People of Faith Must Imagine a Community of Peace

Blessed are the Peacemakers

A “new story” for the Faith Communities Network Group

“You cannot simultaneously prepare for war and peace”. (Albert Einstein)

However, this is what the United States government has practically done ever since the invention of nuclear weapons. Since 1945 70,000 nuclear weapons have been produced[1] at an outrageous price of hundreds of billions of dollars, a figure which most people do not know. Nuclear weapons are not only immoral, unjust and illegal, they prevent peace-making in the world as 122 countries have officially recognized when they initiated the legal instrument to prohibit them. On September 20, 2017 the new United Nations’ Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was opened for signature and ratification. 53 countries signed on immediately and 3 ratified it the same day: Thailand, Guyana and Vatican City. All people of faith have reason to rejoice. There is no mayor Faith Community to my knowledge that has in the past or would now officially endorse the use or production of nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, with a few exceptions (AFSC), there has been relative silence and no loud and consistent outcry by churches, temples or synagogues in the US against our government which intends to spend more than $1 trillion to renew our oversized nuclear arsenal. Are we hypocrites or willing to affirm the motto:  

           We work on the basis of the power of love. The love of power

                       builds fences, the power of love opens doors.

Then, it is time to speak out.

The present dangerous chaos engendered in the foreign policy of the United States is widely deplored but nowhere explained.  Its critics blame the narcissism and egocentrism of Mr. Trump; but in fact this situation has been created slowly over the past 4 -7 decades by the military-industrial complex and other multinational corporations and billionaires, as well described in the book by Jane Mayer Dark Money (2016).

It is not helpful to focus on one person (like Mr. Trump) when history shows a broader context. The context requires us to look at our evolution of consciousness as demonstrated by Jean Gebser (The Ever-Present Origin), and his students (like Georg Feuerstein, Structures of Consciousness) and Jan Phillips (No Ordinary Time), as well as more recently by Mary Conrow Coelho in her Pendle Hill Pamphlet (433) “Recovering Sacred Presence in a Disenchanted World”. Gebser made clear that we are in the middle of a mutation or process of transformation towards a new integral consciousness. Human beings seem to have forgotten where they are coming from: a source of cosmic energy, a life-giving force that directs us towards the well-being of all. It all started to evolve 13.8 billion years ago, now capable to re-awaken our conscience and creativity. It is pushing us towards a new, non-dualistic integral consciousness, characterized by “spiritual intelligence and evolutionary creativity” (Jan Phillips). We must become aware that each stage of consciousness through which human beings have passed over thousands, ten thousands and millions of years was important and needs to be remembered, acknowledged and integrated into our new consciousness: the archaic one of the first hominids (symbolizing  oneness with the All), the magic one (reminding us of our oneness with nature), the mythic one (reminding us of our human capacity for imagination of the Sacred and holy Presence in us and around us), the mental/rational  one (that brought perspective, a vision of space and time and the recognition of the history of diverse cultures).

But as each stage of consciousness had positive features which need to be recovered and preserved, each one also became over time deficient, calling for a deliberate effort by human beings to transmute or transform itself into a more complex and inclusive stage. We do have a choice. Our present deficient mental/rationalistic  consciousness is best exhibited by the existence of nuclear weapons: here the originally positive realization of space (perspective) and time have led to focus on the magic point of the power of explosion, the splitting of  a small atom with enormous destructive power. Used for nuclear weapons those who invented and defended them forgot the people that are supposed to be destroyed by them. Few scientists[2] are talking about the conscience of those who developed such a weapon in the first place. Their conscience was deliberately suppressed because the curiosity of the “powerful” invention took over. The positive feature of curiosity in science was overturned and exploited by ambition, egocentrism and the idea that there could be an “enemy” who has no sacred and holy trace in him/her. The ambitious goal to control the power of the atom forgot that the whole creation and our planet with all its beauty and living beings is sacred, and needs to be honored and cared for. Our human capacity for mutual understanding and the art of non-violent communication can be learned and developed. Faith communities who believe in a Holy Source of Being which most of us call “God” are challenged to be the first to realize in their own life the new consciousness and become, as Quantum physicists have stipulated long ago, co-creators with God. As such we have been given the freedom to choose life-giving activities and tools or devices of death. We are now challenged to leave behind being “homo sapiens” (human beings who dwell in knowledge alone) to become “homo sentiens” (human beings who also “feel”, listen to their heart and soul and integrate into their actions their conscience at all times. As people of faith today, we are obliged by our conscience to speak out and act forcefully: Wars and means of violence in the nuclear age are obsolete; using the utmost power of destruction to harm and eliminate another nation would not only destroy its people and culture but also the beauty of our environment for millions of years; it would tear up the human fabric that is also capable of love.

Unless all of us learn and demonstrate in our lives the power of faith and love which build channels of non-violent communication, there is not much hope of realizing a transformation towards an integral consciousness which sews together mind and heart and soul. Many people today look cynically at our political landscape and believe that they are powerless. We are not powerless as many positive signs of the new consciousness are visible if we look for them. I am thinking of groups and organizations like URI (United Religions Initiative), Peace Action, FOR (Fellowship of Reconciliation), WAND (Women’s Association for New Directions), IPPNW (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War), Tikkun and the Network of Spiritual Progressives, the Magazine YES and many others which have demonstrated in the past and in the present that another world is thinkable, imaginable, possible and realizable. Only if we imagine and design a world and civilization of peace, with a species consciousness (David Brooks) will we overcome our present-day culture of violence and the danger of destroying our entire planet. I suggest that we organize a group of 10 million people of faith marching on Washington, demanding new elections and the creation of a caring society which works foremost for peace in the world and for a peaceful society without guns in the US.

[1] See the Documentary: Command and Control

[2] But see: Robert Jay Lifton, Eric Marcusen: THE GENOCIDAL MENTALITY, Nazi Holocaust and Nuclear Threat, Basic Books, New York 1990.

Renate Rose is a retired minister of the United Church of Christ, a retired teacher of New Testament and Worship at Sillman University Divinity School and Union Theological Seminary, the Phillipines, and a member of Massachusetts Peace Action’s Faith Communities Network. Contact her at