Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Speaking Christian: Peace, according to Borg

As we prepare to come together for our Soup and Supper engagement with Marcus Borg's book Speaking Christian this evening, reflect on these words of Borg's about the full, radical meaning of peace. How does this speak to our wider needs for peace today? What do you see causing "unnecessary human misery" in our world today? Perhaps these are the places where peace is most deeply needed.

Like many images of salvation, peace has both a personal and political meaning. The personal meaning is peace of mind and, slightly extended, peace with those with whom one is in intimate contact— family, neighbors, associates. But peace in the Bible is also about the end of violence and the cessation of war. Along with economic injustice as institutionalized poverty and destitution, institutionalized violence was the other plague that caused the greatest amount of unnecessary human misery in the world of the Bible. There was the violence that the ruling elite used to keep the population in line. There was the violence of wars, which were most often started by the ruling elite against foreign elites for the sake of gaining their land and wealth. For the most part, ordinary people (90 percent of the population) had no stake in wars, even as they were often ruined by them by higher taxation; conscription; pillage of domestic animals; ruining of crops, resulting in famine; confiscation of land by an invader; and being slaughtered while fighting or as civilian victims of an invading army. Thus it is not surprising that the second primary political meaning of salvation in the Bible is peace and nonviolence. Not just personal peace of mind and nonviolence in our personal relationships, but peace as the end of war.

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