Peacekeepers, Diplomacy and Humanitarian Aid: a Remembrance Sunday Sermon

war on warI am indebted to Joshua S. Goldstein’s book “Winning the War on War: The Decline of Armed Conflict Worldwide” and his brilliant statistical analysis and summation of the successes won by peacekeepers, diplomacy and humanitarian aid.  

Our liturgy this Remembrance Sunday was a service of lament. Our readings included a section from Elie Wiesel’s book “Night”.  Here you will find a copy of our bulletin which contains the readings as well as the words to Brian Wren’s hymn “The Horrors of Our History” with which our Choir opened our lament.  (pdf of the bulletin laid out to be printed double sided on legal paper)

5 thoughts on “Peacekeepers, Diplomacy and Humanitarian Aid: a Remembrance Sunday Sermon

  1. Dear Pastor Dawn,

    I just heard your sermon on Diplomacy, Humanitarian Aid, Peace Keeping and War.
    Very Good, Thank You. A sermon should get the ones leaving the church with something to think for the week.
    And it got me thinking.
    There are still too many war casualties even if the percentage is going down ( isn’t it awful to refer to casualties i.e women, children, men, young and old, as ” percentage” ?)
    The difference in today’s wars compared to yesterday’s is that now more and more civilians are the victims of wars. We are now back ,in some countries ,to genocides of biblical proportion
    Soldiers come back from war with post-traumatic syndromes ( which is an “improvement” because before, they came back in body bags.).
    This being said, if there are less wars now than before the total amount of money spent worldwide on armament is showing regular increases year after year. Billions of $ not available for social programs.
    Boeing, Caterpillar, Lockheed Martin, to name only three are beneficiaries of huge amounts of $ for the production and delivery of “defence” equipment and their R&D programs It also employs 000’s of people who’d be without a job if that money were to dry up.
    New weapons have to be tested and wars are ideal testing labs. Since we don’t have large wars anymore local wars will do.
    The conflicts between Israel and its neighbours in the Middle-East have been a “dream” for the past 65 years to the armament industry( Israel also manufactures and sell arms on a grand scale ). Most of the U.S $3 billion/year financial support to Israel is in fact armament sold to the Hebrew nation.
    The Military-Industrial complex that General Eisenhower warned us against in 1965 is alive and well and growing at a “healthy ” pace.
    Maybe it is time to measure our success not only in the number of wars going on but also in the amount of money counties spend on their armament industries.
    I really enjoy listening to that sermon. It hit the spot. Thank You

    • Thanks Dan: I agree that any casualties due to war are tragic. Statistics are a cruel way to measure. However, they do allow us to see that there is indeed hope. As for your point about more civilians dying in modern war…I would have agreed with you before reading “Winning the War on War”…Goldstein devotes a chapter to proving that this is a myth that developed as a result of some miscalculations of UN statistics…the statistics tell a different story…I highly recommend reading Goldstein’s book…I certain learned a great deal from his analysis…I like your point about Eisenhower’s warning..sadly precious resources continue to be wasted upon the military industrial complex!!! I live in the hope that sanely heads will eventually prevail. Shalom

      • I just finished reading Joshua Goldstein’s book” Winning the war on war”. He sure is an apologist for the U.N. It is almost as ” Out of the U.N there is no chance for peace “I found him a “” minimalist ” when it comes to record the casualties ( which make sense when your goal is to prove that we are winning the war on war. He becomes credible with chapter 9 when he reveals where he gets his numbers from, and admits of the difficulties of getting reliable numbers. In fact he could just have written a book about stating just the opposite of his thesis by taking the ” maximalist ” approach.( Sounds like The glass is half full. NO it is half empty ”
        I somewhat agree with him in general, but don’t trust him with the details. I just about jumped out of my seat when I read ( page225 ) ” Today it ( slavery ) has virtually disappeared ” Goldstein must have been living on a different planet for years, or simply in his Ivory Tower shut from reality, to make such a statement. Countries like Sudan, Chad, and most hardline Muslim nations practice slavery on a grand scale in the view of the whole World, .who’d rather not see it for political and economical reasons.
        I was thinking of giving the book to my Quaker community Library but I now hesitate because of such statement.
        I will just leave it on my booksheves for a while.
        Now I am going back to my study of Albert Schweitzer reading ” The Essence of Faith Philosophy of Religion ”
        Take care.

      • Dan, like so many difficulties, I believe that the truth likes somewhere between the extremes. Goldstein’s view does indeed have its limitations. However, it presents an extreme view as a rare counterbalance to the prevailing view and therein lies its value. Statistics are a canundrum that will continue to confound us in this age of information. Check out this link to an article on cigerettes and war:

  2. Again, Thank You for taking the time to read and answer my replies. It is very much appreciated.
    If I may say I do not agree with you when you say ” that the Truth lies somewhere between the extremes ” Extremes ARE extremes and do not represent the Truth ( whatever it is ). The truth is I believe, somewhere outside of these extremes ( I’ll think about it more….Maybe you are right. But, as usual, there is no cookie cutter formula that fits every situation ) Thank You also for the link to the guardian’s article. It is pretty lengthy. I will need time to read it and make sense out of it. There is no doubts that cigarettes ( and alcohol, both available thanks to by our Government monopoly. I.e read control of Taxes revenues disguised as morality issues by the most immoral and undemocratic form of Governments one can think about ( First Past the Post ), Outside those countries who are not afraid to say they are dictatorial) Ottawa is a dictature. Harper ( and all former PMs ) has unlimited powers and uses them as he likes. But this is a different subject. But maybe not. Churches owe their tax exempt status to Ottawa..
    I am very much looking to attend your church service. But I`ll wait until after this Christmas `madness `. In fact I am a bit surprised about your Advent blogs. Not very Emerging church in my mind, very much old church fairy tales stories to please the crowds and to avoid them to grow spiritually. Not something Bishop Spong would agree with. I’ll stick to my Quaker worship schedule. Regular meeting for worship on Dec 22 and nothing until Dec 29.. But I wish you and your congregation a Very happy Christmas.

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