and then my response which will soon appear on that same opinion page. I don't feel direct discourse between columnists is productive, but this time—an exceptional convergence.
Etching by Fritz Eichenberg
David Gillis and I rarely agree on the politics of the day, but Christmas Day brings us together. In his Dec 22, 2010 column he follows clearly the light of the Christmas star, "The true Christmas story is one that speaks of peace on Earth—the peace of knowing that Christ has come." Amen. A tremendous gift of God to an undeserving world, the gift of the Word made flesh. [John 3:16] Mr. Gillis also queries, "Perhaps we need to ask ourselves what the word 'peace' really means." He follows with a short litany which reminded me of a reading from the Christian monk, Thomas Merton. Ande & I had this similar and challenging list as part of our wedding ceremony in 1978.
"To some people peace merely means the liberty to exploit other people without fear of retaliation or interference. To others peace means the freedom to rob others without interruption. To still others it means the leisure to devour the goods of the earth without being compelled to interrupt their pleasures to feed those whom their greed is starving. And to practically everybody peace simply means the absence of any physical violence that might cast a shadow over lives devoted to the satisfaction of their animal appetites for comfort and pleasure."
Merton goes on to say that the [cold] war of his time [he died in 1968] was a result of being focused on a peace derived only from meeting one's own personal needs—communist or democratic.
e concludes with the challenge to brotherly and sisterly love that Christ's birth brings us. "So instead of loving what you think is peace, love other people and love God above all. And instead of hating the people you think are warmakers, hate the appetites and the disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed—but hate these things in yourself, not in another."
There approaches a time of new year's resolutions. Thank you David Gillis for reminding us of our place, as the ones gifted by God, in this holy season. I'd recommend for reflection on our future path, Chapter 16, "The Root of War is Fear" in Thomas Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation, from which the above quotes come. Also timely in its challenge, is his Peace in the Post Christian Era. His hope was that our society could find its way, to again truly follow the words and deeds of the Savior, Son of God, Prince of Peace, laid in a manger on Christmas Day.
Adoration of the Magi -- by Fra Angelico
Illuminations by Kathy Brahney