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A Civilized People

Editor’s Note: Below is a guest post from my brother, Brendan McCaskell. Brendan is finishing up his B.A. in Business Administration and Biblical Studies at Canadian Mennonite University. He is also a youth pastor at City Church in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Find his blog at Reformed Ramblings.


We are a people of beliefs. I believe this, you believe that and we pretend not to think that our beliefs are the correct ones. In the name of acceptance we smile and nod when someone shares a contrarian statement. Oh how civilized we are.

We are encouraged to develop our beliefs. To understand why we choose to hold on to certain items and disregard others. We are confronted daily with the task of defending and affirming our set of beliefs. When asked to articulate our understanding we do so, not attempting to persuade, merely to share with others. Yet we cry blasphemy at the idea of a just war or a lack of free will. Oh how civilized we are.

We help the least of these by participating in fair-trade and social awareness. We strive to aid the unfortunate through messages of unity and hope. Peace and justice are the bread and wine we partake in weekly. Oh how civilized we are.

We love to plant trees, ride our bikes, grow our compost, all in the name of belief. The belief that to love is to be and to be is to love. We march alongside our first nation brothers and sisters with the hope of justice. And we disregard members of our own history as intolerant fundamentalists. Oh how civilized we are.

We look upon a man who suffered much. We reach out and strike him. When he looks our way we yell in his face, “You cannot demand this from me, you worthless king.” We turn away in disgust, not at ourselves but at this lunatic for his take-it or leave-it teaching. We have to get back to protesting a war. Oh how civilized we are.

  • rumitoid

    It appears that the repeated stanza at the end of each paragraph is not a cheer for being civilized as that characteristic is embodied in the various practices mentioned. Sorry, but it is confusing. There are a few items mentioned in those paragraphs that do not appear to be lamentable while others are, and of the lamentable ones, some are clearly so and others obliquely so. War gets a repeat, and I got the sense from both of pro-war. What are you trying to say? I don’t consider myself especially dense but I am having a hard time understanding.

    • Brendan

      Read the refrain in a sarcastic(ish) tone. It will all make sense :)

      Essentially it’s a critique of how Ethics trumps the Gospel in many situations…. It was originally written for a university which emphasis pacifism and a “social gospel.” That might be why some of the meaning doesn’t hit home.

      • rumitoid

        Lol, I was reading it as satirical (‘is note a cheer,’ ‘lamentable’) that made it NOT make sense; apparently you did not get what I was saying in my comments

        I fully realized you intended the refrain as satirical (how else could anyone with a smidgeon of intellect take it?); my problem, as I believe was clearly stated in my post, was some of the characterization did not seem ‘lamentable’; the satire was lost on me. Such as, A social gospel and pacifism, for me, does not immediately and always fall under lamentable Ethics trumping the gospel but can be under Gospel. “Peace and justice are the bread and wine we partake in weekly.” Yes, for me in Christ, they are. And therein I got my difficulty with your blog. The “WE” that begins each paragraph I took as Christians, so that all the comments recognized both weaknesses and strengths in faith.


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