone needs to be punished here! This is wrong!” His wife, Edith, a kind, serving and insightful woman responds, “Archie, why does anyone have to be punished? Hasn’t everyone been punished enough already?” On those words the show ends.

As noted in the prior FAST FOOD Helping,”The image of God that a person has is critical to what he or she becomes and what they do and don’t do. His or her God image is intimately tied into his or her self image. What flows from this is that people’s meaning system and their value system, their sense of purpose and their sense of right and wrong are organically related to their God image.” It make no difference whether the person is educated or uneducated, his or her God image and self image are inseparable. So, if the image of God that one has is that He was so infinitely offended by sin that He could not even be mollified by the expiatory destruction of, say, a billion human beings being handed to the tortures and murderers, because the sin was an infinite offense against Him and He required the bloody sacrifice of an infinite victim to re-open the gates of heaven, gates that He shut in punishment for the sin of Adam and Eve, then Archie Bunker is theologically, morally and pastorally on target. And, the terrible truth is that most Christians at all levels of most Churches over the last thousand years have been taught some version of this atonement theory of divine satisfaction and retribution.They then, in imitation of God and with God on their side, put it into practice in their lives and in the structures of their Churches and communities as the way to respond to evil and the person caught in sin.

I say the last thousand years, because it was not so from the beginning. This Satisfaction Atonement Theory, as it commonly called and exists today, was authored by St. Anselm about 1094-1098 in a work titled Cur Deus Homo? (Why the God-Man?). It may be important to note that in that writing Aselm makes no reference to the Way of Jesus as made visible in Jesus’ words and deeds in the Gospels. His only reference is to the Nicaea Creed (325), which as we saw in yesterday’s FAST FOOD Helping omits any mention of the Way of Jesus. “Born of the Virgin Mary, crucified under Pontius Pilate, suffered, died and was buried,” is all that Constantine and the bishops at the Council decided was needed for the spiritual health and welfare of the institutional Church and the Christians in it.

So, Archie Bunker and hundreds of millions of Christian like him, who never heard of St. Anselm but who have been nurtured, without their knowing it, are from infancy fed Anselm’s spiritual diet of a punishing God capable of great cruelty and violence, demanding the infliction of punishment and pain, even capital punishment, in order to make satisfaction to Him for what they had done.So, Archie and all those other Christians so nurtured that when they in their lives demand retribution, an eye for an eye, the beating down and shaming of another person or group of persons who have offended them are functioning in harmony with the God they were given to adore, imitate and love by their institutional Churches.

A more contemporary expression of God in the image of St. Anselm’s theory of atonement having its incarnational affect is what I personally heard a Catholic bishop say at a gathering regarding what was once called the Sacrament of Penance. His exact words were “We go to confession to protect ourselves against God.” He in his life was as much enslaved to Anselm’s theological image of a violent, punishing, retributive God, as Archie Bunke was in his.

In 1946 in my grammer school’s Baltimore Catechism, the question was asked on page one,”Why did God make us?” The answer given was, “God made us to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him in the next.” The answer still sound correct to me. But,attention must be paid to the order of the words. “Know” comes before “love” and “love” comes before “serve.” One cannot love whom he or she does not know. If God as revealed by Jesus is not brought before the consciousness of people as love, agape, as the God made visible in the Nonviolent Jesus, but instead as a God capable of justified violence and cruelty, in the name of a “just cause,” then people will not know the true God as revealed by Jesus and by that fact will be unable to love Him or serve Him.

When Jesus says that the very first commandment is ” Love the Lord your God with your whole soul, whole heart, whole mind and whole strength,” He means His Father and the Father of all as He makes Him visible to us. He knows quite well that if a person or a group loves whole heart, soul, mind and strength an idol, a god in an image contrary to the image of Jesus, such a commitment would be catastrophic for all concerned, and many more. Jesus makes the God known, who is to be wholeheartedly loved. When any Christians replaces the image of the invisible God made visible in Jesus with his or her own mental concoction of an image of God, they then create–because a person’s God image and self image are permanently intertwined–Archie Bunker Christians, maybe just one, or maybe millions, who if they think their cause is “just.” will be cruel and lethal, and believe they are doing God’s will and work.

The Church has never infallibly declare any one theory of atonement as dogma. Anselm’s theory did not exist in the first thousand years of the Church. At the time of its publication and for centuries after major Catholic and later Protestant theologians objected vigorously to it. Yet, it has become the theory of atonement which the Western Church has taught, fostered and propagated relentlessly for the last four hundred years through it institutional resources. The Church had and has other options, but it persist in this violent and cruel image of God. Go figure!


Fast for Gospel Nonviolence 2014 – Fourteenth Helping

FAST FOOD (2014): Fourteenth Helping


“We adore God Who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him!”

Pope Francis, 6/21/14

The image of God that a person has—and then accepts or rejects—is critical to what he or she becomes and does. His or her God image is intimately tied into their God image, as is their image of reality. What flows from this is their meaning system and their value system, their sense of purpose and their sense of right and wrong.

The image of God who is love (agapé), the Father of all, is not the same image nor will it validate the same understandings and beliefs as the image of God who is love (eros), a God who loves only us and will trample on all other human beings for our benefit. This means that God will support our trampling on other human beings for our own benefit.

Whoever controls the operational image of God in a society controls the people of that society—or at the least is a person or group to which the economic, political and military elites of that society must ingratiate themselves or in other ways get under their control. Constantine knew the importance of this which is why he began to put the violent, coercive power of the Roman Empire behind Christianity, even making bishops official holders of such power in their areas. It is one of the major reasons he called the Council of Nicaea in 325. He wanted one Empire, one God and one Emperor. The process was not completed until several decades later when Theodosius made Christianity the religion of the Empire.

However Constantine had to have the bishops at Nicaea ignore a piece of the public image of Jesus as God incarnate and the ultimate revealer of God in order to fit his needs. This is why the Nicaea Creed goes from the cradle to the crucifixion non-stop in presenting Jesus in its official public act of belief. The Way of Jesus is entirely kept out of the public Creed: “…born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, died and was buried.”

This was necessary because the Way of Jesus, the Way of God as revealed by Jesus was a Way that included the Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies. Try ruling Rome (or England, or the U.S. or Russia) with that as what God says is the Way to live and die.

And so by omission began the process to Jesus publicly supporting the local home team’s killer over the other team’s killers.

But in the beginning, in Jerusalem in AD 33, Jesus was tortured and murdered by the religious and political elites because they did not like what He was saying about God and God’s Way—the image of God He was giving people. Indeed, they felt radically threatened by it. God’s image as presented by Jesus did not match up with what the powers-that-be needed. So, they killed Him.

God the Father did not kill His Son or have His Son killed for any reason. There is no violence and cruelty in God. Jesus died because He did exactly what the Church leaders refused to do at the time of Constantine down to this very day. He spoke about God with authority and did not give them and the people under their control  a God that validated the violent, deceitful, cruel operation of the institutionalized religion and the state. In fact He gave them an understanding of God that stood in judgement of the modus operandi of both religion and the state.

But, God the Father punishing and killing His Son or having His Son punished and killed before God will reconcile with humanity does fit perfectly with the punishment world of the state and institutional religion. Pilate may have washed his hands of Jesus. But, since Constantine, the institutional Church and the state have “washed each other hands” in mutual support of a violence-justifying God who does not exist and a Jesus who divinely validates violence and enmity by His followers.


Fast for Gospel Nonviolence 2014 – Eighth helping

FAST FOOD (2014): Eighth Helping


“We adore God who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him”

Pope Francis, 6/21/14

Many translations in various Bibles of the of Jesus’ words in Gethsemane, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” (Mt 26:39; Mk 14:36; Lk 22:42), are categorically erroneous. These translation read, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup of suffering pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” (Mt 26:39; Mk 14:36;  Lk 22:42)? The words “of suffering” do not appear in any of the Greek texts in any of the Gospels.

Rev. John L. McKenzie, in his Dictionary of the Bible, speaks thusly of “the cup.” ”The cup is a vessel that often appears in figurative language in the Bible. The “cup of comfort” is offered to mourners. The “cup of thanksgiving” is drunk to celebrate the reception of a favour. Jeremiah speaks of the “cup of wrath” which the nations will have to drink at their downfall. The head of the household filled the cups of the family and guest at the table. The cup is a figure of one’s lot or portion (Mt 26:39, 20:22)” [Emphasis added].

Jesus’ portion in life, Jesus lot in life, was to Proclaim the Kingdom God and the Way to enter that Kingdom by doing the Will of the Father “on earth as it is done in heaven”—and to reveal by His Person, words and deeds what the content of the Way and Will of the Father is—in season and out of season.

In 1942 Clarence Jordan a white Baptist Minister from Georgia with a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture, a Doctorate Degree in the Greek New Testament, and with a deep belief in the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies saw racism as a grave evil. Feeling strongly called to respond to this evil where he lived, he and some other Christian who believe in the Nonviolent Jesus and His Way of Nonviolent Love of all started an integrated farming community, named Koinonia (Greek for communion or fellowship), in southwest Georgia. Southwest Georgia for African-Americans at that time was the closest thing there was to a Nazi America.

Jordan knew full well the possible dangers involved in confronting the evil of racism by responding to it with the ongoing presence of an interracial Christian community, that without speaking a word, just by living its truth, morally repudiated racism as a grave evil contrary to the will of God as taught and lived by Jesus. Those dangers materialized and Koinonia eventually became a hated presence by the Christians in the area. Contempt, disdain, disparagement and ridicule were common fare. Impoverishing boycotts, burning of crops almost ready for harvesting, on going violence and bombings were Jordan’s and this Christian community’s lot. Through all of it, often with fear and trembling, Jordan and the community remained faithful to what they believe they were called to by God, namely, a living obedience to the will of God as revealed by the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies.

Neither Jordan nor the Christians with him in the community started Koinonia to be beaten, robbed, derided, or killed. Koinonia was to be and was a witness to the Lordship of Jesus and the truth of the will of God as He revealed it by His words and deeds. Concomitantly it stood as a witness against untruth, Christian untruth presented and lived as the Gospel truth. Clarence Jordan and each of the Christians who began Koinonia felt personally called by God, who had bestowed on them the gift of faith in Jesus as Lord, to confront the evil of racism, of Christian racism, not with violence or an encyclical or a letter-to-the-editor, not with unrelenting anger toward clerics, politician, academics and business people who believed in, supported and thrived off of the evil of racism, but rather with enfleshed, incarnated, lived truth and love as taught by Jesus as the only Way to vanquish evil because it is the Way of God who is love, who alone can conquer evil.

God communicated to Clarence Jordan and the others who made up that Christian community back in 1942 that this is where they should go and how they should witness to the truth of the God Of Nonviolent Love of all revealed and made visible in His Word, the Nonviolent Jesus. This was their lot in life and in the life of Faith. Whether they lived or died, suffered or prospered as they walked as Jesus would walk along that portion of time and space in which they were called to exists was a non-issue that here was where they were called by God to love as Jesus loved them. They committed to drink the cup of their given lot down to the dregs whether its taste at any moment was sweet or bitter.

And equally profound and authentic historical witness to drinking the cup that Jesus (Mt 20:22) drank down to the last drop, the cup of steadfast commitment to the will of God as revealed by God Himself, in Jesus, is the film of the martyrdom of the Trappists Monks in Algeria in 1996, Of Gods and Men.

If Jesus did not drink the cup offered to Him and from which He was committed to drink for the remainder of His life come what may, If Jesus had refused to drink the final remaining drops from that cup, if He has given Himself a loophole for not drinking from the cup of commitment and then acted contrary to what He had been teaching as the Truth, the Will and the Way of God all His life, if He has said to Peter, “Get the other ear! Kill him!” If He had cried out from the Cross, “Father, destroy those who are destroying Me,” would we even know of Him today? Could He possibly be understood as the incarnation of the all Holy, all Truthful, and all Loving God of everlasting merciful love of all and toward all? Would He be considered the Saviour of humanity, if when the going got tough in following Father’s Truth, Will and Way He said, “I refuse to follow your will any longer. I will no longer drink from the cup of your Truth, your Will and your Way?


Fast for Gospel Nonviolence 2014 – Seventh helping


“We adore God who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him”

Pope Francis, 6/21/14

If God is as revealed by Jesus’ Person, words and deeds, that is, a God of Nonviolent Love of all, friends and enemies, then what does Jesus mean when He prays in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” (Mt 26:39;Mk 14:36;  Lk 22:42)?

Since Jesus is sweating blood as He makes this prayer, it is reasonable to assume that He is in a state of severe trepidation because He “sees” something coming that appears to Him to be terrible. I would submit that this “seeing” has nothing to do with His omniscience as God and everything to do with the ordinary human capacity of a person to sense that he or she is being set up for something bad to happen to him or her in the future. Absolute metaphysical certainty is not at work here, just a high probability human calculation concerning the implications of what a person observes going on around him or her.

For example the city of Dallas, Texas, in 1963 was a cesspool of hate-filled politics. It had the highest homicide rate in the country. In April of that year Retired General Edwin Walker, an ultraconservative political agitator with a bottomless well of Texas money financing him was the subject of an attempted assassination in Dallas. Adlai Stevenson on the political left and John F. Kennedy’s Ambassador to the United Nations was attacked by a mob, prevented from giving a public speech, bloodied by a protester and had his car almost overturned by people rocking it in a display of self righteous hate of him and his ideas. So, it is not surprising that President John F. Kennedy said to his wife, Jacqueline, on their flight to Dallas on November 22, 1963, “ We’re heading into nut country today”

John F. Kennedy did not go to Dallas to be murdered. He had a goal in going there in light of his larger life’s commitment. Dallas was a step on road he thought he had to take in terms of his overall commitment to being re-elected President. Jesus also had an all encompassing life’s commitment which was to Proclaim the Kingdom God and the Way to enter that Kingdom by doing the Will of the Father “on earth as it is done in heaven”—and to reveal by His Person, words and deeds what the content of the Way and Will of the Father is. He went to city of Jerusalem, the religious centre of the Jewish faith, in order to take a step on the road He thought He had to take in terms of His overall commitment to proclaim the Kingdom of God and thereby do the will of the Father. He did not go there to be murdered.

Jesus, like John F. Kennedy going to Dallas, knew that in going to Jerusalem He was “going into nut country,” a world where the religious elites had the power to whip religious people into a murderous frenzy. He also knew that the religious elites had it in for Him. “But the Pharisees went out and took counsel against Him to put Him to death” (Mt 12:14). “The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodian against Him to put Him to death”(Mk 3:6). “So from that day on they (the Sanhedrin) plotted to take his life” (Jn11: 53). Jesus did not need, any more than John F. Kennedy needed, divine omniscience to be aware that a trip to Jerusalem contained a serious probability that something terrible could happen to Him, that He could be killed. All He needed was human street smarts and He, like Kennedy, had plenty of those.

Neither the Father nor Jesus willed that Jesus be tortured and murdered to save human beings. Both willed only that Jesus love, as God loves. And, in obedience to the Will of the Father He did it in good times and in bad—no exceptions.


Fast for Gospel Nonviolence 2014 – Sixth helping

FAST FOOD (2014): Sixth Helping


“We adore God Who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him”

Pope Francis, 6/21/14

For the Christian, that Jesus saves is beyond doubt, but how Jesus saves is another matter. For the overwhelming majority of Christians the timeworn, stock, sound bite answer to the question, “How does Jesus save,” is “By His Cross we are saved.” “By His Cross,” means to the vast majority of Christians by His doing the will of the Father and accepting death by religiously and politically motivated torture and execution.

The problem with this and with nearly every interpretation of “By the blood of the Cross we are saved,” is that it turns God into someone other than God as incarnated in and revealed by Jesus in the Gospels. Pope Francis says what most Christians would say, “We adore God who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us…We have no God other than Him.” Jesus is the incarnation of God, the Word of God “made flesh” (Jn 1: ff), “the image of the invisible God” (Col1: 15).

Jesus therefore is to be adored, as Pope Francis says, that is, He is to be given that worship (latria) reserved to God alone. Hence when Jesus teachers and lives a Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies as the Way and Will of God, it is without doubt the Way and Will of God for those who believe in Jesus. God always acts as God is, and God always is as God acts, and Jesus is God. His words and His deeds, His truth and His message cannot be separated in the slightest from his Person. His Person is His message and His message is His Person—and that Person is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.  To see Jesus is to see the Father because “the Father and I are one,” “He or she who sees me sees the Father,” and “I come to do the Will of the Father who sent me.”

A Father who refuses to be reconciled with humanity unless His Son obeys this Father and gets Himself killed—with or without offering violent resistance to His murderers—is not logically compatible with God as revealed by the Person, words and deeds of Jesus in the Gospels.

“But,” most Christians will object, “you don’t understand! God wills that His Son be tortured and murdered out of His love for humanity.” O, but I do understand! For all of recorded history fathers have been sending their sons and daughters off to suffer and die for the father’s myths, dreams, desires and fears, for the father’s gods, country, causes and vested interests. All of which each father thought was worth the sacrifice of his son or daughter’s life out of love for the end he desired to achieve.

The God who is revealed by the Person, words and deeds of Jesus in the Gospels is not logically compatible with this image and activity of historical fathers. To maintain that the Eternal Father of all does the same, and thereby raises such a choice to the level of divinity and divine approval is an attempt to morally validate one of the most heinous of human practices, child sacrifice. God, the Father of Jesus, does not will, command or send His Son, in Gethsemane or anywhere else, to be tortured and murdered for any reason, cause or end. God, the Father of Jesus, as revealed by the Person of Jesus in His words and deeds, is and must be a God of Nonviolent Love of all, friends and enemies, because God Incarnate in the Jesus of the Gospels is a Person of Nonviolent Love of all, friends and enemies. This precludes all possibility that the Father of Jesus would design or participate in a Plan for the salvation of humanity that required willing the destruction of His Son.

Please do give this some thought. It has implications.


Fast for Gospel Nonviolence 2014 – Fifth Helping

FAST FOOD (2014): Fifth Helping


“We adore God Who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him”

Pope Francis, 6/21/14

Is there anything essential in the saving act of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels which is not present in the mere use of the words, “We are save by the blood of the Cross,” or “Jesus suffered and died for our salvation, or Jesus “offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins?

Most Christians would say, “Yes. There is the love of God who is love for us, which is why the Father sent His Son to suffer and die to atone for our sins and save us. God’s love is why we are saved by the Cross, why, indeed, the Cross is the great symbol and reality of Divine Love.”

Jesus free acceptance of God’s will in Gethsemane on that Holy Thursday night—“Father, if possible, let this cup pass from me. Yet not my will, but yours be done—was the acceptance of the Father’s will that He be tortured and murder, because by the design of His Father Jesus’ agonizing death would atone for the sins of humanity, the sins of people would be forgiven, humanity would be redeemed and saved, and God would have His glory restored. But if Jesus did not say, “Your will be done,” and accept being tortured and murdered, then humanity would not be redeemed, sins would not be atoned for and forgiven, and the reconciliation between humanity and God would not take place.

When looked at closely there is no difference between this scenario for the redemption of humanity by Jesus and all the others. The necessary ingredient here, as in other interpretation of “Jesus saves,” is that Jesus must be tortured and murdered. Absent this, God will not permit salvation despite His love for humanity. Only if Jesus accepts mind-breaking pain, which terminates in His murder, does God’s love for humanity move God to forgive the sins of human beings, save them from eternal death and welcome them into a reconciled union with Him in His glory.

So, under this interpretation of “Jesus saves by the blood of His Cross” or “offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins,” it is Jesus’ acceptance as the will of the Father of lethal, brutal pain and execution at the hands of religious, political and military sociopaths that is the plan God designed, the condition precedent God set, in order to reconcile humanity with Himself and redeem human beings from sin.

Do think about it. And remember, the issue for a Christian is not whether “Jesus saves.” He does. The issue is how He saves?


Fast for Gospel Nonviolence 2014 – Fourth Helping

FAST FOOD (2014): Fourth Helping


“We adore God Who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him”

Pope Francis, 6/21/14

Among Christians the dominant interpretation of  “who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins” is that by enduring an agonizing murder, Jesus, God’s Son, atones for our sins and saves us.  But this still does not answer the question “Why the murder of Jesus had to be by crucifixion.”

If “Jesus saves” by being brutally murdered, why could He not just have been killed with the other Holy Innocents soon after His birth, and satisfy all that it means that “Jesus saves by the blood of His Cross?” by “being torn apart by violence? Or for that matter, why was not an abortion sufficient for Jesus to “save us” by His suffering and death? We know He existed in the womb because John the Baptist in Elizabeth’s womb “leapt” at His presence in the womb of Mary. One does not “leap” from coming into the presence of a mere piece of tissue. Indeed, if “suffering and dying for our salvation” is what is essential, why not accomplish the salvation of humanity by having an enraged, Joseph, who, along with his family, has been publicly dishonoured and shamed by Mary’s supposed infidelity, murder her and the Child in her womb? If all the Son of God had to do to reconcile humanity with God and “save us” was to become a human being and then suffer and die, any of the above scenarios would have filled the bill for the redemption of humanity, for the expiation of our sins, would it not?

So why wasn’t the salvation of humanity accomplished by Jesus being tortured and murdered as a baby? In fact, if all Jesus had to do was “to give Himself up to death” to “save us”, then any form of death, e.g., death by old age, should have been adequate to accomplish the end for which He came into the world. A death via the violence of torture and murder would then be no better and no more efficacious than any other manner of death.

Is there anything essential in the saving act of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels, which is not present in any of the torture and murder scenarios mentioned above or is not present by simply dying in bed from a ruptured appendix?  If there is, why does it not universally take precedence in everyday Christian speech in the pews and in the pulpits, in the Creeds and in the Eucharistic Prayers over the stock phrase “He suffered and died for us and for our salvation?”

Please do give this some thought.


Fast for Gospel Nonviolence 2014 – Third Helping

FAST FOOD (2014): Third Helping


“We adore God Who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him”

– Pope Francis, 6/21/14

But, what does it mean to say that Jesus “offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins,” or that “Jesus saves us by His blood shed for us on the Cross?”

Does it mean that the Father sent His Son to be tortured and to be murdered as the only way the Father’s anger could be turned off? Does it mean that an offence against God is infinite and therefore only an infinite being, the Father’s Son, by being torture and murdered, could make satisfaction for an infinite offence or that only the torture and murder of His Son could restore the glory and honour of God? Does it mean that the torture and murder of His Son is the price that the Father had to pay to Satan to whom humanity was enslaved in order to redeem humanity from Satan? Does it mean that justice requires that if sin is committed the sinner must be punished, and must receive a punishment in proportion to the crime committed, e.g, an eye for an eye. An offense against God is an infinite offense for which justice mandates infinite punishment. Therefore only an Infinite Being, the Son, could be subjected to a punishment of infinite proportions, punishment commensurate with the offense. Hence, the Father sends His Son to be tortured and murdered, thereby having His Son vicariously satisfy the demands of justice for the Infinite One being offended.

One of the above, or some combination of some of the above interpretations of “offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins,” is the dominant understanding in the minds of most Christians. It is important to note in all these interpretations of “Jesus saves us by the blood of the Cross,” that violence, specifically the torture and the murder of Jesus, and the raw pain that Jesus suffers as the result of this, is what brings about or opens the way to the salvation of sinners, to humanities reconciliation with God.

But, is it really murderous and agonizing violence against His Son, Jesus, that the God made visible by Jesus needs to be reconciled with human beings and that human beings—in imitation of God—need to be reconciled with each other?