"Is Jesus a Pacifist?" follows "God and Guns"

After the "God and Guns" panel in February, a group of small group coordinators wanted to continue the conversation by creating the “Is Jesus a Pacifist?” panel. The panel was more theology based than “God and Guns.” During the panel, audience members texted questions to a number projected behind the panelists. The panelists were sophomore Andrew Langbehn, Provost Carol Simon and Director of Church Engagement Terry McGonigal. Langbehn served in the military for six and a half years and since then his position on pacifism has evolved. He went into the military in 2008. In the military he had an identity crisis, but Christ became his identity which changed his perspective, Langbehn said.

“As a Christian I had to look hard at what I was participating in and see if that was for the interest of America or actually for the global human interest,” Langbehn said.

Langbehn accepted principles of Just War theory without knowing it when faced with operations and tasks, he said.

Just War theory was a practice used by early Christians to determine whether a war was just. Some principles of the theory included determining if military involvement was necessary to put an end to the slaughter of innocent people and if nothing else could solve conflict.

He had to come to terms with whether he was trying to put an end to the violence or furthering the violence, Langbehn said.

“In my position I would say use the just war theory,” Langbehn said. “And principles of that to approach situations, to approach wars.”

Simon agreed with Langbehn’s use of the Just War theory but said she doubts someone can know if they are using it correctly.

Just War theory was developed as a way for Christian leaders to know when and how they should seek military solutions to conflict, Simon said. In most times, however, people had no choice whether or not to participate in the military.

“As a Christian I find the view of that I will call modern military pacifism compelling,” Simon said. “As an ordinary citizen I have no way of knowing if officials have tried every other way.”

McGonigal recalled his discussion with a friend of his who is a military chaplain who had been involved in multiple combat situations. There is a lot of violence in the Bible and some justifies violence, McGonigal said. The military chaplain said that Christians who think in the way that the culture has given them is frustrating because it creates a binary thinking, McGonigal said.

In Joshua 5, before the people of Israel escape oppression in Egypt, Joshua is leading the people across. When he sees someone holding a sword, Joshua asks “are you with us or against us or are you for us?”, McGonigal said. The person responds with “Neither. I am the commander of the army of the lord”.

“Joshua came with a binary,” McGonigal said. “Are you with us or against us?”

Sophomore Clare Newell found the perspectives from the panelists on the relationship between violence, pacifism and Jesus interesting.

“The stories and personal anecdotes from what they’ve learned from other people was really interesting,” Newell said. “Particularly, I liked the story McGonigal shared of how Mennonites define pacifism a little bit differently.”

Sophomore Eric Espinoza said his biggest takeaway was that there were lots of references to violence in the Bible.

“We’re talking a lot [in Nonviolent Defense] about how love fosters movements for change. If you go based on love, you can change a person’s heart. The idea that Jesus Christ faced so much and suffered is interesting. He could have defended himself but he didn’t, he didn't avoid it because he knew in order to teach his people [his oppressors] he needed to endure torment.”

 

Krystiana Morales

Staff Writer

Contact Krystiana at kmorales17@my.whitworth.edu

"Ask a Neighbor" series gives students an opportunity to learn about other faiths

Students gathered Tuesday night in the HUB Multipurpose Room for the “Ask a Neighbor” discussion, an opportunity for students to engage in an interfaith dialogue with Darrell Moseley, Spokane Washington Stake President for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Moseley joined the church at age 18, and has since then become a leader in the church.

Moseley was chosen to be a stake president last June. As a stake president, Moseley is the leader of the Spokane wards, which are congregations grouped together geographically.

The students in attendance asked Moseley questions and listened as he shared the beliefs and practices of his church.

The conversation covered a wide range of topics relevant to the Latter-day Saints faith including ward boundaries, drinking caffeine, gender roles in the church, diversity, missions, scripture and more. One audience member asked Moseley to talk about the temple of their church.

“We look at the temple as another place of worship,” Moseley said. “It’s reserved; not all members of the church can go there, only those who pay the highest devotions to the church, who are in tune with everything the church is doing, obeying all the commandments, and the covenants, are welcome to go in the temple.”

Moseley later explained that temple access is determined through an interview process with a bishop and stake president of the church. Members who meet the requirements are given a temple recommend card, which gives them access to the temple for two years assuming they stay true to the commandments.

“The gospel of Jesus Christ is all about repentance,” Moseley said. “If someone does something wrong that would cause them to lose their temple recommend, they should go to their bishop, who would work through the repentance process with them and get them back their temple recommend.”

The discussion was the first event of the “Know your Neighbors” interfaith dialogue series launched this spring. The series allows Whitworth students to actively engage with people of other faiths from around the Spokane community.

The event is coordinated by Ross Watts, Whitworth director of service learning and community engagement, and campus pastor Mindy Smith.

“One of things that we were interested to do was to create a space on campus where students could learn a little bit about other faiths because that might reduce some of the fear of the unknown,” Watts said.

The long-term plan for the series is that students will begin with “Ask a Neighbor,” which are on-campus discussions with people of other faiths from churches around the Spokane community, and then attend “Meet your Neighbors,” events with the Spokane Interfaith Council, which offers open houses at places of worship around Spokane, and then finally “Be a Neighbor,” which would ask students to complete a service project with people of different faiths.

“The series is a set of opportunities for Whitworth students to engage with somebody from a different faith and become comfortable around them,” Watts said. The next “Ask a Neighbor” discussion will be Tuesday, April 19, at 8 a.m. in the HUB chambers. Students will have the chance to speak with Amer Ahmed, an intercultural diversity consultant, about his Islamic faith.

 

Contact Kailee Carneau at kcarneau17@my.whitworth.edu

"God and Guns": Gun control perspectives

Dozens of students filled the HUB multipurpose room to attend the “God and Guns” panel on Feb. 17. Lead by world languages professor Lindy Scott, sociology professor Stacy Keogh-George and political science professor Julia Stronks, the panelists discussed gun control in the United States. Each panelist gave a different perspective on gun control. Scott gave a brief overview of the biblical understanding of how to respond to conflict.For the first three centuries Christians were largely pacifists following Jesus’ teachings. When joining the Roman army, soldiers had to swear allegiance to a Roman god or affirm the deity of the emperor. Because of this, Christians would not join the army, Scott said. Today soldiers do not have to swear allegiance to any God. This begs the question of whether or not Christians should participate in the military, he said. “Although they were pacifists, generally, in the New Testament, there is a conception of the society,” Scott said. While Christians were not active in the military in those times, they were still active members of society, Scott said. In Romans 13, the apostle Paul writes how the diaconates are to fight against evil, which leaves Paul to question what God wants from Christians. When Jews were in captivity in Babylon, they sought to leave but were told to find the shalom of Babylon. Followers of Christ should bring health to society, Scott said. “It’s a tricky balance,” Scott said. “How do people use their faith, practice their faith in ways to heal their country?” Scott said that it is not necessary for believers to arm themselves if they believe in the power of God. The Bible does not talk about the Second Amendment but it does reference swords. In one case, Jesus tells his followers to take the swords, Scott said. In another mission trip, he tells them to leave the swords.  The purpose of the swords is an open question. A Christian response to the political issue of gun control, which usually represents the two extremes in favor or not in favor of the second amendment, is compromise. Misikir Adnew, a freshman from Ethiopia attended the panel. In Ethiopia, gun control is not really discussed, Adnew said. She does not hear a lot of stories of people buying guns for individual use, except for hunting, as guns are largely used only in the military. Keogh-George spoke about guns in society and provided a PowerPoint with statistics on gun ownership. The 2010 general social survey shows that 34 percent of United States citizens own a firearm. When asked why they owned a gun in a 2013 survey, 48 percent polled said for protection, 32 percent said for hunting and 7 percent said for target/sport shooting, according to the presentation. “All of what was discussed was as shock to me to learn because it's a huge contrast from where I'm from,” Adnew said. Keogh-George also provided statistics of gun violence, including mass shootings. A mass shooting is defined as a single shooting incident which kills multiple victims. There were 372 mass shootings worldwide in 2015 which led to 475 deaths and more than 1,800 people injured, Keogh-George said. “That’s pretty scary,” Keogh-George said. “If that number doesn’t scare you that’s probably a product of desensitization we get from the media because we’re hearing about this so often. That’s a pretty significant number.” There is a disproportionality when the percentage of guns owned by U.S. citizens is compared to the percentage of the U.S. in the global population. The U.S. owns 46 percent of the world’s guns while making up 4 percent of the world’s population. “Our country is founded on the right to bear arms,” Keogh-George said. “That’s deeply, deeply embedded in our culture and ideology.” People perceive gun control as a policy to strip them of their guns. That’s not the case, Keogh-George said. Instead, gun control policy focuses on how guns can be used in a safer way in our country. Senior Nicholas Gosselin said he has always felt like gun control is a hot topic. “I agreed with most of what they said but my only questions came around when they were talking about stats and the fact that this is a huge problem because the numbers were low,” Gosselin said. “It seemed like for a large group of people, not even a full percentage of people, are actually hurt or harmed by guns…So why is the topic so controversial as it is?” Stronks spoke about the Second Amendment. In the colonies, Native Americans and people with mental instabilities were not allowed to have guns. Citizens carried guns because of the rural nature of the colonies, Stronks said. There was no law enforcement, so instead citizens had the responsibility to protect the community. Stronks read the second amendment which states, “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”. The language of the Second Amendment has sparked a debate of whether or not U.S. citizens should own guns, considering that we no longer live in a country with a militia, Stronks said. “We [haven’t had] very much Supreme Court guidance on how to interpret the Second Amendment for 200 years,” Stronks said. In the 1970s and 80s as a result of increased violence, partially due to gang violence, individual states started to pass fairly restrictive gun control laws, Stronks said. In 1975 in Washington, D.C., officials passed a law in which residents could only be granted the right to purchase a gun through the approval of the police commissioner. "I have no clear cut view of gun control just because I'm not that exposed to it back home," Adnew said. "I don't want to think the U.S. is more violent but I think that maybe in the U.S. people are more focused on individual rights.” However, a 2008 case in which a former police officer was denied a gun by the police commissioner led to the officer’s arrest for the possession of a gun. The National Rifle Association represented the man in court and the Supreme Court determined that his arrest was illegal because the Washington, D.C. law violated his Second amendment right, Stronks said. Although Supreme Court Justice Scalia said that it is an individual right to own guns, he also said that no rights are absolute, Stronks said. States across the country have laws that reflect their views on gun control. States are responsible for the safety, health and welfare of the people, not the federal government. That is why individual state laws regarding gun control are different. “As a person of faith I believe…in responsible gun control,” Stronks said.

Krystiana Morales Staff Writer

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Contact Krystiana Morales at kmorales17@my.whitworth.edu

The Qadim Ensemble promotes unity through music

Melissa Voss Staff Writer

When people think about the Middle East, they first think of the political turmoil that frequents the news. However, On Friday night, Sept. 18, the Qadim Ensemble showed a different perspective of the Middle East that is often overlooked.

The Bay Area-based music group performed ancient, soulful music of the Near East in the HUB Multipurpose room. Their repertoire included music spanning several centuries. From traditional Andalucian music written over 700 years ago to modern Arabic style music incorporating western and flamenco influence, the trio’s array of music was as wide as it was beautiful. Similarly, the band performed music from many Middle Eastern regions: Morocco, Iraq, Yemen and Turkey being among the nations represented.

The Qadim Ensemble offers an important look into the Middle Eastern culture. The trio, comprised of Eliyahu Sills, Bouchaib Abdelhadi and Faisal Zedan, are all from distinctly unique cultural and religious backgrounds, a fact that they were open about throughout their performance. Despite their differences, they come together to make incredible music.

Whitworth senior Marianne Sfeir attended the event and was enthusiastic about the message and the music that the ensemble had to offer to Whitworth students and the world. Due to her half-Arab identity, Sfeir said the music reminded her of back home.

“Given the political conflicts in the Middle East, the common pleasure of music to unite religions in important for the Middle East,” Sfeir said.

The event was put on by the Associated Students of Whitworth University (ASWU) cultural events coordinator, senior Kaysee-Li Tomkins.

“The goal of the event was to destigmatize diversity by showing students how we are all diverse,” Tomkins said. She also lauded the ensemble for their ability to express religion through music, stating that people often overlook religion as something that makes us diverse.

“Everyone is diverse,” Tomkins said. “From race and religions to hair color and eye color.” Tomkins hopes the event helped students to expand their horizons on what it means to be diverse, as well as give them an opportunity to listen to good music.

Not only was their message inspiring, the Qadim Ensemble also provided an exciting performance. The band was very involved with the audience, encouraging them to clap, sing and even dance along to the music. They played numerous exotic Middle Eastern instruments including a Riqq, which is similar to a tambourine, an Oud, the predecessor of guitars, and several reed flutes known as Ney, each with distinctive regional identities.

Photographer: Stuart Beeksma The Qadim Ensemble performs a historic song from Arabic culture during their concert on Friday, Sept. 18.  They play traditional instruments from several Middle Eastern countries. Photographer: Stuart Beeksma  

In Arabic, Hebrew, Farsi and Turkish, the word Qadim means “ancient,” but it is also commonly taken to mean “moving forward”, Sills said. The ensemble embodied this meaning in their artful of ancient music and instrument, making music that connects the past with their goal of moving forward into the future, as well as providing a picture of global unity through the increasingly divided world of the Middle East.