War, spirituality not withstanding

By Clyde Davis, Local Columnist

We don’t usually get overtly spiritual in this column; more often than not, the spirituality is covert. Today, however, moves us in a different direction. The spiritual piece is overt, though it is not specific. I want us to think about the common ground that undergirds many faith perspectives.

To start with, there might be two basic approaches to the journey of life. One of these is that it is, indeed, a journey, with a spiritual basis underlying it, a spiritual purpose embedded in it, and a guiding power behind it. The other is that it is essentially meaningless. If one takes the second approach, then all of our religion makes us simply small, intelligent animals telling each other stories to keep away the eternal darkness.

Okay. I don’t buy the second one, and I have met very few folks who do. Therefore, under the broad spectrum included in the first approach, let’s talk about some common ground. The various forms of nature-based religions, for example, emphasize a seeking for harmony, for balance.

The religions with roots in the ancient Near East, heavily impregnated with philosophy as they are, hold forth an ideal of an eternal world where all will be recreated, faultless. The Far Eastern religions give us the image of all creation being eventually enveloped by the essence of God.

We are not speaking here of differences, any more than we are denying their existence.

In this admittedly oversimplified model, the Buddhist at her prayer wheel, the Baptist at his choir practice and the Blackfoot traditionalist are united by at least one element. They hope and believe that the divine presence is leading us and guiding us toward a world where peace, not war, is the norm.

This leaves us, then, with two possible directions that do not clash with one another. The first is to believe that we, as human beings, perceive peace and harmony, not war and conquest, to be part of the eternal plan, to be the will and the wish of God as we define God.
In other words, we have a vision that binds us together, that any right-thinking person would not knowingly terrorize, murder or conquer, and that doing so would risk divine consequences, in addition to personal chaos.

The second piece of this is to believe that God has somehow placed this into our thought process because, whatever our differences in practice or creed, it is found in so many places.

The systematic theologian behind my branch of Christianity, John Calvin, believed that there were certain revelations of God’s presence that were perceivable to all human beings. Under the term “natural revelation,” we might find peacemaking to be one of those revelations.

Who, then, creates wars? Why is it human reality that, since 1945, there have been only 26 days in which the world was not hosting a war somewhere, with destruction of all that people have worked for and unthinkable loss of life.

I don’t know the answer. I dread the day when my 6-year-old grandson asks me that question, because I probably still won’t know the answer. I do know, however, that most of us don’t want it and that, if we have the courage to do so, we can inform the powerbrokers in all of their various locations that it isn’t going to be tolerated.

It would seem to me that, on a worldwide vote, the idea of war would get a thumbs-down vote.
What do you think?

Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University. He can be contacted at: