Why Be A Pacifist?

Why Be A Pacifist?

    For those of us who grew up in the age of Dr. King and during the Vietnam War, pacifism made a lot of sense. And even if you didn't grow up in that era, pacifism can still make sense, especially in light of the ever-expanding US military budget which consumes more than 50% of the federal discretionary budget. But in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, how can pacifism be justified? 

Catholic Priest Emmanuel Katangole has written that "... nonviolence is not a utopian fantasy. It is indeed a Christian vocation and every Christian is invited to enter into the logic of God’s love and to experience it’s rich spiritual and practical dimensions. Violence is not inevitable and there is a rich world of possibilities that are currently available within the story of God’s love. Surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, perhaps we too can not only dare to say no to violence, but to respond to violence with an excess of love, and when we do so, we find ourselves as part of the revolution of tenderness."

Join me in a conversation with three guests: Rev. Mark Davidson, Rev. Ben Daniel and Rev. Dr. David Ensign. You can tell they must be pastors because they all have biblical names!

Mark Davidson retired from active pastoral ministry in the PCUSA in 2019, after 40 yrs. of service. He was privileged to chair the 6-yr. Peace Discernment Process of the denomination (2010-2016), culminating in the approval of the study, Risking Peace in a Violent World, and the 5 Peace Affirmations, which highlighted nonviolence as part of updating the peacemaking vision of the Church. His former congregation, the Church of Reconciliation, in North Carolina, is one of the Peace Churches in the PCUSA. As a member of the Peace Church Working Group, Mark authored 3 Bible studies in the Peace Church curriculum focusing on nonviolence. Mark and his wife, Allison, currently worship with the Quakers and actively support their peace testimony.

Ben Daniel is the pastor of Montclair Presbyterian Church in Oakland and is a writer whose faith-based social and political commentary has appeared in a wide variety of online, print, broadcast and video media. He’s the author of three books and is active in peacemaking work in the Presbyterian Church (USA). The Montclair Church is also one of the Peace Churches in the denomination and Ben wrote the portion of that curriculum dealing with Just War.

David Ensign is a writer, musician, and Presbyterian pastor in Arlington, Va., where he has lived for almost 20 years with Cheryl Lederle, his beloved of more years than he can remember. He currently serves as interim executive director of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. Prior to his role with PPF, David served two congregations in National Capital Presbytery, as well as congregations in the Presbytery of the Western Reverse and Pittsburgh Presbytery. David and Cheryl have three adult children and two grandchildren (whose pictures he will happily show you). Ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 1999, David holds a doctorate in philosophy from DePaul University and a masters in religious studies from the University of Chicago Divinity School. Prior to ordination, David was an editor and senior policy manager for the Council of State Governments.

 Another reference in the episode made reference to this book: The Relevance of An Impossible Ideal: An Answer to the Views of Reinhold Niebuhr by G.H.C. Macgregor.

The article mentioned above is "As If from Another Planet: Nonviolence Witnesses from Africa" by Emmanuel Katangole from the journal Oneing, Vol 10 No. 2, 2022.

Ben also quoted Wendell Berry from his book, "The Burden of the Gospels," found in The Way of Ignorance.


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