Have you been listening to the podcast? If so, then maybe you can tell me what’s going on here, and how this thread on Twitter pretty much summarizes everything that we’ve been talking about on the podcast, especially with Fr. McCarthy, for the last year!
Here are some supplemental materials that go with the podcast, Episode 38: The Nonviolent Eucharist with Fr. McCarthy. Please share with your priest or bishop.
************************************************************************READ FIRST: The Nonviolent Eucharist: A Pastoral Approach, by Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy
What would Christianity or the Church mean for the Christian if Jesus’ Way or teachings were made subject to, or were measured for correctness by whether Plato, Hugh Hefner, or the local emperor happen to agree with them? Since for the Christian Jesus is the Word of God, the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Self-revelation of God: “The one who sees me sees the Father” (JN 14:9), since for the Christian He is “the Way and the Truth and the Life” (JN 14:6), it is senseless to maintain that the Christian life can ultimately be modeled on anyone or anything except Jesus. Even the saints must be measured against Jesus and His teachings to determine what in their lives is worthy of Christian honor and what is not.
READ SECOND: The Nonviolent Eucharist: A Scholarly Approach
The Nonviolent Love of Jesus for both friends and enemies is historically at the heart of His passion and death. It must therefore be communicated as being ineradicably at the heart of the Eucharist…The passion narrative is about the Lamb of God, who goes to His death rejecting violence, loving enemies, returning good for evil, praying for His persecutors-yet conquers and reigns eternal…The sacrifice of Christ is not about salvation through mere physiological pain. It is about salvation through the Nonviolent Suffering Love of Jesus toward all and for all, even lethal enemies. It is about revealing the true nature of Divine love, the true and authentic Face of God. As the United States Catholic Bishops teach in their Pastoral, The Challenge of Peace (1983):
In all of his suffering, as in all of his life and ministry, Jesus refused to defend himself with force or with violence. He endured violence and cruelty so that Gods love might be fully manifest and the world might be reconciled to the One from whom it had become estranged.
These resources can also be found at the following websites:
Anyone seen “Paul, The Apostle“? I’m halfway through and it’s great! Only a 99 cent rental on Amazon Prime.
It seems that all too frequently we see eruptions of hatred in our world. We see episode after episode of hatred boiling over into violence. We see this on the international stage, locally, and everywhere in between. It has become an un-ending parade of horrors that we are compelled to witness. Our schools and places of worship have been consistently targeted. People who have been marginalized within our society have also been targeted although they often don’t get the same level of media recognition.
Hatred is the child of fear. When it grows large enough, hatred gives birth to violence.
There is nothing new about hatred boiling over into violence. Tragically, this has played out in human history from our very beginning. Here we are, now in the 21st century, still hating and killing each other.
In one respect, fear is the beginning of our evolution. Our ancient ancestors survived, in no small part, due to their ability to experience fear. As they learned how to balance their fear by applying their intelligence to dangerous situations they learned how to be careful. As our ancestors developed the habit of cautiousness, our existence as their descendants became assured.
Long ago we humans learned to fear whoever seemed “different” in some way. Long ago this was literally a matter of life or death. It’s not so hard to understand the power of such primal learning. Once upon a time it was highly adaptive and beneficial. Such conditioning runs deep in us even now.
Hating can be understood as going on the offensive in order to protect and defend against some perceived threat. Attack “them” first and make “them” think twice about attacking ”us.” Assuming, of course, that “they” are actually planning to attack.
Haters are afraid.
They fear annihilation. They fear degradation and humiliation. They fear being displaced, replaced, and having their culture erased.
This is an intensely painful fear!
How can such pain-fueled hatred be met?
Conventional wisdom would suggest that you “fight fire with fire” and respond with exactly the same kind of energy and if at all possible, do so with even greater force. The main problem with this conventional wisdom is that it’s really unwise It is the inside-out, upside down logic that wants us to believe that someone with cancer is going to be saved by having more cancer cells injected into their body. If your doctor told you that was your treatment plan you would probably seek a second opinion.
Instead, we need to go further down the rabbit hole. It’s not enough to see that hatred emerges from fear. We are speaking here of a fear that is the result of not recognizing the difference between fact and fiction. We need to understand where that fear comes from. When we go deeper we find this fear is product of ignorance.
In human terms, this ignorance is the belief that someone or some group is actually not good enough and therefore undeserving of equal treatment or even existence. Such beliefs are based on irrational judgements of perceived danger: “They are threatening our way of life.” “They are going to take over and we will be at their mercy.” “There’s not enough for all of us so someone will not get what they need.” Will it be “us” or “them” that is deemed unworthy? Ignorance says that someone doesn’t deserve to stay in the lifeboat and everyone in the boat looks at everybody else while silently thinking “It’s not gonna be me that gets kicked out!”
What are the people in the lifeboat ignorant of? What don’t they know? More to the point, what are they believing that is not true?
Here’s the Big Lie:
The tragically-believed lie says that we are all separate from each other and the rest of Creation. The Big Lie is that we are separate from the Ultimate Mystery that created us. This ignorance of our true inter-connectedness and interdependency keeps us stuck in an Illusion of Separateness and trapped in the Fear of the Different Other.
The liberating truth is that each of us is profoundly inter-connected. We are intimately part of each other and all of Creation. All of Creation is likewise part of each of us.
We all come from the same creative energy, the same Sacred Source. In traditional religious language, we are all part of the body of Christ. If you prefer a more secular narrative, we all come from the same recycled stardust. As far as we can tell, biodiversity appears to be the modus operandi of the Ultimate Mystery that all of us have emerged from and continue to be a part of. Diversity, not uniformity, seems to be the way of the universe. It is interesting to note, however, that uniformity seems to be the clear and consistent preference of all authoritarian groups throughout human history.
What drives a segment of the human population to embrace a social system that requires everyone to “follow the leader” in order to avoid being severely punished? What is the incentive for people to stop thinking and being responsible for themselves and allow “those in charge” to think and decide for them?
In a sense, this can be seen as a choice made out of frustration with the democratic process-how nothing ever seems to “get done” to improve things. In another sense, this choice can be understood as an evasion of personal responsibility insofar as it is a consent to let the powerful make decisions without interference from those without power. In return the powerless are promised to be looked after and protected by the reigning elite. It’s the old deal of trading away freedom in exchange for security.
If we know what a bad deal this is how do we keep agreeing to it? What motivates a person to sign on the dotted line?
A conspiracy of ignorance and fear.
Our “old programming” for irrational fear has never been deleted. It remains dormant within us just waiting for an injection of energy into its system. Unfortunately, there are groups who want to cultivate fear in as many people as possible. The reason for this is simple: People are much easier to control when they are scared.
We are presently caught in a riptide of fear-based hatred in our society. This is the consequence of a culture that has been structured according to a primitive fear of the Different Other. The violence that is the natural progression of hatred is the response to a misperceived threat. This misperception is part of the “old programming” that remains within us such that different-ness is misunderstood as danger. Since this fear is embedded in our culture we must recognize that it is systemic in nature and systemic problems must be met with systemic solutions.
We need to recognize this fear as a remnant of our ancestral survival. It is now time for the old way of survival to step back and make room for living as we were meant to live as human beings, as Sacred Children of the Ultimate Mystery. While we recognize the old way as an early human adaptation, we must now firmly assert its obsolescence. This primitive fear has served its purpose and now our evolutionary journey needs to continue toward a rational compassion that excludes no one. This attitude of compassion rests on the scientific foundation of the inter-relatedness of all life on this planet. The reality is that we are all part of the same family. Perceived differences are superficial and obscure our unity only by a veil of ignorance.
The work of our time is to remove the veil of ignorance that interferes with the expression of natural compassion for all. We seek to open the way for an appreciation and expression of the healthy diversity of the human family. The challenge we face today is to love courageously in response to all forms of hatred and any violence that emerges from that hatred. We do our best to love the person infected with hatred and refuse the temptation to retaliate with violence when the hate-infected person lashes out. It is extremely difficult work but it is absolutely necessary because we are all in this together. We cannot escape our inter-connectedness. Either we will all go down together or together we will all rise up and be who we really are: People of Courageous Love.
Why are some people so opposed to refugees coming into our country? Why do some see them as a threat and believe that it is acceptable to treat them as somehow less than fully human?
These questions point to a source of major suffering in our world now.
There is something of a mythology associated with the perceived threat posed by frightened, desperate people entering our country.
The deeper problem, though, is that we are clinging to a far too limited and frankly obsolete understanding of what a family is. It is this narrow vision of what makes a family that is keeping us stuck in fear of whoever we perceive as “different” and conflating “different” with dangerous.
We need to radically expand what we mean by the word “family.” Our definition of what makes a family has been far too narrow for far too long. There has been a strong tendency to think of family in terms of those who are our blood relatives as well as those who we are related to through marriages. This has been our means of determining who “we” are and who “they” are.
Although a traditional extended family is more expansive and inclusive than the traditional nuclear family of biological parents and their children, it still leaves us with a perspective that invites us to see everyone else as non-family. In others words: not one of us. As soon as we recognize someone as “one of us” or “not one of us” we quickly decide how we will treat that person based on which category we place them in. We human beings have a long history of social programming that predisposes us to give preferential treatment to those we see as “one of us” and a heightened sense of suspicion toward everyone else.
There are, of course, additional dimensions of the “one of us” family paradigm. We may identify with our professional colleagues as our “work family.” We can also attribute a family-like affiliation to various other kinds of groups that we have at some time been a part of: schools, sports teams, the military, political parties, clubs, fraternities, sororities, etc.
So there are some added circles of inclusion with respect to who we regard as family but even so, there are always those “others” who are outside those circles who do not get included in any way as part of “us.”
Have we reached the limit of expanding our definition of family or is there still somewhere else to go with it?
Although it may seem that we have reached a dead end with respect to how we understand the meaning of family, we have actually come to a closed door rather than a solid wall. This door can be opened and we can step through it and enter what lies beyond it.
Stepping through this door requires the proverbial leap of faith. This step is the acceptance of the idea that everyone and everything is our family. There is no one and nothing that isn’t a family member. There is no human being anywhere on this planet that isn’t your brother or sister. There is no animal or plant that isn’t a relative. The land, the water, and the air are members of the same family to which we all belong.
This is actually quite realistic and practical when we remember that a central truth common to all families is that every family shares a common point of origin. They all start somewhere at a particular time. Maybe this is why lovers reminisce about where and when they first met. It matters.
Human beings all share a common point of origin on our little blue planet. We have been referring to her as Mother Earth for a very long time. This is where we all started. We human beings all share 99.9% of the same DNA. That’s how much we are all more alike than different from each other. If we allow our vision to be a bit more expansive, our home planet and our home solar system all originated from the same recycled stardust. On a cosmic level we all come from the same raw material.
So much changes when we realize that we are all part of the same family.
We realize that “othering” a family member just doesn’t work. We cannot escape our relatedness. Competing with and defeating a family member just doesn’t feel right. Competition somehow becomes less interesting while cooperation becomes very interesting.
We realize that generosity and compassion are sensible and natural. Giving something good to a family member becomes an act of giving to oneself. Receiving from a family member is a gift back to the giver.
We have no need to be afraid of refugees. It is they who come to us afraid and needing our help. They are our brothers and sisters.
We are all children of the Ultimate Mystery. We are all members of the same family.
They encountered their next victim – a priest – on Meriburr Lane at approximately 10:10 p.m.
‘A priest. You heard that right,’ Chief Acevedo told reporters, according to KTRK.
The priest said he was on his knees, praying for his life, when one of the suspects pulled the trigger twice.
“For whatever miraculous reason, the gun didn’t fire,” Chief Acevedo said.https://defensemaven.io/bluelivesmatter/news/teen-who-shot-houston-cop-was-released-without-paying-bail-after-carjacking-lTdMxdJ8bEqAQYN4zpv1zg/?fbclid=IwAR1eSolSnZmv-xtRqzlNdcasMzgGjJQeKS9UlpYhr2sOEN7wl8AaQKxUBXg
The following was written by Fr. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy:
The Institutional Churches’ Moral Charade Regarding Gospel Nonviolence Marches On!
“Dear military Ordinaries and military chaplains: As you carry out your mission to form the consciences of the members of the armed forces, I encourage you to spare no effort to enable the norms of international humanitarian law to be accepted in the hearts of those entrusted to your pastoral care,”
“The Second Vatican Council calls those in military service ‘custodians of the security and freedom of their people.’ The servants of Christ in the military world are also the first to be at the service of men and women and of their fundamental rights,” said Pope Francis in the Apostolic Palace Oct. 31, 2019, as he met with military chaplains from around the world as they participated in a formation course on international humanitarian law hosted by the Vatican.
This same Pope Francis in an address to the International Theological Commission on January 15, 2014 said,
“The definitive revelation of God in Jesus Christ makes every recourse to violence in God’s name ultimately impossible. It is precisely because of [Christ’s] refusal of violence, because of his having overcome evil with good, with the blood of his Cross, that Jesus has reconciled men to God and each other”
On August 19, 2013, he said,
“The true force of the Christian is the force of truth and of love, which means rejecting all violence. Faith and violence are incompatible! Faith and violence are incompatible! But faith and strength go together. The Christian is not violent, but he strong. And with what strength? That of meekness, the force of meekness, the force of love.” – Pope Francis, (8/19/13)
How about instead of the Pope telling the military bishops and priests that they should work diligently to assure that “the norms of international humanitarian law to be accepted in the hearts of those entrusted to your pastoral care,” they be told by that they should spare no effort in assuring that the norms of the Sermon on the Mount, the norm of Jesus in the Gospels,, e.g., “love your enemies,” “put up your sword,” “love one another as I have loved you ,” accepted into the hearts of those entrusted to your pastoral care.
Pray tell what are the “norms of international humanitarian law” in regards to the mass slaughter of human beings in war. “Humanitarian laws of war” is an oxymoron. (Oxymoron is derived from the Greek ‘oxumoron’ meaning “pointedly foolish.”) The “norms of international humanitarian law” are as porous, as slippery, as wide open to indefinite interpretation as the norms of Catholic Just War Theory. They are the Deceiver’s tool to get people to believe that war can be conducted humanely, just as Christian Just War Theory is the Deceiver’s PR tool to get Christians to believe they can be good and faithful disciples of Jesus as they go forth to slaughter people named by politicians “the enemy.” The norms of international humanitarian laws of war are something Jesus never taught or could never teach because war intrinsically requires violence and enmity— even if done according to the norms of international humanitarian laws. And, violence and enmity are forever outside of what a person committed to obedience to Jesus, to Jesus’ “new commandment, love as Jesus loves,” could ever morally participate in.
How about a Vatican formation course for military bishops and priests on the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies?
How is a person a servant of Christ in the military and to military personnel unless he is telling the truth that Jesus taught to at least the Christians involved in the military world, that is, in the world where people spend their life’s time learning to kill and killing other human beings on the command of others or ordering such killing. The truth of Jesus, as Pope Francis once proclaimed, is “Faith and violence are incompatible! Faith and violence are incompatible…The definitive revelation of God in Jesus Christ makes every recourse to violence in God’s name ultimately impossible. ” So why didn’t the Pope say to the Catholic military bishops and priests of the world gather before him:
“Dear military Ordinaries and military chaplains: As you carry out your mission to form the consciences of the members of the armed forces, I encourage you to spare no effort in teaching that “Faith and violence are incompatible! The definitive revelation of God in Jesus Christ makes every recourse to violence in God’s name ultimately impossible; ” teaching it so thoroughly that this truth of God and Jesus be accepted in the hearts of those entrusted to your pastoral care.”
I do not know why the Pope refused to speak this clear truth of Jesus, which he full well knows, to the military bishops and priests. But what I do know is that if he refuses to vigorously proclaim this teaching of Jesus to the very people who are ignoring it, disobeying it, defying it and calling their bracketing out of it faithful Christin discipleship, to whom is he going to proclaim this teaching with vigor and authority? Dorothy Day?
Today’s podcast is about St. Edith Stein and the miracle that led to her canonization on Oct. 11, 1998. That miracle happened back in 1987 to the daughter of our frequent guest on the podcast, Fr. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy. Twenty-one years ago today, Fr. McCarthy con-celebrated the canonization Mass of Edith Stein in Rome with Pope Saint John Paul II (pictured below). I am excited to share this story of a miracle, which is always a story of hope. Moreover, my wish is that this story has the same affect on you that it did on me: It prompted me to take another look at Fr. McCarthy’s life and his life’s work, and to take more seriously that message of nonviolent love of friends and enemies which he has spent his life trying to communicate to the Church.
In an interview with EWTN about her book Edith Stein: A Spiritual Portrait, author Diane Marie Tartlet says: “[Edith Stein’s] whole life was an adventure and she realized that our life of the faith is not boring. If we really have surrendered ourself to God, every day becomes one of surprises, one where we are realizing God’s presence in others in our lives in various situations. There are no coincidences.“
The story of the miracle of Edith Stein illustrates in a vivid and compelling way these truths about “the life of the faith,” specifically the life of faith of Emmanuel McCarthy. Listen to the podcast today and you will understand that the story of the miracle of Edith Stein begins years if not decades before the medical anomaly of 1987. You will walk away believing that, indeed, “there are no coincidences.” The connection between Fr. McCarthy and Edith Stein was no doubt planned, encouraged, and inspired by God, and what happened to two-year-old Theresa Benedicta McCarthy in March of 1987 was nothing less than a kind of pinnacle in, or culmination of, the life of the faith that her father had lived: The miracle seems to have been linked with Fr. McCarthy’s ability to see God at work in certain situations, and his willingness to live a life that, like Stein’s, went deep into his faith, entailing sacrifice, surrender, and surprise.
Unfortunately, in the interview with EWTN, there is no mention of the miracle that made Theresa Benedicta of the Cross, Saint Theresa Benedicta of the Cross. And perhaps at first glance, that is not surprising: Ms. Tartlet wrote a book about what Edith Stein did when she was on Earth. Maybe she didn’t have the time in the interview to discuss what she did from heaven. Maybe she didn’t know.
But similarly, in this lecture on Edith Stein given by Father Barron, now a Bishop in the American Catholic Church, there is no mention of the young American girl whose miraculous healing led to Edith Stein’s canonization. And maybe at first glance, that’s no surprise either. It is only a ten-minute video after all.
Now in this lecture about Edith Stein given at Boston College, the lecturer does mention (in an aside) that some of in the audience might have heard of the young girl, Benedicta McCarthy, who was miraculously healed through the intercession of Edith Stein, and that she interestingly enough lived right there in Boston at the time; but he does not mention the fact that her father was a Catholic priest, also born and raised in Boston, who had given his life to preaching and teaching the ways of peace, just as Edith Stein had said she wanted to give her life for peace. He had even been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. You would think that background to the miracle might be, well, something of note.
If you have been listening to the podcast since we started publishing it back in May, you know that we frequently talk about Gospel Nonviolence with Fr. McCarthy, and the fact that this message — the message of Jesus’ nonviolent love of friends and enemies, which Jesus preached by word and by deed — seems unwelcome in the institutional Church. Many times on the podcast we have discussed the strange ways (which become obvious once you have “eyes to see”) that the institutional Church de-emphasizes, minimizes, or cuts out this message of nonviolent love entirely, leaving most Catholics ignorant of it, if not outright hostile to it.
Seen in this light, the act of omission of the background of the miracle of Edith Stein, and its connection with Fr. McCarthy, an American priest, by those Catholics who want to talk about Edith Stein seems to me — how shall I say? — not entirely coincidental or accidental. Can you imagine if the canonization of a saint resulted from the miraculous healing of the daughter of, say, the founder of 40 Days for Life? Do you think anyone on EWTN, when talking about that saint, would fail to mention that miracle?
In the podcast, Fr. McCarthy tells the story of when EWTN flat-out rejected the video below when he sent it to them years ago, because, they said explicitly, their channel only airs “Catholic content.” The video below is a conversation between a Catholic priest in good standing with the Church (Fr. McCarthy), another Catholic priest in good standing who was the Catholic Chaplain to the bomb crews who dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Fr. George Zabelka), and Mairead Corrigan Maguire, a 1976 Nobel Peace Prize recipient — a pretty stellar line-up! The description is as follows: “Coming from different backgrounds and witnessing injustice and violence first hand, each participant describes how they were converted to Gospel Nonviolence. They also discuss the urgent need for the Christian Churches, Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox, to return to Jesus’ teaching of nonviolent love of friend and enemy.”
According to EWTN, this is “not Catholic.”
In my opinion, this is “a problem.”
Part of the story of the miraculous healing of Fr. McCarthy’s daughter Benedicta through the intercession of Edith Stein (Saint Theresa Benedicta of the Cross) must include the ways in which the Catholic media has chosen not to explore this side of the miracle: the fact that it happened to the daughter of a Catholic priest who has been more or less ostracized by the institutional Church for teaching Christian nonviolence — for decades — and the ways in which that Church fails to educate people about this aspect of the Catholic faith.
As a result, we did not have enough time in the podcast to talk about Edith Stein herself to the extent that I wanted to, though we did talk about her life a bit. In the end though, there are many resources, books, websites, videos, for learning more about the holy person of St. Edith Stein, her radiant intellect, her painful conversion (in the sense that it upset her mother), her empathetic heart, the adventure of her life and her tragic death at the hands of Nazis. (Many if not most of those Nazis, we must not forget, considered themselves Christians, and for some reason never had eyes to see the glaring contradiction between following the Prince of Peace and supporting the atrocities of the Third Reich, either by their words, their deeds, or their silence. Must we not ask ourselves if Edith Stein’s martyrdom was not one result, of similar millions, of the Catholic Church’s failure to preach Jesus’s message of nonviolent love of friends and enemies for 1,700 years?). I suppose I felt I had to use the time on the podcast to try to address the strange and enduring lacuna: that part of the story of the miracle that is rarely, if ever, told, the “before” of the miracle — the decades worth of a life lived in faith which led to that moment of healing and the glorification right here on Earth of God’s omnipotence and His infinite mercy.
There is an “after” to the miracle, too, which seems to me a bit sad and disappointing. Yes, Fr. McCarthy did have the opportunity to con-celebrate the canonization Mass with Pope Saint John Paul II in 1998, but the miracle has not opened the eyes, ears and hearts of many Catholics in the way it could — in the way that it opened mine, or I should say the miracle has not been allowed to open the eyes, ears, and hearts of many Catholics in the way that it could, mainly because the Catholic press, especially in America, has been and continues to be absolutely uninterested in reporting on it, and continues to treat nonviolent love, which was the love of Edith Stein, which was the love of Jesus Christ, as merely an odd, infrequent and eccentric choice on the part of exceptional or exemplary Christians rather than as a central tenet of Jesus’s teaching, not to mention the oldest tradition and teaching on violence in the Catholic Church.
It wasn’t until I saw the ABC News Special called “It Takes a Miracle” that I began to wonder if I shouldn’t pay a bit more attention to this Father McCarthy character. It remains sad to me that I had to find out about this miracle, and its connection with this priest, through a secular media outlet, and from an old bootlegged copy of the ABC special on a CD in a dusty jacket, handed to me by a friend of Fr. McCarthy’s, rather from my own Church. At the time of this writing, the YouTube video of the ABC special only has 184 views, and the dynamite conversation (rejected by EWTN as “not Catholic”) only 277! Imagine what would happen if EWTN and National Catholic Register and other such outlets would merely allow its viewers to consider the tradition of Gospel Nonviolence in a serious and studious way!
In addition to listening to the podcast, I highly recommend watching the ABC News special (above) as well as reading the one thing Fr. McCarthy ever wrote about the miracle: “Pondering a Miracle and the Living Mystery Beyond It” (below). More resources on Edith Stein can also be found here at the Center for Christian Nonviolence.
Finally, below are some photographs that Fr. McCarthy has allowed me to share with you. In her interview with EWTN, Tartlet says:
“[Edith Stein’s] whole life was an adventure and she realized that our life of the faith is not boring. If we really have surrendered ourself to God, every day becomes one of surprises, one where we are realizing God’s presence in others in our lives in various situations. There are no coincidences. She almost says it’s a pity for those who are content to live a life of superficiality. Because once you start going deep, life becomes an adventure.”
The interviewer nods and responds: “But many people are afraid to go deep because they are afraid of what their adventure might be.”
One wonders if, by omitting, minimizing, or flat-out rejecting Jesus’ teaching of nonviolent love of friends and enemies, EWTN and other mainstream Catholic media outlets are themselves spreading a “superficial” Christianity because they are “afraid to go deep,” and afraid of what that adventure might be.
Saint Theresa Benedicta of the Cross, pray for us! Pray that we can follow your example in ceaselessly seeking the truth, that we never be satisfied with anything less than the truth, and that the Christian Churches will return to Jesus’ teaching of nonviolent love of friends and enemies, and thereby find the true peace of Christ, and bring that peace to the world.
The following is an excerpt from James W. Douglass’s book “The Nonviolent Coming of God“:
“We have seen [the power of nonviolence] happen during the ‘Second Russian Revolution,’ August 19-20, 1991, in response to the attempted Soviet coup. The coup was overcome by hundreds of thousands of unarmed citizens. Some, as in resisters were martyred by the tanks. Hundreds, then thousands of other citizens encircled the Russian Parliament Building in Moscow as a civilian defense force shielding Boris Yeltsin and other elected leaders from an imminent military assault. All afternoon and evening on the second day of the coup, loudspeakers blared warnings to the people that tanks were rolling toward the building and planes filled with paratroopers were preparing for an airborne assault. Yet the people kept coming. In fact a further three-pronged assault was currently being mounted against them. It was to include K.G.B. agents who had infiltrated the crowd within the building, helicopters bearing shock troops, and elite units prepared to rush into the building from twenty-four subterranean entry points whose existence was unknown to Yeltsin supporters. A Tiananmen Square in Moscow was averted only by the moral force of the resistance and the noncooperation of soldiers who refused to murder their Russian brothers and sisters.
One exemplar of the moral force which prevailed over the coup was Father Aleksandr Boris, an Orthodox priest and member of the Moscow City Council. Father Boris prayed with the civilian defenders, baptized them for their nonviolent mission, then confronted their opponents in an equally prayerful way. He went from tank to tank, distributing 2,000 Bibles to the soldiers who were expected to assault the Parliament. Only one soldier refused a Bible. Father Borisov then gave another 2,000 Bibles to the people on the barricades. Finally he took part in a key meeting with Patriarch Alexis of the Russian Orthodox Church who then made a proclamation that any soldiers who fired on civilians would be excommunicated.
It was this moral force, embodied in the lives of thousands of willing martyrs (‘witnesses’) to the truth, which rendered the Soviet coup impotent.”