Posts Tagged ‘war and peace’

Is Advent An Anachronism?

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

As the church season of Advent begins, many clergy sermons bemoan the difficulties inherent in trying to observe a solemn and holy Advent while we are immersed in the Christmas rush.

Even more of a problem is that people are more likely to be thinking of peace and joy instead of the Last Things traditionally discussed in Advent: Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell. Advent hymns on these themes just don’t compete with Christmas carols!

Yet the themes are not irrelevant to the world of today, where rogue nations and unpredictable leaders threaten massive conflict–where, as in Hawaii, nuclear warning systems are now in place and regularly tested.

All the more reason to worry less about how busy we are–and to think seriously about the serious questions of this and every season: Where are we going? What do we value? How will we be judged? —J. Douglas Ousley


Fire and Fury

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

Following the President’s threat against North Korea yesterday, a CNN correspondent was reporting from Hawaii. She was an expert in nuclear war damage and gave a long list of things Hawaiians should do in the event of a North Korean nuclear attack. For example, if they are in the city, they should go to the basement of the biggest building around; if they are in the country, they should go into caves.

A later commentator observed that this might have been an extreme reaction. War was not that imminent, he felt.

Whoever is right, the situation is alarming to any American. I was reminded of the nuclear war nightmares I had growing up during the Cold War of the 1950’s.

Whoever is right, Christians everywhere should be praying with all their might for peace. —J. Douglas Ousley

 


North Korea

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

This past Sunday, I spoke at some length about the North Korean Christians and their suffering. I mentioned for example a report that they must pray with their eyes open; if they close their eyes and are caught praying, they can be sent to prison.

Two days later, the North Korean government launched what is apparently their first inter-continental ballistic missile. Christian peacemakers in America are now faced with the very difficult question of what to do in response to what is now a serious threat to our future peace.

If, for example, the North Koreans should send a nuclear warhead to Alaska, what would we do? A pacifist response wouldn’t seem sustainable. So is a pacifist solution possible now–or must we do something military to eliminate the threat?

I have no idea; I hope that our leaders think of something. While I pray with my eyes closed, I hope they will be acting with their eyes wide open. —J. Douglas Ousley

 


Death on the Azure Coast

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal published a picture of employees of the Hotel Le Negresco in Nice, France. They were standing on the Promenade des Anglais, where 84 people died last week, run over by a mad lone terrorist.

Two years ago, my wife and I stayed at the Negresco when we visited Nice; we often walked along the Promenade “of the English,” which is a block from the English church I have assisted various times over the years.

An additional reason to be upset by such suffering is the way such tragedies are mounting up. The official French mourning period of three days was hardly over when three police were assassinated in Baton Rouge, and the media raced off to cover another horrible event. Last week, a network news producer told me how she and a colleague were looking at “raw” news feeds last week and found themselves depressed.

It is with slight but significant relief that we can at least offer prayers for the victims of violence. That’s one thing we can do. God help us. —J. Douglas Ousley


“Active Shooter Resources”

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

“Active Shooter Resources” was an item in a PowerPoint presentation at a conference I attended yesterday at NYPD Headquarters, One Police Plaza.

The meeting was called by Commissioner William Bratton; participating were Clergy Liaisons and other religious leaders from the five boroughs. (I was invited because I am a Liaison for our 17th Precinct.) The huge auditorium was filled to the brim for this unprecedented “All-In” clergy gathering. Many speakers from the Police Department, including Commissioner Bratton, presented the many new initiatives and programs now underway. Mayor De Blasio closed the conference with assurances that he is dedicated to preserving the safety of New Yorkers.

I would categorize the conference’s concerns as mainly relating either to the racial divide between police and persons of color or to the dangers of terrorism. The NYPD is addressing the former issue by forming a “Community Partner Program.” Every officer in a given precinct, instead of being on duty in the area at-large will be assigned to a particular neighborhood. This change should help police to become more familiar with the residents of the area they serve.

Two disturbing videos dealt with the second issue of terrorism. One film told how to recognize a young person becoming radicalized (watch for changes in behavior); the other video showed what to do if an active shooter/terrorist enters your building (Run if possible, if not possible, Hide; if you can’t run or hide, Resist.) Clergy were urged to arrange to show these videos to their congregations.

All in all, I was happy that the police were trying to tackle the problem of racism in some policing. But I was sad to think that we religious leaders should actually be prepared to deal with active shooters. God help us all. —J. Douglas Ousley

 

 


Demonic?

Monday, November 16th, 2015

Already left-of-center voices in our church are warning of “backlash” against Muslims and “demonizing” the Islamic terrorists.

I wouldn’t challenge the idea that Christians are in favor of peace (though I wonder more and more about Muslims.) But if the Paris attacks weren’t demonic, what were they? —J. Douglas Ousley


Answering the Call

Friday, September 11th, 2015

A generally quiet remembrance here of the 9/11 Terror Attacks, two miles from the Twin Towers.

But there were a few more people coming into church and a larger than usual crowd attending the Friday service. A novelty this year, provided by our Associate Rector were little flash tattoos of a feather. These were offered by a group of widows and orphans of NY firefighters and police who died in the disaster or who succumbed to ailments stemming from the attacks.

We put a little sign out front of the church and a basket of the tattoos inside the door and were surprised to find people coming in to snatch them up. It’s touching that folks want visible symbols of their thoughts and feelings. And good news for followers of a sacramental religion. —J. Douglas Ousley


Paris in the Winter

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

Our Men’s Group devoted part of last night’s regular meeting to discussing the recent terror attacks in Paris.

Comments were wide-ranging, reflecting the many political orientations of our membership. Some cited history, others sought to find common ground among opponents, others suggested specific prayers. My own worry is that Islamists have become so extreme in their views that they will only be stopped by violence.

Is the sanguine view of liberal Christians that at their heart, all religions are basically the same now a dubious assumption? We have always dissociated ourselves from Christian fanatics who pervert the Gospel in favor of prejudice. But the Islamist fanatics seem to be taking their beliefs to a new level of extremism. (One indication of this development is that Islamic State was founded by a group of Islamists who were kicked out of Al-Qaeda because they were regarded as too violent!) It now remains to be seen whether Islam can restore its own reputation and be regarded as one way among many to the Divine. —J. Douglas Ousley


For Christ’s Sake

Monday, August 4th, 2014

In the midst of all the horrendous world-political news, there is an unprecedented amount of Christian suffering. Christians have been slaughtered or kidnapped in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Syria; they have been expelled from parts of Iraq; and they are under assault in many other countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

It is not clear how American foreign policy should be shaped by these tragedies, but it is clear that Christians everywhere else should be up in spiritual arms. Yet while American Muslim groups, for example, respond vigorously to the slightest attack on Islam, American churches seem resigned to the global persecution of their Christian brothers and sisters. 

It is also not clear, however, what we can do in individual cases to help them. At the very least, though, we can remember the suffering church in our corporate prayer and in our daily prayer, for Christ’s sake. —J. Douglas Ousley


Trinity Boston

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Incarnation has historic and current links with Trinity Church Boston, the great edifice seen in the background of some of the bombing video. The Rev. Phillips Brooks, the famous rector of Trinity often visited Incarnation, where his brother Arthur was rector in the late 19th century. In our church, we have a huge statue of Phillips, and the memorial to Arthur was designed by H.H. Richardson, the architect of Trinity Church; the stone in the memorial even looks like the exterior of Trinity.

In recent times, two members of Trinity regularly visit Incarnation as they have a pied-a-terre nearby; they were in church last Sunday. A third member of Trinity is active on the Board of Incarnation Center. And a fourth member wrote me only yesterday to get information on some of our programs.

All seven Marathon runners from the parish are safe. Our prayers and thought go out to members of Trinity and all citizens of Boston. —J. Douglas Ousley