Jesus, Vets, and a Tree

Three items that caught my eye today to pass along this midweek:

1. Jesus – One of the top current nonfiction bestsellers is called Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan.  As the title suggests, it is one scholar’s effort to detail the historical setting in which Jesus lived – Roman occupied Palestine in the first century.  As the title also suggests, the author believes Jesus to best be characterized as a zealot, a political subversive.  This is not a new claim, but the book is generating a lot of interest.  Reza Aslan is a scholar of religion who happens to be Muslim, which, unfortunately, has been a source of criticism, but has also elevated the book’s profile.  Among the many areas it touches on, the book affirms the historicity of Jesus’ crucifixion – which is actually denied by Islamic teaching, and challenges the literal virgin birth – a traditional Christian teaching.  I have not read the book, but have found THIS REVIEW on Huffington Post by Biblical scholar Greg Carey to be helpful.

2. Vets – Pages 44-46 of the August issue of The Mennonite magazine contain an article titled, “Why military veterans become pacifists,” with the subheading: “Julie Putnam Hart draws conclusions after interviewing 115 former soldiers.”  If the name sounds familiar it’s because it is.  The article details research done by CMC’s Julie Hart, and in the print edition lists Austin K, also of CMC, as one of the interviewees.  The article names four primary catalysts for the transformation of prowar soldiers to antiwar veterans: the experience of combat itself; a sense of betrayal by the US government, military, or a particular leader; religious conviction; and education/study.  The article goes on to name the important role the church can play in supporting vets, witnessing to nonviolent alternatives for social justice, and providing a nonjudgment presence to all people, veterans and their families and friends, involved in the traumas of war.  Wonderful to see the voices of CMC folks contributing to the wider church discussion.

3. Tree – This week a beautiful Japanese Maple was planted on the church grounds, on the bank along Oakland Park Avenue, in memory of CMCer Don W.  Enjoy it now and in all seasons.