Volume 1, Issue 1
Summer 2005

Letter to the Editors

Yours truly is probably one of the last sources a reader would expect to see in a budding “Cal Nonviolence Publication.” Group leaders, however, thought that my input would be of some value, so here goes.

I am an ordained minister with the American Baptist Churches, USA. For the past year, it has been my privilege to attend the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley. In that context, I have been able to participate in a rich variety of theological offerings put forth by the Graduate Theological Union. Among my professors are Jesuits, Buddhists, Baptists, Unitarians, Presbyterians, and Lutherans. One of the courses I particularly enjoyed was UC Berkeley’s “Theory and Practice of Nonviolence” (PACS 164A), which put me in contact with the editors of this new journal.

To back up a bit, the reader might be asking, “What in the world is a Baptist minister doing at the Jesuit School of Theology?” The answer to that question might surprise you: your tax dollars sent me here. For the past six years, I served as a Chaplain to United States Marines at Camp Pendleton, CA. Although I did not deploy to Iraq, I did participate in many Marine Corps training exercises, and ministered to numerous families who suffered great loss. Following my tour of duty with the Marines, the Navy Chaplain Corps (Chaplains who serve with Marines are actually members of the US Navy), sent me to JSTB to pursue a master’s degree in Ethics. This summer, I will be assigned to the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), the newest and largest of US Navy warships. I will be one of three Chaplains to the 6,000 sailors who serve on board.

As human beings, our greatest struggle is between good and evil. How do we respond to the evil that lurks within the depths of our hearts? In the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna, ultimately, was engaged in a struggle with his lower self. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. found that the Sermon on the Mount “inspired the Negroes of Montgomery to dignified social action.” For King, “Christ furnished the spirit and motivation, while Gandhi furnished the method.” As we “fight the good fight” for peace, let us not neglect things of the spirit. The Gita, the teachings of Christ, Gandhi, and King are among some of the wonderful resources that can guide us on our journey.

When the United States is at war, every citizen is at war. Some are closer to the action than others. Each of us is also engaged with a war within. May God help us to find peace, both internally and internationally.

Yours in Peace,
Rev. Roger VanDerWerken LCDR,
United States Navy

Dear Roger,

We are delighted to embark on this publishing journey with the blessing of a member of the military. It reminds us that nonviolence is about loving those who have different beliefs from us and who are choosing a much different way of making change in the world.

Although we do not feel we are personally at war with anyone, you remind us that indeed we are not separate from what’s going on in Iraq. Not only does it affect us emotionally, economically, and spiritually, but we support it whenever we do not struggle with our own desire to dominate and our own tendency to believe in the usefulness of violence. To be peacemakers during a time of war we must enter fully into these internal struggles, but not forget that war calls not for more war, but for more peace.

We appreciate that, in your desire to see good in the world, you might see the state as an agent for this change. Can we expand our concept of citizenship to one of the entire planet - and everyone who lives on it?

Roger, we are glad to have you to dialogue with. Our hearts will be with you and the soldiers you are serving.

Chelsea Collonge
Matthew Taylor
To submit a letter to the editors, please email letters {AT} calpeacepower.org
(be sure to replace {AT} with @)