Monday, March 28, 2016

The Violent Pacifist View of War

I'm a pacifist and I've never served in the military. I wasn't always a pacifist. I used to be in favor of some violence. I mean, just look at WWII. Obviously somebody had to stop Hitler, and violence was the only option!
But then, while in seminary, I studied the theory of just war, and read and listened to some of C.S. Lewis' arguments in favor of war. His arguments were so bad that as I listened, I couldn't help but correct him in my mind. And as I read the material, the Holy Spirit convicted me.

While I am still violent, I know now that violence is wrong FOR ME. I respect the military. I am grateful for their sacrifices. But I believe that any government that is forced to wage war has fundamentally failed. God always provides us a peaceful alternative to war. Reading the Gathering Storm by Winston Churchill has confirmed that belief in me. I like to joke that the subtitle to Churchill's book should be: "101 Ways to Avoid WWII With Zero Bloodshed."
But here's what really drives me crazy about war. We like to pretend that war has rules. We like to pretend that war is just one of many "civilized" options to resolve disputes.

Any time your dispute requires the death of others for resolution, you have left civilization and God's will.

Case in point: at one point in 1939, the German navy rescued a number of British sailors. Those sailors were in need of rescue because a German ship had bombed their ship. In other words, while the sailors were on the ship, Germany tried to kill them, but as soon as they were in the water, Germany decided to save their lives. This makes NO sense in terms of war. The goal was to eliminate the British resistance, in part by killing British soldiers. Furthermore, at this point in history, Germany had already begun mass killings, euthanizing adults and children who were mentally deficient. Why on earth would they invest resources in keeping enemy combatants alive?

The whole concept of rules in warfare, rules often proclaimed by the Geneva Convention, is just a way for us to avoid the harsh reality of war: that we are determined to kill other men, women, and children in order to be proven right.

Now, I understand that sometimes your war strategy might best be served by keeping enemy combatants alive. But if it doesn't serve your strategy, then why are you doing it? Why do we pretend that war has rules?

This is why I'm a "violent" pacifist. I believe that if one is going to wage war, one should do it no holds barred. This is how I play chess - screw the strategy, bring on the killing. This is quite possibly why God told me to be a pacifist, because I am too violent!

In the end, I understand that sometimes violence is the only solution. I believe that the death of millions of soldiers achieved a good result: the defeat of Hitler. Their deaths were not in vain, and they were, sadly, necessary. But I believe that there is always a peaceful solution. We can avoid war. And we should.

Monday, March 7, 2016

5 StitchFix Items Enter, How Many Leave?

Hurrah! My March Fix arrived! I deliberately scheduled it for this month because March is the hardest month for me. I knew having a box of cute clothes suited to me would be a great pick me up, and I was right. After all, I have worn the HECK out of the 5 items from my last fix.

First, StitchFix is a personal stylist program that I adore. You schedule a box of 5 items to arrive (you are in charge of frequency and timing). A stylist looks at your style info (submitted when you joined the program). If you have a Pinterest style board, the stylist looks there too, and I find that to be a GREAT tool. She assembles your Fix and ships it to you. You have up to 3 days to decide if you're buying anything. Whatever you don't buy goes back: whatever you keep you pay for. If you return them all you only pay a $20 styling fee (but double check that number). AND if you buy all 5 items (like I did last time) you get a discount!

You really should TRY IT OUT! (I'll get a discount if you use this link).

Without further ado, here is this month's FIX.

This adorable dress comes straight from my Pinterest style board. I love a good wrap dress and had high hopes.

Sadly, the fit is just not right. Dresses tend to only fit one half of my body, top or bottom. This one fit the bottom fairly well, although the wrap construction had some extra fabric in the abdomen that I didn't care for. But it was too big on top, causing the dreaded dark cavern reveal if I bent over.

The dress itself is very cute, but the fit just doesn't work for me at all.

LOOK at this skirt!! I love it! Words cannot express how much I love this floral pencil skirt in a soft stretchy fabric with cute quilting detail and plain black waistband. I wore it with a blue Fix top and with an existing pink shirt of mine.

This skirt is a no brainer to keep. Perfect fit, lovely colors, comfy fabric. The black band and texture keep it from being too sweet or little girl. I can tell I'll be wearing this to church and to meetings non stop. I like how it matches the pink top I already own. I can also wear black with it.

Also, the cute blue top. Let's talk about that. It's a great weight, very loose and light. Although the fabric is very thin, you can't see through it, as proven by the fact that I'm wearing a very dark bra in these photos. The armpits are cut just right: not too big or small. I'm not crazy about the fact that when I put my arms up (WonderWoman pose) I get that puckering across my chest, but it's not a big deal. Certainly not a big enough deal to keep me from loving the shirt. 

Here's the top with jeans, untucked. It has a nice curved tail and I think it looks good with denim.

Next up is the dotted swiss shirt with built in undershirt. You'll see my bra straps, because, as I mentioned before, I'm wearing a dark bra. I think it's worth noting that the undershirt completely hides the bra. So excellent coverage. Of course I'll wear a flesh colored bra when I wear this shirt out and about.

You'll also notice some delicate silver earrings, the final item in my Fix. They are very cute and trendy, but I have an EXTENSIVE costume jewelry collection, so I don't need any more earrings.

 This combination shirt is not my typical style, but I do really like it. This is a great summer piece, cool enough for our hot summers but providing a bit of coverage for our freezing air conditioning. I was a little worried that the undershirt would ride up, but it stayed put very well. I really wanted this blouse to work with the amazing skirt, but it didn't quite. Still, it will be perfect with summer slacks, of which I have a lot. This is a good date night shirt, work shirt, or coffee date shirt.

So, all in all, a great set of items!
Earrings: $28, going back to avoid dying a lonely death surrounded by all my other cute silver earrings.

Wrap Dress: $138, going back for poor fit.

Turquoise blouse: $44, keep. Price is a bit high but I'll wear this thing ALL the time.

Swiss dot blouse: $68, on the fence. The price is high. I'll try it on again, but I"m leaning towards keep.

Quilted Skirt: $64, keep. I adore this and the price is perfect.

Agree? Disagree? Want to get in on the fun? Use THIS referral link!

A Trump Presidency? I'll be OK.

Today’s Bible readings about all about God’s restoration and renewal. God has held me strongly in this winter season. I can’t remember the last time I felt this good in March. God is my protector and my shield. I trust in God and in God alone. During the chaos of the impending election, it is good to remember that no politician represents God to me. I live in a country that is NOT a theocracy. I do not need any politician to try and enforce God’s will. Instead, I am free to act according to my own conscience. I can question politicians freely, regardless of party affiliation, because my hope is not in party politics but in the Lord. Frankly, it could be a relief if someone as opposed to Christ’s message as Trump is would win. Because then, finally, Christians could pull their heads out of the sand and stop depending on government to make things “right.” Instead of asking the government to criminalize abortion, we could work in our communities to make abortion unnecessary. How? Not by preaching abstinence or rape avoidance, but by preaching the beauty of consensual sex, by holding men accountable for their sexual acts, and by providing real support and love to mothers of ALL kinds. Instead of asking the government to raise the minimum wage, we could work in our communities to hold businesses accountable for providing a living wage to employees. And we could further demonstrate our commitment to that living wage by paying fair prices for products instead of buying the lowest price. Instead of asking the USDA to create more laws about labeling, we could work in our communities to eat locally and pay a fair price for food. 
I know, I know, this is crazy talk. Why should anyone take setting the world right as a personal task? Who ever said that was our personal job? I can’t set the world aright by my own actions. But maybe I’m not supposed to. Maybe I’m just supposed to set my own community as right as possible. After all, God decided that the best way to reach out and redeem us was by sending one single solitary limited human, one with no superpowers, in the middle of a time when there was no global broadcast capability.

God intends the work of redemption to be personal, not national.

And so I seek peace during this election year by remembering that it is not up to me to save the USA. If Trump or Cruz or Clinton or Sanders wins the Presidency, it is not my job to adore, respect, or unconditionally support him/her. It is my job to pray for her or him. It is my job to work within her or his context to make my local community the Kingdom of God.