- Testimony no. 1: "One person that I felt really came at the whole issue of the Vietnam War with a Christian heart was Larry Scott. I am sure you knew Larry. He and I became friends. I first met Larry when he was preaching in the Capitol Rotunda. I carried his briefcase for him when we went into the Capitol building, and the guard asked him to open it. There was a Bible and a few burlap bags for sackcloths in the briefcase. The guard let us pass, then Larry said, 'They let the most dangerous thing into the building they could -- more powerful than a bomb!'"
- Testimony no. 2: "I remember once being interrogated by the dreaded and notorious South African Security Police many years before the end of apartheid. As an American, I suspected I would be all right, but I was worried about my companion, Jam Jam, a twenty-year-old activist from the black township where we had been picked up. He had already been to prison where, like many young South African youth, he had been tortured. Automatic weapons were trained on us during the whole interrogation. The the huge and imposing Security Police captain raised an enormous arm toward my young friend and threatened him. 'We know who you are, we know what happened in prison, and if you persist in making this trouble, we'll send you back there for more of the same.'
"Without any hesitation, the young man reached into his pocket, pulled out the New Testament, and placed it on the table. 'Sir,' he said respectfully but confidently, 'I am a Christian and I am not afraid.'"
- Testimony no. 3: "A lot of people like sharing their memories of [Sr Dorothy Stang,] the white-haired woman they called 'Irma Doroty,' who was originally from Ohio. She moved to the region [the state of Para in Brazil] in the mid-1970s and shifted the focus of her work from education to environmental issues in the 1980s. People remember how Stang loved pancakes, how they used to see her riding her bicycle around town, how humorlessly inept she was at color-coordinating her wardrobe.
"They remember how she used to hold the Bible in both hands in front of her and tell them it was the only weapon she needed. According to witnesses, she began to read passages from the Bible as her killers shot her. About 2,000 people attended a service for her Tuesday in the rain forest clearing where she had asked to be buried."
I know many people who yearn for revival. God is able to revive a nation with or without our permission, but I wonder how much of that sincere yearning is sabotaged by our addiction to weapons other than the sword of the spirit, and by our unwillingness to repent for letting that dependency warp us as a people.Sources: (1) letter from Dan Whitley to me, quoted in my chapter, "Was there a War Going On?" in Chuck Fager, ed., Friends and the Vietnam War, Wallingford PA: Pendle Hill, 1998, pp. 322-323. (2) Jim Wallis, God's Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It, San Francisco: Harper, 2005, pp. 216-217. (3) Monte Reel, "Murder Galvanizes Nun's Cause," Washington Post, Monday, February 21, 2005.
During the open worship at Reedwood Friends Church this past Sunday, one Friend stood up and confessed the agony his own spirit was enduring with the reports of torture of prisoners under American control. He wants to see biblical people all over the USA rise up and demand an end to this torture in the name of Christ.
What's the right response to his heart cry?
Amen ... or ... Wow, tell me another one.
Friday's PS: Here's a Web site with thoughts and resources on torture: Church Folks for a Better America, edited by George Hunsinger, professor of theology at Princeton Theological Seminary.