Gallipoli or Calvary?

Gallipoli or Calvary from The Work Of The People on Vimeo.

At the risk of alienating a few people I’ve decided to repost this hard hitting ANZAC DAY video by Jarrod McKenna. It asks the simple question: Gallipoli or Calvary? So maybe I’d ask you all the same.

13 thoughts on “Gallipoli or Calvary?

  1. Peggy says:

    Okay, so let’s talk context, eh?
    What is the context of Jesus’ words about taking up our crosses and following him? Is it about non-violence as in being unwilling to defend one’s homeland and its freedom from those who want to destroy it?
    Is the context one in which Jesus is introducing the New Covenant and laying to rest the Old Covenant … where God does not come in a destroy the enemies of Israel, but rather moves them forward into a different Kingdom — a spiritual Kingdom? One where being “God’s People” no longer is an issue of race and birthright, but one of embracing God’s gift of grace in Christ Jesus?
    I don’t think it is as easy and cut and dry as many would like to make it.
    We must struggle with how we are governed and look to understand what our policies are toward our global neighbors … and realize that in each circumstance there is a place for the personal sacrifice within the larger sacrifice … even in what one considers an unjust war.
    Imagine a war where there were none who knew God amidst the battles … in the trenches …
    I really think this is a personal cross that is carried individually and that we are to be non-violent in the face of those who persecute us for Jesus’ sake, not necessarily defending our shores from those bend on destruction.
    …I’m rambling some here…this would be better face-to-face!


  2. Jarred says:

    “I really think this is a personal cross that is carried individually and that we are to be non-violent in the face of those who persecute us for Jesus’ sake, not necessarily defending our shores from those bend on destruction.”
    If the two wars my country is currently involved in was actually taking place on our shores and defending a force that is actively invading them, I might feel far more comfortable with them. The thing is, they’re taking place on someone else’s shores.


  3. Matt Stone says:

    Peggy, yes context is important but if anything I think that builds the case for nonviolent activism. Let’s consider the context. Jesus was a marginalized member of a marginalized marginalised society, a society straining under military occupation by an invading and religiously corrosive army. Hailed as Messiah, as the Son of David, it was highly anticipated that he would take up the sword to liberate his homeland from the foreign invaders. After all, that was what Messiah’s were expected to do. Yet he rejected that option, he rejected violent self defence, at the cost of his life and the lives of the apostles who followed after him. And by his resurrection he revealed that the escatological war was to be won through the cross not the sword. This confounded many.
    In contrast to the old covenant the Messiah, Jesus, offered a new covenant, where Godly people would be united not by national identity, but by identification with him. He challenged their loyalties, he challenged who and what they placed their faith in. Jesus offered a future where Greek and Hebrew, invader and native, Roman and Palistinian, could find reconciliation and be united in their common humanity under God.
    But these ancient commitments to nonviolent witness waned over time. Eventually the state of states offered the church a Faustian bargain. Defend us and we’ll defend you. The church capitulated and Christendom was born. Christians became confused over loyalty, was there now any difference between church and state, church and the world within the borders of Christendom? It led to corruption and eventually … Reformation! But many reformers shied away from the full implications and made new Faustian bargains with individual states. Thus they were co-opted into state-church wars with one another, a mockery of the Messianic call to unity, grace and faith.
    But now Christendom has died in much of the west the question comes up again. Where do our loyalties lie when state and church conflict. Are be capable of betraying national loyalties in order to be faithful to the kingdom dream? Can we sacrifice our national pride and self defence for something greater? As Jesus and the apostles did? Are we willing to embrace a holistic gospel which refuses to differentiate between private ethics from public ethics, between sacred space and secular space, which refuses to continue Christendom dichotomies between personal nonviolence and political nonviolence? Is Jesus Lord of all or just Lord of the private, sacred, personal? If Jesus is Lord of all, then what is the New Testament foundation for a non-cruciform response to national defence? And more, what is the biblical basis for us to invade other nations? After all, the bulk of Australian and American wars have not been fought on Australian and American soil. Are we will to question our own tendancies to be bent on destruction? Why are we so unwilling to consider the crucifixion of Jesus, by Roman invaders, on the charge of treason, as a politically threatening event? Why do powerful countries act so threatened to claims Jesus was so threatening to conventional politics? Why are Christendom birthed theologies of the state considered so immune to theological critique when no other theologies are? Could it be the reaction actually proves the point?


  4. Matt Stone says:

    Jarrod, oh yes, now just why did we invade Iraq again? Was it weapons of mass destruction? Oh, no, that was just poor intelligence. Or was it Al Qaida links with the Iraq? Oh, no, Al Qaida didn’t come till AFTER we invaded, that’s right, I remember now. No connection to Spetember 11 after all. Or was it for humanitarian reasons, now that’s a good one! Oh, no, after tens of thousands of civilian deaths that’s a bit of a stretch. Oil? Oh, no, can’t say that. Was it because the UN thought is was a good idea? Oh, no, they warned us against pre-emptive war didn’t they. Now just why are we fighting again? Because it must have been for a good reason, surely.
    Excuse the sarcasm, but you know what I find really ironic. That nonviolent action is often dismissed as ineffective and idealistic. It prompts me to ask: How has Iraq been effective? Where is the flowering democracy we were promised? And, wasn’t it just a tad idealistic to expect liberal democracy to flower in a tribally divided Muslim majority country? And, are we sersiously saying the neocons weren’t ideologues? So, putting the Bible to one side for a moment, just how less effective would nonviolent activism have had to have been to have resulted in more deaths. Isn’t it ironic to argue violence is the most effective way to nonviolent society and war is the quickest route to peace? Shades of 1984 newsseak and doublethink?


  5. Peggy says:

    Matt…didn’t mean to comment and run — not a lot of time for blogging these days.
    I just finished a conversation with my father-in-law about what to do with school bullies. This is really the same conversation, isn’t it?
    What do you tell you child when someone calls them names or trips them or destroys their backpack or threatens to beat them up?
    Sure, bullies are usually bullied themselves, but how do I keep my child from being scarred — physically or emotionally — much less seriously injured.
    The world has a problem with how people deal with anger. The bullies are angry and looking for someone to take it out on or to transfer responsibility for things they don’t want to deal with.
    Yes, we need stronger examples of standing up for ourselves with moral courage and in the strength of Jesus through the Holy Spirit.
    But I’m not so sure that we can set ourselves in Jesus’ context as Messiah, either. No other nation carries the name The Chosen People (some are confused when they do) — and what Jesus was doing in his death was transforming human history — once and for all time. His work cannot be replicated in that sense. But did Jesus mean that people are not to defend themselves or the weak or oppressed against those who mean to wipe them out?
    Really, brothers, I appreciate what you’re saying. I think there is always more to things than is generally appreciated. And hindsight is always 20-20, eh?
    We each must live according to the light we have received/understood … and there are many issues that impact how that light comes to us and is colored. As you know, Matt, I have purple glasses that color things in hues of suffering and weakness. It is a great paradox and one that is challenging to live with day by day. There are so many fronts on which humanity is wounded and hurting … may Jesus, as we allow him to increasingly be Lord in our lives, teach us and lead us more clearly.


  6. Matt Stone says:

    Peggy, they’re related conversations but not the same. There’s a finality to war that you don’t get in the schoolyard situation. We’ll, unless you live near Columbine that is.
    I sence part of the problem here is that you’re drawing a far stronger link between coersion and violence than I would say is warranted. And then also between violence and killing. The reality is, nonviolent activists use coersion all the time. Martin Luther King spoke to this I believe. Renunciation of violence is not renunciation of coersion. It’s not about becoming a doormat. It’s not about taking injustice lying down. What it’s about is actively challenging injustice through alternative means. Alternative means that reflect the end desired. Pacifism requires abandonment of ends justifies means thinking but not abandonment of the ends or taking active steps to achieve them. Pacifism isn’t a “do nothing” position. It’s a “do something different” position. Martin Luther King had a lot to say about bullying, and he was victorious in the end.


  7. Peggy says:

    Interesting choice of words, Matt … coercion instead of influence. Coercion is, in my book, not a tool to be embraced by pacifists, is it? The challenge Jesus gives us is certainly not a “do nothing” position, but the “do something” cannot be coercion, can it?
    If we are going to embrace the ethos of turning the other cheek and walking the second mile, it is to be motivated by love for other and trust in God’s activity in the hearts and minds and circumstances of people.
    The challenge comes down to discerning the circumstances where there is sufficient personal contact to actually engage in love of other … that shines the grace of God into the darkness … and so join God’s work and influence another for good.
    I am, of course, currently processing the story found in the movie Avatar….
    Martin Luther King, Jr. was taking his story about injustice and bullying to the people of the United States — many of whom totally embraced his story. As a result of that connection, he was victorious in the end because he helped us reach a tipping point.
    I am not sure that Dr. King would be all that happy with how things have gone down after his murder, however…and even within his own family.
    And so this is just not the same kind of situation one deals with when someone who is an outsider preys upon others — as individuals or families or communities or nations — intent upon stealing or dominating or destroying. This is terrorism.
    The challenge is that the world is rapidly becoming a place there terrorism is the face of so much of the world’s conflict. Terrorism that is not part and parcel of a nation or group that is led by persons who have significant enough influence to even approach the peace process — who are even interested in peace!
    As sick as it sounds, there have always been war mongers … and they find ways to make war. But that does not make all war “mongering”, at least it does not in my opinion.
    Back to Avatar, it seems to be that conflict goes “off wire” when the “monger” is allowed too much power or latitude — and then it becomes a personal vendetta void of reason.
    …rambling again, mate. Sorry.
    Thanks for having the conversation. I must admit that there are so many places where the conversation is so uncivil that I despair of being able to have a decent enough dialectic to actually help the thinking process. Way too much venting, in the opinion of this wee purple abbess.
    I appreciate you and your voice and your wisdom and discernment in all these conversations, Matt … and your friendship most of all.


  8. Matt Stone says:

    Peggy, coercion is a the word I’d normally use, but I’m using it here because I want to reinforce that pacifism is not the “grovel and take it” stance it is often caricatured as. It envolves the tactical and strategic use of power, every bit as much as militarism. Moreover, it is not restricted to circumstances where “there is sufficient personal contact” for the enemy to immediately identify with us. I don’t see a hard and fast line between a Ku Klux Klan member and a terrorist and don’t recognize any challenge to discern between the two kinds of hatred, as though we should stand firm in pacifist opposition against one and not against the other. Are you suggesting the white supremacists Martin Luther King had to contend with weren’t intent on dominating or destroying him? That former slave owners weren’t praying on former slaves? Pacifists don’t have rosy coloured glasses about human nature. We understand freedom almost invariably costs lives, irrespective of whether violence or nonviolence is pursued.
    To illustrate what I mean by coercion, in ancient Greece one nonviolent tactic used with success was a sex strikes by women. Challenge you to find a man who’d say that wasn’t coercive! Blockades, boycotts, exposures and the like can also be perceived as coercive by the enemy. We don’t restrict ourselves to asking nicely. Demand, with the power to back it up, is in the arsenal.
    I do admit that pacifist Christian strategies and tactics need review given the proliferation of non-state actors (and have said as such openly on this blog), but the same can be said for militant Christians. After all, has the ‘War on Terror’ made us demonstratably safer?
    So, I am prepared to use the word “coercion” and suggest it’s a misunderstanding of pacifism to suggest we’re restricted to meek and mild tactics and must run for cover when things get “too rough”. Peacemakers have achieved victories in some pretty hot zones.
    Though we don’t base our theology on pragmatism that does not mean power awareness or practical results are absent. I am convinced anti-terrorism is a prime challenge for peacemakers moving forward. You may even have noticed, I have on occasion dialogued with terrorist-sympathizing Hindus though this blog, so I’m prepared to put my money where my mouth is and engage my enemies, hopefully de-escalating emnity along the way.
    Ultimately the logic of pacifism is this: be the change you wish to see; mirror your end in your means. If you want a world where nonviolence is more plentiful, act nonviolently towards your enemies. Consider all possibilities for peace … and realise you can never exaust the possibilities with God.
    And consider this, it is my pacifist approach to witnessing that allows my to maintain a blog where people may venemently disagree but still come away as friends. How many blogs have you seen where abuse victims and abuser supporters, fundamentalists and liberals, Satanists and Christians, gays and Sydney Anglicans, pro war advocates and anti war advocates regularly come together and debate things out without ripping each other to shreds? It’s my pacifist practice undergirding it all, holding it all together.


  9. Andrew Park says:

    Matt, I think the world `pacifist’ is misunderstood to mean utterly passive in response to everything.
    Which is why I prefer moreso the usage of “non-violent activism” when I write.
    Being a “peace activist” partially contextualises it. But that needs to be placed within the context of the Sermon on the Mount “in combination” with those other aspects of following in the Way of Jesus Christ which are mentioned there.
    It could be argued that one fails in fulfilling being a peacemaker in the fullest sense of things if one does not also cultivate the other character-building activities within the wider body of Jesus’s sermon (e.g. meekness, poverty of spirit etc).


  10. Matt Stone says:

    I understand your preference but I hold onto the word ‘pacifist’ for a number of reasons.
    Firstly, I have a general reluctance to conceding language just because it’s sometimes tough to explain in a sea of misinformation. I mean, the same could be said for ‘Christian’, ‘sin’, ‘Christ’, church’ and a whole host of other words. If we’re continually in retreat from our own language it becomes a kind of newspeak exercise a la 1984. Not that I’m an advocate for Christianese either but I like to keep my options open and not be backed into a linguistic corner. I’m sure hard core militants could find a way of misinterpreting ‘nonviolent activist’ anyway if we were to back away from ‘pacifist’.
    Secondly, I don’t think ‘nonviolent activist’ covers quite the same territory as ‘pacifist’. In the event of an unjust war, just war Christians should be resorting to nonviolent activism every bit as much as pacifists. Pacifists are distinctive, not because they practice nonviolent activism, but because they take it further.
    As for meekness, etc, I think one way of looking at this is by way of analogy. In the same way Jesus advocated servant leadership rather than leaderless community, I am here advocating peace activism rather than passivity. This involves engaging in conflict, rather than shying away from it, but hopefully constructively, rather than destructively. Peacemaking is different from conflict avoidance. Meekness is different from cowardice. At least that’s my understanding.


  11. Andrew Park says:

    A common cop-out employed by some Christians when I think they are confronted with questions about God and warfare is to resort to the age of law vs age of grace argument.
    In the OT God’s history of violence is justified by it being the age of law, but with Christ’s coming there is radical change to God’s demeanour and way of handling conflict due to a new paridigm of it being the age of grace. In the person of Christ, God suddenly turns nice, non-violent, a bonafide peacenik, pacifist. Or so the change of covenantal argument gernerally goes….
    I think underlying that premise is a view that God somehow wasn’t always a God of grace (something I disagree with because God’s grace is in the garden…God doesn’t totally eradicate humanity for original sin due to being a rigid God of the law, the whole law, and nothing but the law because of utter holiness. God is loving in the beginning, after the sinning of humans, despite the sin of humans etc etc etc. and still loves humans despite their sinfulness).
    I think in terms of this overall theme, that needs to be discussed further.
    (Yep. Like you, have been burning the candle at both ends…blogging late into the night and then rising early before work to blog again).


  12. Matt Stone says:

    Andrew, as indicated you’ve inspired another post which you’ll now find at
    I wouldn’t say the age of law vs age of grace argument is a cop-out, but I would advocate a more sophisticated and holistic version of it than the one you’ve apparently been exposed to. I do not deny that judgement day is coming, nor do I deny that grace was absent in the Old Testament. But nevertheless I think the life, death and resurrection of Jesus transformed our relationship with one another as much as our relationship with God, and that ethical implications stem from the soteriological implications.


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