06 June 2014

Dr. Glen Stassen, R.I.P.: One of the Good Guys

I've proclaimed my agnosticism on this blog on many occasions. My position stems from the simple (though hardly simplistic) logical proposition that 'belief that x' is no different than 'belief that not-x'. That is to say, both theism and atheism are unsupported beliefs. Both rely on a leap of faith.

That being said, I learned recently of the death (4/26/2014) of one of my most respected and influential divinity school professors: Glen Stassen. Dr. Stassen was the son of Presidential candidate Harold Stassen. He was a professor of Christian Ethics and a grassroots antiwar activist. I took a couple of classes with him back in the '80s. His chief focus was on what he called 'Peacemaking'.

This from his obit in The New York Times.
"Dr. Stassen championed a pragmatic approach to social justice and world peace. In a series of books beginning in 1992, he outlined a program of grass-roots activism to reduce military spending, improve the lives of the disadvantaged and give citizens a voice in international conflict resolution. ... He went on to help mobilize the international disarmament movement that, by some accounts, played a role in removing intermediate range nuclear missiles from Western Europe in the late 1980s and early ’90s."
Peace is not simply the absence of war, and pacifism is not simply a passive resistance to warfare. It takes the hard, transformative work of understanding, rapprochement, seeking common ground, forging community, instituting social justice, compromise, reconciliation, etc. Just Peacemaking, he taught, is precisely the inculcation of truly Christian values. And this lesson applies not just to conflict between nations, but all the way down to the interpersonal, familial, and communal levels. It is a way of approaching life.

If I were to consider myself Christian in any sense, it would be in the sense of the pragmatic ethos of love and justice taught and practiced by Dr. Stassen over his lifetime.

R.I.P. Glen. You were one of the good guys.

1 comment:

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Good on him for fighting for what is right.

I feel that we have gone back the other way, unfortunately, since the election of Reagan.