Monday, 24 November 2008

Something to remember....?

One evening in January 1915 Bert Brocklesby was invited to preach at the church where he was an active member - Connisborough Methodist Chapel. The congregation was made up of war widows, soldiers on leave and many others. He stood up in the pulpit, declared that all Christians should live in imitation of Christ and then asked the telling questions,

"Can you imagine Christ dressed in army uniform?

Can you imagine Christ armed with a machine gun?

Can you imagine Christ bayoneting a German soldier?

That picture", he said, "is impossible and we all know it."

Needless to say, he was not asked to preach again!

I know this is a while after Remembrance Day, but still I couldn't help thinking that we tell each other stories all the time - some from the Bible, but also others that we deem so important they shape our collective memories. We tell ourselves stories of bravery in war, but how often do we tell each other the stories of another kind of bravery - the bravery to refuse to fight? Maybe if this kind of story were more a part of our collective memories Blair and Bush would have been a little more reluctant to commit people to war.

1 comment:

DS said...

Thanks Mark

I remember thinking about this a lot around remembrance day. I was reading a few things on violence and the trajectory in the bible story away from it + the hope as the kingdom comes of a trajectory away from it in the world. i was also struck though by how the people on the front line are basically 'doing a job' and playing out someone else's strategy (tragically stupid strategies in WW1). Doing Guantanamo research I was struck by the way the Geneva Convention acknowledges this.

Do I blame the soldier for war or the systemic and complex stuff that caused it. Do I blame an individual politician eg blair/bush or a party labour/republican - or do I take responsibility myself for allowing it. Did the centurion who started to follow Jesus quit his job or get out there and be a radically different type of centurion?

I wouldn't want to alienate people in the forces who do that job. I guess I would want to urge them to travel that trajectory of justice and peace as well as they can in their treatment of others in what they do (e.g. approach to civilians in Iraq, in treatment of prisoners etc etc) In the heartbreaking and confusing times of conflict I think much future hope and potential healing can be achieved by the way war is conducted BUT of course bottom line what greater good could be achieved if a mass of people civilian and military refused violence and sought justice in more creative ways?