Sunday, December 26, 2004

Wendell Berry, from Sex, Economy, & Community

...That possibility, though little honored, is well known; its most famous statement is this: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you." I did not include this idea as a precious possession of our civilization because it is not one. It is an idea given to our civilization but so far not accepted.

In times of war, our leaders always speak of their prayers. They wish us to know that they say prayers because they wish us to believe that they are deeply worried and that they take their responsibilities seriously. Perhaps they believe or hope that prayer will help. But within the circumstances of war, prayer becomes a word as befuddled in meaning as liberate or order or victory or peace. These prayers are usually understood to be Christian prayers. But Christian prayers are made to or in the name of Jesus, who loved, prayed for, and forgave his enemies and who instructed his followers to do likewise. A Christian supplicant, therefore, who has resolved to kill those whom he is enjoined to love, to bless, to do good to, to pray for, and to forgive as he hopes to be forgiven is not conceivably in a situation in which he can be at peace with himself. Anyone who has tried to apply this doctrine to a merely personal enmity will be aware of the enormous anguish that it could cause a national leader in wartime. No wonder that national leaders have ignored it for nearly two thousand years.


5 comments:

Paul Fromont said...

JJ, a joyous Christmas to you, Andrea, and the lads. Nice to see Wendell being interacted with. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

i've been reading this book as well. excellent.

Dan said...

i've been reading this book as well. excellent.

jen lemen said...

me, too! too weird. this and the volf one on exclusion and embrace.

JJ said...

That one is on my wish list...