Blessed are the peacemakers

Elizabeth and I attended The Perth Peacemaking Conference today, being held to mark the centenary of the end of World War One. We heard the Gospel proclaimed with clarity and passion by our colleague, Chris Walker, during the morning Eucharist in the Anglican Cathedral. We listened to representatives of a range of religious faiths express how their faith informs their commitment to peace; people from Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Indigenous Australian, Baha’i, and Christianity (Quaker, Roman Catholic, Anglican and Uniting Church).

There was a good interchange of ideas. I jotted down some of the most striking and insightful comments made during the forum. Here’s my top twelve.

“When you feel anger, don’t get angry with the person; get angry with the emotion of anger”
“All religions are religions of peace. The key is not what we say we believe; the key is how we live what we believe. We all need to reach into the peacemaking strand in our faith and give it prominence”
“The best thing we can do for peace is to teach our children critical thinking; so that they will reject the bullshit of fake news and live with respect for others”
“The preferential option for the poor means seeking social justice for all, rejecting attempts to justify war, finding ways to live which uphold human dignity for all”
“Forgiveness is the key. Living on the land with First Peoples, the way to peace is to seek forgiveness”
“Peace is not about tolerance. It is about love. The most-repeated commandment in the Torah is ‘you shall love the stranger’”
“We need every person in their own skin, in their own culture, to love the stranger, and so to create and complete peace”
“Personal faith needs social commitment. Social commitment needs personal faith. Peace, with justice, requires both dimensions of life”
“Forgiveness is important, but can’t be imposed. Forgiveness begins with Repentance, and won’t be realised unless that is genuinely offered”
“In our faith groups, we need not only to say ‘we want peace’, but also to say, ‘no more war’. Alongside all the red poppies for remembrance of those who died, we need a carpet of white poppies, as our prayers for peace”
“We cannot achieve peace through violent means. We need to turn to wisdom, not ideology, if we seek to achieve peace”
“Spirituality is to be separated from culture. Many cultures embed patriarchy and thus foster violence. True spirituality will differentiate itself from cultural norms”

See also https://johntsquires.wordpress.com/2018/11/09/pondering-peace-worrying-about-war/

A Statement issued from the conference can be found at https://unitingforpeacewa.org/2018/11/28/perth-peacemaking-conference-statement/

Author: John T Squires

My name is John Squires. I live in the Australian Capital Territory. I have been an active participant in the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) since it was formed in 1977, and was ordained as a Minister of the Word in this church in 1980. I have served in rural, regional, and urban congregations and as a Presbytery Resource Minister and Intentional Interim Minister. For two decades I taught Biblical Studies at a theological college and most recently I was Director of Education and Formation and Principal of the Perth Theological Hall. I've studied the scriptures in depth; I hold a number of degrees, including a PhD in early Christian literature. I am committed to providing the best opportunities for education within the church, so that people can hold to an informed faith, which is how the UCA Basis of Union describes it. This blog is one contribution to that ongoing task.

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