Reflections on the AWP Conference

For all of those wondering about the conference this past Saturday, it was a particularly stimulating experience. The day started out with Dr. Ginger Harwood’s presentation of the history of the SDA Church stance on conflicts from the Civil War to the present. It was the perfect start to a day diverse with dialog on different dimensions of peacemaking. Lively question and answer sessions followed each speaker; in fact, at several points, time constraints prevented more questions from being asked. Of course, breaks, lunch, and dinner provided excellent opportunity for further conversation and community-building among the attendees and speakers.

It was a refreshing surprise to see the variety of facets to peace. Presentations were given on the issues of gang violence (Bernadine Irwin), new ways of viewing evangelism (Ryan Bell), the importance of looking at civic education as a place to promote peace (Tiffany Hunter), experiences from Haiti and different outlooks on peace (Nadege Robertson-Tippenhauer), reports on peacemaking from SIFE and Students for Social Justice at LSU, women in conflict zones (Trisha Famisaran), and peace in the world with a highlight on media bias (Ron Osborn).

All together, it was not only informational but inspirational. One of the attendees, in fact, commented that she had been to other such conferences, but that the quality of presentations and discussions held at this one was extraordinary. The conference attracted not only those associated with LSU, but also some from other faiths in the Riverside community, who diversified the conversation even further. For me, it was inspiring to meet so many others eager to discuss new ideas, leaving me with a lasting impression of the spirit of communion.

Making Peace in Times of War: Adventist Responses to Violence

Peace Conference

Sponsored by Adventist Women for Peace and La Sierra University

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Hole Memorial Auditorium
La Sierra University
4500 Riverwalk Parkway
Riverside, California 92515
951-785-2257 or 2120
  • 9:30-10:00 am Registration and light breakfast, Welcome
  • 10:00-10:45 am Keynote Address: “The Present as History: SDA Peacemaking in Times of Violence” – Ginger Hanks-Harwood
  • 10:45-10:55 am Discussion/ Q & A
  • 10:55-11:10 am BREAK
  • 11:10-11:45 am Peace at Home: “Peace Medicine: Healing from War in Our Homes” – Akivah Northern
  • 11:45-12:20 pm Peace in the Community: “Amid the Gangs…Peace” – Bernadine Irwin
    • 12:20-1:30 pm LUNCH
    • 1:30-2:05 pm Peace in the Community: “Peace and Justice as Evangelism In Hollywood” – Ryan Bell
    • 2:05-2:40 pm Peace in the Nation: “Civic Education in the United States after 9/11” – Tiffany Hunter
    • 2:40-2:55 pm BREAK
      • 2:55-3:30 pm. Peace in the Nation: “Fondation Espoir:The Different Pieces of Peace” – Florence Bellande-Robertson
      • 3:30-3:50 pm Peace in the World: Reports Students in Free Enterprise: Yorlenis Aguirre, Social Justice Club: Zulema Ibarra
      • 3:50-4:25 pm Peace in the World: “International Peacemakers: Women in Conflict Zones” – Trisha Famisaran
      • 4:25-5:10 pm Peace in the World: “In Praise of a Modest Patriotism” – Ronald Osborn
      • 5:10-5:15 pm Peace prayers and readings
      • 5:30-6:30 pm SUPPER (Cactus Room)
      • 7:00 pm Film: “God Sleeps in Rwanda” with Norah Bagirinka (Alumni Pavilion)

      A Used Bullet

      From Nathan Brown

      It’s a small, rusty piece of metal, but it gives me a chill when I look at it. While visiting Cambodia last year, my wife picked up this used bullet-not the casing, the actual pointed projectile-amid the gravel on a road through an area that was known as a “blood field,” a place of mass killing and mass burial.

      It’s a sobering thing to hold in one’s hand and contemplate its probable history. Given its location and the gruesome modern history of Cambodia, it may well have been the means by which someone was killed. This tiny piece of metal tearing through his or her body with horrific speed and shattering impact probably destroyed the life of a unique person, someone who had a family, who had hopes, dreams, and fears; someone who was loved immeasurably by God. All this was ripped away– –extinguished–with the crack of a gun and the sickening thud of this bullet, another nameless victim among the millions in the evil and tragic madness of our world.

      Still more disturbing is the realization that this act of brutal and evil destruction is at the heart of the many wars, conflicts, and assorted violence taking place in the world at this moment. This lethal fragment of metal and the many, more diabolical, military “technologies” are the means by which the grand causes of the day are “advanced.” This is the currency-we are told-with which our freedom and prosperity are bought. Contemplating the cold reality of this artifact of a forgotten and horrifying death, we must ask ourselves whether the soul-destroying and life-smashing price is worth the too often self-centered result. Add a single used Cambodian bullet, and the arguments for “just war” seem even more hollow.

      At our various days of war remembrance we ostensibly honor those who have died for their respective countries, and this is valid-if that is what we are really doing. But these days are marked most enthusiastically by those in the “victorious” nations. The commemorations would be more awkward if we would label them as days honoring those who have killed for their countries. That is what we have asked and continue to ask the young people of our various nations to do. With political-speak, media spin, denial, and ignorance, we gloss over the stark reality of one group of people using high-powered pieces of metal to tear to shreds another group of people, and vice versa. War is death.

      Albert Camus summed it up well: “There are causes worth dying for, but none worth killing for.” He was borrowing heavily from a teacher named Jesus. Jesus said-and showed-there are causes worth dying for. He told His disciples that “the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends” (John 15:13).

      Jesus was not interested in His disciples killing to protect Him from arrest and death (see Matt. 26:51-54). In Jesus’ teaching, not only did He affirm the commandment against killing; He said we should not be angry or hold a grudge (see Matt. 5:21-26) and that we should love our enemies (see verses 43-48), meaning that we should take active steps to seek their good. This world-changing command was echoed by Paul’s instruction that we should “conquer evil by doing good” (Rom. 12:21).

      If we are to take Jesus seriously, we need to recognize the power of goodness, the strength of weakness, and the force of humility. It seems, ironically, that if more people were prepared to die for goodness, there would be less need for killing in the name of the various causes employed to justify armed conflicts.

      Holding the cold Cambodian bullet brings a fresh understanding as to why “those who work for peace . . . will be called the children of God” (Matt. 5:9).

      “History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives.”

      —Abba Eban

      New AWP Blog Facilitator

      Hello Fellow Peacemakers,

      This is really my last post on this site, so please write in with your concerns and ideas for peace.

      Although I resigned as editor a while back, I set this new site up, with a place to discuss issues easily.

      Dr. Lourdes Morales-Gudmundsson will be keeping the blog going. Just enter your comments here, on any post on this new site or on the previous site-adventistwomen4peace.weblogger.com, as long as it’s still available.

      Lourdes is one of the founding members of Adventist Women for Peace. Her email address is- lmorales@lasierra.edu. Please also take a look at her new blog for her work in the field of forgiveness, Our Lady of Forgiveness.

      Victoria Bresee

      The Golden Rule +

      The blogger at soulpeacelove=God posted this take on the Golden Rule–

      “Besides my regular job, I do some consulting work. As an illustration, the owner of the consulting company often asks the client’s marketing department to quote the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Then he tells them the platinum rule of marketing: “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.”

      The problem with the golden rule, he says, is that some people do not want to be treated the way you want to be treated. You want someone to look you in the eye and ask about your family. They don’t want you to pry. You want someone to take the time to do the transaction with the highest level of quality. They want to get through the line quickly. You think someone should address you as Mr. So and so. It makes them feel old.

      Not to mention that some people treat themselves horribly (sometimes I am included in this group). They overstress themselves and do not allow enough time for relaxation.

      . . .I use the Platinum rule every day as I face the world. I try to never think about what I would want or need in the same position, but what does the other person truly want and need. Often, they are different.”

      For the entire post go to soulpeacelove=god.

      Victoria Bresee

      Where are we headed?

      I admit that I loved to sing “Onward Christians Soldiers, Marching off to War” as a child. We all really got into the military movements with foot stomping and arm swaying, imagining ourselves as God’s little soldiers. But, as a more aware adult, many of the old favorites have lost their appeal. This quote is from John Shelby Spong–

      “We Christians are pilgrims walking into the mystery of God, not soldiers marching off to war. There is a great difference.”

      Victoria Bresee