Intervening in Uncle Sam’s Addiction to War (Essay)

Over twenty years ago I took my last drink.  I didn’t do it on my own; I couldn’t do it on my own.  There had to be an intervention. I didn’t even want to acknowledge that I was an addict. Although it has been a blessing to be sober for all these years, it is still hard work.  Every day I have to humble myself and admit that I am an addict to ward off the possibility of taking another drink or drug.  I have to be accountable to several people in my family and my recovery group. Additionally, I regularly engage in specific behaviors (steps) to help me stay free from my addiction.

As a recovering addict I am keenly aware when I see an active addict. I know how to recognize the signs and symptoms of addictions. And as I look at the United States, I have come to the extremely sad conclusion that this country, that my Uncle Sam, is severely addicted to war. Just as I had to first admit my addiction to become free, so too, we as a country have to admit our addiction to war.  And just as I had to cease from my own addictive behaviors, take a personal moral inventory, and make amends to all I had wronged, so too, we as a nation have to take these steps as well.

222 out of 239So, what were the symptoms I recognized with the U.S.’s addiction to war?  First, I saw that the country could not go long without falling back into its addiction.  Of course, the U.S.’s latest war has been going on now for over 15 years, but the real sign of the acute nature of America’s war addiction is that the U.S. has been at war for 222 out of its 239 years of existence.  Amazingly, the U.S. has been at war for 93% of its life.[i]

Another symptom of the U.S.’s addiction to war is the amount of money it spends on its Tax Papers Per Houraddiction.  Every hour of every day, taxpayers are spending $8,360,000 to feed their country’s war habit.  And over the last 15 years, American taxpayers have spent more than $1,700,000,000,000 on Uncle Sam’s addiction to war.[ii]

Imagine having an alcohol or drug habit where more than fifty cents of every dollar you earned was spent on your drug of choice.  Surely, you would be considered an addict in desperate need of an intervention and recovery plan.  Of course, because of the exorbitant amount of money an addict spends on his or her habit, they are often severely malnourished, under-educated, extremely sick and often without adequate healthcare. Addicts are always in danger of losing their homes and their behavior negatively impacts the environment around them. Isn’t this also what is happening because of the U.S.’s 2015 Discretionary Spendingaddiction to war?  The percentage of tax dollars spent on war in 2015 was 54% of the total budget or $598.5 billion dollars.[iii] And because American’s allow their government to spend so much of their hard earned money on war, there is precious little left for the basic needs of food, housing, education, and healthcare for the most at risk citizens.

Our addiction to war has gotten so severe since we “won” World War II, like so many alcoholics and addicts, the U.S. has left ripples of death and destruction in its wake.   Since
1945 more than 160,000 Americans have died in over seventy-five U.S. wars and military interventions in over fifty foreign nations. Maybe more tragic, more than 20 million people from other countries have died in U.S. wars and military interventions.[iv] We need to make amends to all those we have wronged, to the vets who fought iDeaths Since WWIIn these wars and the millions of innocent civilians who were immorally killed by our country. We need to admit that we were wrong, and humbly ask that our defects of national character be removed so that we can become peacemakers not warmongers.

The United States has active duty military troops stationed in nearly 150 countries around the world, which is the most in the history of our nation.[v]  Our addiction to war is so
acute it could be easily thought that we were not only homicidal but suicidal as well.  Furthermore, we are no longer only addicts, but the U.S. is also the leading pusher of the drugs (weapons) of war. Last year we sold almost $30,000,000,000 in weapons to over 75 countries around the world.[vi] How much longer can we sustain this habit before we crash and burn and take everyone around us down with us?

Steps to Recovery from War Addiction
Isn’t it time for an intervention with our addicted Uncle Sam, and also call to responsibility all of his relatives, the citizens of the United States, who are enabling Sam’s addictive behaviors? Before this country overdoses on war and destroys our planet, each of us has to surrender and become part of the U.S. recovery process from war and violence.  So, what is the first step?

First, we will admit we are addicted to war or at least we were connected to someone (the U.S.) who is addicted to war.  Now, some of you reading this are in denial; you don’t want to admit there is a problem.  I know you are afraid; so was I. Taking my first step in actual sobriety was hard, and so was my first step in becoming a peacemaker (especially as a war veteran).

Second, we will acknowledge that we as a nation are responsible for so much of the conflict and injustice in the world, and we will humbly seek repentance and forgiveness. This includes seriously making amends and reparations to all we have harmed.

Third, we will reach out to other peacemakers, because we know we cannot become peacemakers without the help of others.  We can begin our own recovery process from our Steps Picaddiction to war by joining a local peace group. If you need help finding one, I would be more than happy to help you. However, if you simply GOOGLE “Peace Groups in my Zip Code,” I am sure you will be able to find a group meeting near you.

Fourth, we can contact our local congressperson and tell him or her that we will not be supporting war anymore, and that we will be watching them to see if they are going to be part of the problem or part of the solution.

Fifth, we can tell our family and friends that we are now working a peace recovery plan, and we will not be joining in their codependent behavior of supporting war. We will use social media to carry the message of peace to all the war addicts and violence lovers we know and care about.  Hopefully, others will join us in our new freedom from addiction to war.

Finally, we will need to celebrate.  It is hard work to be in recovery.  We need to encourage one another to stay the course, to take the work of peacemaking one day at a time and find joy in the process.  We will need courage to do the things we can to bring peace to our world and wisdom to work smart and not grow weary in doing the good that we are called to do. For me that means reaching up to my higher power and saying, “Thy will be done, thy peace come upon earth as it is in heaven.”

(c) Paul Dordal, July 11, 2016









I am I and You are You and We are We

trinity abstract“If I am I because I am only I, and you are you because you are only you, then I am only I and you are only you. And, if I am I because you are you, and you are you because I am I, then I am not I and you are not you. But, if I am I because I am I for you, and you are you because you are you for me, then I can be I and you can be you and we can truly be we.” [i]

© Paul Dordal, 2016

[i] I adapted this from Rabbi Mendel, in light of the truth that I can only be my truest self in intersubjectivity (especially in committed relationships like my marriage).



Grace Revisited (Reflection)

graceIn Christianity, grace is often defined as the unmerited favor of God in Christ. This definition is connected to the notion that the relationship between God and humans is irreparably estranged because of humanity’s intrinsically deficient sin-nature and God’s perfect holiness.  And this definition, almost exclusively, is related to the soteriological view that God must “save” us in order that we can to go to a place after death called heaven. So, grace then is the gift of salvation (life after death) given to those who don’t deserve it. Yet, in order to receive this gift, one must “repent” of his or her sins and acknowledge that Jesus is the Lord and Savior of his or her life.

But God’s grace is so much more than that, isn’t it?  Isn’t God’s grace more of an experiential reality, rather than an intellectual or metaphysical one? Isn’t God’s grace more than an it? I want to feel God’s grace, to experience God’s grace, to be familiar with God’s grace; not just think about “it.”  Theologian Karl Rahner has rightfully expanded the definition of God’s grace as God’s self-communication to all humanity. That is, God is giving and has historically, since time immemorial, been giving grace, God’s self, as a gift to anyone who wanted to receive God in myriad ways.

When I experience God’s grace, I am experiencing so much more than the assurance of what will happen to me when I die.  Though God’s grace is greater and more amazing than I can ever express with words, I believe the more real or experiential aspects of my relationship to God in Christ are founded on three immediate realities of grace:  Grace as acceptance, grace as forgiveness, and grace as love.

God’s grace accepts me for who I am.  I am God’s son.  There is nothing I can do to change that, enhance it, or undo it.  And because I am God’s fully accepted son, I no longer have to succumb to shame—a shame that often tries to tell me that I am not good enough or that I am somehow deficient in my God-imaged humanity.  So, I apply the Gospel of grace to myself, and because I can accept myself, I can accept others as well.

God’s grace completely and always forgives, because I so often know not what I do. My sins, through Christ, are wiped away—past, present, and future.  Since, I often think and act selfishly, because I am self-deceived or I allow others to deceive me, I rely on the reality of God’s ever-present grace of forgiveness. And this forgiveness allows me to have a clear conscience and not wallow in guilt. As I appropriate God’s forgiveness, I walk in self-forgiveness.  And because I can forgive myself, I can forgive others.

God’s grace also fills me with unimaginable love, and this love brings me into the deepest intimate relationship with God.  I will never be alone; I will never be empty; I will never not be satisfied as I drink from the well of God’s never ending love.  God’s grace as love makes real relationship possible, and ultimately compels me to love myself, to care for my own being.  And because I can love myself, I can love others.

Three scriptures jump out to me: “Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory” (Ro 15:7, NLT).  “Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ep 4:32, NLT). “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other” (Jn 13:34, NLT).  Christ accepts you and me; Christ forgives you and me; Christ loves you and me. Period.  Exclamation point!

In revisiting grace in the here and now, and not just for the future, helps me and should help you to experience the reality that “… now is the time of God’s grace, now is the day of salvation” (2 Co 6:2b).

© Paul Dordal, 2016


real dealIn exploring the notion of “becoming” that many of the mystics speak about, or what you might call divinization, sanctification, Christosis, etc., one is confronted almost immediately with defining what it means to be authentic.

The dictionary says that something or someone who is authentic is genuine or real. The real deal.  Seems simple, yes? Yet, I have heard many people claim to be authentic, myself included, who were not even close to being so. And when I see others as being inauthentic, there is then a piece of inauthenticity in me. Authenticity is an inner work. For me to work on being authentic, to become real, I have to come to some practical way of understanding the process.

I have recently preached the following definition in a sermon and will continue to refine it as time goes on: Being authentic is when I am consciously unconcerned with projecting onto you how I want you to see me (how I look, how I sound, how I seem). Additionally, inauthenticity is not only what I am trying to ‘show’ you, but also what I choose to hide from you because I want you to think well of me.

I stumbled onto a leadership book soon after I wrote the above words that said, “Authenticity means being oneself, being fully congruent, and not playing a role. It is a real challenge to be authentic and congruent in the workplace. Most people feel that if they are truly themselves and if they say what they are really thinking, it will be the end of their careers. But I believe that if we don’t do this, we sell a little bit of our souls every time we are inauthentic…” (Lussier & Achua, 2004: 463).

The cultural scope of authenticity is not simply a workplace affair (though many adults spend the majority of their waking hours at work); it is a holistic pursuit. We seek authenticity in all our relationships, whether at home, work, recreation, worship, etc. Authenticity is the fruit of bearing the image of Christ.

Lussier, Robert N. & Achua Christopher F. (2004). Leadership: Theory, Application, Skill Development (2nd ed). Mason, OH: Thomson South-Western.

© Paul Dordal, 2016

A Sky Pilot Embraces The Gospel Of Peace

peacemakingThe Sky Pilot

The Russian author Leo Tolstoy believed that much of accepted Christian doctrine misrepresented the original intentions of Christ and His apostles.  Tolstoy said, “Among the many points in which this doctrine falls short of the doctrine of Christ I pointed out as the principal one the absence of any commandment of non-resistance to evil by force.  The perversion of Christ’s teaching by the teaching of the Church is more clearly apparent in this than in any other point of difference.”[i] These words echo in my heart.

Additionally, the words of Eric Burdon from his song Sky Pilot reverberate in my mind as I seek to live authentically as a Syro-Chaldean priest, a Veterans Affairs Hospital Chaplain, but most poignantly as a former US Army Chaplain and veteran of the war in Iraq:

“He blesses the boys as they stand in line/
The smell of gun grease and the bayonets they shine/
He’s there to help them all that he can/
To make them feel wanted/He’s a good holy man.

As the young men move out into the battle zone/
He feels good/With God you’re never alone/
He feels so tired and he lays on his bed/
Hopes the men will find courage/In the words that he’s said.

The fate of your country is in your young hands/
May God give you strength/Do your job real well/
If it all was worth it/Only time it will tell.

In the morning they return/With tears in their eyes/
The stench of death drifts up to the skies/
A young soldier so ill looks at the sky pilot/
Remembers the words, ‘Thou shalt not kill’/
Sky pilot… pilot?”[ii]

A Sky Pilot is a euphemism for a military chaplain, one who is charged to bless soldier’s activities in the U.S. military.  My ongoing struggle has been to fully integrate my inner belief in Christ’s Gospel of peace (non-violence), which Tolstoy sees as preeminent in Christian doctrine, and my participation as a Chaplain who supports war, even as a declared non-combatant. (All chaplains are non-combatants who are prohibited by regulation to bear or use arms under any circumstance).[iii]  In the past I have vacillated between ambivalently holding to a doctrine of pacifism/non-violent resistance, and at other times professing to being a reluctant just-war proponent.  (An Army Chaplain cannot be an avowed pacifist, and must agree to support the just-war doctrine which is embedded in the US Army’s Law of Land Warfare.)[iv]

I will need to remember a bit more of my history to help me authentically articulate my ethical stance.  I volunteered to join the Regular Army in 1984 in Brooklyn, NY, after flunking out of college.  I was hardly a patriot at the time of my enlistment, and I openly expressed that several times while serving as a soldier (and even claimed I was a pacifist anarchist in my exit interview).  In the late summer of 1990 after leaving the Army honorably, right before the first Gulf War, I often wore a large button on the streets of New York City that asked the question, “Where’s April Glaspie?”[v] This ambiguous question proclaimed my opposition to the first Gulf War to all those I came into contact with.

After the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11th, but prior to the soon to be declared Global War On Terrorism in Afghanistan, I wrote an article entitled, “A Church Divided Unites under the Wrong Flag.”  The article was published in 2001 on the Jesus Radicals website (an on-line Christian anarchist collective).[vi] Though, not necessarily a pacifist piece, it was a prophetic anti-war diatribe directed primarily at the Church.

In 2003, I marched (as a pastor wearing clerics) in NYC with protesters against the impending second war against Iraq.  And in 2006, I preached a prophetic sermon from the first chapter of the Hebrew Testament Book of Habakkuk in a Pittsburgh area evangelical church, where I served as the senior pastor.  In that sermon I compared the American Church and Nation (because of our nation’s many wars and unjust actions and the many Christians that supported them) with the Israelite nation, which had become so sinfully unjust that God was forced to bring judgment upon them.  I have never received more pushback from anything I have ever preached before or since.  My veteran status afforded me no sympathy from what was perceived as a very anti-patriotic sermon.

In February 2008, at age 43, I was commissioned a chaplain in the US Army, after having been asked by an Air Force General to consider becoming a chaplain because so many young men and women were going to war without spiritual support.  The struggle in making that decision is too complex to describe in this paper.  Suffice it to say, to be completely transparent, my decision was a principled one, but it was not completely selfless.  There was a shadow side to my wanting to serve again, and I still suffer from some guilt and shame as result of that choice.

I arrived in Baghdad, Iraq in early October of 2009, and within a week of my experience in war I was counseling a sobbing soldier distraught over the possibility that he had killed someone in a firefight. To say that I struggled with this first, of many, ethical dilemmas centering on the justification of killing in war, especially this Iraq “War,” would be a gross understatement. The best I could do at the time was to say in various ways, “Saddam Hussein was a bad man–a very bad man!”

Just two years ago, suffering from mild post-traumatic stress disorder and wrestling with God through an existential crisis, I sought to minister healing to myself by expressing my belief that the war in Iraq was a justifiable war.  I did this through a research paper I wrote in my theology program at Duquesne University.  The paper was titled “Just War On Terror? Applying Just-War Tradition to the Global War on Terror.”  Though I found some scholarly support for this view, I, nevertheless, was purposeful in pointing out my understanding of the immorality of war in general.[vii]  As a reluctant just-war theorist, in my introduction to that paper I leaned heavily on the 1879 War Is Hell speech by General Sherman.  Nevertheless, the paper was a pose, a rationalization to help me reconcile my own inner non-violence stance with the work I was doing as a Sky Pilot which, in effect and in reality supported the war, and not just the soldiers who fought it.

So, in this paper, I am admitting that I was a reluctant Sky Pilot — a scared pacifist — and I am going to attempt to answer the killing in war question honestly for myself.  And though adopting a public pacifist stance may mean I may not be welcomed to participate fully in the in-groups of my current or past family, friends, and peers, I believe it imperative for me to admit finally to be the pacifist I have always been.  While engaging in this very freeing, but scary, process I want to acknowledge the very courageous confession of Pastor Brian Zahnd, who said of his tacit, and sometimes explicit, support of war, “It was my worst sin.”[viii]

Catholic Social Teaching And Pacifism
I am a Syro-Chaldean Catholic, so not a Roman Catholic.  Nevertheless, I listen purposefully to the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching, especially its social teaching, since my own rite’s official teachings are scarce.  For most of its history the Roman Catholic Church taught and supported just-war theory as its official (though not dogmatic) stance. Lisa Cahill says that the official Roman Catholic just-war stance is nuanced from other just-war understandings because it is based on “a more Thomistic path [which is rooted in] a national right to self-defense in a reasoned-discerned natural order and in the mutual rights and duties that make for the common good.”[ix]  Thus, the just-war stance of the Roman Catholic Church has been derived primarily from an Aristotelian philosophical approach, and not necessarily one that springs forth from a Scriptural understanding or mandate. The scathing critique of Tolstoy and some modern Roman Catholic pacifists may be fully justified simply due to the fact that Roman Catholic teaching on this matter throughout the ages has not necessarily been rooted in the teachings of Jesus.

Nevertheless, the Roman Catholic Church more recently has moved considerably towards a more pacifistic stance as it has begun to focus more on the Scriptures and the Tradition of the Early Church.  Noted Catholic moral theologian Charles Curran said, “There are some significant new developments in the teaching of the Catholic Church as found in [Gaudium et Spes]. For the first time pacifism and nonviolence are recognized as acceptable approaches within the Roman Catholic Church.”[x] Additionally, Vincent Yzerman acknowledged in 1982 that a shift was occurring in the American Roman Catholic Church when he noted that, “Something is stirring in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States that portends an explosion between church and state….  Stated simply, the church in the United States is becoming a ‘peace’ church.”[xi]

What Yzermans saw being birthed was clearly elucidated by the US Catholic Bishops just a year later in 1983 when they issued The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response.  In that document the US Bishops acknowledged that there was a historical precedent for a non-violent approach to living the Christian life. They cited the writings of St. Justin, St Cyprian of Carthage, and St. Francis of Assisi as exemplary of a pacifistic understanding of the Gospel.  The Bishops said, “Moved by the example of Jesus’ life and by his teaching, some Christians have from the earliest days of the Church committed themselves to a nonviolent lifestyle.  Some understood the gospel of Jesus to prohibit all killing. Some affirmed the use of prayer and other spiritual methods as means of responding to enmity and hostility.”[xii]   Additionally, the American bishops said that the pacifist position was not one of fatalism or resignation from the world.  They acknowledged that, “The vision of Christian non-violence is not passive about injustice and the defense of the rights of others; it rather affirms and exemplifies what it means to resist injustice through non-violent methods.”[xiii]

The bishops looked deeply at the motivations for pacifism in the early church and found that,   “Some of the early Christian opposition to military service was a response to the idolatrous practices which prevailed in the Roman army. Another powerful motive was the fact that army service involved preparation for fighting and killing. We see this in the case of St. Martin of Tours during the fourth century, who renounced his soldierly profession with the explanation: ‘Hitherto I have served you as a soldier. Allow me now to become a soldier of God … I am a soldier of Christ. It is not lawful for me to fight.’”[xiv]

There are also many more recent examples of Roman Catholic’s calling for an ethic of pacifism.  From such notable names as Dorothy Day, Daniel Berrigan, and Thomas Merton, the call to a life-style of non-violence has been very pronounced over the last century.  Yet, sometimes overlooked is the prophetic life of Catholic conscientious objector Ben Salmon, who during World War I wrote to President Woodrow Wilson and said, “Regardless of nationality, all men are my brothers. God is ‘our Father who art in heaven.’ The commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ is unconditional and inexorable. … Both by precept and example, the lowly Nazarene taught us the doctrine of non-resistance, and so convinced was He of the soundness of that doctrine that he sealed His belief with death on the cross.”[xv]   Salmon would not serve even as a non-combatant because he believed the “noncombatant was aiding in the war effort.”[xvi] For taking this stance Ben Salmon spent several years in prison.

Catholic Worker founder Dorothy Day was not only opposed to the actual conduct of war, but as a total pacifist she said, “We oppose, moreover, preparedness for war, a preparedness which is going on now on an unprecedented scale, and which will undoubtedly lead to war.”[xvii] Citing Pope Pius XI, she asked, ‘Why not prepare for peace?’”[xviii]  Thus, the true stance of a pacifist is not one of withdrawal but action on behalf of peace.

Like Salmon who saw in the Gospel a clear call to non-violence, Day finds as her main support of pacifism the teachings of Jesus.  She says, “His were hard sayings, so that even His own followers … did not understand them. [I]t was not until they … were enlightened by the Holy Spirit and knew the truth with a strength that enabled them to suffer defeat and martyrdom in their turn.  They knew then that not by force of arms, by the bullet or the ballot, they would conquer.  They knew and were ready to suffer defeat—to show that great love which enabled them to lay down their lives for their friends.”[xix] Despite the anachronism of her rhetoric, the active pacifism of Day declared her willingness to follow Jesus to death rather than support war.

Though Dorothy Day was adamantly pacifistic, her writings don’t necessarily express the depth of her theological understandings.  Fr. Daniel Berrigan, on the other hand, through prophetic writings challenged his own Church to think more deeply on the ethics of non-violence as the only proper doctrine of the Church.   Berrigan’s hope for the Catholic Church was that “her progressive emergence as a spiritual force and her separation from the powers of war have allowed her to emerge as a force toward love and nonviolence.  And then secondly, that the conscience of humanity, even as violence escalates, is also emerging in a profound counter-movement of Love, which expresses itself, let us say, not narrowly in opposition to war, but in works of compassion all over the world, which is of course the largest and most positive sense in which this idea of nonviolence can be taken.”[xx]  Here Berrigan speaks about the notion that true pacifism is inclusive of the notion of peace building or peacemaking, which I will discuss later.

Berrigan’s activist pacifism, like Salmon’s, got him put in prison.   On that occasion Berrigan said, “I cannot not go on [to jail], because I have learned that we must not kill if we are Christians.  I have learned that children, above all, are threatened by these weapons.  I have read that Christ our Lord underwent death rather than inflict it.  And I am supposed to be a disciple.”[xxi]  Later on in his prophetic activism, he would say that those who did not join actively in civil disobedience were complicit in sinful killing.  “The only message I have to the world is: We are not allowed to kill innocent people.  We are not allowed to be complicit in murder. We are not allowed to be silent while preparations for mass murder proceed in our name, with our money, secretly.”[xxii]

As can be seen from Salmon, Day, and even Berrigan, the pacifistic stance is paradigmatically a Scriptural one.  The challenge for Catholic ethicists is to prepare a comprehensive teaching of non-violence that is not only informed by experience, Scripture, and Tradition, but also from reason and the sciences.

What I consider to be more balanced approach to pacifism is the teachings of the Catholic mystic Thomas Merton, who comes closer to applying a broader ethical understanding of pacifism.  Merton did not believe that violence could never be used to repel evil, primarily because Merton did not necessarily believe in moral absolutes.  Merton believed that, “… moral bonds and obligations inhere in personal relationships, not in extrinsic requirements.”[xxiii]  On this basis, Merton was careful to say, “If a pacifist is one who believes that all war is always morally wrong and always has been wrong, then I am not a pacifist.  Nevertheless I see war as an avoidable tragedy.”[xxiv]  To that end, Merton communicated to the Catholic Workers in New York that pacifism required the Church to undergo a spiritual renewal or conversion.  This to Merton was not a passively pietistic approach, but one that would “be expressed in the historical context.”[xxv]  Again, we see that a Catholic understanding of pacifism is not simply a passive opposition to war, but an active responsibility to be peacemakers in the world. It is this paradigm of pacifism as peacemaking that I am beginning to embrace more fully.

Critiquing The Just-War Tradition
It should be noted before delineating the criteria of the just-war tradition that the tradition was not conceived as a simple moral checklist that a citizen or a governmental authority could use to rationalize a desire to go to war against an avowed enemy. Jean Elshtain states, “The just war tradition does not provide a handy, short-cut tick list that yields a knock-down answer to the question of whether or not a war is justified.”[xxvi]  Additionally, that someone might be able to articulate a moral justification for war never assumes that war is desirous.  The Catholic Catechism states the ideal: “All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war.”[xxvii]  Cahill reiterates this when she notes that, “Many just war authors incorporate into their positions some particular qualification to safeguard the importance of the nonviolent ideal.”[xxviii]

Although there is no definitive list of the various criteria of the tradition, for the sake of brevity, I am referring to those six historically understood articles of justice for war (jus ad bellum).  Snauwaert says, “Historically jus ad bellum criteria have included the following principles: just cause, right authority, right intention, proportionality, reasonable hope for success, and last resort.”[xxix]

John Howard Yoder, a well-known Mennonite scholar and pacifist, engaged just-war thinkers in a very respectful dialogue throughout his career.  He believed that the historical just-war tradition was no longer viable in its current form.  First of all, he believed that the word ‘just’ was a misnomer, saying that, “… justifiable is a more precise adjective than just, since no claim is made that the destruction involved in a justifiable war is itself a positive good.[xxx]

Additionally, Yoder said, “[J]ust-war tradition as a whole is more complicated …, and its terms presuppose definitions, many of them debatable, without which the system cannot work. More important though, its fundamental logic is ambivalent.”[xxxi] Speaking of the many changes in the context of modern warfare, Yoder said, “Even one of the … changes is sufficient to make the applicability of the just-war tradition questionable.”[xxxii]

Daniel Berrigan was not so polite in his critique of the just-war tradition. He said, “The ‘just war theory’ is in fact a cruel oxymoron.  War, no matter its provocation or justification, is of its essence and nature, supremely unjust.  The injustice of war implies a blasphemous inflation of human authority, that humans are allowed to decree who shall live and who shall die, to dispose of human differences by disposing of humans.  We are done with that theory forever.”[xxxiii]

Berrigan was not a scholar, but an activist, and in this he was more a prophet calling Christians to live out what he believed was a clear teaching of Jesus.  “Christians are called to be objectors against all and any war, against ‘just’ war, invasive war, preemptive war, defensive war, conventional war (whose horrendous effects we have seen again and again).  [W]e remain stuck in the pernicious language of the just war, implying the unjust soldiers, enemies, tyrants, drug lords lie beyond the pale; that such lives can be wasted with impunity.  The language is outmoded, passé, morally regressive.”[xxxiv]  This form of pacifism is absolute and may not find its ethical basis in the Gospel, since it seems to also condemn those who may have been compelled to participate in war.  Though I appreciate the absolutist stance of Berrigan, I must fulfill my calling to provide pastoral care to all, irrespective of their prior or current sins. In my current ministerial context I have no desire to alienate the soldiers and veterans I care for, many of whom are suffering from their own participation in killing.

Just Peacemaking As An Alternative To Pacifism and the Just-War Tradition?
Now that I have spent some time critiquing the just-war tradition, I need to admit that one of the critiques of pacifism could be that pacifism alone may not be able to prevent the unjust killing of humans or the violent destruction of other features of God’s good creation. In our current milieu, which I feel could be characterized as an Age of Terrorism, modern just-war proponents may have a lot of ammunition (pun intended) to support their stance.

Recently, however, I read an enlightening article about non-violent resistance related to terrorism.  Maria Stephan reporting from the Middle East notes, “In the fight against ISIS, unarmed civilians would seem to be powerless.  Surprisingly, acts of civil resistance in Syria and Iraq have shown success against the so-called Islamic State.”[xxxv]  Stephan lists several acts of civil resistance in her article including the following surprising one.  “In July, 2014, after a prominent imam and 35 followers refused to pledge their allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, a large number of Iraqi supporters flocked to mosques where they preached to show solidarity for these leaders’ act of defiance.  ISIS detained some of the leaders but has not killed those which such a significant following.”[xxxvi] Thus, even in this Age of Terrorism, the potential use of non-violent resistance still has its place and can be effective against the worst of violent offenders.

Nevertheless, Stephan does admit that, “Nonviolent resistance alone cannot defeat this radical scourge.  The global response must be multifaceted.”[xxxvii] In response to what Stephan has said and what might be an obvious critique of pacifism from proponents of an enhanced and updated just-war theory nuanced to speak to our current context, a relatively new idea is gaining a lot of attention by just-war theorists and pacifists alike.  Dubbed Just Peacemaking, Glen Stassen, who could be viewed as the movement’s primary author and spokesperson said, “… this new paradigm for an ethics of peace and war developed by a consensus of 23 Christian ethicists and international relations scholars from various denominations — shifts the debate to constructive alternatives.”[xxxviii]

Stassen and his team have identified ten peacemaking practices that they believe are evidenced-based strategies which have proven effective “… at toppling dictators and ameliorating causes of war without the killing and chaos of war.”[xxxix]

Though it would require a whole paper to discuss the ten practices, Stassen and his colleagues have explicated them in their book Just Peacemaking: The New Paradigm for the Ethics of Peace and War. In that book and in earlier journal articles Stassen lists these ten practices: “(1) Recognize emerging cooperative forces in the international system, and work with them; (2) Strengthen the United Nations and international efforts for cooperation and human rights; (3) Promote democracy, human rights, and religious liberty; (4) Foster just and sustainable economic development; (5) Reduce offensive weapons and weapons trade; (6) Support nonviolent direct action; (7) Take independent initiatives to reduce hostility; (8) Use partnership conflict resolution; (9) Acknowledge responsibility for conflict and injustice; seek repentance and forgiveness; and, (10) Encourage grassroots peacemaking groups and voluntary associations.”[xl]

Stassen believes that the focus of peacemaking needs to be on the development of practices developed by consensus.  He said, about the team which developed these ten practices, that, “Focusing on practices enabled us to unite in spite of our differing faiths, perspectives, and methodologies. We believe the practices are ethically normative because they bring peace, because they solve problems, and because they promote justice and cooperation.”[xli] This consensus building was accomplished by seeking out the input of renowned ethicists from different faith traditions and included some who hold no faith traditions. Thus, this approach has been seen as truly ecumenical and the first “realist” approach to the problem of war.

Stassen said, “Realism pays attention to what in fact is actually happening in empirical reality, with particular attention to the unpleasant, the sinful, the threatening dimensions of reality.”[xlii]  Though I appreciate the ecumenical and consensus building approach of Stassen, et al, I am hesitant to base my own theology or peace ethic solely on realism.  There is in my faith a real spiritual reality which operates through and within the empirical reality that Stassen speaks about. Additionally, there is a real heart driven Gospel of peace which motivates me to be a peacemaker.[xliii]  The Gospel imperative of peace may also be adhered to by those pacifists (as well as many of just-war thinkers) on the Just Peacemaking team, so I don’t see the realism peace as an impediment in participation in this program.

Nevertheless, there have been other critiques about the so-called realism of Just Peacemaking. Ronald Stone believes that the participants may not be fully cognizant of the theories limitations.  Stone said, “Realist participation in the just peacemaking project can proceed but only with reservations about what seems to be a mixture of optimism and Kantian idealism about the future peacefulness of a capitalist world, and the illusion that war will disappear from the world.”[xliv]

I would also add that after studying many of the documents that represent Catholic Social Thought (CST) in the post-conciliar era, it would seem to me that the Roman Catholic Church has been promoting many of the practices that Just Peacemaking claims as a new paradigm.  For instance, as early as 1967, Pope Paul VI said that, “Development [is] the new name for peace. When we fight poverty and oppose the unfair conditions of the present, we are not just promoting human well-being; we are also furthering man’s spiritual and moral development, and hence we are benefiting the whole human race. For peace is not simply the absence of warfare, based on a precarious balance of power; it is fashioned by efforts directed day after day toward the establishment of the ordered universe willed by God, with a more perfect form of justice among men.”[xlv]  This is certainly one of the main points of Just Peacemaking.

Much of the actions in the Just Peacemaking theory are also emphasized in CST, including the notion of the interdependent nature of peacemaking.  John Paul II emphasized the multi-dimensional practices of peace building in Sollicitudo Rei Socialis when he noted that, “… the solidarity which we propose is the path to peace and at the same time to development. For world peace is inconceivable unless the world’s leaders come to recognize that interdependence in itself demands the abandonment of the politics of blocs, the sacrifice of all forms of economic, military or political imperialism, and the transformation of mutual distrust into collaboration.”[xlvi]

Prior to John Paul’s encyclical the American Bishops had already begun the movement towards just peacemaking when they said, “To avoid war in our day we must be intent on building peace in an increasingly interdependent world.”[xlvii]

As the Roman Catholic Church increasingly heeds the Biblical mandate of Christ to be peacemakers, to build a Kingdom under God, I feel empowered to remain committed to the Gospel message of peace as the starting and ending point, the means and the end, of any ethic of peace. Thus, as I further my development as a pacifist, unlike Merton, but more like Day and Berrigan, I will consider pacifism as an absolute mandate. Nonetheless, the Just Peacemaking project seems to be a very practical model that I can support and use as I follow Jesus and His Gospel of peace.

Unanswered Questions
Because this a different kind of research paper, more personal than academic, I will attempt to look at my unanswered questions which concern me personally as a pastor.  First, I realize that I have not fully considered, in this paper, the multi-faceted dimensions of sin as it relates to pacifism.  This sin is in me and in all humanity, which amounts to the real possibility of violence.  Secondly, I now have an ethical duty to develop my own plan or strategy of living out the call to pacifism, and discern what aspects of Just Peacemaking I sense a call to participate in.  It is certainly not possible for me now to simply profess my pacifism.  Openly confessing my past as a Sky Pilot frees me and opens me up to a new frontier to continue the journey towards developing my call to being a peacemaking disciple of Jesus, and, additionally, to obey the specific ways God is calling me to participate in building God’s Kingdom of Justice and Peace.

[i] Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God is Within You. Translated by Constance Garnett. (Seaside, OR: Watchmaker Publishing, 2010), 4.

[ii] Eric Burdon. Sky Pilot. Song Lyrics. Downloaded 27 Feb 2015.

[iii] See Army Regulations 165-1, Army Chaplain Corp Activities, Department of the Army, January 2010, 3-1, f. (Also explained in Army Field Manual, FM 27-10; see below).

[iv] See Army Field Manual 27-10, The Law of Land Warfare. Department of the Army, July 1956.

[v] April Glaspie was the US Ambassador to Iraq in 1990 who purportedly was responsible for tacitly giving the US Administration’s go ahead to Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait, thus deceptively creating the justification for the US to declare war on Iraq. For an in depth analysis see a fairly recent article by Prof. Stephen M. Walt entitled “Wikileaks, April Glaspie, and Saddam Hussein” in Foreign Policy, January 9, 2011. Downloaded 27 Feb 2015.

[vi] The article was removed in 2007, after I asked for it to be taken down in anticipation of my rejoining the military as a chaplain.

[vii] St. Augustine said, “The wise man…, if he remembers that he is a human being, he will rather lament the fact that he is faced with the necessity of waging just wars.” Augustine. City of God. (London: Penguin Books, 1972), 861-862.

[viii] Brian Zahnd. A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor’s Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace. (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook Publishers, 2014), 25.

[ix] Lisa Sowle Cahill. Love Your Enemies: Discipleship, Pacifism, and Just War Theory. (Minneapolis,MN: Fortress Press, 1994) , 205.

[x] Charles E Curran. “Roman Catholic Teaching on Peace and War within a Broader Theological Context” in The Journal of Religious Ethics. Vol. 12, No. 1 (Spring, 1984), 62.

[xi] Vicent A. Yzermans.“The Catholic Revolution.” Christianity and Crisis. Vol 42, No., 3 March 1 1982, 39.

[xii] Washington, D.C.: United States Catholic Conference, 1983. Print. The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response, 111.

[xiii] Ibid, 116.

[xiv] Ibid, 114.

[xv] Victor M. Parachin, “Ben Salmon: Catholic Conscientious Objector of the Great War.” In Our Sunday Visitor, March 1, 2015. Downloaded, April 3, 2015 from:

[xvi] Parachin, Ben Salmon.

[xvii] Dorothy Day. “Pacifism” in The Catholic Worker, May, 1936, 8

[xviii] Dorothy Day. “Pacifism” in The Catholic Worker, May, 1936, 8.

[xix] Dorothy Day. “The Use of Force” in The Catholic Worker, November 1936, 4.

[xx] Berrigan, 61.

[xxi] Berrigan, 189.

[xxii] Berrigan, 192.

[xxiii] Cahill, Love Your Enemies, 221.

[xxiv] Cahill, Love Your Enemies, 219.

[xxv] Cahill, Love Your Enemies, 222.

[xxvi] J.B. Elshtain, Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World. 2003, New York: Basic Books, p. 185.

[xxvii] Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2308

[xxviii] Lisa Sowle Cahill, Love Your Enemies.  Discipleship, Pacifism, and Just War Theory.  Minneapolis, MN:Fortress Press, 199,4 p. 12

[xxix] Dale T. Snauwaert, “The Bush Doctrine and Just War Theory.”  OJPPCR: The Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution 6.1 Fall (2004) : 127).  Downloaded from  on October 30, 2012.

[xxx] John Howard Yoder. When War is Unjust: Being Honest in Just-War Thinking. (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1996), 17.

[xxxi] Ibid, 50.

[xxxii] Ibid, 30.

[xxxiii] Daniel Berrigan. Daniel Berrigan: Essential Writings. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2009, 278.

[xxxiv] Berrigan, 273.

[xxxv] Maria J. Stephan. “Resisting ISIS” in Sojourners, Vol. 44, No. 4, April 2015, 15.

[xxxvi] Stephan, 16.

[xxxvii] Stephan, 15.

[xxxviii] Glen H. Stassen. “’Yes To Just Peacemaking: Not Just No To War” in Church and Society, Nov/Dec 2005, 69.

[xxxix] Ibid, 69.

[xl] Glen H. Stassen, et al. Just Peacemaking The New Paradigm for the Ethics of Peace and War. (Cleveland, OH: The Pilgrim Press, 2008), 2-9.

[xli] Glen H. Stassen. “New Paradigm: Just Peacemaking Theory” in Council of Societies for the Study of Religion Bulletin, Vol 25, Nos. 3 & 4, Sept/Nov 1996, 31.

[xlii] Stassen, Just Peacemaking, 11.

[xliii] Matthew 5:9, (NABRE).

[xliv] Ronald H. Stone. “Realist Criticism of Just Peacemaking Theory” in Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics, Vol 23, No. 1, 2003, 255.

[xlv] Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Populourum Progressio, , Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana , 1967, No. 76.

[xlvi] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1987, No. 39.

[xlvii] Washington, D.C.: United States Catholic Conference, 1983. The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response, Summary. 

Works Cited

Berrigan, Daniel. Daniel Berrigan: Essential Writings. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2009.

Burdon, Eric. Sky Pilot. Song Lyrics. 27 Feb 2015.

Cahill, Lisa Sowle.  Love Your Enemies:  Discipleship, Pacifism, and Just War Theory. Minneapolis, MN:Fortress Press, 1994.

Curran, Charles E. “Roman Catholic Teaching on Peace and War within a Broader Theological Context” in The Journal of Religious Ethics. Vol. 12, No. 1, Spring, 1984.

Day, Dorothy. “Pacifism” in The Catholic Worker, May, 1936.

Day, Dorothy. “The Use of Force” in The Catholic Worker, November, 1936.

Elshtain, J.B.  Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World. 2003, New York: Basic Books.

John Paul II. Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1987.

Parachin, Victor M. “Ben Salmon: Catholic Conscientious Objector of the Great War.” In Our Sunday Visitor, March 1, 2015. Downloaded, April 3, 2015 from:

Paul VI. Encyclical Letter Populourum Progressio, Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1967.

Stassen, Glen H., et al. Just Peacemaking: The New Paradigm for the Ethics of Peace and War. Cleveland, OH: The Pilgrim Press, 2008.

Stassen, Glen H. “’Yes To Just Peacemaking: Not Just No To War” in Church and Society, Nov/Dec 2005.

Stassen, Glen H. “New Paradigm: Just Peacemaking Theory” in Council of Societies for the Study of Religion Bulletin, Vol 25, Nos. 3 & 4, Sept/Nov 1996.

Stephan, Maria J. “Resisting ISIS” in Sojourners, Vol. 44, No. 4, April 2015.

Snauwaert, Dale T. “The Bush Doctrine and Just War Theory.”  OJPPCR: The Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution 6.1 Fall (2004).  Downloaded from  on October 30, 2012.

New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE): Washington, D.C.: Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., 2010.

Tolstoy, Leo. The Kingdom of God is Within You. Translated by Constance Garnett. (Seaside, OR: Watchmaker Publishing, 2010).

Washington, D.C.: United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, 1983. The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response.

Yoder, John Howard. When War is Unjust: Being Honest in Just-War Thinking. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1996.

Yzermans, Vincent A. “The Catholic Revolution.” Christianity and Crisis. Vol 42, No. 3, March 1, 1982.

Zahnd, Brian. A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor’s Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook Publishers, 2014.

(c) Paul Dordal, 2015

The Anarchist Critique – Ten Ideas (Jn 8:36)

Christian AnarchismFor many Christians, especially exclusivist ones (Evangelical, Fundamentalist, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, etc.), there is often such a strong belief in their core message that all other ideas, if they are to be deemed true, must conform to their well-defended Christian belief system.  In other words, for many Christians, Christianity is such a complete and universal system that it can be the only legitimate critique of all other systems of thought or practice in the world.

Now, I do believe that Christian thought and practice certainly can and should often function as a prophetic critique of sinful activity in the world, such as proclaiming (in word and deed) justice for the oppressed.  Nevertheless, for many exclusivist Christians the idea of other groups or philosophical/religious constructs critiquing the Christian faith would be preposterous.

But Christianity, because it is essentially a man-made construct not unlike any other belief system, needs critiquing just as much as other constructs or even more, since Christianity makes such universal claims to the truth.  I believe critique from non-Christian and reformed minded Christian thinkers has very much enhanced the Christian faith, especially over the last two hundred years (look at Vatican II).  The liberal critique, the feminist critique, the liberationist critique, the open-theism critique, the civil rights critique, and others have enriched Christian faith even if those ideas or constructs were not wholly adopted into Christian denominational faith statements or catechisms.

If we allow our Christian belief systems to be critiqued and transformed by thoughtful critique, we can develop an evolved belief system which deepens the authenticity of followers of Christ.  Conversion is not a one-time event in the life of a Christian, and to continually critique one’s own faith is essential to true spiritual growth.  Submitting to ongoing external critique ensures that we will not get stuck in our own spiritual growth, and maybe more importantly, not be enslaved by archaic controlling meta-narratives imposed by the tyranny of delusional men (mostly) who believe they are protecting some narrow view of so-called orthodoxy.

Recently, I have discovered that the anarchist critique is the most important and far-reaching critique of Christianity. And unlike some of the other critiques mentioned above, the anarchist critique does not apply only to a particular or narrow group of people; it applies to all people and to every aspect of the faith. Unfortunately, the anarchist critique, though around for hundreds of years, has not been considered widely.  I have come to believe that the anarchist critique is what will truly set Christians free because they will meet the person of Jesus anew and be more fully transformed into his likeness through an anarchist reading of the gospel.

For example, Jesus said, “If the son sets you free, you will be really free” (Jn 8:36, NET).  This verse read through an anarchist lens will ultimately liberate humanity, because it means that the Christian is no longer under the authority of men, but is inspired to live life fully and authentically out of their own God-imaged self (no rules, no laws, no masters).  It means that the believer is called to live out the anarchist life and bring the message of Christian anarchy to the world.  This anarchist reading is in stark contrast to the exclusivist Christian reading which proposes that the freedom Jesus is talking about is primarily to help the Christian control sinful moral urges so that they can be “holy,” and that “salvation” is given exclusively to Christians who desire to have a place held for them in some sort of abstract, blissful afterlife.

Now, I am not suggesting that everyone has to agree with me and become a Christian anarchist.  That would be me being tyrannical and forcing my meta-narrative on you.  But I am suggesting that an anarchist reading of the gospel will only enhance a Christian’s spiritual growth.

Nevertheless, shifting gears, I am fairly sure that the anarchist ideal, which is the ideal of God, may not be possible for everyone to grasp, much less implement.  But I do believe that an anarchist reading of the faith will lead us to a truer repentance/conversion, which would further God’s ideal on earth.

Jacque Ellul said, “The true anarchist thinks that an anarchist society—with no state, no organization, no hierarchy, and no authorities—is possible, livable, and practicable.  But I do not. In other words, I believe that the anarchist fight, the struggle for an anarchist society is essential, but I also think that the realizing of such a society is impossible” (1991:19).

However, I hear God’s voice in the words of many secular anarchists who shout out, “Demand the impossible!”  And wasn’t it Jesus who said, “This is impossible for mere humans, but for God all things are possible” (Mt 19:26, NET).  So, God is demanding the impossible anarchist ideal to be worked out here on earth as it is in heaven.

So, why is the anarchist critique so routinely dismissed by most exclusivist Christians?  Well, I hope that this does not come across as too arrogant, but, it seems to me, that most exclusivist Christians are so wrapped up in their fire-insurance brand of feel good Christianity that they can’t even see the truth in the anarchist critique or the underlying truth of an anarchistic gospel. Jesus said, “I tell you the total truth, unless a person is born again spiritually, he or she cannot even see the [un]-kingdom of God” (Jn 3:3, my paraphrase). So, to even see, much less embrace the anarchist gospel will require a new conversion for the exclusivist Christian.

But there is also the challenge in living out an anarchist Christian lifestyle for those who are sympathetic or who wholeheartedly support the reading of an anarchistic gospel.   Furthermore, many liberal, liberationist, and socialist Christians are on the cusp of seeing and understanding Jesus as the Archetypal anarchist and possibly following Jesus as anarchist Christians.  But many are afraid to admit the truth of the anarchist gospel because of in-group pressures and responsibilities, or they are put off by the baggage associated with the word anarchy.

Anarchist psychologist Dennis Fox notes, “There’s a problem, though. Although we want to live by anarchist values today, none of us grew up learning how to do that. In the face of so much that needs doing, sometimes we settle for just getting by, staying functional enough for the work of the moment rather than developing personal, interpersonal, and collective skills an anarchist society might someday provide more naturally” (2011: 5).

There is much work then that needs to be done to begin to transform how the ideas and message of Christian anarchy are presented and taught to exclusivist Christians, and even to those who might support an anarchist reading of the gospel but are afraid to do so.

Thus, for those who may be interested, below are ten anarchist ideas I have been working with to critique my Christian faith and the gospel.  This is not a comprehensive list, but it is one that can certainly help you begin to parse the Christian faith through anarchist lenses.  Some of the questions I have been asking about these ten ideas have been, “Is there support for these ideas in Scripture?  What advantage do people who want to maintain the status quo gain from rejecting these ideas?  What do I think Jesus would say or what did Jesus say about these issues?”

I present these in no particular order and would welcome critique of the list as well:

  1. First, anarchists reject State or religious authority and hierarchical rule. No governments, no denominations, no self-appointed or even elected leaders. (Live here for a while if you are interested in applying the anarchist critique to your faith).
  2. Second, anarchists reject paternalism, patriarchalism, sexism, and racism, and all other human degradating isms.
  3. Third, anarchists reject the idea of land borders.
  4. Fourth, anarchists generally reject mandatory anything: public education, taxes, medical treatment (e.g., inoculations), and, of course, military service.
  5. Fifth, anarchists reject capitalism as an inherently oppressive power system.
  6. Sixth, anarchists support cooperation, voluntary association, and mutual aid/socialism as the only just economic system.
  7. Seventh, anarchists believe in the common ownership of the means of production.
  8. Eighth, anarchists are generally wary of the notion of the ownership of personal property. (However, many Christian anarchists understand that there may be some limited right to personal property inherent in human nature.)
  9. Ninth, Christian anarchists affirm non-violent direct action.
  10. And tenth, anarchists affirm creation care and simple living.

Again, this is not a complete list of the anarchist critique, but it will keep you and me busy for quite some time.

Ellul, Jacques. Anarchy and Christianity. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1991. Print.

Fox, Dennis. Anarchism and Psychology. Paper presented at the Conference of North American Anarchist Studies Network. Toronto, ON, January 16, 2011. Web.

© Paul Dordal, 2015

She’s Got The Whole World In Her Hands

full-moonAs I have been trying to pay attention more, I am mindful of the moon and the stars each morning as I make my way to the hospital. Yesterday, the moon was very full and hanging low in the dark hours of early morning.  The moon was so bright that it was able to cause a shadow to be cast from my car on the highway.

But what I noticed this morning was the roundness of the moon, its circular and complete beauty.  I imagined that it got so round because God took it like a lump of clay and rolled it ‘round and ‘round the palm of her hands.  I thought of this because as a child I used to roll Play-Doh into perfect little balls in the palms of my hand.

I then reflected on how God rolled me together good and unique from a cosmic ball of clay, and molded me in the palms of his hands.

Now, I know that science has a factual and more accurate description of how the moon came to be so round.  But my answer, my description of the creation of the moon and me, of Play-Doh and Silly Putty, is far truer than science could ever be.

© Paul Dordal, 2015