August 01, 2008

Gospel Nonviolence, Untranslated

by Brian E. Volck
I won’t weigh in on the latest election year “religion and politics” silliness involving Focus on the Family’s James Dobson and the Obama campaign except to note that Mr. Obama, who could easily have been much harder on Mr. Dobson, has said what any respectable candidate for the office of Commander in Chief must, namely: “Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal rather than religion-specific values.” (“Universal” in this case presumably means “Early 21st century consumerist North American,” but I may be missing something.)

This in the same story which quotes Mr. Obama as saying the Sermon on the Mount, “…is so radical that it's doubtful that our Defense Department would survive its application.” Right as he may be about that, his campaign has yet to propose anything like an Operation Turn the Other Cheek, so it’s probably safe to say Mr. Obama and his advisors place Jesus’ calls to nonviolence and forgiveness among those religious values in need of translation, doubtless into something uncannily like the military-industrial complex.

I don’t mean to rag on Mr. Obama, who engages in conspicuously less saber-rattling than Mr. McCain, and who no doubt sincerely intends to work for peace, even if the means at his – or whoever occupies the White House come January – disposal are unlikely to deliver it. Nor am I tipping my political hand to hint which way I may vote, if indeed I can bring myself to vote at all this year. If, however, you’re looking to steel yourself against the bowdlerizing demands of Democracy, you might turn to the Center for Christian Nonviolence, including their upcoming Forty Day Fast for Gospel Truth of Nonviolence. The 2008 announcement has yet to hit the website, but we’re told the brochure will look very much like the one used last year.

(Originally published Wednesday, June 25, 2008)

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