Category Archives: Spiritual Notes

Anne Montgomery

From Fr John Dear: (

Where is God for you in this journey and work for peace?

I couldn’t do this work without faith in God. Two quotations are dear to me: First, from Isaiah 2: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and study war no more.” The other is from Ezekiel: “Hearts of stone have to turn into hearts of flesh.” I’ve come to believe through prayer and bible study about God’s presence in the heart of the earth. People need to change their hearts before they can change anything else. God is love, but unless we can love each other, we can’t know God. We can learn about ourselves and our own hearts of stone as we reach out in love toward others. Even though things don’t change right away, and we’re not immediately effective, it does happen. It just takes time. Change has to come from ordinary, vulnerable people at the bottom, because the power structure is not going to do it.

Just before he died, Phil Berrigan wrote in his last public letter on the need to “embrace our powerlessness.” As we do, we become agents for the power of God to work among us. So we have to deny the self, take up the cross and follow. I recall too how St. Paul wrote about the Spirit groaning within the earth. That spirit gives us power and prays through us. That means a lot to me right now. Even when I feel I can’t pray, all I have to do is be aware of the Spirit and try to let it lead me.

What are you learning these days as you face cancer?

I’m learning more about powerlessness. I’m learning to let go, to be detached. I’ve been upheld by our elderly sisters who pray for me and support me, and that power of prayer is very real to me. I feel it. So I’m learning again that God does the work, not us.

What advice do you have for those who care about peace, justice, nonviolence and disarmament?

I remember Liz McAlister saying once, “Whatever issue you work on is connected to all the other issues.” That means, we have to go deep into the heart of our issue. Also, people should try to join or form a community for this work of justice and peace. We want the world to become a community, and it’s hard, so we have to try to do that ourselves. And we want to form a community conscience that can take a stand on these critical issues. We need other people to help us. With others, we can reflect together on how to resist, and take action that comes from a place of prayer and faith and depth.

What gives you hope?

From Tim Suttle in Huffington Post

What if we would begin with the Scriptures and work our way forward to the politics? What does the Bible tell us about how we are supposed to organize our common life together so that we can actually bear the image of God to all creation?

I put this question to some of the world’s foremost theological minds. The following respondents are all heavyweights who live and work at the top of their fields in biblical studies, theology and Christian ethics. Perhaps their words will help us all to begin our political discourse with these sorts of ideas as our first assumptions.

I asked each expert to respond briefly to one question: “What is the chief political concern of the Bible?”

N.T. Wright, New Testament Scholar at University of St. Andrews

“The chief political concern of the Scriptures is for God’s wise and loving ordering of his world to be operative through humans who will share his priorities, especially his concern for the poor, the weak and the vulnerable. This concern was embodied by Jesus in his inauguration of ‘God’s kingdom’ through his public career and especially his self-giving death, which together set the pattern for a radically redefined notion of power.”

William Cavanaugh, Theologian specializing in Political theology at DePaul

“Jesus’ chief political concern was clearly for more tax cuts for the rich. ‘My yoke is easy, and my burden is light’ is an obvious reference to cutting or eliminating capital gains taxes. This is the only way of explaining why hedge fund managers were so close to his heart.”

John Milbank, Theologian specializing in Politics and ethics at the University of Nottingham

“It is identical with the main concern of the Scriptures as such: the restoration of the glory of God through the repair and fulfillment, and so harmonization of the cosmos, including, centrally, the human order.”

Stanley Hauerwas, Theologian and ethicist at Duke Divinity School

“The chief political concern of the Bible is to worship God truly.”

Brent Strawn, Old Testament Scholar, Candler School of Theology at Emory University

“The chief political concern of the Bible is the restoration of God’s shalom on the entire world: human and nonhuman, animate or inanimate. That encompasses all aspects of the human polis and thus politics but also the entirety of creation so that nothing is left outside this primal ‘political’ concern.”

Walter Brueggemann, Old Testament Scholar, Columbia Theological Seminary

“I believe that the central political question is the management of public power in order that there should be an economically viable life for all members of the community. Thus justice is front and center and some texts, especially in Deuteronomy, are for the distribution of wealth in order that all may be viable. Obviously such justice is marked by mercy, compassion and generosity. The purpose is to create a genuine neighborhood for all the neighbors.”

James K.A. Smith, Professor of Philosophy and Congregational ministry, Calvin College

Shalom — the well-ordered flourishing that God desires for all of creation, and that brings God glory.”

Ellen T. Charry, Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary

“I am persuaded that the chief political concern of the Older Testament is the cultivation of healthy societies, that is communities that adhere to divine guidance. The chief political concern of the Younger Testament is the revisioning of community in order better to meet the goal of stated above.”

Miroslav Volf, Systematic Theology, Yale Divinity School

“The vision of the city of God is the goal. We work for it not by forcing it down from heaven to earth, but by treading in the footsteps of the crucified and resurrected Christ.”

Brian McLaren, Author and theologian

“God’s solidarity with the poor, oppressed, outcast and forgotten.”

Sarah Coakley, Professor of Divinity, Cambridge University

“The reign of God is of much more consistent concern than justice (pace Wolterstorff). This is of course construing ‘political’ broadly.”


For a good study on the secular nature of Islamic terrorism you can read Robert Pape’s “Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism”. Its a detailed analysis of motives behind suicide bombings. “Religion” is essentially “culture”. There are many influences in people’s lives and for the most part what happens in our time will influence our decisions, not historical works. 1 Billion Muslims exist, but pretty much all of them do not engage in these kinds of activities.

optimeg in reply to Gnomefro (Show the comment) 1 week ago

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Consumerism and Christianity – 2/2 – YouTube

Liturgy as Politics: An Interview with William Cavanaugh