Goodbye to My Nuclear Days

fe71438f-d663-40bd-b19f-6e7ddb8ab904-1472x2040From the mid-1980s through the early 1990s, I devoted my research and writing to the nuclear arms race and nonviolent responses to it. The mid-eighties marked the height of the Cold War. The U.S. and the Soviet Union were locked in an arms race that our government referred to as (I kid you not) “MAD.”

The acronym stood for Mutually Assured Destruction.

The strategic theory behind MAD was that if both nations had enough nuclear bombs to totally annihilate the other country and its inhabitants, then neither nation would push the button—because even after a first strike by one side, the other side was capable of launching a second strike in retaliation. Second strike capability was housed mostly in nuclear submarines that cruised the ocean floors.

By 1988, the U.S. had about 23,5000 nuclear bombs in reserve, the U.S.S.R about 33,000. Overkill, to put it euphemistically. [Read more…]

Let All Tend Inward to Me

Another presidential campaign season is upon us, with all its ugly divisiveness and demonizing of politicians who don’t share one’s own views. How is a Christian to live out Jesus’ command to love one another (John 13:34) in such times?

In the early 1980s, as a newly baptized Catholic, I plunged into a study of the spirituality of nonviolence. What pushed me was a pastoral letter issued by the U.S. Catholic Bishops in May, 1983: The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response, written in the context of the Cold War’s nuclear arms race. As a baby Catholic, I soaked in every word of the first official church document I’d read. What especially struck me, and with revelatory force, was the bishops’ assertion that nonviolence “best reflects the call of Jesus both to love and to justice.”

[Read more…]