Sunday, March 26, 2006

Free at Last.


I rejoice today, along with friends, family members and admirers, for the safe release of Jim Loney, Harmeet Sooden and Norman Kember, the Canadian and British members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams that were kidnapped almost three months ago in Iraq. We can only imagine what sorts of things these men experiences during their captivity, and the stories will definitely be coming forth in the following weeks as the men begin to feel confident and prepared enough to take on the media. CPT has done, and is continuing to do, amazing, front line work in the devastated city of Baghdad, exposing the injustices of the American led occupation and standing alongside the Iraqi civilians as their country degenerates into a chaotic civil war.

It is a bittersweet happiness we feel, however, as Tom Fox, the only American CPT hostage, was killed a few weeks back, his body dumped in a Baghdad garbage bin. A man of strong faith, social justice and political conviction, had his life tragically struck down simply because of the nationality he carried. His work, and the ongoing message of CPT…that Christians should be prepared to give their full effort, even their lives , for peace and justice to be manifested on this earth. Their voices, and the voices of the countless others involved in the denouncing of the cruel, illegal and destructive occupation of Iraq, will not be easily extinguished.

I was especially touched by the words of CPT members as they attempted to put this experience in a comparative context to the lives of countless Iraqis that are suffering immense hardships in their homeland. They comment that as difficult as this ordeal has been they have experienced only a small taste of what Iraqis have heaped upon them on a daily basis with the car bombs, road side explosions, ambushes on innocent civilians and the constant kidnapping of those desperately trying to work to improve the situation in the country. In a statement the group said "During these past months, we have tasted of the pain that has been the daily bread of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis... We renew our commitment to work for an end to the war and the occupation of Iraq." Reports are now showing that up to 30 Iraqis are kidnapped each day on the streets of Baghdad.

I hope that the story of CPT can show the world, and especially our brothers and sisters in the Middle East, that there are many people who are motivated by the teachings of Jesus to continue the struggle for peace and justice from their own back yards to the farthest corners of the earth. The words of Jim Loney make a joyful sound,

“With God’s abiding kindness, we will love even our enemies.
With the love of Christ, we will resist all evil.
With God’s unending faithfulness, we will work to build the beloved community."

33 Comments:

Blogger Steve said...

I rejoice with you in the release of these servants of The Lord. Most of us have no idea of the sacrifices that some have made for the Lord and what they go through.
Even though we know there will never be peace in the world, we still must do all within our power to strive for that end.

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Ty said...

A gay man, living in sin, who failed to give God full credit in any media statement, failed to evangelize to his captors, risked the lives of soldiers and cost taxpayer millions of dollars (probably more than the CPT has ever raised in funds)has had his life spared. While it's nice that he is alive, the CPT should drop the "C". These idiots made absolutely no sacrifice for the Lord, they made them for themselves. Their lives were most likely spared only because of their lack of faith and fear to spread the Word.

7:51 PM  
Anonymous Reyn said...

Why do you gotta be like that?
Is it better to do nothing and avoid being condemned for values one believe is right or to actually go out and act on one's values though they may not be at the impossibly high standards that some people have? Is not acting as a soldier costing the taxpayer more then witnesses to gross human right violations? Finally, how do you know that their actions have not said more about Christ then a 30 second media blurb? I am happy that these men have been rescued and I hope we will keep in mind the thousands of other people that have been kidnapped or have lost loved ones in this war.

8:45 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

I'll agree with Reyn on this one... And TY - what the hell does "a gay man" have to do with it? Dude - it may be time to wake up and smell the coffee! I hope this is an okay forum - but "gay" should not be a bad word in 2006. How does your sexual orientation affect your ability to serve God? I'm sick and tired of "God doesn't want fags" bullshit - homosexuality is natural - and love between people is a beautiful thing regardless of genders involved. Get it through your head! How does one man's love for another man affect your religion, your faith, your ability to love and serve God? If the prime motivation is to serve, why does it have to be a contest between you and the next guy? Will you only be let into heaven if you're better than a certain percentage of the population? Does the fact that there are gay Christians turn you away from God? I just don't understand the difficulty here, why this is a point of contention with a(n ever decreasing) percentage of Christians?

Come on dude - you're sounding like an idiot. I can handle some of the comments you make (as most people can handle some of the dipshit things I have to say) - but this is ridiculous!

10:55 PM  
Blogger jpmozambique said...

Yeah tyler, I really don't know what to say to your comments. In all honesty, they really surprise and disappoint me. CPT does incredible ministry and are tremendously well respected by people of all faith backgrouds in many regions of the world. Their front line witness to Jesus' message of non-violent peacemaking involves incredible amounts of faith, courage and above all else sacrifice. We clearly have differant understandings of "ministry" and "evangelism" but I think the work of CPTers needs to be commended as spreading the Word of God through real life action rather than simply flowery words delivered from a pulpit.

Peace is the Word

Jp

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Ty said...

Obviously I disagree and I understand that most people who read this blog follow a different theology than myself. In the Bible I read, God doesn't hate fags, God hates sin. Homosexuality is a sin, as are many other actions. There is also a difference between sinning, living in sin, and refusing to believe that you are sinning. Christianity is not a democracy. The view of the masses does not change the truth.

As for your disappointment in my comments, I am equally disappointed in organizations like the CPT. What seperates the actions of Christian organizations from Atheist ones? The message of Christ. Without that message, they should drop the Christian banner that they wave. Just as faith without actions is worthless, so is actions without faith. Maybe I have the CPT wrong, maybe they just dropped the ball big time. People make mistakes. Maybe the news organizations took out their referances to God. Regardless, I am still disappointed judging from what I have seen and heard.

I do not agree that Jesus spread a message of non violent peacemaking. Jesus is not Ghandi. Jesus did not rebuke the Centurian, he held him up as an example of great faith. Jesus is described in the Bible as leading an army of angels. Jesus is part of the same God that destroyed cities, wiped out armies on Isreal's doorstep and destroyed the world with water.

Jared, I agree 100% that God's word needs to be delivered from something other than a pulpit, but I don't think that these organizations are going about it in a worthwhile way.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

Tyler - you agree that the readers of this blog follow different theologies than you - fact. To define theology I'll take the good old Webster's version: "A system or school of opinions concerning God and religious questions."

Now - to build upon this - later in the same paragraph you say that "Christianity is not a democracy" - which leads me to believe that you think there to be one, and only one, true way. That there is no question, or differing schools of thought, about the nature of God and religious questions.

Question for you though - in addition to all gay people, are we (non-whatever-the-hell-you-follow Christians) not "Christian" as well for following a different school of thought?

Am I also a sinner because I choose to be a member of a church which allows homosexuality?

My church fully accepts homosexuality - even allowing homosexual ministers to preach to their congregations. I have a hard time believing that it is a Christian virtue to exclude someone for something over which they have no control... It is a matter of interpretation - and no matter how you cut it, convinving me that homosexuality is a sin will not happen... the very attempt to do so is outrageous and un-Christian.

2:28 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

Jesus spread the word of non-violent peacemaking to the children of God.

Jesus and God standing up, bringing about violent means to situations = their bloody perogative, all-knowing sort of enters into the equation here.

They have the power and ability to do so - we don't. To think that our war-making is okay because a God did it before us is absurd - how can you compare humans to God? I knew that George W. Bush thought he could make decisions as if he were God - but not you too!

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Heidi said...

OK boys - here's my take. When you go as a Christian to do God's work in places like Iraq, you have to be prepared to suffer. And in today's world, where Christians are persecuted daily, you have to be prepared to use the media to its full power. The media should not be able to quote you without some reference to God, Christ and God's greatness. We are fighting a spiritual war and souls are at stake. I am disappointed that CPT does not give God 100% of the glory ALL THE TIME. They have a unique opportunity and are not vocal enough. About homosexuality - we can love someone for the person God made them to be, but I cannot love the person's sins. And homosexual behaviour, any way you cut it, is clearly sinful as outlined in God's Word. Leviticus 20:13
If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.

6:07 PM  
Anonymous Ty said...

"Now - to build upon this - later in the same paragraph you say that "Christianity is not a democracy" - which leads me to believe that you think there to be one, and only one, true way. That there is no question, or differing schools of thought, about the nature of God and religious questions."

Wrong Sean.

There is ONE God. There is only ONE true way. But of course there are differing schools of thought.

What I am saying by "Christianity is not a democracy" is that just because a whole bunch of people believe something, does not change the Truth, whatever that truth may be.

Who am I to judge whether one is Christian or not? That's God's job. Besides, I have enough to worry about with my own salvation. But do not say that it is un-Christian to suggest that homosexuality is wrong. The bible is clear on that. I will hate the sin, love the sinner. Also, I will not hold one sin more heinous than the next, they are all equal, including my own.

My final comment on the gay issue is this. While I understand that you are entitled to your opinion, I am entitled as well. It is with this opinion that I disagree. Regardless of what any of us believe, God gets the final say, and in that I am content.

6:37 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

That's fine - I'm not saying you're a complete idiot for believing in one passage of the Bible so intently. Although my version says the following:

"If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them."

Who puts them to death? God does? When? Now or Later? Can you do it? Or do you have to be free of sin?

In my comment asking about your words - it just seemed a little confusing... but now that you've clarified:
"There is ONE God. There is only ONE true way. But of course there are differing schools of thought."

No problem now... although if indeed I am following the wrong path - and yours is correct - what will become of me? Why didn't God make it clearer? Why are there interpretation problems? Why can't attempting to live your life in a Christ-like fashion be enough?

Now - further to the discussion, I'm confused about your latest statements: "I have enough to worry about with my own salvation" - if so, why even point out that the rescued CPT-er was a gay man? Why does it matter how they go about their business? Isn't it their interpretation? Why did you even comment if you were solely concerned with your own salvation?

(One last question - since men do not have Vaginas - a man can't really lie with another man the way he lies with a woman now can he? Is this a technicality - is interpretation allowed? Furthermore - are lesbians cool? Leviticus doesn't mention anything about them... it's probably okay right? Just wondering - because the minister that I did have (before she moved on to the Interlake) was a gay woman... maybe that was allowed. I'll check).

6:58 PM  
Anonymous Reynagain said...

The problem with evangelism is that it is hard to get people to actually listen. At least for me when people of other religions and faiths push their ideologies and values it creates a bad taste in my mouth. I don't want to listen to them, I close up and tune them out. A prime example are Mormons who come to our doors to proselytize. I harden my stance on my theology and no matter what, if they argue until they're blue in the face and even if they have the most valid points there is a fat chance I would ever convert to Mormonism. Now Christians who are working amongst people with a deep respect for their own religion such as Islam, coming in and thumping a bible, and telling them they are all sinners will get you nowhere converting people to Christianity. By acting in the manner of CPT'ers which is building relationships and working in solidarity with people of other religions, they are more likely to be heard. If it can be shown through actions that these people have something that other religions don't have, you will start getting converts with strong faiths, not ones who have been coerced. Coercion tactics may have converted many during the colonial era but when there is a rift growing between two religions, pushing ones faith on another will only make things worse. I strongly believe that the CPT'ers by not 'bible thumping' and not practicing 'in your face evangelism' will have a greater impact on peoples faith and will create relationships that may lead to converts, if not at the very least a deep seeded respect for Christianity by Muslims that have come in contact with them.

7:01 PM  
Anonymous Ty said...

Regarding Jesus' teaching on non violent peacemaking please educate me, I do not see them.

Jesus was by no means a warmonger while he was on Earth, but nor was he trying to take down the Roman army through non violent means. Remember, Israel was a nation under occupation just as Iraq is. I have never heard any stories of Jesus trying to bring peace to the country or encouraging others to do so.

What Jesus did promote was to not retaliate. Accept religious persecution. In other words, attack me because I'm Tyler and I'll fight back. Attack me because I'm Christian and I'll evangelize.

"To think that our war-making is okay because a God did it before us is absurd - how can you compare humans to God? I knew that George W. Bush thought he could make decisions as if he were God - but not you too!"

I'm not sure where you get these ideas. Either I'm extremely poor at communicating or you purposely try to misconstrue what I say. I do not believe that war making is okay. I believe that God is in control and uses people (from Bush to Bin Laden) to accomplish his will. WWII, millions dead, Israel now has its country back which fulfills prophecy. Why should I try to stop God's plans?

7:03 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

Ty - I love ya - and the comparison between you and Bush was purely a button pusher. I don't mean to call you a warmonger - but on the hating gays front - you're top knotch! (laugh it off)

7:14 PM  
Anonymous Ty said...

Reyn, don't be confused. After all I did say:

"Just as faith without actions is worthless, so is actions without faith."

Evangelism is tough, dirty, dangerous and requires a lot of faith and hard work. I respect those who evangelize in far off places more than anyone else. What I don't respect are those who go in the name of Christ, and forget about the Christ part.

9:37 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

My question still hasn't been answered about killing homosexuals. I'm concerned that we're not living by the word of God by letting gay people live ("they shall surely be put to death"). It says right there in good old Leviticus 20:13 that they should be killed. Or is that one part of the Bible we can ignore? Just a question... if not - are you being a proper Christian by letting homosexuals live? I don't mean to harp on it - but if you're going to quote a Bible passage - quote the whole thing. And for heaven's sake - start following through on the word of God!!!

11:45 PM  
Blogger jpmozambique said...

wow a lot of interesting and heated things being said...we will all never see eye to eye on these issues of evangelism and homosexuality but regardless of what we believe to be a sin, or what we believe to be the proper way to spread the word of God, we cannot lose sight of the fundamental message of love in the gospels. Love can motivate us to a point where we no longer need to resort to violence and condemnation to achieve our self-centered desires. It is extremely easy to call oneself a Christian but it involves tremendous sacrifice to live the life of a Christian. Jim Loney and the rest of the CPT members have shown us an example of this sacrifice and the ultimate cost of discipleship and for this they should be commended. Many people around world have been touched by their sacrifice and have seen a new side of Christian evangelism and this makes me incredibly happy. Before we are so quick to criticize the sacrifices of others, perhaps we should check and see what sacrifices we've made lately for God's work here on earth.

One Love

Jp

8:42 AM  
Blogger jfunk said...

Sean I got your gay question figured out. As long as their doin' it standing up everything is fine. That's how much fun interpretation can be. I'm sure some of you know how I feel about church and I don't want to start my rant about that community but I just want to mention that regardless of whether or not the Cristian peacemakers are Christian or whether they claim to do all this in the name of god isn't it more important that they are just doing it.

I'm saying as a person who lost her faith in church and christianity oh about 11 years ago i choose to be a good person who tries very hard to treat other people with respect and generousity just because I believe as a human it is right.

I appreciate my upbringing as a pacifist so that when I'm in a crowded bar and some crazy drunk girl punches me in the head I choose to turn around and not let the situation escalate but I do not do it because of faith. I do it because of humanity.

I think regardless of faith, religion, or for crying out loud who you bonk should have no bearing on the simple fact that these are good people doing good things.

1:18 PM  
Anonymous who doesn't love jfunk? said...

here here

1:54 PM  
Anonymous Ty said...

jfunk.....there is no such thing as "good people", if there were, salavation wouldn't be needed.

11:47 PM  
Blogger jpmozambique said...

Ty come one, we're ALL good people around here..let's stop putting up divisions between us.

1:34 AM  
Blogger Hungry J said...

Reyn, (in answer to your very first question) Tyler's gotta be like that because he's a dick. Would you seriously expect anything different from him?

He has a different value system from you and me. He believes that cocks and asses and making sure they shall never meet are more important than saving lives, than trying to stop injustice. He talks about evangelism but he doesn't understand the word witness.

He's not like you sir. He's got it all figured out, or at least as much as he thinks he needs. Arguing with him rationally does nothing because rationality requires doubt, requires skepticism, things he cannot have because they would invalidate his sense of worth.

We can talk about his mind. "There are no good people." In an absolute sense, sure I'd give him that. People fuck up all the time. But the only kind of brain that sees only absolutes is insane. People are good. People fuck up. These concepts can be held simultaneously by someone who is capable of rational thought.

Tyler does not have an open mind. He will not consider your arguments and think about his bedrock beliefs. Sean can point out the idiocy in pulling out one verse in a thousand year old book and believing in it (though to be fair, it was Heidi that brought that out) but it doesn't matter. He thinks he has his salvation and the rest of life is just filling time.

Seriously, if that was what you believed why would it even occur to you to think you might be wrong? You can hardly blame him. It's a defensive posture.

And he needs to be defensive because he believes dangerous things. There's some glory in that, some bravado, but they're dangerous to people. Actual living people. They are things that will not make this world better.

And that is why he's gotta be like that.

7:48 AM  
Anonymous Heidi said...

This is to Justin. I have had enough of your name-calling. First in a posting a few weeks ago, and now again. You have absolutely no right to call someone a name, regardless of what you think of them. These discussions have to this point always been enlightening and challenging, which I enjoy. We all have different opinions and experiences which shape us and hearing other people's thoughts contributes to our growth. But when you stoop to name-calling and making assumptions about someone, then the discussion becomes fruitless. I will point out that you have not talked to either Tyler or myself in person in probably 6 years. You have no idea who we are as people, how we live our lives and what we choose to do with the resources God has given us. It is easy to say we don't understand the word "witness" but do you know what we do at work, in our spare time? Do you know why we choose to work and make money versus giving of our time in the mission field? Maybe it's because we believe that missionaries who are witnessing need clothing, food and the resources to do their work. Maybe our calling is to support that work.

And why am I writing when it was Ty you called a "dickwad" and a "dick"? Because when you insult my husband you insult me. I will not tolerate disrespect and name-calling in my life.

Reynold - I like your ideas about evangelism and I would tend to agree. What I was getting at with the CPT organization is that at the corporate level it is really important for them to witness for Christ, for all of us. I think that as soon as you include the word "Christian" in your name, you have a great responsibility to live and act accordingly and to represent Christ as vocally as possible. I also agree that coercion tactics are useless, but my hope was that the CPTers who were captured were a little like Paul and gave thanks for the opportunity granted to them in their captivity. There was little evidence of that in the media. You know, I would have expected that the second Paul was released he would have started praising God and talking about his experiences. Instead, these men quietly slipped away, refusing most media interviews. I feel like saying "this was your chance!" Tell us about your captivity - what motivated your captors - politics, religion, what? How did God give you strength in that time? Those are the things I had hoped to see.

Heidi

10:45 AM  
Blogger Sean said...

But when you, Heidi, didn't see the rescued praise God and give ALL the glory - what was your reaction? Was it to pass judgement as your beloved husband did? Was it to make callous statements or to think bad thoughts?

I ask, not accuse, because Tyler went ahead and did those things. It's right there above this post. He did not know the 3 rescued. He certainly has not had contact with them in at least 6 years (correct me if I'm wrong though). He certainly resorted to name calling (although I do not see "gay man" as an insult, I get the sense that Tyler does). What about him? Will you condemn those actions as quickly as you condemn Justin's? Or will you become a submissive drone waiting for your stop at the feeding station? It's fine to insult people we don't know - but when it becomes personal, that's when you feel the need to step up? I can understand why you wouldn't stand against your husband - the Bible probably says something about that too - but take it easy when you do. Sorry to argue semantics here... I'm just wonderin'

To remind you - my question about the rest of Leviticus 20:13 is still unanswered. If you'd prefer to email me, instead of the public forum - and would like your answer to remain private - I'd be more than willing to accomodate - I just want to hear what you have to say about that. Email me at seangiesbrecht@yahoo.ca if you like.

10:58 AM  
Blogger jfunk said...

No such thing as "good people"?!!! (she asks indreduously) My good god I have been living a lie. I don't know who I am nor anyone that I have chosen to hang out with. Oh if I could say bullshit I would say it but that would be wrong. HAHAHAHAHAH This just makes me laugh even harder. And reminds me of why I have chosen to live my life the way I have and to build a community out of the people I know. Thank you Tyler for reafirming my "faith"

11:25 AM  
Blogger jpmozambique said...

Hey everyone, now I like a lot of the things being said on this forum but I would again remind you that this is place where we are all friends that the end of the day. Therefore let's treat each other with a bit more respect and put down our swords hey. The world certainly doesn't need more negative energy!!

2:01 AM  
Anonymous Dave W. said...

It seems to me that "good" Christians who really want to effect some change for the benefit of the world get sidetracked by debates on who's sinning and who's not and how many people they can convert. I believe the big picture is that our children won't have a world worth being a Christian in if the pollution driven by North American consumption is not drastically curbed. Pardon me for asserting my own agenda but I believe the efforts of well-meaning people could be better spent than by condemning or converting.

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Pico Tokozuma said...

Sorry to join the discussion late, but I completely agree with Heidi and Tyler. According to Leviticus 20:13 homosexuality is a sin. As a pious person, I follow the good book and all of it's teachings. That's why I sleep with my sister (Genesis 20:12), beat my slave nightly (exodus 20-21), and stone my child whenever they get lippy (Duet 21:18-21). And if you think god hates homosexuals don't even get him started on the handicap (Lev 21:16-23 ).

Remember love the sinner not the sin.

P.S. I'm just glad Leviticus doesn't say anything about barnyard animals.

8:57 AM  
Anonymous Steveo said...

Hey Pico,

Unfortunately Leviticus covers that one too (20:15). Man, that chapter is wicked unforgiving. Apparently if you nail a chick while she's on her rag the two of you are supposed to be cut off from the community (20:18). Just for being gross. It's a damn good thing we've always got the OT to fall back on when the NT gets too "love and forgiveness"y. Love thy neighbor, that's pretty gay.

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Ruski Kurva said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:17 AM  
Blogger jpmozambique said...

Not cool Ruski, not cool at all.

2:40 AM  
Anonymous Aileen said...

No, Comrade Penner, Arbitrary Censorship is not cool. As Sean fittingly observed, a hierarchy of victims should not be our aspiration. A malicious attack on a friend, acquaintance, or stranger is still an attack. Therefore, Ruski Kurva’s comments, as reflective of the general judgmental and self- important tone of the dialogue, should not have been subject to censure. To Ruski Kurva, We, referring to the historically dominant, ass kicking, slavs on the left bank of the Dnieper, transliterate Russian (when used as an adjective) as Russkii. Two ss, Two ii. So take your Polish corrupted language and shoved it down your throat, or up your ass, as apparently your other hole is perpetually filled and the bible, as far as I know, does not ban the systematic means of communicating ideas by the use of sound from entering the anus of a man or a woman. Unless maybe if you used your tongue

8:37 PM  
Anonymous NOT COMRADE PENNER said...

Nice going there Aileen - took me a bit - but I got it! (I really liked the "apparently your other holes is perpetually filled" bit).

12:18 AM  

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