Is Death the Only Path to Peace?

My planned blog post for this morning has been postponed for another time. I will instead talk about what everyone else is: the new of the death of Osama Bin Laden.

For an hour last night, my eyes did not leave my television screen—as I’m sure yours didn’t either. When someone says the president has something to say, you listen and you listen intently. Before the official word came through that the announcement was Bin Laden’s death, I confessed to my roommates an irrational fear I have of the U.S. being taken over by a Muslim nation and in turn all of us being forced into arranged marriages.

Fortunately, this is not what President Obama had to say. Instead, he announced a great victory. A day I wasn’t sure would ever come. Years of hunting, plotting, digging, and they’ve done it. Hundreds are gathering outside the White House in D.C., singing the national anthem. Hundreds are gathering in their homes and feeling their loved ones who lost their lives in 9/11 are at least a bit vindicated.

Someone responsible for the deaths of many lives has lost his own.

A lot of my questions were answered  in the ensuing half-hour of news coverage: where he was killed, who killed him, when, and how. So now I’m full of my own questions:

 If death propels us forward, does peace stand a chance?

Or is peace only attained through death?

If so, how are such opposing forces in life so essential to each other’s existence?

I’m not sure if it’s possible to answer these questions on an earth that only knows war. We’re too much in it. Life here is cyclical: war then peace then war then peace…

An image of the cross—death that will be the reason for eternal peace—just came to mind. It’s helping.

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  1. Dylan Malloch on May 3, 2011 at 12:03 am

    For me, the most fascinating thing about the ensuing coverage of Osama’s death was realising how big a difference there is culturally, on this matter anyway, between the USA and Australia.

    Down under, the reaction to Osama’s death was fairly measured. Our Prime Minister and former Prime Minister addressed the nation stressing that, while a great victory in the ‘war against terror’ had been achieved, there was still a long way to go.

    Few people were happy. Most expressed a feeling of ‘well, it had to be done’. This was an interesting contrast to images we saw of people singing and dancing outside the White House.

    It suddenly dawned on me just how deeply Bin Laden’s terrorist acts against the USA had struck the core of the nation. Sure Bin Laden has been involved in acts that have killed Australians, but I think I realised, slightly, the raw feelings of how many Americans felt towards Bin Laden, as opposed to the somewhat removed manner in which many Australians view him.

    Well, that’s more of a rambling outpouring of thoughts rather than a response to your most pertinent question, but I have to get back to work now.

  2. Rick C on May 4, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Abba Father deeply cares for you, for me, for every human. It mus be asked though, who would believe this kind of God an Abba Father that would not invest himself in or live among that which he created? I certainly wouldn’t. But that is exactly what the creator God did, he invested himself and in doing so he proved himself to be a living God a loving God an Abba Father. He became the created, light becoming light that man could see and touch and talk with and laugh with and cry with and learn from. Light becoming salvation for all men. God becoming man, Light that blew away darkness and gave us hope through endurance and peace through resurrection. Is there any other sort of god that has ever done this for man? No there never has been. Can we with Paul say, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. ” This was Paul at his dearest peace.

  3. kerry on May 5, 2011 at 12:40 am

    Hi Andrea,

    Like Dylan, I’m commenting from outside the United States; I live in Canada.

    Since the news of bin Laden’s death broke, I’ve been thinking a lot about pacifism and about Bonhoeffer (I have books by him on my shelves and I wish I’d read them already!), who was, of course, a pacifist who became involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler.

    I understand that death is part of war, and war part of our world, and I understand why, from a political perspective, the United States had to kill bin Laden. Politically, it makes sense.

    But then I start thinking about it as a Christian and I can’t help but think that as Christians, our responsibility isn’t to make the world safe: it’s to be people of forgiveness, driven by a desire to share the love of Christ with everyone. Even if they’re evil. Even if they’re our enemies. Even if they’ve broken our hearts in irreparable ways. Even if the world is safer without them (although I think history would show that when our enemies see us dancing in joy for the death of someone they consider a leader, they will probably retaliate in some way).

    I’ve really be wrestling with the idea of going to war as a Christian. Maybe if I were doing a “big questions” series, that would be a question I’d have to work through. This is what I’m trying to wrap my head around: if I am a soldier and I kill a person who I know does not know Jesus, am I not saying, in that act, that the person I’ve killed doesn’t deserve the chance to ever know him? And why do I get to be the judge of that? What right do I have to take away someone else’s opportunity to know Christ? And is my safety more important than that opportunity in another person’s life, since I know where I’ll be going when I die?

    Where does Jesus telling us to turn the other cheek fit into all of this? And how do you do that without letting people walk all over you?

    Of course, it wasn’t you or me that killed bin Laden: it was a government operation. So what standards should we be holding our government to, as Christians? Can it be Biblically sound to encourage or support our governments when they pursue militarism or violence or war?

    I do understand why bin Laden was killed, and I can accept it. I understand why, for Americans, it’s comforting knowledge. And I genuinely thankful for the life that I have: a life that’s possible because men and women have made huge sacrifices in wars around the world. So, I’m thankful to Canada’s military (who are, for example, currently in Afghanistan – and many have died there, now) and I’m thankful to the soliders who defend the United States, because I understand that that makes Canada a safer place, too.

    Basically, I’m conflicted and I have a thousand questions. I’m realizing I’m probably a pacifist. I need to do more research.

    I’ve also been thinking about The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe: you know the part where Lucy is learning about Aslan from Mr. and Mrs. Beaver? Here’s the text I’m thinking of:

    ‘If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than me or else just silly.’
    ‘Then he isn’t safe?’ asked Lucy.
    ‘Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver. ‘Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.’

    I wonder why we worry so much about making the world a safe place if God is not a safe God. Good, yes. But not safe. I say this as a person who worries a lot. I haven’t quite wrapped my mind around what it means to let go of obsessing over safety. I’m too scared. But I think it’s somewhere I’m going to have to go.

  4. kerry on May 5, 2011 at 12:41 am

    Um, my comment is longer than your post. Sorry about that.

  5. Rick C on May 5, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Hi Kerry…this isn’t my blog site but I don’t think Andrea will mind if I respond.

    I just want to say you bring up some very thoughtful and amazingly insightful ideas in your post.

    The idea that God isn’t safe has been around for a very long time, probably from the first day of old maybe even before. But as Max Lucado twittered sometime ago and I paraphrase…The idea that life is ever fair or safe or completely sealed in justice ended with the cross. Great observation! The best thing for safe is a reedemer in the know…that loves so deeply. Abba Father you love us so deeply. In and through Love You became the created and in and through love you the creator died as the created creating light and life from death. Light shines the way for the unsafe. In a sense the unsafe is the safest place to be.

    True enough, to kill a combatant is possibly hindering their relationship with God. You make an excellent point and one worth profoundly and soberly thinking about.

    Thanks to Andrea for allowing us to participate on her site and for putting up many of these very thoughtful considerations. I think we need more blogging and discussions of these types not only by Andrea but by all. I follow this site and a few others and there rarely goes a day without reading or learning something fairly significant that is an enhancement to my own faith. If you truly want to grown in your faith you will do so but only by prayer and study and communion whether near or far with others of faith. As Rick Warren twittered sometime ago and I paraphrase…Who you want to be is heavily affected by who you choose as friends. So true!

    Anyway, thanks for your post Kerry, very insightful and delightful to read!

    My posts are NEVER directed maliciously toward any individual inside or outside this blog! I say that cordially! Sorry to say but this disclaimer is almost always needed when I post. Just trying to make people comfortable by making this a pleasureable read. Later gator!

  6. Carlos Lopez on May 5, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    First, Andrea I was as worry as you were when I listened “The President has something to say to the US”, I wondered what happened, are we under attack?, is there any asteroid coming to the earth as in deep impact?. I did not think about that we were taken by the muslims and what would happen with the marriage, but it would probably had solve the first blog I read from you, and that way you wont be worry about who you will marry!!!! hahahaha.

    I think the world is in crisis and war is one of the problems we have to handle to solve other problems. Yes, Our Lord is Love, Yes, he died for everybody, but the same Lord gave the law and it says that some people must die because of their behavior. Some people died stoned, on a cross, hanged and some by weapons. Of course that´s not what he wanted for anybody, but, when people´s behavior is bad, they get the pay back.

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