Diplomacy and Religion in the 21st Century

I just listened to a very compelling show on NPR’s Speaking of Faith, “Diplomacy and Religion in the 21st Century.” Douglas Johnson,a founding member of The International Center for Religion & Diplomacy and Evangelical Christian, discusses some of his experiences helping diffuse conflict in the Middle East which addresses the perspective of religion.

We hear from many in our U.S. Christian communities (including LDS communities) beguiled by the siren song of militarism and violent coercion, so willing to turn to the easy solution of the sword. It is refreshing to hear from those who have the courage and conviction to seek more healing, more unifying, and more Christian solutions.

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7 Responses to “Diplomacy and Religion in the 21st Century”

  1. DS Says:

    Do you really believe, in your heart of hearts, that the same people who strap explosive vests to mentally disabled women and children are going to change their attitudes by having a dialogue? Isn’t these the same as child sacrifice? Where are your scriptural quotes on that?

  2. WP Says:

    Mormons have this book on war, yet for too many including Jake Garn, Jim Hansen, Bob Bennett, Rob Bishop, Orrin Hatch, et al, we have the most militaristic jingoists representing us in congress over these many years. None of them ever got it or get it about this book on war. Hugh Nibley called it a ‘sad tale of human woe and folly.’ Never mind the Jihadists it is our Utah delegation that never met a defense budget they did not like or approve.

    We (us Mormon folk) are all supposed to get something from the book but sadly it is a tale again of woe and folly as we arm the world, (number 1 arms merchant) and have been involved in the more than fifty conflicts since WWII. President Kimball called us on this, “we are a warlike people,” in 1976. Still true or worse now.

    Good post Derek!

  3. Derek Staffanson Says:

    DS, you want scriptures? How about these? The Lamanites during the time of Alma the Younger are described in terms which sound as evil as any group today (Alma 17:14). Yet the sons of Mosiah, despite the scorn of their people—scorn which reminds me of your own words (Alma 26:23-25), were able to win over a kingdom of Lamanites (Alma 17-26).

    So yes, you may call me a dreamer, but in my heart of hearts, I do indeed believe that miracles can occur—even in the secular realm of international politics—if we rely more on the methods of influence endorsed by the Lord (D&C 121:41). The interview to which I linked discusses examples of how these methods have proven effective, even in the world of extremist Muslims. All we need to do is break down the stiff-neckedness of our own culture, which is so enamored with the oft illusory powers of violence.

  4. jennifer Says:

    I agree Derek. Too often we limit the RS motto “charity never faileth” to the casserole and quilt brigade. True, food and blankets are very important in some stressful times, but charity is even more than those – and I believe that the motto can be applied to family life, community, and even international relations. It requires patience and respect and generosity beyond what the world sees as “practical”. I also believe that the typical American has all kinds of charitable deeds and thoughts, – – with capacity for even more – – – but our foreign policy of late has not reflected that desire for goodness and peace, without the military getting involved. Sadly, the patience, respect, kindness and generosity that might serve us well as a nation has been mislabeled as “weak”, “unpatriotic” or even “aiding the enemy”. Somewhere I read that we ought to love our enemies, but maybe it was a typo?

  5. Aaron Orgill Says:

    I have to toot your horn a little bit, Derek. That was a great response. People’s desire for righteous anger is hard to overcome, and when you add religion to the mix (even the true and living gospel), the certainty that you’re on the Lord’s side can make it difficult to be truly humble. I believe that there is indeed a need for military backup, but it is not ours to say that anyone is beyond redemption, or that they don’t deserve our charity. That is all the more reason for us to give it to them. It’s not really charity if we’re only offering it to those who do.

  6. DS Says:

    Derek – I appreciate your optimism. I’m all for talking with anyone who will listen. The world would be a much better place if all nations would make an effort to be more reasonable. As jennifer so rightly pointed out, charity would solve alot of problems. Maybe such charity even as the “evil dictator” has shown towards Africa, which prompted the renown conversative Bob Geldof to say that the “evil dictator” has done more for Africa than any other president. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong place for a balanced point of view. Derek, I could be wrong, but from my understanding of the scriptures, people who pratice child sacrifice are to be condemed. I don’t think you’ll find any conversion efforts for these types of people. My view is that those people who encourage and recruit children to be suicide bombers are practicing child sacrifice. Admittedly these number a tiny fraction. I don’t remember Jesus showing these kind of people “charity”, but maybe I’m just mistaken. The view that we can solve all our problems by “dialogue” is just as extereme a view that says we can solve all our problems through violence. The truth found in world history and the scriptures show the solution somewhere between the two.

  7. green mormon architect Says:

    Thank you for posting this. I have never understood why it is so hard for grown adults to renounce war and proclaim peace. Even if/when others attack us, the solution is never to attack them back. This may be the natural instinct, but not the solution. Are we afraid that America will appear weak? Was Gandhi, or Martin Luther King weak for not striking back when provoked? I teach this to my 4-year old, who has a hard time with it, but he is a child. Shouldn’t we expect more from our politicians? Great things can be accomplished when peace is truly the objective.

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