Friday, June 06, 2014

Prophetic Imagination

I recognize that we have an almost universal assumption in our culture these days that war is the only option for good to battle evil. It seems we've lost the imagination to see things other than black and white. I am encouraged that some Christians are beginning to reclaim an alternative approach to politics (that is: the way we interact with each other in society) and life. Part of that optimism is the wonderful reception Brian Zahnd's new book, A Farewell to Mars is getting in its first week.

This book tells the story of an evangelical pastor's discovery of a Christian prophetic imagination and his conversion to a deeper, more-profound gospel that takes seriously the teachings in the Sermon on the Mount and recognizes the cross as more than just securing heaven for the faithful.

It became every more clear, today, as I opened the newspaper, how much this alternative narrative is needed in our world today. Below is the letter I sent. I was limited to 200 words. I'd love to have said more, but I figured evangelism probably isn't going to help its chances of publication.

To Whom it May Concern:
I have become quite accustomed to the political cartoons you print each day, despite their lack of depth, satire, or wit, and penchant for taking easy shots at low hanging fruit.  The cartoon from June 6th, however, is easily the most careless example to date.

Yes, we all admire the tremendous personal sacrifice and bravery it took to storm the Normandy beaches, knowing full well the odds of failure. And I would not want to detract from the grief and loss of families whose soldier did not return.  However, using a quote from Gandhi, about Jesus Christ is entirely irresponsible.

These two figures form the ancient and modern paradigms of non-violent resistance - the quote used is part of Gandhi's explanation of his non-violent position - to use them in a cartoon glorifying war, no matter how emotional or noble the intentions, is completely inappropriate.

I hope your editors will use more wisdom and discernment in the future.

Ryan Scott

I believe the cross of Christ forever changed the world. Victory and freedom do not come at the end of a fight, but in the life-giving rejection of violence and embrace of love so deep we'd rather die than kill. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We may find it difficult to work out perfectly that ideal in our own lives - and we all make less than ideal choices - but we must never forget the truth and reality of this underlying truth. Even when we fall short of Christ's example, the example remains.

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