The Promise of Christmas

By Duane Shank 12-23-2008

At the time of year when Christians proclaim the birth of the Prince of Peace, in too many places our world remains wracked by violence, and our efforts to end it seem futile. Yet, columnist James Carroll reminds us of Jesus and the promise of Christmas:

Humans have an inbuilt tendency to find the solution of violence in yet more violence, with the result that it spirals on forever. The victory of coercive force is inevitably the cause of the next outbreak of coercive force. Jesus proposed that the answer to violence is not more violence, but is forgiveness and righteousness - or, as we would put it, peace and justice. For 2,000 years, this program has been able to be dismissed as piety's dream. But something new is afoot. Since 1945, the normalcy of violence is armed with weapons that will surely render the human species extinct unless a different way of thinking of violence is found.

That is the promise of Christmas.

A different way of thinking of violence has already lodged itself in human consciousness. This is not just a Christian phenomenon. The great religions of the world - Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism - and the no-religion of rationalism have all countered the normalcy of violence with assertions of compassion and loving kindness. In the history of Western Civilization, no figure has represented that ideal more resolutely than Jesus. His story offers a masterpiece expression of the possibility of forgiveness and righteousness not only as a saving program, but as the basis of an intensely personal relationship.

A very blessed Christmas from all of us here at God's Politics.

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