Shuck and Jive

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Peace March: More News!

Monkey Muck has more pics and story in his excellent report, This is What Democracy Looks Like, Part 2! Read Part 1 first!

Also, check out ConcernedTNCitizens
And DemocracyNowTricities

Here is the account in The Johnson City Press with more great pics!

The Star of the show was a GW Bush puppet complete with six-gun and money bag! The guy with the red cap was his creator!

As promised, here is the text of my speech. It is a lot better heard than read.

To liven it up, I have interspersed it with pictures Monkey Muck took at the march and rally. At some point, I think there will be a website that will have audio for the speeches.

Use Your Voice!
John Shuck
Peace March and Rally
September 22nd, 2007

Thank you, Sandra. Thank you for your tireless energetic persistent work for peace. Thank you for providing this forum in which our voices may be heard.

Thanks to all of you for being here today. It is good to see you. More importantly, it is good to hear you!

You are in good voice this afternoon!

If there is one message I hope to make clear today, it is this:

Do not ever underestimate the power of your voice. Do not underestimate the power of one voice. Do not underestimate the power of the voice that cries out for peace and justice in the wilderness of violence and deception!

Your voice has power!

Your voice has power, but only when it is used.

But you can use your voice only when you feel that you have no other choice. There is a phrase for those who are going through recovery:

We will only change when we realize that the pain of remaining the same is greater than the pain of change.

We will only use our voices for peace and justice when we finally realize that it is too painful not to speak out.

There is pain in speaking out. I can think of a lot of things to do with my Saturday. I am sure that you can as well. I don’t want to anger people who may disagree with me. I don’t want to put myself at risk.

But I have reached the point where it is too painful not do so!

Have you reached that point yet? Are you sick enough of our situation to speak out? Have we realized yet that we are addicted to a way of living that is killing Earth?

Before I came to my current church, I had to fill out a resume with a number of questions. One of the questions read: “What your most important theological question?”

I answered, I am 42, (I am 46 now, but at the time I was 42). I am 42, my nephew Hunter is 1. The most important theological question is this: “What will the world be like when Hunter is 42?”

What will the world be like when entering freshmen at ETSU are my age or your age? What kind of world are we leaving them? What kind of vision do we have?

How sick are we? Here is how sick and addicted we are:

The United States makes up four percent of the world's population. The United States consumes 25% of the world’s oil.

If every human being on Earth lived the lifestyle of the average American, we would need four planets worth of resources to sustain us. Four planets worth. We have one planet.

The neocons know this. Cheney, Wolfowitz and the gang. They know this reality. They further believe that Americans cannot possibly give up their way of living. “The American Way of Life,” said George Bush, Sr. “is non-negotiable.”

The neocons have a vision. It is the vision of Empire.

Here is their vision statement from the Project for the New American Century:

The Project for the New American Century is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to a few fundamental propositions:

that American leadership is good both for America and for the world; and that such leadership requires military strength, diplomatic energy and commitment to moral principle.

Notice the word, “moral.” Moral is a code word for being blessed by God. We Americans are better people than those who live in other countries. So they need our protection, our benevolence, and most importantly our military presence.

We have a military presence. We spend more on our military than the next 20 nations combined. The United States has over 700 military bases 130 countries. I am not sure I can even name 130 countries. That is Empire.

Just last week, the mainstream press reported that another base is being constructed in Iraq on the Iranian border.

We are told that progress is being made in Iraq.
Be patient, we will win. We are making the world safe for democracy. Meanwhile more and more die, and there is no end in sight.

In the time of Jesus, the Romans thought they were divinely inspired. Virgil in his Aeneid “claims that the divinely willed destiny of Aenas is to ‘bring all the world beneath his laws’ in order that ‘glorious Rome shall extend her empire to earth’s ends, her ambitions to the skies.’

Rome will rule because Rome is good and blessed by the gods.

Octavian, who united Empire just a few decades before the birth of Jesus was divinized. He became the Divine Augustus Caesar who brought peace to Rome and quiet to the provinces.

Jesus experienced that “peace.” He knew that peace for the elite of Rome meant violence and oppression for the poor. It was peace for the few at the expense of the many.

Historical Jesus scholar, John Dominic Crossan put it simply:

Jesus was executed by Empire. What does it mean for us to follow Jesus when we live in an Empire?

It means, like Jesus, we must use our voices. When we do, we will be met with opposition. We must respond to opposition with resistance. We must resist with the power of nonviolence.

Now, I apologize if I appear to be offering too much “Jesus talk.” I know I am speaking to a secular audience. However, we live in a Jesus-saturated part of the country and in a Jesus-saturated nation.

Yet Jesus has been shackled by the neocons and by Christian dominionists who want to equate the Christian faith with the American Empire.

That is blasphemy.
It is not good for Christianity.
It is not good for America.

It is not good for the world.

A friend of mine, Doug Hagler, a seminary student, wrote the following reflection.

He first quotes Jesus from Matthew 5:43-44:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:43-44).

Here is how the Christianity of Empire has decided to interpret these words from Jesus:

Love your enemies
love them with cluster bombs
love them with depleted Uranium rounds
love them with daisy cutters
love them with guided missiles
love them with sanctions, prisons, torture

Pray for your enemies
pray for them while they weep, while they burn
pray for the dead, innocent and otherwise
pray for the orphans, the widows, the widowers
pray for the shattered homes
pray for their warlords and roadside bombs
(pray they'll never ask us why)
(pray we'll never have to answer)

With so much love
with so many prayers
how can we possibly be wrong?

That is what happens when we clothe Jesus in the trappings of Empire. We legitimate Empire. We legitimate violence, war, and torture as if that is something Jesus would bless.

The Biblical tradition, the tradition of the prophets is a tradition of the Word, a tradition of the Voice.

When in the prophet Isaiah’s time, the powers of Empire were expanding their kingdom, making progress, and justifying it by being moral and godly, the prophet stood up and he used his voice:

Ah, you who join house to house,
who add field to field,
until there is room for no one but you,
and you are left to live alone
in the midst of the land!

He could have been speaking to us.

He could have been speaking to Empire builders, who believed wrongly that peace is the product of war. The vision of Empire is patriotically packaged and religiously legitimated.

This war is wrong. This war was and still is illegal, immoral, and unjust.
It has cost the people of Earth tens of thousands perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives, Nearly ½ of a trillion dollars.
And it has cost America its soul.

But there is a different vision. It is the vision of people of conscience. It is the vision of those who have voices and are here today!We have glimpsed a vision of wholeness. We have glimpsed a vision of peace, justice and dignity for all people.

People of conscience are finding their voices. People of conscience are arising with their voices. There is a swell of peace.

Now use your voice! Your voice must be strong. It must be clear. It must be humble. It must be true. It must come from a heart of peace.

Now, use your voice!
Let us hear your voice!
Let congress hear your voice!
Let the president hear your voice!

Peace, Salaam, Shalom, Shanti.



  1. Thanks for posting this. It was a great nessage we all needed to hear. You are this atheists favorite preacher.

  2. Thanks Dr!

    I really appreciate that! Thanks for your great work in helping to put this together!

    Let's keep agitatin'!

  3. Nice speech, except for the heretic quoted at the end. Who was that guy? Sounds full of himself. We need to get him out of the church.

    There's a march coming up next month that my internship supervisor and I are going to. I miss marching. Good luck with agitatin'.

  4. Doug,

    Thank you for that great reflection. It really hit home! Good luck on your march!

  5. Came here via Dr Monkey and am so glad I did.

    Convenient how those wacky Dominionists have forgotten The Sermon on the Mount, huh?

    I am up here in NY praying for peace and working for peace.

    Peace unto all.

  6. Yes, peace to all. Thanks for these peace posts John. Your speech was well delivered and well received at the rally too; it was a sight seeing you win over the audience. Thanks to all the organizers of the event as well, and the other two speakers. It was worth the effort.

  7. Congrats on the march, but remember there's still work to do.

    We need to target Senators, especially Republican Senators facing reelection next year (like Lamar Alexander in Tennessee and Saxby Chambliss in Georgia). Remind them that they are going to need the support of the voters to keep their jobs and respectfully ask them to stop filibustering attempts to give troops appropriate rest & training (not to mention ENDING THE WAR) and support the majority of the American people on this.

    You have two Senators (except DC and the territories). Look him/her up at and call or e-mail (no snail mail: it takes weeks of anthrax screening before mail gets to Senators).

    The Capitol Switchboard number is 202-224-3121.

  8. Thanks Franiam and welcome!

    I spent sometime in New York, waaay upstate in Lowville, my first congregation.



    Thanks for being at the rally with your wonderful family! It is interesting that in this is area particularly, it seems that you are either a Christian or a social justice activist.

    I am sure my collar put some folks into trauma! I wore it not to promote Christianity or my congregation, but to show that (at least in my view) the heart of the Christian faith is about social justice and peace.

    Attaboy Flycandler,

    Thanks for the number. I have placed a link to the top right of this blog where folks can go to find their reps.