Thoughts on Nuclear Disarmament from Bishop Swing

25 August 2010

65 years ago the first atomic bomb was dropped on a mostly civilian population on Hiroshima.  August 6, 1945.  Two days later, August 8, the second atomic bomb was dropped. Nagasaki.  It is morally, spiritually, environmentally important that we remember the birth of the atomic age and to be cognizant of the possibilities of the eventual end of the atomic age.  

Secretary George Shultz, Stanford nuclear physicist Dr. Sidney Drell, Ambassador James Goodby, non-proliferation expert, Dr. Jonathan Granoff and several others from around the world have come together to create a Cooperation Circle of the United Religions Initiative.  A “Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons” is the title of this URI Cooperation Circle.  These senior experts have taken the nuclear threat to heart.  They know that the atomic age will end either in the conflagration of this Earth or the elimination of nuclear weapons.  One way or other.  As nuclear weapons proliferate, as nuclear knowledge and fissile materials are sold world wide, the odds of conflagration move inexorably higher. Rather than wait to be blown to Kingdom come in the future, these people are working to eliminate the threat to the Earth here and now.  To avoid this issue and allow some government, some leader, some blow out preventer to give us assurance that we are gong to be all right is unacceptable global citizenship for these folks.  This planet must be saved and that requires an aroused world.

You who have heard me before might question: isn’t the United Religions Initiative made up of grassroots people?  Secretary Shultz and Ambassador Goodby are hardly grassroots.  Yes, URI is made up of grassroots people of religions.  None of these folks are religious leaders.  Instead they are grassroots Jews, Hindus, Christians, humanists coming together under URI’s purpose to create “cultures of peace, justice and healing for the earth and all living beings.”  Their amateur status in religion helps them to reach out to believers of all stripes to say, “For God’s sake, for the sake of God’s creation, for the sake of your unborn great grand children, destroy these weapons before these weapons destroy us.

Desmond Tutu in his whimsical way says, “This year the nuclear bomb turns 65 – an appropriate age by international standards for company retirement.”  And then he goes on to say, “We just need to think outside the bomb.”  To think outside the bomb, the box, the Book.  How to do that?  Well . . . imagine what heaven must be like, and then get busy creating it on Earth.  That’s the way that Jesus thought outside the box, and that’s the way he taught us to pray in the Lord’s Prayer. “Thy Kingdom come on Earth . . . as it is in Heaven.”  You want to save the world?  Listen to the heavenly music.  Practice heavenly mercy.  Engage in heavenly hospitality.  Give priority to heavenly healing.  Reach accords with your enemies on earth as you will have to in heaven.

Seek first the Kingdom of God, as our lesson says today, and the things of this world will fall into place.  Jesus did not teach us to pray for our personal salvation.  He wanted us to care for and pray for our planet and all living beings.  “Thy Kingdom come on Earth.”  Not in the great by and by.  Here.  Let the Earth be infused with the values and visions of Heaven, as your best self can imagine or learn about Heaven.  

Warren Buffet and Bill Gates got together this week with forty or their fellow billionaires and they all pledged to give away half of their worth to charity.  What a Kingdom of Heaven concept!  Life is not primarily about accumulation.  Life is about hopping on board of Kingdom causes, charities that help save the planet.  These folks are looking around this week looking for Kingdom causes that are worthy of investments.  And when you save the Earth, you save your soul.  This vocation of charity now adopted by the billionaires is the same kind of vocation of charity that Jesus requires of all of us.  As our lesson today says, seek first the Kingdom of Heaven, and the priorities and needs of your life will fall into place.

At the Freshman Orientation assembly of the Boston Conservatory, the Director of Music, Karl Paulnack said, “I expect you not only to master music; I expect you to save the planet.  If there is a future wave of wellness on this planet, of harmony, of peace, of an end to war, I don’t expect it to come from a government, I no longer even expect it to come from the religions of the world – which together seem to have brought us as much war as peace – If there is a future of peace for human kind, I expect it will come from the artists, because that’s what we do.”

Good for Karl Paulnack.  He sees the artists’ task is to save the world.  I’d say he’s got the Lord’s Prayer down pat.  “Thy Kingdom come on Earth as it is in Heaven.”  That’s what mastering music does.

On the other hand, unlike Karl, I haven’t given up on religions having a vocation of healing the Earth.  We have just been looking for love in all the wrong places.  Don’t look at the top of religions.  Look down.  It is at the ordinary believer’s level, the grassroots, the amateurs of faith who practice for the love of their faith, not the power that could be exploited through faith.  It is at the grassroots where folks realize that we have got to get along together for the sake of civilized life.  If the grassroots believers of all traditions can find each other and work together, if there can be more peace among religions than we have now, it will change world history.  And hope for the Earth will blossom in a plethora of places.  I see a Heaven where all the people of all the faiths will discover that they are family.  Kin folks.  And I have committed every ounce of my life to make sure that this vision of Heaven takes root on Earth.  And, I might add, we are getting there.  In 1993 it was just me and a vision of Heaven.  Today, by the grace of God, we impact two and one half million people in 77 countries, on a daily basis.  The latest countries to create Cooperation Circles are Somalia, Iran, and Iraq.  This is until this weekend when Secretary George Shultz and Dr. Sidney Drell and others created a URI Cooperation Circle to save the world from nuclear annihilation.  Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons.  Find your voice . . . Save the world.

Jesus said to any who will listen, seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and all the rest of your life will fall into place.  And Jesus taught us to pray in the Lord’s Prayer saying, “Thy Kingdom come . . . on Earth as it is in Heaven.”  Amen.