by Joe Scarry
NATO is coming to Chicago. How will we, as a faith community, engage with this historic event? Is St. Luke’s Logan Square a place where we can work together to understand NATO, militarism, and how conflicts can be resolved without violence?
The NATO summit happens to fall on May 20 — Ascension Sunday — the day when we remember that, despite all these earthly kings and princes, we as Christians turn our primary allegiance to God. We are planning a joint worship with our fellow Logan Square congregations — First Lutheran Church, Humboldt Park United Methodist, and Kimball Avenue Evangelical Church — and others, for Ascension Sunday. But beyond a one-day engagement with these matters, can we have a more sustained conversation?
One way may be through film. Many members of St. Luke’s have participated in screening and discussing films as part of our “Social Justice Film Series,” including a film about indefinite detention at Guantanamo and efforts to reduce community violence here in Chicago . On May 6, we will have the opportunity to look at the experience of the WWII-era Lutheran theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed by the Nazis for his acts of resistance. We will be screening and discussing Martin Doblmeier’s film “Bonhoeffer”. Our guests for the discussion will include people knowledgeable about modern-day resisters against militarism, such as Bradley Manning. (Visit our Facebook event page for more details.)
Another forum is our adult education (9 a.m. on Sundays). Starting this Sunday (April 22), we will embark on a four-week study of some questions about NATO, militarism, and how conflicts can be resolved without violence:
- Why was NATO created? What has changed since the days immediately following WWII, when NATO was formed? (We will look at the narrative that we have inherited about NATO.)
- What is the role of confessions of faith in helping us figure out how to live in a world of state power? Do Lutherans have something special to bring to the discussion about the confrontation between earthly power and individual faith? (In particular, the Small Catechism )
- What happens when we witness an unequivocal evil in the world? Does it then become time to take action, even if that means using violence and risking unintended consequences? (An examination of NATO intervention in Kosovo.
- Does high-tech, highly-mechanized, at-a-distance (e.g. drone) warfare plunge us into moral peril? Have we forgotten that we are now all part of the “kill chain?” (Examination of the problem of drones.
We hope that, through our shared community, we can all attain a greatly expanded understanding of the significance of NATO, of our own responsibility for addressing the growing militarism in the world, and for coming up with ways that conflicts can be resolved without violence. We also hope, through our example, to engage in conversation with other congregations in our neighborhood and throughout Chicago — and, in fact, everywhere! — about these issues and how faith communities can take them up.