Archive for Friday, April 6, 2007

KU student taps into faith for peace

April 6, 2007

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Jon Dennis, a Kansas University senior from Hutchinson, prays Monday in Danforth Chapel during a peace vigil over the noon hour. Dennis was one of three KU students that participated in Christian Peace Witness for Iraq on March 16 in Washington, D.C. More than 220 people, including Dennis, were arrested during a prayer vigil in front of the White House for crossing a police line.

Jon Dennis, a Kansas University senior from Hutchinson, prays Monday in Danforth Chapel during a peace vigil over the noon hour. Dennis was one of three KU students that participated in Christian Peace Witness for Iraq on March 16 in Washington, D.C. More than 220 people, including Dennis, were arrested during a prayer vigil in front of the White House for crossing a police line.

Beth Ruhl, a Kansas University sophomore from Lawrence, marches March 16 in front of the White House in Washington, D.C. The banner is the same one used during vigils every Monday through April at KU's Danforth Chapel.

Beth Ruhl, a Kansas University sophomore from Lawrence, marches March 16 in front of the White House in Washington, D.C. The banner is the same one used during vigils every Monday through April at KU's Danforth Chapel.

Jon Dennis has received a lot of attention lately, and not all of it is what you'd describe as pleasant.

The Kansas University senior from Hutchinson has been profiled, jailed, praised and mocked - all for trying to end the Iraq war. He's not just a peace advocate. Dennis is part of a growing movement of Christians who are trying to bring about peace.

In March, Dennis joined a number of other Christians in Washington, D.C., as a part of Christian Peace Witness for Iraq. About 3,000 people descended on the National Cathedral for an ecumenical service in an effort to "withdraw Christian support from the war in Iraq," Dennis said. The service was followed by a number of workshops on ways to end the war.

"It was a full house," Dennis said. "All the workshops had a faith and social dialogue aspect."

After the service and workshops, many members of the group embarked on a 4.5-mile protest march to the White House. It was there that Dennis - and about 220 other protesters - were arrested for crossing a police line or failing to obey officers' instructions.

"We went across the street from Lafayette Park, stopped and prayed in front of the White House," Dennis said.

It's against the law to stop and block movement on the sidewalk in front of the White House.

Dennis paid a $100 fine before he returned home.

Dennis was able to travel to the event because the Oread Friends Meeting, better known as the Quakers, encouraged him to attend. Dennis recently joined the Quaker faith.

"They not only wanted to support the cause, but also to sponsor a student to get those experiences," Dennis said.

Dennis was joined on the trip by several other KU students, including Beth Ruhl, a Lawrence sophomore.

While Dennis attended a workshop on civil disobedience and participated in the action that led to his arrest, Ruhl chose to train as a peacekeeper.

Ruhl wasn't arrested; her role was to facilitate discussion between protesters and police or counterprotesters.

Ruhl represented Ecumenical Christian Ministries by taking a 4-year-old banner protesting the war in Iraq. The banner says "NO WAR IN IRAQ, NOT IN OUR NAMES," and is part of a vigil students are having all day every Monday through April at KU's Danforth Chapel.

"People who are supportive of what we believe are really excited about what we're doing," Ruhl said. "I've been really surprised by the number of Iraqi and Middle Eastern students who've come up and told us how excited they are."

The vigil is part of the increasingly visible Christian movement to end the war in Iraq.

Thad Holcombe, a campus minister at the ECM, said the difference now is that more conversations are happening about whether the strategy being used in Iraq is even capable of bringing about peace.

"You don't use a model where there's victory and then there's peace," Holcombe said. "You have to have peace, then victory. Many in the Christian community - and Jewish and Muslim - are saying we can't use the same method of solving problems with war."

Holcombe suggests that the country is at a pivotal point in its history, which seems to have energized the faith community.

"Things seem to be in place for the making of an empire, which is contrary to a program that comes out of the faith community," Holcombe said. "No state should be in charge of the world. That's the Holy's role."

Ruhl and Dennis both stressed that the importance of their movement is to help remove Christian support for the war.

Holcombe said the long tradition of Christians opposing violence is only now getting attention because of an effort to tell leaders that war isn't Christian.

"There's been a re-examination of what the community of faith is about," Holcombe said. "We've been complicit in this war."

Dennis, Holcombe and Ruhl all said that what they hope to do is elevate the community's consciousness. For now, they're hoping their vigils at Danforth Chapel help make that possible.

Comments

livingkate 8 years, 3 months ago

Tim, Don't try to think so much, it obviously hurts you. Its a screwed up country when people get jailed and belittled for trying to create a little positive energy.

dlkrm 8 years, 3 months ago

"Positive energy" won't bring peace. Just as with all conflicts throughout human history, peace will come when the bad guys have been beaten badly enough that they don't believe in fighting anymore. If libs would accept this, peace would come more quickly.

tim_hardaway 8 years, 3 months ago

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bearded_gnome 8 years, 3 months ago

correct. quakers go back way back, in the american history to our roots.

these folks conveniently overlook the concept of "just war" and that there were valid wars documented in the Old Testament.

also, the "energy" these people generates just gives aid and comvort to our enemies who are at war with us. it doesn't work that if we're just nice they'll quit bugging us!

don_burgess 8 years, 3 months ago

Praying infront of the white house is nice, but the only way to get washington's attention is to fly a plane into a building.

Porter 8 years, 3 months ago

"these folks conveniently overlook the concept of "just war" and that there were valid wars documented in the Old Testament."

This is a "just war"?? How?

"also, the "energy" these people generates just gives aid and comvort to our enemies who are at war with us. it doesn't work that if we're just nice they'll quit bugging us!"

I don't remember anyone from Iraq bugging us. Seems to me, WE invaded THEM.

Stephen Prue 8 years, 3 months ago

The government continues to inventory new weapons to force the "bad guys" into submission. Still with all the government's superior strength and technology the "bad guys" find a way to hurt the big guys anyway. Thanks Albert Einstein, genie out of the box no way back! Last thought: the loser of a war never forgets even if they deserved to lose! The reason is: armies don't die but sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers die, war is personal even when its waged with unmanned aircraft.

gogoplata 8 years, 3 months ago

To understand your contention that this is a just war, one must examine the 5 essential tenets to a just war as stated by St. Augustine of Hippo.

Number 1.

Just Cause: War is justified "only by the injustice of an aggressor." War is not justifiable ad vindicandas offensiones (to punish someone for offending behavior) but only ad repellendas injurias (to repel injury and aggression).

Number 2.

Right Intention: The objective of state violence must be to establish or to restore a just peace. The intention must not be mere vengeance or vendetta.

Number 3.

Comparative Justice and Proportionality: Parties to a conflict must limit their objectives to the relative gravity of the injury being redressed. Violence must not pass a point where it exceeds in injustice the original injury incurred.

Number 4.

Last Resort: Even when necessity demands it, war is a tragedy to be avoided at all costs, save justice. An offended nation must not rush to war, but must instead exhaust every peaceful means to secure justice, e.g., diplomatic negotiation and extended inspections, before resorting to physical combat. Augustine wrote that the greater glory in militarism was "merited not by killing men with swords, but by waging war with words, and by achieving peace by peace itself."

Number 5.

Discrimination: While in any armed conflict non-combatant civilians are killed or wounded, warring states must do all in their power to prevent the direct killing, and to diminish the risks of the indirect killing, of innocent men, women, and children. The deliberate targeting of innocents would be a criminal act, even in an otherwise just war.

Does'nt sound like a just war to me.

opinion 8 years, 3 months ago

Two different things are being discussed. Bearded_Gnome raised the CONCEPT of a just war. He was not necessarily talking about this war. Most Christians I know believe in the concept of a just war - they will sometimes disagree about whether specific conflicts meet the criteria.

I think most would agree that there could be circumstances that would justify a country taking up arms and engaging in a war.

prioress 8 years, 3 months ago

The TEACHER would be proud. Reread the beatitudes.

livingkate 8 years, 3 months ago

dlkrm--

Tell me the last time violence turned out to be the best solution to violence and I will show you.... errrm.... Something you have never seen or heard of before. BECAUSE ITS DOESNT EFFING HAPPEN.

bearded_gnome 8 years, 3 months ago

Tell me the last time violence turned out to be the best solution to violence and I will show you.... errrm.... Something you have never seen or heard of before. BECAUSE ITS DOESNT EFFING HAPPEN. that would be 1945, 1991, just to name two. in 1989 the berlin wall was torn down and millions, perhaps a billion, of souls were freed from soviet tyrany because Ronald Reagan out-built the evil empire with weapons having 'potential' for violence. that "big stick" brought peace and freedom.


my "just war" reference was not specific to the current war, but I appreciate the five points for "just war" being posted. several of those could actually be argued in favor of this current war. Saddam was routinely violating the 1991 gulf war treaty, and he did have WMD's that is well known. it is not known when and how he disposed of them. good evidence points to the fall of '02 so he had them when we said he did, then he sent them to syria. if I tell you to get a ham sandwich on the second shelf of the fridge because you're hungry, but you go there and find none, then have I lied to you? or, perhaps someone else got to the sandwich and I didn't know. thus, no lie.

saddam had threatened and invaded his neighbors.

saddam was harboring terrorists.

saddam was giving money to reward the families of homicide bombers.

no evidence that we have targeted civilians; many of the civilian death totals are inflated, and count those killed by saddam and al-qaeda. holding those deaths to our account is just silly.

within his own rule, saddam was responsible for more deaths of: arabs; muslims; and kurds, than any other figure in history.

the inspections were tried, and there were seventeen resolutions. the U.N. did find saddam in "material breach." after the invasion, more than two dozen additional sanctions violations were discovered from missiles to labs to chemicals. talking didn't work. saddam had a whole organization devoted to fooling and penetrating the inspectors. he acted like he had something to hide.

so, on several points, it actually can be argued that the current war is a "just war."

now, my comment was more general. these people often oppose all wars.

jon_pk180 8 years, 3 months ago

Whether or not the war which these kids are protesting can be justified according to either Old Testament tradition or Augustian just war theory, I think a more important point to raise is that there are alternatives to fighting which would not only would have caused us to run a much lesser risk of being oppressive and tyrannical, but which would also have achieved our goals in Iraq much more efficiently and with much less human, not to mention monetary, costs.

Wilbur_Nether 8 years, 3 months ago

bearded_gnome's 9:28 a.m. post shows an incomplete comprehension of Quaker history. George Fox founded the Religious Society of Friends (aka "Quakers") in England in the 1600s--it is not a uniquely American denomination. Despite its Peace Testimony, members of the Society have served in nearly every military action since its inception, responding to the movement of the Spirit as they felt called by it. Various schisms and splits over the centuries have created several flavors of Quakerism, and bearded_gnome's attribution somewhat describes the Orthodox movement but not so much the Conservative or Evangelical groups.

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