Am I radical Enough?

I didn’t know who Joan Chittister was, though clearly she was a nun because she had the initials OSB – Order of St. Benedict – after her name.  I was reading a piece she had written.  It was the passage for the day in a little book called Peacemaking*.  And I was challenged by it.

“ Everyday people that are church-educated go quietly and serenely to factories where they assemble warheads, to laboratories where they increase the megaton capacity of our arsenals, to boardrooms where they vote to increase our ‘defence’ capabilities, to churches where they pray the ‘Our Father’ without discomfort.”

She was writing at a time when the nuclear threat was seen as the biggest threat.  CND – the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament – was very prominent with ban the bomb marches and demonstrations. Joan goes on to re-iterate that it is the Church’s role to pray for peace, to be receptive to God’s response to us.  But not to expect God to “save us from our own insane sinfulness”.

And, yes, churches should be centres where “strangers can become sisters and brothers in Christ.”  But as churches and individuals we should be more than this.  We should be “models of disobedience”, adopting what the psychologist Eric Fromm calls a “revolutionary personality”.  To become “a person who is independent, who has the capacity to identify deeply with humanity and who has the ability to disobey in the interest of more fundamental values”.

What a challenge.  But, as she suggests,  “the Prophets, Jesus and the early Christians would have understood this role completely”.

*Peacemaking – Day by Day Daily Readings, Pax Christi, Christian Peace Education Centre

Chris Dawson 

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