The Prince of Peace

W.J. Astore

As Christmas approaches, peace is on my mind. Christ, after all, was known as the Prince of Peace. I say “was” because we hear so infrequently of peace in the United States today. In fact, peace in the U.S. seems to be contingent on enormous military budgets dedicated to weapons and warfare. It reminds me of Strategic Air Command (SAC) in the Air Force, which was prepared utterly to destroy the Soviet Union and China in the 1960s but whose motto was “peace is our profession.” Paraphrasing Tacitus, one might say that SAC was prepared to make the world an irradiated hellscape and call it “peace.”

If Christmas is to have any religious meaning, one would think it would be centered on the arrival of the Prince of Peace in the world. As a Catholic, I can’t count the number of times I recited the prayer that begins, Glory to God in the highest/and peace to His people on earth, the Gloria in adoration of Christ as a bringer of peace. By way of contrast, Easter is about the fulfillment of Christ’s mission; His death and resurrection “takes away the sins of the world,” even as we continue to implore Him to “grant us peace.”

Now that I reflect upon it, the Christian mass must be one of the few places in American culture today where we routinely hear about peace, where the idea is not mocked as fallacious or faulty or insane.

To be honest, I’m not in close contact with Christian culture today. What little I know of it confuses me and disappoints me. I can’t square the so-called Prosperity Gospel with Christ’s teachings against the corruption of earthly riches. I can’t square the evangelical emphasis on personal salvation by being born again with Christ’s command to focus on helping others in place of celebrating oneself. (OK, you’re saved; now get over yourself.) It’s so terribly easy to lose sight of the great commandments of Christianity, which boil down to loving God and loving thy neighbor.

So many Americans seem to believe they live in an exceptional nation, literally holier than other nations because of shared Judeo-Christian traditions as well as God’s special favor allegedly showered upon this “city on a hill.”

Is it OK if I say that current events (and past ones too) suggest otherwise? Garrisons across the globe bristling with weapons are not the same as a shining city on a hill. There is nothing angelic about a Predator or Reaper drone, nor is salvation to be found at any end of a Hellfire missile.

What part of “love thy neighbor” is reflected in a gargantuan war and weapons budget that officially sits just under $800 billion, and which in its total cost routinely exceeds a trillion dollars annually? Not to be presumptuous, but something tells me the Prince of Peace isn’t too happy about this.

Yes, I am stunned that there isn’t more Christian opposition to America’s war machine. I am stunned that America’s churches and ministers have made their peace, so to speak, with nuclear weapons that can destroy all of God’s creation. I am stunned that on Christmas Day, when Christians are supposed to adore Christ and to recall the miracle of His birth, that we collectively give so little thought to making peace happen, to dedicating ourselves to it in His name.

Still, I must say this about my Catholic Church and my memories of it: At least we reached out to each other to offer a sign of peace. We reached across the pews to shake hands, to share smiles, to make human contact.

Let us offer each other the sign of peace: Should this not be our gift to each other, not just this Christmas but on each and every day? What better way to adore the Prince of Peace than to spread peace?

33 thoughts on “The Prince of Peace

  1. Christopher Hitchens, quote from “God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything”……. “Violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism and tribalism and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children: organized religion ought to have a great deal on its conscience.”

    Liked by 2 people

      1. we all judge: exam papers and reports are judged; sports teams are judged; music recitals and instrumental practitioners are judged; professors are judged; infrastructural integrity is judged; beauty queen contestants and models are judged; the clothes one wears are judged; films are judged; children are judged by parents and teachers; hotels, resorts and restaurants are judged; looks and behaviour are judged; products are judged by the shop-till-you-droppers; fertility levels of animal studs are judged; food and drink comestibles are judged; JPL and NASA engineers’ designs are judged; blogs are judged; the bible is one nasty narrative about judgement; judges and juries judge everyone who is dumped into their courtrooms; canines’ flea collars are judged for their putative efficacy; poetry, books, and stage performances are judged; booze is judged… everyone everywhere is in a perpetual fugue of judging, judgement, and rug-ranking. it’s endemic to the human genome. how we react to or implement those judgements, w/out being ‘judgemental’ or cruelly critical, is the key to our peaceful accommodations of the me-me-me self-orientations in our relationships w/ others. how to do that seems an insuperable challenge.

        Like

        1. The Teaching of Jesus is against the “the me-me-me self-orientations in our relationships w/ others” if the people truly wanted a better, more loving, considerate, harmonious World.

          People are terrified of an invisible microbe called COVID, but are oblivious to the reality more People made in the Image and Likeness of God die of STARVATION, than from COVID, and that’s because of the Pyramid System of the Oligarchic Plutocracies of this MATERIAL World.

          I believe God is embodiment of Love, and Love cannot force People to Love.
          Humanity is at the point of reaping what it has sowed in the 2000 years since Christ.It’s not money that is the root of ALL Evil, but the love of money that in too many People allows them to rationalize lying, cheating, stealing, killing, and making WAR.
          Money is the god of this World

          I believe it’s more by design than co-incidence Israel did not exist when Jesus walked through Occupied Palestine, when we can see the Apartheid system of Nuclear armed temporal Zionist Israel Today, recreated from the Bible after an absence of some 2700 years!

          Like

    1. Dennis, reading the Scriptures, there is no doubt Jesus The Christ had conflicts with the Religious Establishment.
      The written Word of God deals with that, “You hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
      This people draws close to me with their mouth, and honours me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
      But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

      This is also a Warning in the written Word, “Not every one that says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.
      Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in YOUR name? and in Your name have cast out devils? and in Your name done many wonderful works?
      And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

      Clearly that tells us not everyone who calls themselves Christian is a Christian.

      In the separation of the sheep from the goats recorded in Matthew 25, what counts is not whether you call yourself Jewish, Christian or Muslim, but being a good Samaritan!

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I believe that if it wasn’t religion/theism, a different form of fanaticism or extremist belief system would take its problematic place. One might look at Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge concept of the righteous society as a scary example of this. Having said that, however, I can see how there could be no greater perceived justification for or the-end-justifies-the-means motivator of inhumane/immoral behavior than ‘the Almighty has willed it!’

      The bitter irony is that some of the best humanitarians I’ve met or heard about were/are atheists or agnostics who’d make better examples of many of Christ’s teachings than too many (whom I refer to as) institutional Christians (i.e. those most resistant to Christ’s fundamental teachings of non-violence, compassion and non-wealth). Conversely, some of the worst human(e) beings I’ve met or heard about are the most devout practitioners of institutional Christian theology.

      For example, it seems that when a public person openly fantasizes about world peace, a guaranteed minimum income and/or a clean global environment, many ‘Christians’ reactively presume he/she must therefore be Godless thus evil or, far worse, a socialist. This, despite a big chunk of Christ’s own teachings epitomizing the primary component of socialism — do not hoard morbidly superfluous wealth in the midst of poverty. …

      Many of Canada’s leading conservative politicians, not to mention our previous prime minister, are/were ideologically aligned with the pro-fossil-fuel mainstream American Evangelical community and Republican Party. They generally share the belief that to defend the natural environment from the planet’s greatest polluters, notably big fossil fuel, is to go against God’s will and therefore is inherently evil. (Might this in particular include Greta?) Some among them may even credit the bone-dry-vegetation areas uncontrollably burning, along with global warming, to some divine wrath upon collective humankind’s ‘sinfulness’. … As a believer in Christ’s unmistakable miracles, I am sad to say that this is just how upside-down so much of institutional Christianity has become.

      Liked by 7 people

      1. Most Christian America refuses to acknowledge the 1st Century Christians lived a God Led Communal Lifestyle as recorded in the Acts of The Apostles.

        And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
        And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
        Acts 2:49-50

        And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
        Acts 4:32

        Jesus went even further with the record of the workers bringing in the Harvest at the End of the World, where the labours who worked only 1 hour, were paid the same as the workers who agreed to work all day long, as described in Matthew 20.

        Fundamentally, those Literal words from the Bible describe God led Communism, Centuries ahead of the Communist Manifesto brought out in the 19th Century after Christ, when Marx, seeing the gross economic inequality between the Nobility and the Masses in 1850 London, wrote it after seeing the verses cited above in his Bible.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Well said, and I’ll keep this info. Thanx. …

          So very many have created their God’s nature in their own angry and vengeful image, especially the part insisting via publicized protest pickets that God hates this or that group of people. Often being the most vocal and covered by mainstream news-media, they make very bad examples of Christ’s fundamental message, especially to the young and impressionable.

          I believe that Christ was/is intended in large part to show humankind what Messiah ought to and needs to be; to prove to people that there really was/is hope for the many — especially for young people living in today’s physical, mental and spiritual turmoil — perceiving hopelessness in an otherwise fire-and-brimstone angry-God-condemnation creator.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. And the Lord said, To what then shall I liken the men of this generation? and what are they like?
            They are like children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and you have not danced; we have mourned to you, and you have not wept.

            For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and you say, He has a devil.
            The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and you say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a wine bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!
            But wisdom is justified of all her children.

            There is nothing new under the sun!

            Liked by 1 person

          2. From my understanding, Judaism’s messiah is reflective of the unambiguously fire-and-brimstone angry-God Almighty of the Torah, Old Testament and Quran. This thus left even John the Baptist, who believed in Jesus as the savior, troubled by Jesus’ apparently contradictory version of Messiah, notably his revolutionary teaching of non-violently offering the other cheek as the proper response to being physically assaulted by one’s enemy.

            Perhaps Jesus was viciously killed because he did not in the least behave in accordance to corrupted human conduct and expectation — and in particular because he was nowhere near to being the vengeful, wrathful behemoth so many people seemingly wanted or needed their savior to be and therefore believed he’d have to be.

            Liked by 1 person

      2. ‘ne plus ultra’ comments and peerless observations, fgsjr2015. your inputs to this site are a balm to the battle-weary. pardon my presumptiveness, but i am inserting here my end-of-year note to close friends and family that might resonate w/ some of wja’s readers… an email note from the craton of my creaturehood that i shared w/ denise:

        “as we prepare to bid a benighted 2021 goodbye, …let’s hope that the successful launching of the james webb satellite telescope will inspire our ingenious species to cooperate in constructive enterprises rather than destructive debasements and vitiations. w/ lasered focus, sedulous work, and international goodwill, our clever cranial structures will be able to steer us toward misericordia and compassion throughout 2022 and beyond… all the way across our beleaguered planet… until the next stellar nursery begins her cyclical journey to the birthing of another galactic bairn swirling around its own black hole of quondam ingenuities.

        may the buddha, the vedic hymns, the ‘prince of peace’, the allah, the gods-of-good, tomdispatch, william astore, julian assange, suhad babaa, and the upanishads [among others] be your cynosures.”

        Liked by 3 people

        1. I believe that numerous Christians even find inconvenient, if not annoying, trying to reconcile the conspicuous inconsistency in the fundamental nature of the New Testament’s Jesus with the wrathful, vengeful and even jealous nature of the Old Testament’s Creator.

          While I do not believe that God (whom I perceive as not being in humanoid/singular form nor with gender) required blood and pain ‘payment’, from Jesus or anyone else, I do know that the creator’s animals have had their blood literally shed and bodies eaten in mindboggling quantities by Man. And maybe the figurative forbidden fruit of Eden eaten by Adam and Eve was actually God’s four-legged creation. I can see that really angering the Almighty, and a lot more than the couple’s eating non-sentient, non-living, non-bloodied fruit. I’ve noticed that mainstream Christianity doesn’t speak up much at all about what we, collectively, have done to animals for so long.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. numinous comments, fgsjr2015. would we be too naive to imagine all members of our species’ becoming vegetarians in both brain and body, followed by a nod of gratitude to the flora that feeds and nourishes us? if we collectively abjure spilling the blood of other animals, will that eventually translate into massive anti-war movements, b/c engaging in war against ‘the other’ will then seem so repugnant that spilling others’ blood, the blood of of human animals, will transform our spirits and guide us away from war… or away from the intractable notion that war-mongering is the answer to resolving disputatious issues of economics, geopolitics, resource extractions, and religiosity?

            given our history over millennia, i would have to conclude ‘naiveté’ is the operative word for hopefuls like us. when endeavouring to intervene in 2 muscle-bound, bloodied sierra leoneans attacking each other w/ knives on a beach near our house in adonkia, over the placement of their nets, w/ crowds of sierra leonean fishermen surrounding them, i ended up bloodied myself. war, large-scale or small-scale, is endemic to our genotype, even if we all abrogated fauna from our diets.

            Like

    3. Christ was not contemptuous toward Women. He was much more Liberal with Women than the Culture of the Time accepted as a norm.

      Christianity does not think deeply enough on the Biblical History the Resurrected Christ appeared to Women before he appeared to his Male Disciples.
      From that Time, it took until 1920 before Women got the Vote.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. You’re right, very little discussion of “peace” nowadays which is incongrous in light of the seemingly vast number of “peace” groups/organizations. It seems that if all these groups would join ranks and lobby hard for peace (ie lower military budgets, getting rid ofafew of our thousands of nuclear weapons, etc, etc) there might be some impact. But doesn’t look like it will ever happen.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Right you are, Lester. The same is true of environmentalists, animal rights activists, and so on. If all the dozens of groups working for various causes would overlook small differences and emphases and unite, there’s nothing that couldn’t be accomplished.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Denise, this idea, “there’s nothing that couldn’t be accomplished.” comes from the ancient record of the Tower of Babel, the Beginning of the Nations some 4350 years ago according to Bible History.

        And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
        And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
        And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar.
        And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.

        And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men built.

        And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

        THE TOWER OF BABEL & THE BEGINNING OF NATIONS

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, much as I agree with Christopher Hitchens (may he rest in peace) – quite a lot – I don’t entirely agree that religion poisons everything and am closer to Mr. Astore’s position.
    Trouble is, America is not a religious country (only fake religion on the whole), not a democracy but a plutocracy or oligarchy and basically a terrorist state whose only true God is Mammon.
    There are some Christian or almost Christian groups – the historic ‘peace churches’, like the Quakers and the Mennonites, which do campaign and protest for peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Mr. Astore:

    Namaste, Salam, Shalom, Peace, Paz, Solh, Pyeongwha, Mir, Heping, Heiwa, Fred, Paix, Alafia!

    A new Global Peace Movement is planned for 2022 to promote peace everyday as you asked for! It is designed to be different to capture and keep the attention of the media — and the PEOPLE. It is a people movement.

    Cop26 opened the door for a people movement. Sec-General Guterres set the stage with a call for a Global Cease-Fire! Guterres’s one act is the most profound and important global actions because stopping war AFFECTS ALL ISSUES!

    The plan is an anti-war movement but it is also a movement of GOOD WILL – promoting kindness, generosity, compassion, and genuine caring! The new narrative will be to “ask” people everywhere to commit to nonviolence and to commit to working together for humanity — helping others.

    The world needs a peace movement to create trust and respect between nations and people to ultimately lead to the reallocation of military spending to “Humanitarian, Covid, and Climate” needs, as you have asked for many times. We must act now! Our children’s future is at stake.

    Thank you.

    Peace and Love,
    Andre Sheldon
    Director, Global Strategy of Nonviolence
    Andre (at) GlobalStrategyofNonviolence.org

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Develop a relationship with peace and love….
    Thanks for the most excellent of tips to close out another year of living. It is the wisest choice. Here’s to way more peace and love …
    Together they are the strongest of forces and to those who cast their lot with the forces of aggression, know this. You have invested in a commodity that is temporal. Love is eternal and best part about it… love never fails. Apply peace and love liberally everywhere; sprinkle it on every activity you engage…
    The differences will be amazing…To all who have bothered to take the time to read the thoughts from this mind I lug around…
    May Peace Love Gratitude grow in your garden paradise wherever you create it…May you come to know…
    You are wonderfully made in the image of peace and love … Believe!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for the Blessing UTEJACK.
      The Apostle Paul, who never met Jesus in the flesh, was converted from being extremely anti-Christ to the most persuasive Advocate for Christ.
      He described Love by these letters. People of the free choice of living by it.

      Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not Love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
      And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not Love, I am nothing.
      And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profits me nothing.

      Love suffers long, and is kind; Love envies not; Love vaunts not itself, is not puffed up,
      Does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil;
      Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the Truth;
      Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

      Love never fails: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
      For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
      But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
      When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

      For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
      And now abides Faith, Hope, Love, these three; but the greatest of these is Love.
      1Corinthians 13

      Liked by 2 people

  6. After hearing rumblings online about January 6, I wrote and sent this to our local newspaper, which they published January 1:

    Oh, little spawn of Abraham, how shall we hear Thee now?
    Mary, did you know your little boy would be the Reason for the Season?
    And His name shall be called …. “The Prince of Peace?”
    “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” — the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in 1958.
    “There can never be peace between nations until there is first known that peace which is within the souls of men” — attributed to Black Elk, Oglala Lakota medicine man.
    What is in our heart of hearts …that the same Freedom we crave belongs to all of Humanity — freedom from oppression, freedom of worship, freedom of expression, freedom of choice, freedom of assembly … there ought to be a law! Patriots All!
    Schisms with our Isms, Dueling Ideologies
    Conning the Economy….Recession….Secession
    Suspicion.. Sedition.. Violating Jim Crow Tradition — “Lynch Him”
    He Broke the Laws — “Impeach Him”
    But her emails…. — “Lock Her Up”
    Challenging the Powers That Be… Blasphemy — “Crucify Him”
    Apathy….Malarkey….Hierarchy….Oligarchy….Anarchy
    Armed Boogaloo Bois wearing Aloha shirts; Armed Proud Boys, Standing Back and Standing By
    Colin Kaepernick takes a knee to protest police violence against Black Americans.
    Officer Derek Chauvin takes a knee to George Floyd’s neck until Mr. Floyd can no longer breathe and dies, while three other police officers — sworn keepers of Peace — looked on, did nothing…. sparking international outrage and months of protests and demonstrations.
    And the insidious undesirous virus invades without civility.
    Whoever envisioned Twenty-Twenty to look like this ought to have their foresight examined.
    Blessed are the Peacemakers — where have all the Peacemakers gone?
    Ohhh, right: Jesus of Nazareth, Abraham Lincoln, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Yitzhak Rabin, Anwar Sadat, JFK & RFK, four Gandhis — Indira and Mahatma and Mohandas and Rajiv; Joan of Arc, Benazir Bhutto, Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores, and on and on and on….
    “If a movement can be stopped by waiting for a leader to arise and then killing them, we are in trouble.”
    ‘Tis the Season for REASON – “Come now, and let us reason together…” (Isaiah 1:18)
    Let us affirm the 90% of our common values, and respect and set aside our differences — Demonstrate… Remonstrate… Collaborate… Cooperate… Celebrate
    In his Dec. 15 letter to TGI, Steve Backinoff asked us to remember on Jan. 18, 2021 — the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday this year — to keep making progress towards fulfilling King’s dreams. Here are some of King’s quotes:
    • “Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”
    • “And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.”
    • “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”
    • “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
    • “Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.”
    • “Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge, which is power; religion gives man wisdom, which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals.”
    • “The time is always right to do what is right.”
    • “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
    • “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
    • “If America does not use her vast resources of wealth to end poverty and make it possible for all of God’s children to have the basic necessities of life, she too will go to hell.” — March 18, 1968, two weeks before he was assassinated.
    * * * * * * * * * * * *
    https://www.thegardenisland.com/2021/01/01/opinion/voices-an-impassioned-plea-for-peace/

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Christianity. I was brought up in it to the point of being confirmed, but it seemed disconnected from reality. Being in church listening in boredom to a sermon, I couldn’t help but look at the decor and think how fantastic (of a fantasy) it was.

    I like the way black churches and Jewish synagogues can have no problem with setting up in storefronts. That makes the meeting place in the physical sense an ordinary part of the everyday world.

    Happy holidays to all!

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s