At the Threshold published an email message while the debate was taking place over a proposed unilateral strike against Syria. That posting led a friend of the author to respond and the exchange that took place between them is directly reflective of the sort of exchanges that must have been taking place in the international corridors of power. For the present proposals conform rather remarkably to the analysis and conclusions that can be found within the conversation between the author and the friend.

A recap:

We began with this declaration: Christianity is opposed to war. Then we went on to acknowledge that the church does make allowance for war if it meets certain standards. Two of the standards for a just war are: (1) that it will be effective for its intended purposes and (2) that there is no alternative in the face of a direct threat to national security. Additionally, we recognized the pragmatic reality: Lasting results do not come of war but ultimately must be worked out diplomatically and politically. Read More…


Christianity is opposed to war. That is where any consideration about going to war or using the weapons and instrumentalities of war must begin for Christians.

At the beginning of its history the church did not allow Christians to participate in killing of any sort, including the actions of soldiers. Before being baptized, a soldier would have to leave military service. In due course the church mitigated its absolutist position and made allowance for war if it meets certain standards. Two of the standards for a just war are: (1) that it will be effective for the security and justice it seeks to establish or maintain and (2) that there is no alternative way to effect the justice that is sought, absolutely, whatsoever, under any circumstances.

In this case the first question should be: Does the limited military action proposed by President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry meet these two standards?

As is patently obvious, the answer is no.

The second question should be:  Does the argument that the proposed use of force will act as a deterrent to both this tyrant and others meet these two standards?

The answer may be less obvious, but it is clearly no.

Comment here.

Is the church relevant in England but irrelevant in America?
Except when the issue involves a woman’s right to choose or the rights of gay couples to marry, it is not at all clear that the church ecumenical has a voice in the deliberations that take place in the corridors, committee rooms or on the floor of the Congress. Catholic senators and congress-people will have heard Pope Francis’ strong denunciation of U.S. plans to attack Syria but none seem to be heeding it, let alone acting on it.  In England it was obvious that the opposition voiced by the Archbishop of Canterbury had a significant impact on the decision, but in America, will the voice of the church be heard? Read More…


By Bruce Sloan

Rev. Bruce Sloan

Rev. Bruce Sloan

Some major international financial newspapers have given the lead on the need of war with Syria. The Vatican called for a day of prayer for peace. Politicians around the world are looking at each other as they read tea leaves to see what their constituents desire.

In all of the tragedy unfolding in Syria, the plight of the two million homeless Syrians, the hundreds of bodies wrapped in white linen from the sarin gas attack, and the streaming of blood-covered news accounts of the war within Syria, the church in the United States has enjoyed the comfort of liturgical readings, heavenly incense and the Daily Office.

The Financial Times of London recently headed its opinion page: “The moral case for intervention in Syria.” The drum of business beats that “to do nothing” is the worst decision of all. This is from a Sept. 1article in the Wall Street Journal: “Leading From Behind Congress, Obama recklessly gambles with American credibility.” War is good for business and so “Congress should give the President more ability to respond to reprisals, support the Syrian opposition and assist our allies if they are attacked.”

After a very gracious bow to Queen Rania of Jordan, Pope Francis issued a challenging sermon on the following Sunday for peace in the Syrian conflict. Read More…


Why a man serving 28 years to life at the Attica Correctional Facility believes a few simple laws could significantly affect criminal behavior

By John Lennon, The Atlantic

It was swift and cowardly.

Defenseless, distracted by music, Alex sat in the passenger seat of the rental as I made my way to the trunk. I remembered Frankie’s words: “It’s loaded, cocked, and the safety is off. All you have to do is pull the trigger.” Read the full article here.