'Christian' Militias and Tavis Smiley's MLK Documentary

By Jarrod McKenna 03-31-2010

Many are wondering of what to make of the shameful association of the word "Christian" with "militia." Understandably, with Christianity being associated with something so anti-Jesus, one might want to be seen to not step out of line with "respectable civil religion." In this interview with Amy Goodman, Tavis Smiley talks frankly about his documentary on Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Beyond Vietnam" speech (airing on PBS tonight, check listings) and how "If you replace the words Iraq for Vietnam, Afghanistan for Vietnam, Pakistan for Vietnam, this speech is so relevant today."

In this context, it seems like a kairos moment to encourage us that the answer to "Christian Militias" is not "Christian conformity" nor "Christian compliance" but "Christian nonviolence." This kairos moment during Holy Week is a moving meditation on a man who taught and lived the nonviolence of the cross in ways that socially witnessed to resurrection. This is made all the more potent for those of us in Australia given the courageous actions of The Bonhoeffer Peace Collective who yesterday with a fierce nonviolent love exposed further connections of the Australian government with the war in Afghanistan.

As we prepare for Easter, may we hear the Holy Spirit whisper to us, maybe even in the words of Tavis Smiley: "wait a minute, we need to have a 'come to Jesus' meeting" about all in our hearts, our faith, and our world that doesn't look like the loving transformational nonviolence that is revealed in Jesus. May we this Easter resist what Cornel West calls the "Santa Clausification" of not just Dr. King, but the Santa Clausification of our Saviour Christ, who fiercely gave himself so all things could be reconciled by love. May we as the Church share the witness of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said in that sermon for which they assassinated him:

To me the relationship of the ministry [of Jesus Christ] to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I'm speaking against the war.

Lord, hear our prayer. Come Holy Spirit.


portrait-jarrod-mckennaJarrod McKenna is seeking to live God's love in a world where business as usual is costing us the earth (at the expense of the poor). He is a co-founder of the Peace Tree Community serving with the marginalised in one of the poorest of areas in his city, heads up Together for Humanity in Western Australia (an inter-faith youth initiative working for the common good), and is the founder and creative director of Empowering Peacemakers (EPYC), for which he has received an Australian peace award in his work for in empowering a generation of "eco-evangelists" and "peace prophets."

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