Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Feast of Paul Jones

Oh, goody! It's the feast of Paul Jones today! I LOVE Paul Jones, though you may find that hard to believe with my quixotic fondness for Just War theory.

Who was Paul Jones, you ask? Paul Jones was the Bishop of Utah during World War 1 who had the temerity, the nerve, to suggest that "war is unchristian." Crazy talk! Much consternation! He must be pro-German! Detrimental to the morale of the country and the witness of the church! The House of Bishops met, looked into the matter, and decided, why of course war is Christian, you silly Utah heretic. Resign! And resign he did.

I love many things about this story -- not the making Bishop Jones resign part, obviously. But I love being reminded that what is now considered commonplace thought in the Episcopal church was once decried as a dangerous innovation. I still find it astonishing to think that "peace is unchristian" was ever such a radical notion, but there it is. I love that the bishop had a spine about this, and that he accepted the consequences of his stated position rather than either try to finesse it or take the church with him. He's an excellent advocate for the "Who said life was fair?" party. I appreciate that.

Who said peace was easy, either? One of the reasons it is so rare is that it is so difficult. War is easy; just point your gun that way and shoot. Peace is hard, and Paul Jones showed us through his actions what it might cost if you actually live it out.

Paul Jones, you are the man. Now, perhaps not more than ever, but as much as ever, the collect for your feast day is something we need to hear:

Merciful God, you sent your beloved Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Raise up in this and every land witnesses who, after the example of your servant Paul Jones, will stand firm in proclaiming the Gospel of the Prince of Peace, our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

No comments: