Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas and the Prince of Peace

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
--Mohandas Gandhi

Time to get militant.

No more war by Christians.

If you use violence, stop calling yourself Christian.

If you carry a gun, stop calling yourself Christian.

The real Christians are the ones who only use nonviolence, and the best Christians are the Anne Montgomery-types, who head out with a hammer to begin to fashion swords into plowshares--or stand with others in Bethlehem, as in this photo of them trying to protect Palestinian homes from Israel bulldozers (Anne is the little woman on the left).

Christians were nonviolent for the first three hundred years, persecuted, tossed in to the lions, and lived as much like Jesus as they could. It was illegal for a Christian to be in the army in the Roman Empire.

Then emperor Constantine, desperately trying to propitiate any god who would listen and make a deal, promised the day before a great battle over the Milvian bridge, which crossed the Tiber River, that he would convert to Christianity if granted victory. He won, establishing himself as the sole ruler in the western Roman Empire, and kept his promise. He converted and Christianity thus became more like The Mummy Returns than like Jesus founded it. Quid pro quo--promise Aribus your soul and he'll grant you battlefield victory. Your warriors will spread across the world like an evil plague.

Well? The US may no longer officially call itself a Christian nation, but if there is any strain of crypto-religion dominant in the US military it is a Constantinian Christianity, born again into heavily armed warriors who are raining death on all who resist. They do so from space, from the seas, and from more than 1,000 military bases around the planet. They do it in the name of fighting terror and they kill civilians, which is the classical definition of state terrorism. Indeed, within a century or so after Constantine's bargain with the devil he called God, it was illegal for anyone but a so-called Christian to be a member of the Holy Roman imperial army. From that day the imperial peace of the grave became the peace of Christ and the lie was complete.

Christianity cannot do this and honor Jesus. Christians cannot kill and call themselves Christians.

Perhaps Christmas, 2010, is a moment to convert, away from the Christianity that makes deals to attain victory and power. Maybe this is a moment to start small, start humble, get back to the manger and put away the tools of empire.

May your Christmas be one of the Prince of Peace--the one who leads by nonviolent example, seeking peace and justice by peaceable means and who shares and serves with humility and nonviolence.

One might pray for this on Christmas. What would Jesus think?

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