Renewing the Peace Testimony - FUM Triennial Part 2
He also called on Friends to examine what the peace testimony really means to us today, where we are going in our lives and what we want to accomplish. What does it mean and do we really believe it? Do we really try to live it out?
I come back to reformation, not asking us to change the testimony. Just look at the major principles of the testimony. You know what they are: Do unto others as you would have them do to you. Love your neighbors as you love yourself. … Pray for those who spitefully use you. Recompense no man evil for evil. As much as lies within you live peaceably with all men. If your enemy hungers, feed him. If he thirsts, give him drink. Blessed are peacemaker for they shall be called children of God.
He called for Friends to recognize that there are consequences to our ideas and beliefs. You cannot make a clear division between religious faith and practice and political action. They are not the same exactly but there are political consequences to our beliefs. He spoke of the trend that started before the election of George Bush that the president as commander-in-chief as unlimited power to decide what should be done about peace. The president has usurped the power from the Secretary of State and the diplomatic corps. As we witness for peace, do we have anything to say about this? The United States spends more on arms than all the other countries in the world combined. What are we doing about this?
He ended by quoting his favorite bumper sticker: “God bless everybody, no exceptions.”
At the end of his talk I couldn't help thinking that if we believe that Israelis and Palestinians should reconcile their differences, what about the differences between Indiana Yearly Meeting and New England Yearly Meeting? What about the differences between Elgon-North Yearly Meeting and New York Yearly Meeting? What about Iowa Yearly Meeting(FUM) and Iowa Yearly Meeting( Conservative) or North Carolina Yearly Meeting(FUM) and North Carolina Yearly Meeting(Conservative)? If we are serious about making peace in the world shouldn't we start with our own house?
Since I come from a liberal background, nothing that I said sounded very controversial. But I spoke with another Friend afterwards who said that there was an implied challenge in the message, especially in the words about what has been done by the Republicans to usurp power from the diplomats. There are some Friends who believe that the wars between Israel and the Arabs and Palestinians should be understood in light of Biblical prophecy. These are precursors of the end times and the second coming of Christ. I don't know how Landrum's message was received by those Friends. It was another conversation that didn't happen. At least not where I was.
So are we willing to live the peace testimony in our lives or is it just a hook for political action? Are we willing to remove the logs and beams from our own eyes, both personally and as Quakers, as part of our witness to the world of the need for reconciliation? Are we willing to undertake the work to resolve the conflicts among us? Are we willing to take the Sermon on the Mount seriously? Are we willing to trust God even when we don't know the way or when we are afraid of what might happen?
More to come.
Blessings to all,