September 10, 2009

Moltmann Conversation - Session 4 Justice

• War and Peace = 3 options 1) chance swords into Christian swords and become a dragon killer – the evil kingdom is oppressed, the axis of evil eliminated, etc. HCE option and atomic bombs into Christian atomic bombs; 2) leave the swords to the unbelievers – this is an option outside of the perfection of Christ, but the wars are going on and on and on; 3) change swords into plowshares and change war industry into an ecological industrial complex and this is is not to become a peaceable man but a peacemaking man – this would be my option to try to change swords into plowshares. Take swords out of the hands of the violent and make them into peace, because mankind will not survive with swords. For this we need a double strategy – communities which anticipate this peaceable kingdom and on the other hand communities who work for peacemaking in the world. We need peace-makers!

• The anticipation piece, with the piece of resistance- if we embrace hope we live in the peace of resistance. Interested in examples of where are the concrete practices/rhythms/values that we can live as we anticipate. Within the global social movement, resistance only takes us so far before people look for alternatives – where does the church create “landing places” for the future? These movements are not always Christian churches! But many Christians take part in these movements. Some of them are very effective – ie: the green party in Europe, they were an extraparliamentary opposition groups – they formed a party and were bringing the ecological questions to the public. After 20 years, we already see how they pressed these topics/questions of ecology into the other parties – so now they all talk about the environment; same with social justice in Germany – even in free market neo-liberal thought. Showing an alternative life was effective! Many people in Europe don’t join political parties anymore, because that is limited to a nation, while groups are global (like Doctors without Borders).

• Basic communities – different kind of home church – but they tend to embrace practices different from the system – how do they touch you? To live a community life in the slums – to show people how mutual help will bring them out of the misery. The contrary of poverty is is community – b/c in community we are rich in ideas, energies, we can help ourselves. Only the individualization, commercialism that makes people powerless. In community we are strong! Social justice should remind us of the first Christian congregation – Acts 4 – there was not a needy person among them, they had everything in common. This is a promise… but also a commandment in our churches. The church is alive when in the congregation there are communities – smaller groups live together. A lot of churches in Germany are only ½ filled – because you can’t enjoy the service, there is nothing to enjoy – there was a church in Tubingen that is overfilled every Sunday because they consist of smaller communities who meet in houses and work for issues on behalf of the poor, feeding the poor, etc, and then in the service, these groups say what they have done and each speak where they need help and a person who they engaged, etc. (WOW!) This is an old knowledge that a community exists of communities (Wesley class meetings?)

• American public theology has lost a lot of space – the church is relegated to the margins, personal spirituality. Public debate about justice is left to politicians/social services. We wonder in our congregations where is the place of the church? We try to take back some of this public conversation but it’s difficult because the public conversation about justice and goodness is not based on God but is secular. What kinds of vision do you have for the church in relation to that conversation (political theology)? 2 tasks for the church: diakonia – serve the poor and the sick and the homeless and the jobless; prophetic task to say to the powerful and the public “Look! To those who are in the shadows” and without the prophetic voice, the diakonic service would just be reparation and without the diakonic the prophetic would be shallow and empty. Words & deeds. Every person has this experience – if you visit a sick member in the hospital and they say, how nice is it that you are coming b/c my family has forgotten me, you will turn around and go to the family and ask why do you leave your family alone in that hospital?! Same is true for the church at large! We need the silent work and the prophetic voices. You cannot make this – prophets are called and sometimes against their will.

• When I read your work and the work you are asking us to engage into – living the prmise right now… are we becoming co-creators of the kingdom or is this something that we are just to expect to come and to happen? We prepare the way for the righteousness of God to come in our possibilities and our potentialities ,which are certainly limited. Otherwise the kingdom would be the kingdom of man and not of God, so we should have in minds the difference, even if we can and must anticipate the justice of the kingdom. 20th century was called the Christian century – but divided by the colonial powers of the west, and the abyss of WWI, the end of this belief in progress. Now this belief in progress is returning in this idea of globalization – finance/goods/products – this is approaching already with an impact on the environment so we have a globalization without the globe! We need a globalization of social justice, peace-making relationships

• Abu Ghirab – thought of Moltmann’s story and how he said the main thing that helped you follow Jesus was that you experienced so much grace at the hands of your captors – you went back to the camp where you were a prisoner… interested in tension between those two stories. Talk about grace and tragedy: I share with you the anxiety about what your own country can do to other people – it is terrible. We never expected this to happen from the hands of Americans. We had other experiences with Americans after the war in Germany when they started the Marshall plan and the care packages coming, so it’s more convincing to love your enemy than to hate and kill the enemy! So what happened in this prison and Iraq was outrageous and I cannot understand an administration that allows this to happen. But let me stop b/c I don’t want to interfere with your internal affairs – 20 years after the close of the camp I was in, we surviving inmates came together in the same place where nature had taken over the camps and we had worship outside under the oak trees and invited the camp commander to the meeting and he said he had never heard about prisoners who voluntarily came back to the place where they were imprisoned and praised God for what they had experienced! But that is what happened to them and it was a great and gracious gift of the Brit. Govt. and the YMCA to give the former enemies a new chance for life and we will never forget that . After WWI different story, but after WW2 we experienced only help to stand up, to get away from the ruins, to rebuild Germany – reinvented their country with the help of the English, Amerians and the French. This is a much wiser policy when you are against enemies.

• The sweeping up of you into the Hitler Youth and there are young people in other countries who are likewise getting swept up into these movements – any perspective on that? The resistance movements against the Hitler regime were strong in other places because the Germans were an occupation force – to form a resistance in your own people makes you an alien in your own people. To resist apartheid as a black man, was to resist on behalf of your people, but the whites who resisted became isolated in their own people and alienated from own families. This is much more difficult and painful – but one should not… in Germany after WW1 – patriotism was so strong that only a few could go into resistance against your own father – after a time of being alienated in this way – there is no fathership in dictatorship and tyranny! I said to myself when I returned home I will never serve in a german army again – but if I have the chance to kill the german dictator I will do it. I was committed to peace and killing the tyrant. I told this to Mennonites and they said “oh, that’s okay”

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