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September 03, 2004



"Because I am thinking more and more about becoming a father, I am becoming more and more aware that Christian pacifism is a doctrine far more easily held by the childless!"

That's interesting, since being a father I have never thought it harder to become a pacifist. Actually, I don't understand how anyone could be a pacifist, even a Christian pacifist!

If you weren't aware, try a bike ride down the San Gabriel River, runs via the "wash" along the 605 freeway starts near the entrance of Azusa canyon and goes all the way to the beach, Long Beach. The only traffic is pedestrian and cyclist.


I feel the same when I hear of the gangs sniffing around my 10 year old class. Any of them tries it around me, they'll get thwacked with a shepherds crook. Hard.


Thanks, Joe; someone just mentioned that to me the other day. Once I get accustomed to higher mileage, I'll go check it out!

John, your comment brings to mind a fine mental image!


Hugo, I totally understand where you're coming from. However, as a parent and an anabaptist, it is because of events like these that I have to be a pacifist.


I saw the front page of the paper today and didn't buy it. I felt so sick and sad looking at the picture of the mother crying over her daughter.

My pacifism pretty much started heading out the door once I had children. I even bought a gun when as a single parent with two kids, I found out that a creepo ex-con was hanging around my house harrassing my babysitter and kids. I still try, but the bottom line is I'd kill for my kids. That's my job. Primitive, but true.

The Angry Clam

Ahem, and now for some happier news.

Cal, ranked #13, its highest preseason ranking since being #12 in 1954, has just defeated Air Force 56-14. There was the opportunity for the victory to have been 64-14.

That is all, and GO BEARS!


Graham and Michelle -- you succinctly capture two very different sides of the issue...

Clam --

I listened to parts of the game and caught other parts on ESPN2; 'twas indeed glorious.



Oct 9 - Beat USC!!!


Hokey poetry for the morning:

He who yearns for peace
Keeps his house safe from evil
With his vigilance


Has anyone heard about the fate of the 16 year old sister-in-law mentioned in the article? I hope she made it through too.

Re: pacifism, I don't know, I haven't been much of a pacifist since 9/11. I think we're facing evil on the scale of what we faced in World War II. I'm not a particularly religious person, but I do hope God can give us the guidance to fight this in a just and fair way. I know, tall order.

Fred Vincy

That is a terrible story. I'm afraid I can't even allow myself to focus on my feelings about it -- it would just be too painful.

I think your feelings about this incident evidence the limits of pacifism. I believe that military force should be used only reluctantly, with a deep and serious consideration of the human cost, and only by a legitimate government in a moral cause (recognizing that the presence of each of those conditions could be subject to debate in a given instance). I'm afraid absolute pacifism fails the test of history, however -- how can pacifism be justified, for example, in the face of Nazi aggression?


Fred, I'm intrigued by this comment:

"I'm afraid absolute pacifism fails the test of history..."

How would we know that? Surely we'd have test it first?

(And the only times I can think where anything like absolute pacifism has been tried out it has quite literally changed the world.)


Graham, I am with you. I still feel called to pacifism -- but while the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak.

I often think that the desire to react violently in the face of violence is like lust in response to beauty -- it is an understandable reaction, but one that falls short of the mark of holiness. But that may be my own issue...


Great analogy with beauty/lust. I like that!

No, it's not just you. I'm sure I know a few others with that particular issue! ;o)


I feel more sincerely pacifist since having a child, because it brings home to me the cliche that everyone is someone's child.

At the same time, however, yes. If my child's life were immediately threatened, I would not hesitate to do whatever I needed to to protect him. I don't find that at odds with pacifism as a political philosophy (though I'm not sure I really am a pacifist; just feel more like one post-kid).


i am not a pacifist, as you know, so i don't have to struggle with those same thoughts. It's so much harder for you, Hugo, and i totally respect and admire that.

You're probably familiar with this quote:

"Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience."


I've heard it, but don't recognize it -- how embarrassing, Annika. I shall google it at once.


Thomas Merton, Hugo!

Fred Vincy

Apologies for the slow response to Graham's question about what I mean that "absolute pacifism fails the test of history".

I was thinking there about Nazism. Nazism was a movement with the overt goal of conquering the world through agression in order to impose a totalitarian dictatorship on its subjects and commit genocide and atrocities on a massive scale. This was not mere theory, but rather a plan that was substantially undertaken, resulting in the deaths of literally tens of millions of people. In my view, any morality that would permit that to occur even positing the power to stop it (which history tells us the Allies had) is an untenable morality.

I really hate to be so blunt about it, but could you really allow someone to put your child in an oven if you had the power to prevent it through violence? Is the urge to protect an innocent child really morally analogous to "lust in response to beauty "? Perhaps pacifism in the face of evil will lead to some kind of personal fulfillment, but one must bear the responsibility for the harm that causes -- and history shows us that the harm can be enormous.

Please don't misunderstand me. War is a terrible, terrible thing, and I applaud your commitment to peace. My criticism was not of all pacifism, but of absolute pacifism.


Indeed, a profound post you have written. I have two comments. (1) If we will follow Jesus then we must trust that he knows better than us when it comes to the really difficult questions of life (like using violence). On this point Jesus is absolutely clear..."love your enemies", etc. (2) If this woman were to use violence against the Chechens how would that have bettered the situation? Most people don't realize it but often violence simply isn't an option anyhow (unless you carry a gun around with you).

Some friends and I have been working on this pacifism stuff (though we are pretty new to it) and the best we can sort out is presented on our website. www.loveyourenemies.wordpress.com We believe that in impossible situations where the two options are (1) use violence to maim/kill someone else OR (2) do nothing and allow atrocities to be carried out against yourself and those under your protection (btw, I am a father of 2), that the was of Jesus is the THIRD OPTION. That is, the hidden alternative that Jesus always took when he was put into impossible situations. Think back over the times when it got hairy for Jesus...what options were available? He often times would not take either of the obvious courses of action. He walked by the spirit, in complete faith and the world was staggered. May we do the same.

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