I've been trying to think what it is I have to say about the situation in Israel/Lebanon and, the truth is, that I'm lost for words.
I had lunch with a friend yesterday, and we both agreed that we had no words. We both agreed that we can't take sides and that the most atrocious thing about the whole situation was seeing dead bodies on the nightly news - especially those of very young children and babies.
My friend said that all she can do at the sight of dead bodies is cry. So she changes the channel for a few minutes until the news moves on to something else. Then she feels guilty. We should be crying at the fact that human beings are killing other human beings, shouldn't we? But how can a person stand to watch that all the time?
And then the big question - if we can't cope with this sort of pointless death as human beings and if we keep seeing it on television and in the papers, do we just end up desensitising ourselves to the whole thing? What can we do other than donate to relief agencies? But isn't that too simple and just a way to assuage our own guilt?
As a Christian, I believe passionately in forgiveness and reconciliation. I said passionately and I mean 'passionately'. I am a passionate pacifist. A lot of people do not understand that. Some seem to think that pacifism is born out of a stance of 'I can't be bothered. I don't want trouble. Let's all just get along so that I can get own with my own selfish life.'
I believe that pacifism, forgiveness and reconciliation are at the core of the Gospel. They are not pink and fluffy easy-peasy things to do. They are damn difficult things to do; if they weren't the sort of hatreds and rivalries that we have in the Middle East would not be occuring.
Jesus called those who follow him to forgive endlessly - seventy times seven. The twelve recognised that this was an 'unreasonable' and outrageous request when they challenged him and said 'Surely you don't mean that.'
From the point of view of Christian theology, as far as I am concerned, there is no such thing as a just war. At best, there is only the regretably unjust war that we may have to engage in for survivial - but it is still sinful.
As a US citizen, I abhor the fact that the US government is refusing to talk to Hezbollah until the latter do what the former want. As a UK citizen, I abhor the fact that the UK government seems to be following lock-step with US policies. As a Christian, I abhor the fact that so many other Christians cheer the fact that Lebanese babies are dying. I do not believe Lebanon are innocent, but I also do not believe the apparent US view that Israel are innocent either. The whole situation is a paradigm of mimetic violence on both sides.