Welcome to Part 2 of this interview with nonviolence trainer Simon Moyle. If you haven’t already it might be worth reading Part 1.
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People often cite Hitler as an example of a historical case where violence was necessary to end greater suffering. Is this true; was violence necessary to stop a person like Hitler? Could there have been another way?
Hitler is too convenient a scapegoat I reckon. Now certainly, Hitler had some truly horrific ideas and did some terrible things. But Hitler was just one person. Average height, average weight, normal intelligence (some would say abnormal, but you know what I mean, he wasn’t a supergenius). How is it that one man carries the weight for an entire regime, and the evil it unleashed?
Well partly because we like to have a simple scapegoat, because once we begin to unravel the myth of Hitler as the solely responsible evil agent it asks some uncomfortable questions about ourselves. Because let’s face it, Hitler alone could not have been a murderous regime, started a war and killed six million Jews. He needed a whole bunch of people to help him. He also needed a whole bunch of people to stand passively by and do nothing to resist him. Read the rest of this entry
On this blog I have written a good number of posts on violence in the Bible, arguing for a robust theology and practice of nonviolence based primarily on the ethics of Jesus.
The number one question I have received in response to these posts has been, “But what about violence in the Old Testament?”
This is an important question, for it is not simply about whether the Bible advocates violence – it is about whether or not God himself is violent. Read the rest of this entry
Christians are often puzzled or bored or indifferent when confronted by the Torah’s obsessive concern with regulating every aspect of Israelite life. Does the holy book really need to tell us what to do when one ox gores another (Exodus 21:35-6)? Why are bald eagles detestable to eat (Leviticus 11:13), but bald locusts are just fine (Leviticus 11:22)?
The details of such passages might need some sorting out, but the overall point should not be missed: the Old Testament writers had an abiding concern with the materiality of life. There simply was no distinction to be made between spiritual concerns and material concerns.
The realm of the material is not just an inert and indifferent means to spiritual aspirations. The salvation of the whole community is worked out not in some interior dialogue with God, but in the everyday interactions with the material world. All of creation is to be brought into conformity with God’s will.
William Cavanaugh in his article on the ABC Religion & Ethics website, Only Christianity Can Save Economics.