and render decisions for many countries.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
one nation will not raise the sword against another,
and never again will they train for war.
Father John Dear, Jesuit priest and activist, was arrested after he, along with Philip Berrigan, hammered on the head of an F-15, a nuclear fire-bomber, as a demonstration to show how you can beat your swords into plowshares. Since, then he has been arrested over 75 times in demonstrations against this country's war machine (to learn a bit more, see his interview with Democracy Now!). He says, "Social change happens wen enough people break bad laws." So he continues to break bad laws because he knows what unfortunately so few USAmerican Christians know anymore:
John (he said not to call him Father Dear because that sounds weird) came to Drew to speak on nonviolent action and contemplative spirituality, often seen as opposite sides of the spectrum. But he has come to realize that the spiritual life is the road to peace because peacemaking starts with prayer. It starts with the realization that we are loved. Only then, only after we begin the process of realizing that we are loved can we become peacemakers.
You have to disarm your heart, he said.
I get frustrated with talk of spirituality often because it seems useless to me without some imperative to act. Yet John's life is an example of how looking into oneself and repenting of one's own violence requires us to resist war and the culture of war. It requires us to live vastly different lives--- because the peace we seek is not that of this world. So we need to disarm our hearts of racism, classism, sexism, nationalism, heterosexism--- free ourselves of a world addicted to violence. To beat our swords into plowshares.
John quoted great spiritual leader Father Henri Nouwen, leaving the words to hang in the room as he ended the lecture: "Nobody can be a Christian today without being a peacemaker...Peacemaking belongs at the heart of a Christian vocation."
I wanted to write about Father John Dear because I was so inspired by him. He is a Christian peacemaker. Since I heard his lecture, I have been haunted by the image of him hammering on an F-15. That, for me, is what being a Christian looks like, but it is so far a picture from what I look like.
So as I go forward, I am thinking of ways I can bring my own life as a Christian to better resemble a vocation in which peacemaking is at the center. I hope to join a Christian Peacemaker Team delegation in the next few years. I plan to attend more demonstrations, talk to more activists, really feel that urgency one feels in these public actions. And I will continue to educate myself about the militarism within my community and how we can eradicate it so that my children and my children's children can live in a world where F-15's have been beaten into plowshares, and drones into pruning hooks, one nation will not raise the sword against another, and never again will we train for war.