I’m finishing up work on another terrific book, this one quite different than anything I’ve worked on before. It’s titled Blessed Peacemakers: 365 People Who Changed the World, by Kerry Walters and Robin Jarrell. The books consists of single-page treatments of 365 peacemakers from across time and space. It’s a resource that I commend to all Christians, but also to people of other faiths and no faith concerned about the challenge of peacemaking in our time. It contains incredible gems throughout, including this striking assertion by early 20th-century French pacifist and famous man of letters, Romain Rolland:
The worst enemy of each nation is not without, but within its frontiers, and none has the courage to fight against it. It is the monster of a hundred heads, the monster named Imperialism, the will to pride and domination, which seeks to absorb all, or subdue all, or break all, and will suffer no greatness except itself.
And Alice Walker’s insistence that “the women and children of Iraq are just as dear as the women and children in our families . . . and so it would have felt to me that we were going over to actually bomb ourselves.” And the witness of East German Lutheran Pastor Emil Fuchs, who asked a question of his compatriots that is no less pertinent to our own: “When will we be ashamed to call Christian those who trust in the sword?”
As one might expect with 365 vignettes, the book is organized chronologically, with days chosen to match birth or death dates in the lives of these fascinating peacemakers. When my boys are a bit older, I hope to read through the book with them one year.
I’m excited that the Board of The Ekklesia Project is in town this weekend for their annual meeting. For those who do not know of the work of EP, I encourage you to check out their Web site, endorse the Project, and consider attending the next Gathering: “2013: Practicing the Peace of Christ in Church, Neighborhood, and Country.” The work of The Ekklesia Project is, in my view, important in American Christianity at this time, as Christians of a variety of persuasions learn to live in a world they can no longer pretend to control.
I finally got around to reading the acclaimed novel by Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. It’s a powerful book—at turns hilarious, violent, titillating, and depressing. Fountain has written a moving and entertaining book, but one that is all the more brutal for the elements it combines. For in the end, Fountain’s abiding interest is in the crass and unseemly juxtaposition of mass consumer culture and the realities and effects of military combat on those who wage it. I commend Rodney’s earlier reflections on the novel, which can be found here.