Religious and theological response to the terrorist attack at the World Trade Center and Pentagon has been quick, constant, and thorough. But while the public has been hearing the voices of the three traditional peace theologies, and reflecting on them, the voice of a fourth theological paradigm, just peace theology, has been less clear and less understood by the public as a paradigm. The three classic theological understandings in Christian theology—pacifism, just war, and crusade/holy war—have been articulated well and have increased or decreased in public affirmation. The fourth paradigm, just peace theology, has been spoken, but not perceived as clearly by the public. But if the Bush administration does not start taking seriously the call for Just Peace by many in the Christian community, it is going to lose the public support it so desires.
Pacifists have been vocal in insisting that terrorists must be held accountable for their acts and brought to justice. Pacifists have also put forward many alternative strategies, so that violence is not answered with violence. But on the central question of how the al Qaeda network might be brought to justice, pacifists have largely been silent.
Just war advocates have filled this silence, affirming that force in bringing al Qaeda to justice is morally justified. And a strong case can be made that all the criteria of a just war have been met. While there is room to argue over some of the criteria, generally this military action in Afghanistan has come closer to meeting all the criteria than any war in the past couple of hundred years. There are several reasons for this. Because wars over the past two centuries have seen such a dramatic increase in the power of weaponry, and because most wars have felt free to attack the infrastructure of the opposing nation, recent past wars, including World War II, have seen civilians deliberately attacked, and large number of civilian casualties. But Afghanistan had no infrastructure to destroy, and care was taken, using newer and more targeted weaponry, to hold civilian casualties to as small a number as could reasonably be expected.
So if this was a successful just war, why are we so far from peace? The very success of this "just war" shows the weakness of the just war theory.
Conducting a just war is only half the response needed. Force has been successfully applied, but justice has not been brought, nor has the cycle of violence been broken. Justice, of course, is a much richer concept than retributive justice. It at least includes restorative justice. While garbage trucks in New York were seen with large banners saying "revenge," the government has generally tried to minimize talk of revenge, and concentrate on bringing the wrongdoers to (retributive) "justice." By "justice," Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is clear: he wants Osama bin Laden dead or alive, but prefers him dead. Revenge is lurking just below the surface. And the U.S. government shows little interest in any larger concept of justice than using military force to stop or kill terrorists and end the threat of current terrorists. But this is why the Christian community has never regarded just war theory as the whole answer. The Christian tradition is much richer, and voices have been raised in the mainline Protestant community, the evangelical community, and the Catholic community urging caution in the use of force and insisting that a much larger effort is needed to restore peace and bring a just international order. It is this larger consensus in the Christian community that Just Peace theology has attempted to articulate.
Peace is not just the absence of conflict. Peace is the presence of justice. Peace, or shalom, is a broad concept implying right relations and harmony. When the United Church of Christ defined "just peace" at its 1985 General Synod (in the process of declaring itself to be a Just Peace Church), it defined it as the interrelationship of justice, friendship, and common security from violence. The goal is always to minimize violence while working for justice and friendship. Just peace theology does not reject either just war theory or pacifism, as the United Methodist Church made clear in its 1986 document from the Council of Bishops entitled "In Defense of Creation." It attempts to put these Christian understandings in a broader context.
One way of putting this is that just war theory plus pacifism's non-violent alternatives to war equals just peace theology. Pacifists don't simply resist the use of force. They also insist that there are many positive alternatives to force, and if the cycle of violence is to be broken, and justice and friendship to be created, these alternatives must be employed. Mainline Protestants, Evangelicals and Catholics agree. And most pacifists have a great regard for the need for justice as well as for peace, keeping the two in balance. Just peace theology, of course, seeks to raise the commitment to justice equal to and interrelated to the commitment to peace.
Just peace advocates and pacifists ask these hard questions: How will the cycle of violence be broken? How will we acknowledge the beam in our own eye and our complicity in causing the situation? How will we look at the root causes of the conflict, and address the larger issues of justice, which must be addressed if there is to be reconciliation and the restoration of a just and peaceful community? How can we create international structures of common security from violence, international structures of justice?
Over the past ten years 23 Christian ethicists, biblical and moral theologians, international relations scholars, peace activists, and conflict resolution practitioners have worked to refine the Just Peace paradigm. Ten just peace practices were identified: (1) nonviolent direct action; (2) independent initiatives to reduce threat; (3) cooperative conflict resolution; (4) acknowledgement of responsibility and seeking repentance and forgiveness; (5) advancement of democracy, human rights, and religious liberty; (6) fostering of just and sustainable economic development; (7) working with emerging cooperative forces in the international system; (8) strengthening the United Nations and international organizations; (9) reducing offensive weapons trade; (10) encouraging grassroots peacemaking groups. (See Glen Stassen, Just Peacemaking: Ten Practices for Abolishing War; Cleveland, Ohio: The Pilgrim Press, 1998).
To fight terrorism, there are at least two broad categories where the United States needs to be offering proactive leadership, to address the question of justice and achieve a just peace. One is the development and use of greater international cooperation and the strengthening of international institutions. The other is the addressing of some of the root causes of unrest that Osama bin Laden has been able to exploit for his terrorist purposes. These include, above all, addressing the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
Right now the U.S. is attempting to define "terrorism" and "war on terrorism" by itself, without reference to any international standard or body. As President Bush put it, you are either for us or against us. How different that is from saying "you're either for terrorism as defined by the U.N., or against it." In the first case, the U.S. projects itself as an imperial power and invites the world to support U.S. power or oppose it. That is an invitation to more immediate terrorism and the nurturing of future terrorists, who will not agree with the U.S. imposing global imperial power.
If the U.S. wants to strengthen friendship with the Muslim and Arab world, as well as with other nations, and if it wants to maintain public support, it must put as much effort into initiatives of justice and development of international institutions capable of fighting terrorism over the long haul as it is now putting into military budgets and solutions. Justice, friendship, and common security from violence must be balanced.
Instead, if the U.S. thinks it can use unilateral military power, and use the language of holy war ("axis of evil" and other words which demonize perceived enemies, projecting all evil on one side and all goodness on the other), the U.S. will be giving bin Laden exactly what he sought: a holy war between the Muslim world and U.S. imperialism.
The Rev. Dr. Jay Lintner served as Director of the United Church of Christ Washington Office from 1985 to 2000. From 1981 to 1985 he served as Peace Priority Coordinator for the United Church of Christ, where he was staff to the Peace Theology Development Team that produced A Just Peace Church.
We're currently expanding our list of faith formation resources, but here is a starting list of resources for you, a UCC woman:
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With her straightforward style, accessible writing, and well-organized study and reflection materials, Barbara Essex continues to make Bible study fun! Girlfriends: Exploring Women’s Relationships in the Bible explores women’s friendships and relationships the good, bad and just plain bitchy by exploring ways in which women interact in the Bible.
It’s Your Time to Shine! Weekly Spiritual Reflections for Women by Nicole Roberts Jones is a weekly devotional to empower women. With Esther from the book of Esther, as your guide, you will be inspired, encouraged and motivated to follow God’s plan for you.
God is Still Speaking 365 Daily Devotionals is a collection of light-hearted, God-filled, and provocative devotionals for the person who thinks devotionals are “too religious.” Do you wonder if God has anything to say about what you face each day when you get up in the morning? Not sure that the Bible has much to tell you, but you are curious and willing to find out? The Stillspeaking Writers' Group provide relevant, brief, insightful devotionals designed to give you a powerful jolt each day.
Barbara Essex has returned with a command performance, More Bad Girls of the Bible, focusing on fourteen new stories of biblical women from the Hebrew Bible and New Testament: Hagar; Shiphrah and Puah; Miriam; Zipporah; Bathsheba; Rizpah; Huldah; a crippled woman; the Syrophoenician woman; Martha and Mary; Samaritan woman at the well; and Mary Magdalene.
Sharon Harris-Ewing has written her book of prayers, Give Me Strength, to help teachers reconnect, name their truth, and move forward positively in very difficult times. Give Me Strength Personal Prayers for School Teachers offers prayers that deal with those all too common situations and difficulties teachers encounter.
Issues of gender equality and sexuality manifest themselves in a variety of ways and in all cultures.
Please use this partial list of recent books on sexuality and gender equality to find the most up to date thinking and writing on the roles of women in our world.
Title: Recent Books on Sexuality and Gender Equality
Framed by Gender: How Gender Inequality Persists in the Modern World
Cecilla L. Ridegeway
In an advanced society like the U.S., where an array of processes work against gender inequality, how does this inequality persist? Integrating research from sociology, social cognition and psychology, and organizational behavior, Framed by Gender identifies the general processes through which gender as a principle of inequality rewrites itself into new forms of social and economic organization.
Gender Talk: The Struggle for Women’s Equality in African American Communities
Johnnetta B. Cole; Beverly Gay-Sheftall
In the Black community, rape, violence against women, and sexual harassment are as much the legacy of slavery as is racism. In Gender Talk Johnnetta Betsch Cole and Beverly Guy-Sheftall argue powerfully that the only way to defeat this legacy is to focus on the intersection of race and gender.
Gender Equality : Dimensions of Women’s Equal Citizenship
Linda C. McClain; Joanna L. Grossman
Citizenship is the common language for expressing aspirations to democratic and egalitarian ideals of inclusion, participation, and civic membership. However, there continues to be a significant gap between formal commitments to gender equality and equal citizenship - in the laws and constitutions of many countries, as well as in international human rights documents - and the reality of women's lives. This volume presents a collection of original works that examine this persisting inequality through the lens of citizenship
Re-imagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race and Finding Home
Through the stories of remarkable African American women, including her own great-great-grandmother, playwright Lorraine Hansberry, and Baltimore beauty-shop owner and housing-crisis survivor Anjanette Booker, Anita Hill demonstrates that the inclusive democracy our Constitution promises must be conceived with home in mind. From slavery to the Great Migration to the subprime mortgage meltdown, Reimagining Equality takes us on a journey that sparks a new conversation about what it means to be at home in America and presents concrete proposals that encourage us to reimagine equality.
Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Pakistan
Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Pakistan provides an overview of the legal and practical changes which have been introduced to improve the deteriorating condition of women in Pakistan. The book presents a critical analysis of the continuous and increasing misinterpretations of the principles of Islam through legal acceptance, and discusses laws which have been recently changed and have an effect on women's lives, including the Criminal Procedure Code 1898, the Pakistan Penal Code 1860, and introduction of the death penalty for gang-rape.
Gender Equality and Inequality in Rural India: Blessed with a Son
As India strives to improve overall social and economic conditions and gender relations through policies such as the abolishment of dowry, increasing the legal age at marriage, and promoting educational opportunities for girls, serious challenges remain, especially in rural areas. Gender Equality and Inequality in Rural India focuses on the extent to which economic development has resulted in positive changes in women's empowerment and reproductive health, as well as in sex preference.
Race, Gender, Sexuality and Social Class: Dimensions of Inequality
Susan J. Ferguson
The content is framed around the themes of identity, experiences of race, class, gender or sexuality, difference, inequality, and social change or personal empowerment, with historical context threaded throughout to deepen the reader's understanding. With engaging readings and cutting-edge scholarship the collection is not only refreshingly contemporary but also relevant to students’ lives.
Gender Equality in the Welfare State?
The book analyses the male breadwinner model in terms of care, work, time, income and power, providing a framework for chapters which ask about policies and practices for gender equality in each of these. This new approach to analysis of gender equality in social welfare contextualises national policies and debates within comparative theoretical analysis and data, making the volume interesting to a wide audience.
Confronting Equality: Gender, Knowledge and Global Change
Raewyn W. Connell
What does social equality mean now, in a world of markets, global power and new forms of knowledge? In this new book, Raewyn Connell combines vivid research with theoretical insight and radical politics to address this question. The focus moves across gender equality struggles, family change, class and education, intellectual workers, and the global dimension of social science, to contemporary theorists of knowledge and global power, and the political dilemmas of today’s left.
Gender Equality and Men: Learning From Practice
Sandy Ruxton (Ed.)
This collection brings together fourteen articles by development practitioners and researchers worldwide and addresses a range of key issues, including: the value of including men in gender equality and anti-poverty work; the difficulties that are likely to arise -- both for men and women -- and how they can they be overcome; practical evidence from different spheres (e.g. in relation to sustainable livelihoods, gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health); lessons regarding the impact of including men in gender analysis and action; future strategies and directions for development organizations and practitioners.
The Paradox of Gender Equality: How American Women’s Groups Gained and Lost Their Public Voice
Kristin A Goss
Goss examines how women's civic place has changed over the span of more than 120 years, how public policy has driven these changes, and why these changes matter for women and American democracy.
Women and Politics: The Pursuit of Equality
Lynne E. Ford
WOMEN AND POLITICS examines the pursuit of gender equality from two viewpoints: the legal equality doctrine, which emphasizes gender neutrality, and the fairness doctrine, which recognizes differences between men and women.
Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, society, and Neurosexism Create Difference
Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience and psychology, Cordelia Fine debunks the myth of hardwired differences between men’s and women’s brains, unraveling the evidence behind such claims as men’s brains aren’t wired for empathy and women’s brains aren’t made to fix cars. She then goes one step further, offering a very different explanation of the dissimilarities between men’s and women’s behavior. Instead of a “male brain” and a “female brain,” Fine gives us a glimpse of plastic, mutable minds that are continuously influenced by cultural assumptions about gender.
The Social Construction of Difference and Inequality: Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality
This best-selling anthology surveys how and why the categories of race, class, gender, and sexuality are constructed, maintained, experienced, and transformed. The Social Construction of Difference and Inequality then moves beyond simply discussing various forms of stratification and the impact of these on members of marginalized groups by providing a thorough discussion of how such systems of stratification are formed, perpetuated, and interconnected.
Social Stratification: Class, Race, and Gender in Sociological Perspective
David B. Grasky (ed.)
With income inequality on the rise and the ongoing economic downturn, the causes, consequences, and politics of inequality are undergoing a fundamental transformation. Updated and highly accessible, the fourth edition of Social Stratification provides refreshing take on existing theories, incorporates the latest data, and lends new perspectives to classic debates.
Inequality: A Contemporary Approach to Race, Class, and Gender
Lisa A. Keister & Darby E. Southgate
This textbook reflects a hybrid approach to studying stratification. It addresses the knowledge accumulated by stratification scholars and challenges students to apply this information to their social world.
The Dean’s Bible: Five Purdue Women and Their Quest for Equality
While it is focused on changing attitudes on one college campus, The Deans’ Bible sheds light on cultural change in America as a whole, exploring how each of the deans participated nationally in the quest for equality. The story rolls through the "picture-perfect," suppressive 1950s, the awakening 1960s, women’s liberation, Title IX, 1980s AIDS and alcohol epidemics, the changing mores for the disabled, and ends in the twenty-first century.
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
Nicholas D. Krsitoff, & Sheryl WaDun
From two of our most fiercely moral voices, a passionate call to arms against our era’s most pervasive human rights violation: the oppression of women and girls in the developing world.
Gender & Popular Culture
Katie Milestone & Anneke Meyer
This book examines the role of popular culture in the construction of gendered identities in contemporary society. It draws on a wide range of popular cultural forms - including popular music, newspapers and television - to illustrate how femininity and masculinity are produced, represented and consumed.
Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era
The future of America is more inclusive and diverse. The choice for angry white men is not whether or not they can stem the tide of history: they cannot. Their choice is whether or not they will be dragged kicking and screaming into that inevitable future, or whether they will walk openly and honorably – far happier and healthier incidentally – alongside those they’ve spent so long trying to exclude.
Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue: How To Raise Your Kids Free of Gender Stereotypes
Christa Spears Brown
In this practical guide, developmental psychologist (and mother of two) Christia Spears Brown uses science-based research to show how over-dependence on gender can limit kids, making it harder for them to develop into unique individuals.
Elusive Equality: Women’s Rights, Public Policy and the Law
All men may be created equal in the United States - but more than 30 years after Congress proposed the Equal Rights Amendment, can the same be said for women? Elusive Equality offers a clear understanding of how government institutions - the executive branch, Congress, and state legislatures, as well as the federal courts - affect the legal status of women.
Caring Democracy: Markets, Equality, and Justice
Joan C. Trenton
Americans now face a caring deficit: there are simply too many demands on people’s time for us to care adequately for our children, elderly people, and ourselves. At the same time, political involvement in the United States is at an all-time low, and although political life should help us to care better, people see caring as unsupported by public life and deem the concerns of politics as remote from their lives. Caring Democracy argues that we need to rethink American democracy, as well as our fundamental values and commitments, from a caring perspective.
At the recent General Synod 25 in Atlanta, a resolution called, "Another World Is Possible: A Peace With Justice Movement in the United Church of Christ," was adopted by the Synod. This resolution lifts up and affirms previous actions of the General Synod which have given the UCC many of its distinctive justice identities, such as being a Just Peace Church.
On the occasion of this important anniversary, local churches are encouraged to offer prayers and times of reflection on the significance of the past sixty years, and to pray and offer witness for peace in the world and the elimination of all stockpiles of nuclear weapons. Another world is possible. It must be possible. A world void of nuclear weapons with their devastating and long lasting affects on the peoples of this world, and on the earth.
A Prayer of Remembrance
O God, tender and just,
the names of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
cut through our denial
that we are capable of destroying the earth
and all that dwell therein.
Forgive us -
and help us to always remember.
We must remember because this must never happen again.
We must remember because you would have us live
in harmony with each other,
seeing the joy of your creation in our
sisters and brothers.
Holy God, God of all the ages,
lead us from death to life,
to the stockpiling of hope, and of possibilities,
and of love
rather than the stockpiling of weapons, or stones to throw,
or of hate.
We pray for the healing of the earth and of its peoples,
especially for our sisters and brothers
upon whom a nuclear rain poured down.
Help us to imagine that another world is possible
and guide our actions towards the peace
you envision, the peace you have already given us.
In the name of the One who came so that we might have life,
and have it abundantly, we pray.
Written by Rev. Loey Powell
There are several activities you and your church might consider taking part in during this time. Organize a local Shadow Project in your community. This project uses the simple technique of drawing the outlines of persons with chalk on sidewalks to symbolize the hundreds of thousands of residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki who were vaporized in the blasts. Check out the website for the Shadow Project, or call them at 503-274-2720.
Many liturgical ideas and other resources which could be used on Sunday, July 31 or August 7, or at special services of remembrance during the week, are available from the United Methodists.
For more information on these actions, or on organizing a candlelight vigil on August 9 at your city hall, or for downloads of Days of Remembrance action postcards, visit the website of Waging Peace. (The National Council of Churches has endorsed these efforts.)