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Readers Respond

Letters to the Editor


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Rick Warren and Jacqueline Rivers

Family and Friends: Celebrating Marriage

To mark the release of a book of essays by Pope Francis and diverse religious leaders and scholars, Plough hosted an interfaith panel during the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

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Loving the Terrorist

On Peggy Gish’s “Learning to Love Boko Haram,” Autumn 2015: The reconciliation work being done by the EYN church in Nigeria is remarkable – if only we would see more such positive stories published! The article reminds us that not all Boko Haram members are monsters: they too are children of God and fellow human beings. How do we know how we would act in their place if swept along by extremes of fear, injustice, religious zeal, and anger? The path toward reconciliation, as EYN pastor Markus Gamache says in Gish’s article, starts with listening to other people’s problems. –June Curtis

In September 2014, more than 120 Islamic scholars denounced ISIS, with which Boko Haram is allied, not only for being un-Islamic, but also for being against all humankind.
Who are we to forgive what was done to the orphans who lost their fathers to these gangs? How could we love the terrorists while mothers are sobbing for their loved ones? How could we love those who have destroyed the homes and the livelihood of people? God will not allow such people into his paradise.
Love those who are loved by Jesus and God. Dislike those who are disliked by Jesus and God, so that truth and falsehood will become clear. –Abu Nahidian, Manassas Mosque

I had a good discussion with a brother here [in prison] who loves your magazine but refused to even read Gish’s article. I told him we should start by praying for our parole board! Gish’s article reminds me of why I love Donald Kraybill’s book The Upside-Down Kingdom: Jesus’ message was the opposite of the culture and religion of his time. –Don Mason

Syria’s Children

On Cat Carter’s “The Children of War,” Summer 2015: It is hard to read such stories without wanting to scream in rage and sorrow. It is hard for me to relate to such pain and such acts of degradation. I keep on wondering why the whole world doesn’t stop until this violence is put to an end.
The hardest challenge of pacifism (and I speak very personally here) is first to learn to discern the truth of the situation, and then to be willing to give one’s life as others have rather than to resort to violence. This poor world is in dire need of a great movement of the Holy Spirit which will change hearts from greed to giving, from hate to love, and from seeing others as tools for profit to seeing them as brothers and sisters. –Edward A. Hara

The Meaning of Marriage

On “No Time for Silence” (editorial), N. T. Wright’s “What Is Marriage For?,” and John Huleatt’s “After Obergefell,” Autumn 2015: I admire both the spirit and content of John Huleatt’s essay on the possibilities of Christian witness for marriage in the wake of the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. As someone who publicly opposed gay marriage for a long time before changing my view in 2012, I respond favorably to Huleatt’s suggestion in the essay that, while he firmly opposes gay marriage, he also recognizes that both sides have worthy claims and that each side therefore deserves respect from the other and from the larger society. This argument is not common. In my experience, almost all partisans on either side of this debate have argued that the struggle is an all-or-nothing contest between good (their side) and evil (the other side). Huleatt’s fresher approach is more generous and more hopeful – and also, I think, more faithful to the facts. I also strongly agree with his insistence that the church “must never stop engaging the world” and that now “the church is free to focus on what matters most.” –David Blankenhorn, Institute for American Values

I have found some articles in the past two issues to be bordering on homophobic and bigoted. Marriage is a civil union, not a religious one. People who choose to do so may continue to have a religious ceremony. The new ruling by the Supreme Court only allows same-sex couples to be legally married and those marriages to be legally recognized and binding in all fifty states. To deny this is discriminatory and now illegal. –Allen King

As a Christian in the United Kingdom who has stepped out of church leadership as a result of the same-sex partnership issue – I’m an exploring “agnostic” who believes there should be respect for a diversity of viewpoints in the church – I am puzzled by some items in the Autumn 2015 Plough.
These articles seem to conflate the larger issue of marriage with the narrower issue of same-sex marriage, with some confusing detours into remarriage after divorce. Tom Wright’s article (I’m a fan of his) on the creation narrative, the biblical imagery of marriage, and remarriage after divorce touches only tangentially on same-sex partnerships.
Most confusing of all is the statement taken from Foundations of Our Faith and Calling, which you declare to be “a simple reminder of what scripture teaches.” Here, you confuse Jesus’ teaching on divorce with teaching on same-sex partnerships (about which Jesus says nothing). You do not mention Matthew’s concession for remarriage after divorce (Matt. 19:9), nor Paul’s exception (1 Cor. 7:15). You have not provided the “simple reminder of what scripture teaches,” but rather a considerably edited interpretation.
Much clearer thinking is needed than this. The church needs to listen to those whose behavior it proscribes in relation to same-sex partnerships. There is too much grandstanding, and too little listening.
This is why I read carefully Bruderhof teaching as reflected in Plough. Although I am not an Anabaptist by tradition, I continue to find much that I am learning from and seeking to apply in my life. –Peter Wilkinson

As a seventy-eight-year-old man blessed with six children and eleven grandchildren, I was moved by your courageous exposition of what Christian marriage really means. Now more than ever, Christians need to stand firm and state their case in the face of increasing cynicism and hostility. You did that with love and conviction. Thank you. –Tony Lazenby

Christian Nonviolence, Continued

On Tom Cornell’s “The Future of ­Christian Nonviolence,” Summer 2015: I know Tom and appreciate his valuable insights, borne of a lifelong commitment to gospel peacemaking. But as a participant in two Plowshares actions, I offer the following thoughts on his essay:
The basic hope of any Plowshares action is to communicate a faith that the power of nonviolent love can overcome the forces of violence; a reverence for the sacredness of all life and creation; a plea for the victims of poverty and the arms race; an acceptance of personal responsibility for the dismantling and the physical conversion of the weapons; and a spiritual conversion of the heart to the way of justice and reconciliation. This hope should guide us from the moment of entering a weapons plant or military base, and throughout the subsequent court process and prison witness.
I view Plowshares actions as symbolic and, ultimately, as experiments in truth. The intent of such actions is to uphold God’s law, and international laws which prohibit the possession and use of weapons of indiscriminate mass destruction – weapons that imperil all of God’s creation. For me, the actions I participated in were a form of intercessory prayer, aimed at personal and societal conversion and transformation. –Art Laffin, Catholic Worker, Washington, DC

young man lying on back and reading Octavian Smigelschi, Young Man Reading
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