Peace Thoughts with Shane Claiborne

Earlier this month my friend Mandy and I went to hear Shane Claiborne speak in Lancaster. We planned to get there early, figuring the place would fill up. Even with my I-know-exactly-where-this-church-is arrogance that got us lost, we were there a half an hour before the event started. The auditorium was already packed. As we squeezed in the side door with those who would begin to line the walls, people in the third row shifted closer together, opening up two seats. We snagged them (really, I felt justified; my autoimmune disease would never have allowed me to stand for the whole time).

By the time Shane got up to speak, people were seated all over the floor on the platform and in three auxiliary rooms. Shane is a cofounder of The Simple Way community in Philadelphia, people who are trying to live for Jesus by living in community and loving their neighbors. Mandy had read his book Jesus for President, and I had written a review of the Simply Enough DVD he did with Tony Campolo, so we were eager to hear him in person.

Shane was gracious, and funny, and unassuming. I appreciated much of what he had to say and the gracious way he treated people during the Q&A (and the way he plopped down on the floor to sit with everyone else during the offering). It’s always good to be reminded of how radical our Savior was and to remember that cozy Christianity is much more a product of an American lifestyle than it is of living out the Scriptures.

The evening was sponsored by the Lancaster Coalition for Peace and Justice and a group called Taxes for Peace (which wants you to underpay your income taxes by $10.40 and attach a letter explaining you oppose your tax dollars being used for war). So I guess I should have been ready for the heavy questions on opposition to war. I really wasn’t.

After a question about pacifism and if any war was just, Shane replied, “A ‘just war’ is just war.” He made it clear that he is opposed to all war, and said that when Jesus disarmed Peter in the garden (after cutting off the servant’s ear) he disarmed us all. I have trouble agreeing with that.

I tend to be more of the “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” camp. (By the way, the quote is variously attributed to Edmund Burke and to the English translation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace.) I don’t believe every war is just. In fact, I don’t believe most war is just. But I am unable to believe that when innocents are suffering and being slaughtered, I am to do nothing or only work underground to save what lives I can. Is it not justice to bring to an end systemic injustice?

I usually end these posts with a social action idea. Today your action is to think, to grapple with the concept of peace, of war. Are any wars just? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section. Your musing just might help me, and others.

4 thoughts on “Peace Thoughts with Shane Claiborne”

  1. The point of Christians not going to war is that we are to Love our enemies and overcome evil with Good–not more killing i.e. evil. If we Christians (the only ones Jesus was addressing)truly would follow all of Jesus' teachings, including praying for those who mistreat us/others, then we would be amazed at the changes.

    I've gotten a tremendous amount out of Shane's books, so much that I'm rereading Irresistible Revolution. I'm glad you got to hear him speak!

  2. Thanks, Joan, for your thoughts. I do love his winsomeness, and I am guessing if we were all like that it would change the world!

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