Rosary of Thanksgiving

Rosary of Thanksgiving

Since returning to the Catholic Church a few years ago, I have said the Rosary in a conventional way perhaps twice in a small group. However, I keep thinking of other ways to pray the Rosary. One way is a Rosary of breath, another is a Rosary of the dead, and today, I thought if a Thanksgiving Rosary. Using the Rosary Janelle Avery made for me I went right around thanking God for everything, and used the little crosses in the Rosary to thank him for my personal crosses to bear. I went around just once, but I have so much to be thankful for, I could easily have gone around many times. Say a prayer of thanks for what the Spirit brings to your mind on every bead, and on the big Cross, thank Jesus for what he has done for all.

Cooper White – Cooper Black

Cooper White – Cooper Black


For me it has been a day of Desolations and Consolations…

The consolations came at the end of the day and this is what I want to tell you about…


Wink called, asking me to pick up some food for supper on the way home. I was in West End, where our business is located, and she mentioned Long John Silver’s/Taco Bell restaurant. I mentioned I did not know if it was Long John Silver’s anymore. I went by and the sign said Taco Bell, not a combination of restaurants as I do believe was once there.


I went in and asked the girl behind the counter, a light skinned black girl, if this was a Long John Silver’s too anymore. She said no, but offered to look one up for me. I noticed she had a Silver Christian cross hanging from her neck and sensed a common Spirit between us. I said that is OK, I will just order something here. I finally figured out what we needed, with her assistance, and she asked for a name to place on the order. I said Cooper… (BTW., I am writing this in Cooper Black type set…) [This is not showing in this font on WordPress] She said, I am a Cooper too, and explained that that is her name now or that she is related to Coopers in South Alabama and Jacksonville, Florida. I said, “Good, we may be related.” I told her my Great Great Grandfather was a conductor on the underground railroad, and asked her about her family history, but she did not know much about it..


I mentioned that I did not recall any of my ancestors having slaves, because we were from up North in Illinois, but that we could be related in some way. I offered her my hand and said, that it was good to meet her and we may be related.


When the order came up, she brought it out to me and we struck up another conversation about the family name. She told me about her second cousin in Jacksonville, FL and thought of his name. I asked her if he was fully white or partially white, and she said fully white. I said we may be related, and told her about a Genealogical book my Brother, Joe had written, about our ancestry going back to the Mayflower. I gave her my business card and asked her to email me and I could share it with her. We hugged each other, and I told her my shop was right down the street, just over the viaduct, and asked her to come down to see me one day.


I was thinking on the way home with our Taco Bell food, how the day had been cycles of desolations and consolations, and how this was a wonderful consolation to share one’s inner spirit with another created in
God’s image. I still do not understand why we cannot all get along in the world….


I think we are all related; all of us brothers and sisters, and we should all love one another… I know I am naïve, but I hope to die that way…. What is it we cannot understand about the unconditional love of God, which is supposed to be in us, if we wear the cross around our necks, or symbolically carry the cross, or even if we are not Christians at all, that we do not understand about this love of God?


Cooper White, – Cooper Black… What is the difference? I just can’t see any difference….


Grace & Peace,


John Cooper (White)



Peaceful Thoughts

Peaceful Thoughts

As a matter partially of time and chance this past week, I stopped by Panera Bread at a time of the day I would not normally be there because I was on my home to pick up a check out of my home office. I noticed as I sat down a Muslim man in the back of the restaurant. I have had several conversations with this man and his friend, Sammy, also a Muslim, when I used to go by Starbucks on the way to work early in the morning. (Since we were given a Keurig coffee machine, my Starbucks visits are virtually nil.) I noticed him sitting in the back of the restaurant in what appeared to be deep thought or meditation, so I did not greet him. After several minutes he came by me on the way apparently back from getting a drink refill and he asked my, knowing my beliefs in Peace and Nonviolence, this question:

“Have you had any Peaceful thoughts lately?”

“Yes, I have,” I said, and invited him to sit down with me at my table. I got out my small Samsung tablet and opened my You Version Bible App up to the place already in the memory, which I reflected on just the day before. I quote it below from Philippians 4:

1 And so, my most beloved and most desired brothers, my joy and my crown: stand firm in this way, in the Lord, most beloved.
2 I ask Euodia, and I beg Syntyche, to have the same understanding in the Lord.
3 And I also ask you, as my genuine companion, to assist those women who have labored with me in the Gospel, with Clement and the rest of my assistants, whose names are in the Book of Life.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say, rejoice.
5 Let your modesty be known to all men. The Lord is near.
6 Be anxious about nothing. But in all things, with prayer and supplication, with acts of thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God.
7 And so shall the peace of God, which exceeds all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Concerning the rest, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is chaste, whatever is just, whatever is holy, whatever is worthy to be loved, whatever is of good repute, if there is any virtue, if there is any praiseworthy discipline: meditate on these.
9 All the things that you have learned and accepted and heard and seen in me, do these. And so shall the God of peace be with you.
10 Now I rejoice in the Lord exceedingly, because finally, after some time, your feelings for me have flourished again, just as you formerly felt. For you had been preoccupied.
11 I am not saying this as if out of need. For I have learned that, in whatever state I am, it is sufficient.
12 I know how to be humbled, and I know how to abound. I am prepared for anything, anywhere: either to be full or to be hungry, either to have abundance or to endure scarcity.
13 Everything is possible in him who has strengthened me. (Emphasis is mine.)
The Muslim man studiously and respectfully silently read the text for several minutes in deep thought as I silently watched. After a while he looked up to me and said, “It is very Islamic, isn’t it?” “Yes, it is,” I agreed, and we started another long and mutually respectful and, by the way, Peaceful, conversation.

I told him about the Inter-Faith city wide Prayer Service I had attempted to activate a couple of months ago for the sake of the Refugees, both Christian and Muslim refugees and pointed him to my blog site, where I posted the Prayer Service. I told him my idea had already been shared with another of my Muslim friends, Mirza Beg, who was to forward it to the local Mosque, or Islamic Center as they call in here in Tuscaloosa. I asked him to talk it up and perhaps just a few of us could have a smaller event than the city wide event I had envisioned. Even though the Mayor of Tuscaloosa had agreed to help in any way he could, I could not garner support from the Christian churches I had contacted whom I was asking to host the event.

We continued our conversation and the Muslim man told me he had been looking into the Spirituality of the Native American Indians. One of the American Indian wise sayings, he said, is: “If God created you a crow, you do not have to become an Eagle.” I told him I liked that and many Indian Spiritual sayings and I had recently been through an 8 or 9 month St. Ignatian Spiritual Exercise Retreat. I told him of the many ways I personally think God can reveal himself to us humans, and concerning the Indians we were talking about, that God can reveal himself and to Indians as one walks in silence through the forest, even without a word written or spoken, God can do this, as one walks in Peace. I mentioned that to me, God has revealed himself sometimes as a Father, sometimes as a Son, and sometimes as the Holy Spirit, but still, I believe there is only one God. I shared my idea that one could take all the knowledge of the American Indians, and the Jewish religion, the Christian religion, and the Islamic religion, and all the knowledge of the Atheist religion, and put them all in a bucket, stir them all up and dump them into the ocean, and it would not be a drop in the ocean compared to the vast knowledge of an infinite God. He understood, and I mentioned again the Scripture we had just read, although I did not quote it again at that time. Here is a principle part of it below.

7 And so shall the peace of God, which exceeds all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

I don’t think he would have agreed exactly with the Jesus Christ part of it, but then, apparently many Christians do not believe it either, not understand it, in that many Christian folk like to be guarded by weapons, guns, and “Peacemaking” six-shooters, not by the Peace of God. It appears in America that the “tougher” and more one believes in guarding oneself, the better, especially in the Political realm.

I cannot share everything now, we talked about, this is already too long, but the point I want to highlight especially at this “season” of Christmas 2015 is this:

“Have you had any Peaceful thoughts lately?”

If you have not had any, I ask, why not? Could it be the Prince of the Power of the Air is getting through to us through the Media and the Political systems of this world? Why not turn off the Media for an hour or two a day and silently reflect upon your Scriptures, either your Hebrew ones, Christian ones, Islamic ones, or, even just take a silent walk in the woods, just like the Indians and reflect on the Peace God has very clearly said he came to give us, which goes beyond understanding. This Peace is a gift of Grace and Mercy. Yes, it does sound Islamic, but it sounded to Abraham, like a gracious and merciful God, before the Jewish people, before the Christian people, and before the Muslim people. It is a Grace that has extended to all Abraham’s offspring, which by extension is all mankind.

Have you had any Peaceful thoughts lately? Accept this gift, get some of it; Let this be the year of God’s favor for you…..

Grace and Peace,

John Cooper

My Brother in an Urn

My Brother in an Urn

My Brother, David Cooper, died yesterday, March 30th, 2012.
He was nearly 4 years younger than I, and the closest sibling I have in age. I remember we would play together in the fields and woods of our family farm in Illinois… David was much bigger than I, standing over 6 feet tall, taking more after the McCulley (my mother’s) side of our family. He was a hard worker, and very strong. He is the one who called me a book worm. I would read and he would do outdoor activities to a greater extent than I, although I also did outdoor activities. He, as a young man, became involved in what the majority of Evangelicals call a cult, the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I, as a young man, also became a member of what some Evangelical types also would call a cult, the Worldwide Church of God, a Sabbath observing and Pre-Millennial religious sect which has since become Evangelical in their belief systems.
David was dedicated to his belief system, traveling to various locations, including Mexico, where his Spanish speaking skills could be used to further his organization’s goals. He also had a kind heart, although apparently a weak one. He would nearly every day help put my Uncle, Bill McCulley, (suffering from end stages of Alzheimer’s) to bed and assisting my aunt, Joan McCulley, in various ways in taking care of him.
Most of the time, I attend a 6 AM Friday men’s prayer group at Grace Church, a nondenominational church that I now attend. That Friday morning, before I knew of David’s death, while he was still on life support before they would attempt to take him out of the induced coma he was in, several of us in the prayer group prayed for David.
One of my friends, a conservative Evangelical type, well meaning as he was, asked me, “Does David know the Lord?” Sensing what he meant, I told him that David would say he did, however he was a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I well knew that some Evangelical types do not believe other religious types will experience Salvation and Eternal Life. Anyway, this person and several others in the room offered up prayers in his behalf. I truly thank them and thank everyone in the community and the church I attend for their support.
I have written a previous essay, on this blog site, entitled, “My Brother in a Box”. It is with regret, I write another essay, “My Brother in an Urn.” David choose to be cremated. His remains will be placed in and Urn, not in a box, as was my infant brother, Paul. They burn people in China too, there is no place to bury 1.6 Billion people all over the place. Cremation is becoming more common here in the United States also.
Did David know the Lord? I even had another well meaning friend email me and express condolences, asking the same question, “Did he know the Lord?” I realize these individuals are well meaning, and meant no harm, but to me, that question is like the question, “Have you stopped beating your wife yet? It is a hard one to answer Yes, I have stopped beating her, or no, I have not stopped beating her, what does one say? the question is full of assumptions…
May I ask, Did my infant brother Paul, know the Lord? Do aborted fetuses know the Lord? Did other individuals, billions of them, before and after Christ, know the Lord?
I think a better question to ask is, “Does the Lord know David? Does the Lord know you?
To this question I can issue an definitive answer, although this answer will also be argued by certain conservative Evangelical types… The answer, and the Good News of the Gospel of Peace is, Yes, the Lord knows you, the Lord knows every sparrow that falls to the earth. God is Good… Not only that, but we can rest in the fact that God loves the whole world, and all, including sparrows, (, and humans, that are in it. We can remember that as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive, although some will also argue with that. I am reminded as I write of a friend, who took minor issue with the last article I wrote too, where I quoted the Lord, Jesus, and Jesus’ statement “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God…” That is just not what this means, according to this individual, unless we are speaking of, I suppose, if I interpreted him correctly, unless of course this person who is a peacemaker knows the Lord…. I might add that there were no “Christians” in the audience of Ca. 5,000 on the plain where Jesus said this….
Does the Lord know you?
I used to believe, after leaving the Roman Catholic Church, in observing the Sabbath, which by the way is from Friday at dusk until Saturday at dusk, in areas of the earth where it can be observed, that is….
I am reminded of a Scripture,
And the Lord said to Moses, “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you.’ ” (Exodus 31:12-13, ESV)
You may know….
I, the Lord sanctify you….

To me, if we keep the Spirit of the Sabbath, we will above all, above all the things we can do, the things we think we know, rest in the saving work of Jesus, which is NOT of our own doing…. We rest, He does… He is the one that Sanctifies every man, all this said, by the way, centuries before anyone “knew the Lord” They did know however, that it is the Lord that sanctifies, not our own efforts, not our own supposed knowledge of the Lord. Above all, they were to know it.
Who can know an infinite, all wise, all knowing, all powerful, God who is everywhere, in all things, in you, in me, and who knows even the sparrow who falls to the earth, anyway? Our knowledge, my knowledge, of the Lord, and I believe my two friends (I am reminded of Job), knowledge of the Lord, is not very much compared with the Lord who knows us… It is the faith of the Lord, the faith of Jesus, who saves us and provides all that we need, life, food, clothing, and death when appropriate. The Lord knows….
Therefore, I do not attempt to sit in judgment of my brothers, David and Paul. It is not my job. I do rest in the finished work of the Lord. Jesus said, “It is finished.” We are coming upon the time of the year we need to reflect on that, the finished work of the Lord, that is.
The Lord knows David, the Lord knows Paul, the Lord knows you! this is a part of the Gospel of Peace… I would be happy to share it with you someday… Now that the Lord does all these things and we can rest in his works already done, why not accept the Lord as he draws us to him?
I truly believe, no one is lost, until they gaze into the irresistible Grace filled eyes of Jesus, and reject his love. I can only hope that very few will reject him, but all will increase in knowledge of the Lord forever and ever….

Grace and Peace,

John Cooper

Mushrooms and Peacemakers

Mushrooms and Peacemakers

I have been trying to find Peacemakers lately… It reminds me of trying to find mushrooms. For those who do not know, at slightly varying times of the year in the Spring in certain areas of the North, and even in the south, if one knows how to look and what to look for, one can find delicious Morel Mushrooms.  People come from everywhere to find these delicacies. As I write, April 28th, 2012, the anniversary of the terrible Spring storm in that hit Tuscaloosa, AL one year ago on this date, mushrooms are already being found in Illinois, where I grew up.  I imagine they are growing on our family farm ground now and people are finding mushrooms.

To find a mushroom, one must have sharp eyes, know where they may have grown in the  past, but that does not prove they will be there the next year, take a stick and walk around in the woods or wilderness moving covers of leaves from the previous fall..  Sometimes great big ones seem to appear right before one’s eyes!  Look on the North slopes, look where May Apples grow… Look all around, relax, don’t get too stressed out.

Mushrooms and Peacemakers?

Now, how does one find Peacemakers?

Jesus said:

Matt 5:9

9 Blessed are the peacemakers ,

for they will be called sons of God


I got it!

To find a Peacemaker, one just goes to a Christian church and looks for followers of Jesus!  Jesus seems to say we should be… Right? They are of course all Peacemakers!


One has to look for Peacemakers, kind of like one has to look for mushrooms… Take a stick, stir things up, relax, keep an open eyes and an open mind, don’t look in all the regular places…  Peacemakers do not all grow in Christian churches, in fact form my experience, unfortunately, not many grow in Christian churches, or in the U.S. Government, or in the Universities where one might expect to find courses in Peacemaking.  Look everywhere, look in the Spring, Look in the summer, look in the fall, look in the winter..

Mushrooms grow as a fungus, when the conditions are right, in the right type of soil.  So do Peacemakers.  Peacemakers grow as a result of the infection of the Spirit of God, revealed to us in Jesus, and in others, such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Tolstoy, Gregory Boyd, and common folks, even me, where you can also find this fungus growing…. Look for it….  You might find it, if you care about it….  Taste it, if you wish….

I found some Peacemakers in Atlanta last weekend!

I went to a Peace Party… Now, there is where one finds Peacemakers!  Check out this link:

Read the names… Peacemakers from all over the world congregating for a Peace Party!  John Lennon would be glad… Joan Baez would sing….  Jesus would say:

Matt 5:9

9 Blessed are the peacemakers ,

for they will be called sons of God.


Perhaps some religious types would say, “John, you are absolutely crazy, some of these people are Jewish, some may be Methodists, some are Catholics, some may be Muslims, some are Mennonites, there are black people in here from the Congo, people from Holland, from Germany, from Japan, from the U.S., from everywhere….. How can you say they are sons of God?  They are not even all of them Christian…

I did not say that…          Jesus did…..

I found some more Peacemakers….  I went to the Oakhurst Baptist church,

Check it out… I would never have imagined a Baptist Church like this.

They planned the whole service around the visit of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, of which I am a member, and of which we have a chapter right here in Tuscaloosa, AL, imagine that!

They asked us to sit on the front row, to be a part of the service, and for little children to come up and ask us where we were from, and look up where we were from on an Ipad, and look at the flag of our nation, and welcome us…  I told them Alabama had a flag, Roll Tide, and everyone laughed!

The songs were about Peace, the sermon was about Peace and given by one of their ministers who is a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Lucas Johnson.  At the end, we marched around the church Sanctuary, singing about Peace!  Oh, they have women pastors too.. they have backs in there, a lot of people with theological degrees looking for a home, a lot peacemakers, I perceived.

After church, one of the pastors, (a woman), hugged all of us… And men hugged each other too…  Hugs are free!

I might mention this church has been disfellowshipped from a religious denomination, as you will see on their web site, if you look at it, for their radical beliefs in such things as:

Matt 5:9

9 Blessed are the peacemakers ,

for they will be called sons of God.


I have been too… disfellowshipped, I know the feeling… However, one needs to worship God somewhere….Everywhere, for that matter, since He is everywhere, even in these Peacemakers whom He claims to be his sons….

Anyway, I know this is getting a little long, but if you are looking for mushrooms, I have some tips… If you are looking for Peacemakers, I have some tips….  Some might say I have eaten the wrong type of mushrooms, the way I think about these things and all, but I think I know which mushrooms to eat:):)  I am not dead yet, and keep kicking against the pricks of this culture which is indoctrinated in violence and war.  There are holes in my shoes….

Want to talk about the Gospel of Peace some day?  Call me, let’s do it, over a breakfast of mushrooms and Green Tea……

Grace AND Peace,

John Cooper

Mr. President, Let us Invest in Peace

Dear President Obama,
Thanks you for your leadership during your time in office to date. I had high hopes for America when you were elected and when you received the Nobel Peace Prize. Regrettably, since the beginning of your tenure, there are some of us whose hopes for a just and Peaceful and Nonviolent future for America and the world in which we live have been diminished.
My immediate concern is regarding our apparent warlike approach to Iran. I realize the wisdom of your efforts in attempting to appease both Neo Conservatives, the Pro-Israeli population, and everyone involved in these matters, and your concern that Nuclear weapons will not proliferate. However we seem to have not learned a lot from our virtually 10 year experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Please give Peace and Nonviolence a chance…..
The majority opinion of governments of the world and religions of the world is that Nonviolent methods of conflict resolution will not “work”. I feel it is unfair to speak like this, saying nonviolence will not work, without investing in Peace and Nonviolence in at least an equal way we invest in War. We have invested under your leadership, let alone the leadership of others who preceded you, Trillions of Dollars in war. War must be paid for, not only in the blood of our soldiers, but the blood of our perceived enemies, and in the future welfare of our young who are to be saddled with our folly.
Let us invest in Peace.
Before we dismiss Peace out of hand, because “Peace just doesn’t work”, let us invest in Peace, just a portion of the Ca. 7 Trillion dollars we have invested in war. Perhaps just a Billion or so to begin with, just for starters….. Do we not know by now, that “War does not work”? The investments we have made in war are clearly failures. Before Iraqing Iran, let us commit to spending 10% of our war budget investing in Peace. Let us invest in teaching methods of Peace and Nonviolence in the world’s educational, civic, political and religious infrastructures.
Give Peace a chance….. Invest in it….
Let us talk about Peace, and dialogue about Peace and Nonviolence. Let us invest our time, financial resources, and prayers for Peace and Peaceful purposes, praying for our enemies, as well as our friends. Let us preach about Peace in churches, in prisons, and schools. Let us reject Hate and War, learning to be and actually becoming Peacemakers. Let us put our money where our heart is, if our heart is at Peace, and in Peace. I am personally doing this myself, and plan, if approved, to invest remaining funds of what little I have to go with The Fellowship of Reconciliation on a Peace Delegation to Iran in the first two weeks of May.
If you, or anyone, for that matter, would like to help defray my expenses, and those of others going on this Peace Delegation to Iran, please feel free to do so. Your investment may be sent to Circles of Peace, FOR,, an Affiliate of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, P.O. Box 2757, Tuscaloosa, AL 35403 (My personal expenses will be about $5,500, or, although I have not asked FOR, directly to the Fellowship of Reconciliation,, at the address on their web site. You may contact someone there for the number of people who will end up being in the Peace Delegation and how much is needed.
However, to be clear, this is not about me. It is about the future of our nation, and of our world, of beautiful human beings both here, in Iran, and all over the world who will be affected by our decisions regarding our future investments. Will our investments grow and bear fruit, or decay, and rot away?
Also, there are many other worthy organizations struggling to invest in Peace and Nonviolence throughout the world… Please divert some war dollars to all of us attempting to be Peacemakers, and invest in Peace and Nonviolence. I will also copy our Senator from Tuscaloosa, whom I have met, Richard Shelby, whom I understand has something to do with our investments in war.
The zone of immunity for Peaceful resolution in these matters appears to be rapidly approaching…. Let us invest in Peace now.


John Cooper

Got Books?

Got Books?

My Brother, David Cooper used to refer to me as a “Bookworm” (probably still does) :):) We grew up poor, and did not have a TV until after I left home in 1967, so I entertained myself in reading books, as I still do… Even today, I pretty much choose to read, and learn from experience what I would like to know, since most schools and colleges do not teach such things as I choose to learn, one of the subjects:, peacemaking, for instance…. At the request of Alina Coryell, our servant-leader for Circles of Peace for the upcoming year, I wrote the following… I imagine a drastically edited and shortened version will appear somewhere on our new web site… You get to see the whole thing:):)


I have a mental note in my mind to send you five of my favorite books… I know you asked this, but I cannot find the email right now…

Anyway, here is a stab at it… I have so many favorite books, but I will give some reasons for liking each book below the info for it…

1.) The Holy Bible, Reprint of the Edition of 1611, exact facsimile – copy #134 of 250, Oxford University Press, 1985.

(I found out about this book in England at an Oxford Press bookstore while Wink and I were in Oxford… It is a rare book, and I view the original 1611 English text as a foundational point for Christianity throughout the Western world.) (A couple of the books are among my favorites because of their rarity… I have always liked rare books, and worked at the Rare Book Library when I attended Samford University.)

2.) In the Grip of Grace, You can’t fall beyond His Love, Max Lucado, Word Publishing, 1996.

(Although raised Roman Catholic, part of my journey in life was being a member of the Worldwide Church of God, pretty much a cult, but a “good” one in that nothing was really off the wall that much except legalism being taught, like literally observing the 10 commandments, keeping the Sabbath, and Old Covenant Worship days, food rules, etc. as well as being strictly observant of the New Testament rules also… Oh, and Hierarchy, ruling over, instead of serving under :(:( Oh, Tithing, too, all three of them, according to the Bible, not just one, :(:( Many of these things are in the Spirit of Romans 14 personal choices, but they should be personal choices, not legalistically enforced… Also, believing that it is possible to lose one’s salvation, as some mainstream Christian organizations believe today…. Although I knew the Dictionary definition of Grace, and began coming out of legalism around 1994, along with understanding the New Covenant was a separate Covenant, not an addition to the Old, it was not until reading this book that I began to understand in my inner being the Spiritual meaning of Grace.) (Thus this is a favorite because of the Spiritual formation I received from the Holy Spirit while reading it, and speaking of it.)

3.) Martyr’s Mirror, by Thieleman J. vanBrahught, Herald Press, first published, 1837.

(This is a very large book, probably more than a thousand pages, chronicling the suffering of the AnaBaptists in the Middle Ages, being persecuted by mainline Christians of their day for their radical beliefs in Adult Baptism, refusal to give their Allegiance to nationalities, believing only God was deserving of their allegiance, and their radical belief in nonviolence. These people are viewed by the Amish and the Mennonites as their ancestors…. The book has woodcut pictures of the AnaBaptists being impaled on stakes run up through their genital areas, lit on fire, their heads cut off and put on stakes, chronicles of their being herded into barns, the doors locked, and the barn set on fire, men, women, and children, of their being drowned by being thrown off boats with their hands and feet tied together to punish them for their beliefs in adult baptism, Children first, so the parents could watch, women next so the husbands could watch, men next so their pastors could watch, then the Pastors last. All of this by fellow “Christians”) (I think we need to come to a better understanding of suffering as Christians, in the Western world, where we believe suffering is a sign of being out of favor with God, where as in actuality this is at times is pretty much the opposite of our calling to complete what is lacking in Christ through our suffering….)

4.) The Myth of a Christian Nation, by Greg Boyd, Zondervan press, 2005.

(This book was recommended to me by a pastor friend in the old Worldwide Church of God, now Grace Communion International, Bob Miller, who observed in our dialogue that my ideas and concern for the Kingdom of God meshed with the author, whom I had not heard of until then, Greg Boyd. Since reading this book, I have become a big fan of Greg Boyd, and if there is anyone whom I think like, it would be him, with Shane Claiborne coming in line somewhere afterwards. This is the book we first read in our book club…. It highlights the Christocentric, Cruciform, idea that the Kingdom of God is advanced by serving under others, not ruling over others, and exposes the error of the common belief that the United States was founded as a Christian Nation, or exists today as a Christian Nation.)

5.) The War of the Lamb, the ethics of Nonviolence and Peacemaking, John Howard Yoder, Brazos Press, 2004.

(This book is a scholarly treatise, a compilation of essays John Howard Yoder, a preeminent leader in the Peace and Nonviolence movement of the 20th Century, intended to be put in book form before he died…. His papers were arranged by others… John Howard Yoder is of Mennonite roots, and a true scholar, having been educated at the University of Basel, in Switzerland…. He was a Pacifist, and taught at one time at the University of Notre Dame, a Catholic School… His most well known book was The Politics of Jesus… He was known for his use of the term “Constantinism”, referring to the change of the early Christian Church into an ally of the State, then in the form of the Roman Empire, Ca. 320 AD when the Emperor Constantine and the Roman Catholic Church first developed political-religious cooperative ventures….((participating in war, for instance)) The War of the Lamb discussed extensively the Just war Theory and its relationship to non violence and the ethics of Just Peacemaker, a subject it seems we as Christians should be very concerned about, since it seems Jesus has asked us to be Peacemakers, even though mainstream Christianity seems to offer only lip service to the idea…, along with actual resistance….) (As an addendum to mentioning John Howard Yoder as a preeminent Christian ethicist, I feel regret, that as with many other prominent men, Yoder apparently suffered from his own personal ethical problems, ((as do we all)) which were reviewed and disciplined by the Mennonite organization, thus giving credence to the importance of being connected to an accountable body of believers for everyone involved Spiritual welfare. Just reading books, studying the Bible, doing research on the internet, going to school, is not enough, Being connected to a body of believers is crucial, ((and sometimes Cruciform)) even for bookworms:):))

I am realizing this a lot more than you probably had in mind for our new web site, but you can cut it down… Since I have written it, I think I will share it on my blog site to give those who read it some kind of idea about where I am coming from….



Grace and Nonviolence, Related to Each Other

Grace and Nonviolence, Related to Each Other

Rom 5:1-5
5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

I was thinking about some things the other day, about the relationship of God’s Grace to Peace… In so thinking, I have asked myself the question, “What is the relationship of Grace to Nonviolence, and of Nonviolence to Grace?”
I sometimes feel like some kind of an orphan, among some conservative and Evangelical types of Christianity. However Gracious and Grace based, and Grace proclaiming of a church, open to those of different viewpoints, sometimes the Christian Church as a whole, and some individual churches and Para church ministries do not seem to me to be amenable to such ideas as Peace and Nonviolence. My promptings to share my beliefs in Peace, Nonviolence, and Social Justice, are sometimes by some people, viewed as too liberal, not fitting the Evangelical apologetic agenda, quite so well as some other’s viewpoints… I have tried, over the years, to suggest teaching peace and nonviolence to the young people as an alternative to the culture of violence we seem to be raised in, but have not received enthusiastic responses, to say the least… So, I teach it anyway, one on one, just as I am doing now…
Are Grace and Peace orphans? Not related at all to each other? I think not… I believe Grace and Peace, and Nonviolence too, are God’s children…. After all, Jesus seemed to think so, when He spoke of putting away the sword, of His Kingdom not being of the world, else his servants would fight violently, of His suffering on the cross, and dying for all He came to save, of his plea to the Father, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do…” What a Gracious person, is this Jesus….. And, nonviolent too… I cannot imagine in his life his doing anything other than helping and serving his fellow human beings… Quite a Gracious and nonviolent guy, I like to think…

I even think of Jesus, in the book of Revelation, Chapter 19, as being revealed to us again as coming back in robes dipped in his own blood, seemingly telling us, in a Gracious and Beautiful way, that His blood is enough, we do not need to shed any more… I hope His blood is enough, that we can put away the sword, and say, “no more”, that one lone angel can dispose of Satan when it is time, casting him into a lake of fire outside of the city. However, we find the city has open doors (Rev 21 & 22) and perhaps all who are cast out can one day come back in…. But I am also aware that Revelation can be interpreted in different ways (at least four ways), than the way I have just mentioned…. I might be wrong…. I hope to not get mad at God or Jesus, if I am wrong, and if this infection I seem to have about the Spirit of Jesus is really not from Jesus, but I hope not… I think the Early Christians had this infection also…. The universal love of Jesus… It seems to just get to you, after a while…

Well, if I am wrong, maybe you can tell me where I am wrong.. I solicit your opinion… Where is it that we find that Grace is related to violence? I cannot think of anywhere… Maybe God commanded some people in the Old Covenant to kill others, men, women, and children, as a matter of Grace, (but, I think that would be more a definition of mercy…) knowing that He could raise them up again in the Judgment, show them the beauty and Graciousness of Jesus, forgive them, offer them Eternal Life, at a better time, in a better place, in the Millennium, maybe, and thus relieve them of their suffering and pain which would have only gotten worse had they lived on in that time and place…. Maybe that is the answer…. Maybe that was an example of Grace, or, more likely, Mercy…. It is just that I have never heard the terms Grace and Violence as being related to each other… Maybe they are, if the Grace of God overrides any violence he has commanded to people like Saul, the King of Israel, for instance….. Maybe you can think of more examples of how Grace is related to violence, and why… I would like to hear your viewpoint… What I just mentioned is my best effort to help you think of Grace and violence together…

The Scripture, I quoted at the beginning seems to infer that we have peace with God through this Jesus personage. I think it is a nonviolent type of Peace now, unlike the definition of Peace thousands of years ago, and still in use today, in some circles, where Peace is defined quite differently, as primarily the absence of war…. Grace is mentioned too in this Scripture, as seemingly having something to do with this Peace… Are Grace and Peace related to each other? I think so… I do not think Grace and violence are related to each other…. Grace and violence are aliens to each other.
Grace is all about unmerited forgiveness and pardon by God to us for the wrongs done by us to God and to each other, and the wrongs we are still doing to each other, including God when we refuse to love, refuse to be peacemakers, refuse to disavow violence of all sorts, violence to each other, violence to our spouses, violence to our children, violence to our enemy, violence to our animals, violence to our environment, violence in our games, violence on our TVs, violence in war, violence in our movies, violence in our streets, and violence everywhere. We are Graciously forgiven by God, therefore, let us graciously forgive each other, and STOP It, Stop this violence now. Let us stop the cycle of violence…..
I think Gracious people should think and speak more of Peace. I think Gracious people should think and speak more of Nonviolence. I think Peaceful and Nonviolent people should think and speak more of Grace. Grace and Peace, and nonviolence are related cousins, and should rise up to speak to each other, to embrace each other…. After all, if we are Christians, we should share the same genes, having been infected by this Spirit of Jesus, and if we are not Christians, we can be affected by the Spirit of Jesus, or the Spirit of the ONE Gracious God of the universe, if you wish….

Grace & Peace,

John Cooper

Infect Your Enemies

Infect Your Enemies

Hello again XXX,

I do not have what I wrote to you from my cell phone earlier, however, let me start out again….

As a Christ follower, I believe Evil is to be conquered by Good, not more Evil… One does not stop Evil by becoming and doing the same. Jesus did not do it that way. Of first importance in stopping Evil is the Gospel, the Good News regarding the Death, the Burial, and the Resurrection of Jesus…. The violence you speak of about Christ’s death is violence not on the part of Jesus, but on the part of Evil people, like Saddam Hussein, whom we have spoken of. Jesus’ disciples attempted to resort to violence, the sword, but Jesus said NO MORE…. He said, my Kingdom is not of this world, IF it were, then would my servants fight. As a Christ follower, I also believe my Kingdom is NOT of this world, therefore, to me, a lot of what you bring up regarding politics is a moot point and my personal political opinions about what kingdoms of this world should do in the physical realm are not relevant. From a Spiritual point of view, I think Israel should turn to Jesus. I likewise think Iran should turn to Jesus. I likewise think the United States should turn to Jesus, and hear and act upon the Gospel message, which is the Good News that has defeated Evil….

Knowing that the unlikelihood of this happening in the immediate future leads me to believe that anything that what I personally, or other Christ followers, can do should be to infect our enemies with the Spirit of Jesus…. We don’t even have to use words to do this… Showing Love to each other is a recommended way of doing it, so the whole world will know about it, and showing Love to our enemies is another recommended way of infecting our enemies. Love is a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) against Evil. Evil against Evil has proven for thousands of years to be ineffective. I can cite all the “proof texts” one wants, to “prove” it, but if one is already infected with the Spirit of Jesus, that person will already have ears to hear and eyes to see there is some value in this radical Love.

To this end, I hope to go with FOR, (Fellowship of Reconciliation), on their delegation to Iran in May, if it is God’s will, and if I can arrange the finances and time off…. I would like to do something, even small, to help further FOR’s previous relationships with Iran, and to help in their mission this coming May. If I do nothing but share Christ’s love, hold a Muslim baby, tell some Iranians about my physical father who served in Iran in WWII, express my love for the Iranian people, regardless of their government, and hopefully infect them with the Spirit of Jesus, that will be more than enough… No preaching, and proselytizing will be needed…

As far as your links go, I looked at them briefly, and will attempt to look at them in more detail later. As I mentioned, Iraq should have had weapons of mass destruction, since we sold a lot of them to them, ourselves, and possessed the receipts… It was my view that the UN inspectors for several years could not find them, and we could not find them after we invaded Iraq either…. Either way, this falls back into the subject of fighting Evil with Evil. If we do that, would it not be more important to attack Korea, Pakistan, Israel, China, India, and other nations with actually proven Weapons of Mass Destruction? We attacked Iraq under a similar concept to the zone of immunity concept being thought of now. Time was running out for us, since it would be too hot in the desert soon to go to war, (it has been very hot for 9 years now) so we rushed to war, without even thinking of the points in the “just war” theory, which has never, ever been used anyway….. Religions and nations also rushed to join in… Now we appear to be rushing to join in again in similar way, before the “zone of immunity” closes in on us…..

It appears to me that all your links, both Republican and Democratic alike, approve of the concept of fighting Evil with Evil. This seems to be the main disagreement we have…. I personally believe we should NOT as Christ followers fight Evil with more Evil… This is the first point I think needs to be considered in view of the Gospel of Peace, the gospel of Grace, the Gospel of the Kingdom of God….. The “American Narrative”, as you mention, is of much lesser importance to me than the Gospel… Nationalism is actually one of the main problems we need to face up to, not trumpet and sing to…. I quote you: “I don’t doubt our government has a well developed talent for lying to us.”, and I agree with you.. After all, that is one of my first points when I said “the powers have lied to you before”, not only our powers, but the powers of the whole world who have already been defeated on the cross, and hopefully, one day will be redeemed, since all things in heaven and earth were created by and for the redeemer…. Humans were not in heaven at the time of this statement… Excepting, one, Human/Divine personage….

The Spirit of Jesus is a weapon of mass destruction against Evil… Infect your enemies with Love. That is very important to me…. Infect Everyone with Love…. Your friends too… Infect them with the Spirit of Jesus.

Grace & Peace,


50 Years

50 Years

Yesterday, 02/12/2012, I attended a 50th year anniversary for the Birmingham, AL church of Grace Communion International,  CGI used to be known as the Worldwide Church of God, when I first knew it, and before that, the Radio Church of God…  The Radio Church of God was a big thing at one time, on the forefront of new technology….  The Radio….  Imagine a church today being called, The Internet Church of God, and people all over the world listening to the internet videos of an authoritative and charismatic preacher….  Radio then, was what internet is now…..

I have mentioned some of my personal life in previous writings, so I will hopefully not dwell on the personal matters too much this time…  I feel it is necessary to mention, however, that when visiting the 50th anniversary celebration of the Birmingham, AL, WCG (there is/was also one in Birmingham UK) that many memories were reactivated.  Some say you can’t go back, perhaps to your old high school friends you grew up with, but I say one can go back…  After all, God Himself can go backwards and forwards in time, and due to his image in us, we also can go at least backwards in time as we reminisce our past.

I was a naive teenager when I arrived in Birmingham, AL, in 1967, just after and during the civil rights movement.  I was straight off the farm… I still knew how to drive a tractor, take care of cattle and hogs, and such stuff as that…  I came to Birmingham, a city perhaps as Joan Baez would sing, of diamonds and rust… to attend Samford University.  Folk music was my favorite type of music.  I listened to it on my portable radio, like I did listen to this Herbert Armstrong, and his son, Garner Ted Armstrong fellows, as well as other “religious” fellows of other opinions….   Nothing rang a bell in my heart as a teenager like the radio broadcasts of the Worldwide Church of God, and the singing of Joan Baez, and other folk musicians…  It was food to my soul….

I feel I was called into fellowship with the people in this church, mainly through some of the young people I met in it, a few of which I saw again at this 50th anniversary… We were young… We were naive, now we are old, less naive, but still naive, to think I suppose, that everything will be OK, if we just love one another…  We were young together, now we are old together… Most of us have moved on from that organization by now…. Some have remained allegiant to hierarchical organizations, and Sabbitarian  organizations, and some of us, like me, still believe in Peace and Nonviolence….  I personally have moved on from hierarchy, thinking it is best for the Kingdom of God to be exhibited in serving under, not over, others, and moved on from literal Sabbitarianism, now believing that Today is the day of our rest, and coming to Jesus Christ for our rest is the fulfillment of this one of the 10 commandments….  But hold to my dreams of Peace, Nonviolence, and Social Justice…. After all, even if we have been called into a cult, a cult is not all wrong….  Or, maybe it is…. Maybe according to orthodox apologetics, we should bow down to civil governments and serve them whith our whole heart….

It just so happens that I am reminded of an article, “Lessons from Vietnam”, by Bill Lane, which was reprinted in the March 2012 magazine, “Sojourners”,, which by the way, is celebrating their 40th year in existence.  The original article was printed in 1973, a little after my youthful first flush of naiveté’….  I quote:

“I have been subject so long to a Christian leadership that has spoken of living by faith, of the cost of discipleship, of how hard it is to follow Christ, of never being ashamed of the gospel, of taking up one’s cross. I have listened to scores of challenging preachers and teachers talk about Christ asking for all of a person’s allegiance.

Now I understand that all of this talk, which I took so seriously, has amounted to nothing more than a clearing of the throat and a shuffling of papers. The church has spiritualized out of existence the demands that Jesus made so concrete and immediate. When the crisis comes, the real message of the Christian establishment emerges: Do what you have to do to get by. Keep peace with the powers and forces that rule this nation. Don’t get involved. Maintain respectability. Be conformed to this world.

One of the deepest scars from this war for me is this: I will never again be able to bring to the church my child-like trust, my boyish zeal, my naive teachability.  I have been stunned into silence and disbelief by the precision with which my Christian brothers and sisters and leaders have affirmed not only the authority of the state to rule (which I also accept), but the unquestionable morality of government policy.

Bill Lane was a contributing editor to The Post American, the precursor to Sojourners, when this article appeared.”

The above is more music to my soul… Like diamonds and rust…. I hear those words from the past; I still believe them, I still experience them as I attempt to share my still radical, after all these years, beliefs in Peace and Nonviolence, disfellowshipped  for such foolishness and naiveté’ even today by “religious” organizations and parachurch ministries…

But I think one can go back, go back to one’s roots, to commune, to love, to hug, those who have shared the same journey in life, however right, however wrong, and renew our commitment to suffer for what is lacking in Jesus as we fulfill it through our own suffering…  It is the way….. To suffer, to return to historic Christian roots, pre Constantine, roots of Peace with God and man the early Christians suffered and died for, now nearly 2,000 years ago….

I would say, don’t listen to the Powers and what they say about going to war with other nations… e.g. Iran and such fellows….. These Powers have lied before….

Did that make you mad?


John Cooper