Christian Peacemaker Teams Founder Dies

Gene Stoltzfus, founder of Christian Peacemaker Teams, died yesterday, March 11, 2010. He was director from it's founding in 1988 to 2004. Stoltzfus was born in 1940.

For more details, visit the Christian Peacemaker Teams web site.

Want peace? Meet one another, says Filmaker

"The first step for world peace is for people to meet each other," says Jehane Noujaim, film maker and photographer with degrees in visual arts and philosophy

Her 2004 film documentary Control Room, tells the story of Al Jazeera and its relations with the US Central Command (CENTCOM), as well as the other news organizations that covered the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Al Jazeera was accused of spreading American propaganda in the East, and being a proponent of terrorism in the West. Her web site states, "The military. The media. The war in Iraq. Who is making history?"

Noujaim tells the story of her efforts at testing and learning about peace on TED.

Cool to be Compassionate?

"A parent told the Salvation Army bell ringer how important he was and thanked him." That's Act of Compassion #768 on the Charter for Compassion web site.

The Charter is the brainchild of Karen Armstrong. Though still a young project, the charter has garnered over 40,000 signatories. The Charter is based on the Golden Rule - an ideal upheld by people of many faiths and people of no faith.

Will the Charter result in an meaningful social change? "The doctrines and stories of faith make no sense at all unless they are translated into action," Armstrong told interviewer Nathan Schneider on The Immanent Frame blog. "In Australia, our partners are going to launch the Charter in Parliament and are currently working to get it included in the educational curriculum," cited Armstrong, along with other concrete examples.

"It is no use urging other people to be compassionate if we do not practice it ourselves," she told Schnieder.

Is forgiveness key to peace?

Forgiveness Project

Is forgiveness necessary to attain peace? The folks who run the Forgiveness Project believe it is. According to their web site, "The Forgiveness Project works at a local, national and international level to help build a future free of conflict and violence by healing the wounds of the past."

Norm Kember, a member of Christian Peacemaker Teams, writes about forgiveness from his perspective as one of four hostages taken during the war in Iraq in 2005. Fellow hostage, Tom Fox, was murdered, while Kember and two others survived. Kember reflects the irony of being rescued by British military forces.

In 1991, Michael Watson collapsed at the end of a world championship boxing match. He spent 40 days in a coma, emerging partially paralyzed from a blood clot in his brain.  In 2002, his opponent, Chris Eubank, accompanied Watson on the final leg of the London Marathon - a race that took Watson six days to complete.

The Forgiveness Project collects stories from ordinary people who have experienced extraordinary hurt - but have found the courage and compassion to forgive. Some are people faith, many are not. Some have suffered deep personal losses: the murders of family members, others beatings and assaults. Seom are convicted criminals who have faced their victims. Each one has a unique and moving story to share.

New Report on UN Peacekeeping: Declining Contribution from Canada

"The Rideau Institute and Peacebuild have released a report on the decreasing role of Canada in United Nations peacekeeping efforts. The report shows Canadaʼs declining commitment to UN peacekeeping through a collection of graphs, including striking illustrations of the steady drop in Canadaʼs financial and personnel contributions.

From the report: 'Canada has fallen from being the single largest contributor of UN peacekeepers, a position it often held before 1992, to 56th position today (Chart 1). Once the supplier of nearly 3,300 peacekeeping soldiers, Canada now contributes less than one busload, just 57' (pg. 2)."

- from Bits and Pieces, a newsletter of Mennonite Central Committee Canada

I am making peace with the national anthem

When Sheldon Good's alma mater, Goshen (Ind.) College, decided to change a long standing tradition of not playing the American national anthem at his school's sporting events, he took issue with the decision. The pressure for the school to begin playing the anthem came when Mike Gallagher, a syndicated conservative talk-host, urged listeners to contact the college and advocate for the widely socially embraced practice.

Good says the decision to play the anthem at sporting events of a school with a historic peace church history re-affirms the widely held belief that pacifists are passive. Christians are called to be global citizens, writes Good. “God calls us to carry our patriotism lightly.”

Read this profound, insightful, and articulate response from a recent college grad currently working at Sojourners in Washington, D.C. - link courtesy of The Mennonite

Added Feb 23, 2010: The Washington Post picked up on the issue in a Feb. 20, 2010, story.

Julio Diaz disarms an assailant - without physical force

Juilo Diaz was waiting for his train on a subway platform in the Bronx when he was held up at knifepoint. Diaz retells his powerful - and at times humourous - story of how he ended up with both his wallet and the assailant's knife, using only words. Poignant and clever, Diaz shows the potential of recognizing a situation with turn-around-potential, and then using creative imagination to resolve a confrontation that could have ended up very differently. Listen to his story in as told by him in this 2 minute audio file.

Shared with permission from StoryCorps.

Little wonder Christianity has a negative rep...

Justin Fung asks, "Who would Jesus shoot?" in response to a Jan. 20 BBC story about a military manufacturer who imprints Bible verse references on its gun sights.

The BBC reports that  John 8:12 is one of the refences used: "Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”'

At the Sojourners magazine web site, Fung writes, "It’s absolutely mind-boggling to me that carved onto weapons of war are words of truth and peace — words from a man who embodied and heralded a kingdom characterized by peace, and from a man who announced an alternative to empire and spoke of faith, hope, joy, gentleness, goodness, and peace. How in the heck do these things go together?!”

We at, can’t figure this out either. As Fung asks, have we learned nothing from the Crusades, the Inquisition, etc.?

If Obama's right, Martin Luther King was wrong

The Mennonite has published a thought provoking reflection on President Obama's Nobel peace Prize Award speech. Author Harold A. Penner quotes King when he writes that, "'Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem. It merely creates new and more complicated ones."' So spoke Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech."

Although Obama considers himself a beneficiary of King's legacy, Penner asserts that Obama nonetheless dismisses non-violent peace builders like King and Gandhi as "ineffectual and naive."

Peace Among the Peoples, Elkhart, Indiana, July 28-31, 2010

A gathering of ecumenically minded Christian peace builders will be held in Elkhart, Indiana, July 28-31, 2010. Organized by the World Council of Churches and sponsored by nine ecclesial, peace minded bodies, the event will gather global, non-violent peace leaders and key note presenters to reflect on the future of the ecumenical peace movement in North America and beyond. To learn more, review the brochure and schedule.

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