Puppy Love

Puppy Love

On the lighter side, at work this week, a cute little puppy was found by our receptionist and office manager walking in the street in front of our office… In order to protect him from traffic, he was brought in to our showroom. We tried to find out who he belonged to for the whole day. I and everyone in our business took an immediate liking to him, however, I knew the TROUBLE he would present…
Dogs are not like cats… Cats can take care of themselves… They are perhaps ambivalent about this subject of LOVE. They can be trained to use litter boxes… Dogs mostly need to be walked outside for their needs periodically at all hours of the day and night… TROUBLE…. I knew it….
Our office manager also took an immediate liking to the puppy, probably because the puppy was “so cute” and gave us his unconditional love… I liked him too, but knew a dog’s place is outside, not in a kitchen and bath showroom. Everyone else liked the dog… I just knew, if we could not find his owner, he would have to be walked, so I went to purchase a leash to keep him under control, spending $20.
I went to get lunch for some of us, and, as it turned out, WE FED THE PUPPY from our store bought lunch, knowing all along that would be a mistake… We knew he would use the bathroom on our showroom floor, which he did, but our office manager (who would not want her name to be shared), faithfully cleaned it up.. He did… She did…
After nearly the whole day of trying to find out who the puppy belonged to, and I did my best to help find out, little was done at work except for everyone to share in love for the puppy and him for us… Late in the day it was discovered that the puppy belonged to a neighbor across the street, who was at work. We returned the puppy. Case closed, right? Really? After all, the thankful owner locked the puppy up on his back porch so he could not escape…
Next day, right about lunch time, I was just outside the door and across the street, while his master was at work, trotted the puppy, on all fours, coming over for lunch with us…. We again welcomed him in, so he would not be run over by a terrible vehicle. Our office manager was very happy to see him again, being he had previously offered such unconditional love to us… The owner was away at work again, so we kept him most of the rest of the day… The owner sent food via a friend and a puppy cage, into which we just did not have the heart to put him… He took leaks on the floor, and things like that, and our office manager faithfully cleaned it all up…
One time he got under my feet without my knowing it, and I stepped on his foot, reminding me of the rat upon, sat upon, spat upon, I recently wrote of, the ones Jesus spoke of in the sermon on the mount. Maybe puppies were there listening too…. He screeched out and limped off, but just a little while later, HE LOVED ME AGAIN, ANYWAY…
I got to thinking, what is it that is designed into these puppy things? Is it unconditional love? Would we, as humans, be better to learn something from it? What if we happen to be helpless, like the puppy, if we belong to no one, no family, no church, no country, will we be loved unconditionally? Will we love others unconditionally? What is it about this unconditional love, anyway, that seems to be so attractive and such an integral part of our psyche, at least an awareness of it, whether we have it, get it, or do it? Also, what about this feeding thing, that seems to bring these unconditional lovers back to us again, at least around lunch time? It seems we all naturally just stop everything we are doing and admire it, if it is a puppy, or a baby in a mother’s arms, even our supposed enemy’s baby, that coos and smiles at us, and we offer our love and respect in return…. Also, when we hurt the unconditional lover, they just love us anyway….
Could this even be a key to our worldwide problems? this unconditional love thing, puppy love… I went to lunch today with one of my Iranian friends… I forgot to ask him… Do they have puppies in Iran? Do they have cooing babies in Iran? I think they do… Why don’t we exhaust all means, as the theory of “just” war tells us, and go over there and take a puppy to lunch, or hold a cooing baby, and them to us, and to Israel, and everywhere, for that matter? I know it is so naive to be thinking like this, (and less profitable to the military industrial complexes), or to think that God would love us unconditionally, just like this, or that we should feed our own food, under the table, to helpless, homeless people whom, we might believe, know nothing of God… Really?
What if God is watching you through the eyes of this puppy, this baby, or the one you think is your enemy, as you step upon him, set upon him, spat upon him, rat upon him, or, let us be frank, kill him and urinate upon him? Could God be watching…. to see what we will do…? All of this, just on the lighter side, without benefit of Scriptural proof texting, after all, it is just puppy love… Or is it?

Love, Grace, Peace,

John Cooper

What is Social Justice?


Social Justice

Below is a response to an inquiry I received today asking about my beliefs in Social Justice… Today, the day some in our culture set aside to respect the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, is a good day to consider this question…

What is Social Justice?

Hello XXXX,

I can agree with you, after giving it a little thought, that equal justice does mean that everyone is treated equally under the law….I believe that if we are to understand Social Justice, it is helpful to look to the Roman Catholic Church who, it seems to me, has a long record of attempting to care for the poor, the disadvantaged, the hungry, naked and sick… I can recall the words of Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker movement, who if I quote her correctly, said of her church, the Catholic church, “Throughout history the Catholic Church has been the spotless bride of Christ and the Whore of Babylon”, and on another occasion, “She is a Whore, but she is my mother”, I think we will be less than honest if we do not read the history of our own churches and organizations and our own actions or lack of action in the same way. To me, Social Justice is looking at each human being as a beautiful human being created with a “spark”, as the Quakers would say it, of God in them…. Or, as we may understand it, created in the image of God…. If mankind is created in the image of God, as I would hope you would agree, then mankind is deserving of our dignity and respect… Jesus came to preach a Gospel of the Kingdom of God… He opened the scroll of Isaiah and read:

Luke 4:18-21

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 Then he rolled up the scroll , gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21 and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

To me, what Jesus read is Social Justice…. I believe we need a year of release, a Jubilee year, to which Jesus referred…. A year where prisoners are released, debts are forgiven, the oppressed are freed… I believe Dr. King envisioned this also that oppression would be justified…… I cannot imagine a more authoritative definition of social justice than that of Jesus, founded upon Hebrew Scriptures, than this… This is the essence of Social Justice…. Look to the Sermon on the Mount, Blessed are…

Matt 5:1-10
5:1 Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them, saying:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Dallas Willard, in his book, “The Divine Conspiracy”, spoke of Jesus opening up the Kingdom of God to the Rat upon, the Sat upon, the Spat upon…. (look to about page 100, if I recall properly)..

This is Social Justice…. The Rat upon, the Sat upon, the Spat upon, even us who are called to be peacemakers, and are thus vilified by political conservatives in most all nations, who ascribe to the Myth of Redemptive Violence…

Therefore, may I ask, why would anyone who has a heart for Jesus’ words have a problem with Dr. Martin Luther King’s words, such as this:

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Also, why would any individual, any nation, conservative, or liberal political system, or any church, not want to mention in respect and dignity, the contribution of Dr. Martin Luther King to our culture and society, and world, as he echoed the ethics of Jesus, as I understand those ethics of Social Justice and Freedom, to the world?

Oh, and I should add… equal justice is under the law, as you say, but I would add, Social Justice is under Grace….

This is how I see it…

Grace & Peace…..


Circles of Peace 2012

Circles of Peace 2012

As the New Year begins, I have been thinking about the direction Circles of Peace, an affiliate of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, needs to travel in for the upcoming year.

I feel we made some progress in 2011, but the progress was not as rapid as it could have been.

Concerning some recent positive notes, Alina Coryell wrote and published our Circles of Peace web site http://tuscaloosacirclesofpeace.blogspot.com/, which is an excellent source for education and reference into ways of peace, nonviolence, and social justice. We were blessed to be able to host Dr. Mark Johnson, the United States Director of Fellowship of Reconciliation, http://forusa.org/, in our home and host a small group where he shared developments of that organization and conducted a lively discussion. We began a book club and discussed “The Myth of a Christian Nation” by Greg Boyd and began reading “When Religion Becomes Lethal”, by Charles Kimball. In another specialized setting David Frinfrock discussed how Christians should interface with Muslims. Also, Alina wrote an article for the FOR newsletter which goes to FOR chapters throughout the United States discussing our local Circles of Peace group. Perhaps most importantly, we were accepted into official status as an Affiliate of the Fellowship of Reconciliation by the U.S. board of directors.

In other personal efforts, Alina began a “Poetry for Peace” contest, and John Cooper began his personal blog site, https://jcooperforpeace.wordpress.com/ and has written and posted nearly 20 blogs relating to Peace, Nonviolence, and Social Justice. John has also been working on a personal basis with several individuals to discuss, teach, and share the ethics of Peace, nonviolence, and social justice. I will also mention personal prayer efforts in this regard. I am sure others have acted in personal ways to further the advancement of such goals also, and if you will share them with us, we will add your efforts to our chronicle of events. Our efforts are not only as a group, but our efforts are more importantly individually inspired as our goal to enable you is imagined.

I feel our group based efforts were interrupted, however, in many ways. It is not convenient to attempt to stop what we are already involved in and meet as a Circles of Peace group, especially since so many of us have other things going, our families, other friends, churches, sports, education, jobs, and other groups with which we interface. I for instance, have been quite busy, as many others, with responses to the April 28th tornado. I am a founder and on the Board of Directors and Executive Council of Compassion Coalition, which has served in response to the disaster. None of us can do everything, but all of us can do just a little and our combined efforts will make a difference.

Perhaps also, a book club is a little over exuberant and challenging given how busy many are and how our culture has moved from this type of education to more internet and media based venues. I am thinking, and I need your input, that we need to simplify our meetings, perhaps drop the book club idea, and meet to perhaps discuss a simpler article or watch and discuss a You Tube video, such as one by Shane Claiborne, or Walter Wink, Dr. Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, John Howard Yoder, and others who have made a difference in Peace, Nonviolence, and Social Justice.

Please offer your input regarding these matters. We can offer our home once per month as a setting for these things if others will share in any food preparation, if any. We can also meet and just have chips and drinks if that would be better. Tuesday nights and Thursday nights are good, and

a Sunday afternoon would be good also… We need to know the best times, especially for those with children. If at night, would maybe 6:30 to 8 PM work?

Let’s also look forward to the upcoming New Year. What are your personal goals? What should our Circles of Peace group Goals be? Let’s discuss this and please offer your suggestions. How do you plan to learn more about Peace and Nonviolence and Social Justice, and share your gifts in these areas with others? I believe we need to define our Statement of Purposes or together reaffirm they are the same as FOR’s (http://forusa.org/content/statement-purpose) which our Advisory Council, consisting of John Cooper, Mirza Beg, Alina Coryell, Fran Viselli, and Patrick Coryell, have thought would be close enough to ours that we would become officially affiliated rather than going through the arduous task of creating and entirely new organization. By the way, remember that as an Affiliate of FOR, we are able to use their tax exempt 501 c 3, status and accept charitable donations.

Let us examine our individual and group goals in view of the statement of purpose linked above. You may also individually sign it and become a member of FOR individually if you wish. You will be in good company if you do. Dr. Martin Luther King was a member, Albert Einstein, Walter Wink, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, several Nobel Peace prize laureates’ and many others, who share(d) in the vision of Peace and Reconciliation, have been and are members. Maybe one of your goals could be to become and individual member of FOR this year. Perhaps one of your goals may be to just decide if you are personally going to be able to participate with us at all, and let us know if you would like to take a Sabbatical for a while…. There is no compulsion in this. We understand if this cannot be a priority in your life at this stage.

I do wonder if the upcoming year is going to bring even more need for those who believe and act in Peace, Nonviolence, and Social Justice. We have seen several largely nonviolent movements in the Arab world, and some not so much nonviolent that have changed our world’s political landscape. We have seen the United States withdraw from Iraq, but remain in Afghanistan. We also have an upcoming election. In some years and nations with upcoming elections we see peoples brought into wars. Perhaps knowingly or unknowingly it seems the ruling party is more likely to be reelected in times of war. I will not predict anything or say much else, except that I wonder if Iran may be the next hot spot on earth. I believe there are unseen powers and forces that influence these matters.

We, however, can attempt to influence others for Peace, if only one individual at a time. Maybe it is just your child, to teach him not to join the military, or go to war. Maybe it is your grandchildren, or the international student, or your parents. Maybe your goal is to live at Peace with God, or at Peace with yourself, or your neighbor, or those in your church. We have to start somewhere. Maybe you are in the back of your mind against the whole idea of Peace and Nonviolence and Social Justice… Well, that is a start just to admit it to yourself and make your stand. I am reminded of the atheist who does not believe in God. They are really believers… They believe there is no God. They admit it and know it, but they may not know they are “believers” in no God. We all believe something.

I want to fill you in on my personal goals for the upcoming year. I and Mirza Beg plan to speak to Crossroads at the University of Alabama and offer to join with them in teaching a class on Peace and Nonviolence based upon Coleman McCarthy’s “Class in Nonviolence” textbook. I plan to take an additional night of the month at our home to teach the same class. I would like to ask you to come to this class in addition to the Circles of Peace monthly meeting, if you can. I also hope to teach the same class in a prison setting and another class for released prisoners, perhaps at C.A. Fred Technical School at West End. I just decided while writing this I am going to offer to teach Peace at the local Catholic Church too, mainly in response to Pope Benedict XVI message today.

It is already pretty late for some prisoners, but now is a better time than never to learn about Peace, Nonviolence, and Social Justice. Prisoners should have been taught before, in their homes, in their schools, in their churches, in their workplace, but now is better than never.

Now is also better than never for you to personally decide what you are going to do this upcoming year.

I not too long ago read Coleman McCarthy’s “I’d Rather Teach Peace.” I hope you will read it too. Mr. McCarthy has been teaching peace for many years. He has influenced quite a number of students. This endeavor however is going to take more than just one man, teaching Peace. Jesus taught Peace, and he expected his followers to follow him in teaching peace. There is even such a thing as the Gospel of Peace. Ask your pastor about it. If he does not know what it is, learn what it is and tell him about it. Unfortunately, teaching Peace appears not to be a popular thing to do in our culture, not in churches, not in homes, not in schools, or anywhere. Try it sometime. Advise you pastor that you would like to teach Peace, nonviolence, and Social Justice, and see just how far that goes… Tell the school your children go to that you would like to see Peace taught around here….

Let me know what they say….

At least today, the leader of over a billion Christians, Pope Benedict XVI, came out and made a stand for teaching peace:

(Reuters) – Humanity faces a decisive challenge – educating new generations in justice and peace in order to avoid the violent tragedies of the past, Pope Benedict said in his New Year address on Sunday.

Benedict, 84, marked his seventh New Year as pope by celebrating a Mass for several thousand people in St Peter’s Basilica on the day the Roman Catholic Church calls its annual World Day of Peace.

The pope said this year’s theme, “Educating Young People in Justice and Peace,” is a task for every generation following the two world wars in the 20th century and other conflicts since.


In conclusion, hope springs Eternal…. Perhaps in 2012 something is about to actually change…. Perhaps the change can begin with you, with me, with us together, as we join, ever hopeful, that Circles of Peace replicate, that Peace is given a chance….

John Cooper


I Will Draw

I Will Draw

Wink and I just spent several days of delightful Holiday time with an affirmed atheist.   (Don’t worry, I will ask for this person’s permission before publishing this essay…..)

We have actually done such things many times before and always enjoy the warmth and companionship of other beautiful human beings, whether believers in God, or not…  I think God (some might say, if there is a God), also enjoys such companionship; so should we…  I believe that God is good and loves his creation unconditionally, and so should we…  Unfortunately, on David Letterman’s Top Ten list of what one thinks of when “Christian”, or “God Believer”, is perhaps imagined to be given, I cannot imagine that unconditional love is on that list.  For instance, say Christian, say Jewish, say Muslim, and will the first thing you think of be unconditional love?  Would it be anywhere on the Top Ten list?  Just asking….

I try not to push my spiritual beliefs on others, even though my radical thinking sometimes causes others consternation……  I admit it… I am a flawed, less than perfect human being…  I am not a popular person, no one I know of is following after me to listen to my insane (according to some) babbling:):)  I am gullible, and try to believe the best in humans, often to my detriment, but I hope I can always, with God’s help, offer my unconditional love to everyone….  I am most often hurt, and disappointed, but I guess I like it that way…

I have been imagining over the weekend how God gives us space…  Space to choose him, space and time to accept him…  No altar calls for God….  Just time, just space, and I really believe God has plenty of time and space on hand, unlike we humans…..  Unlike we humans, he does not need a notch in his six gun for every person he has loved, or called, or…… Drawn……

Which brings to mind what I have been thinking about…..

John 12:28-34

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”  33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”


Now you have it…. John is hearing voices again….:):)

However, here we see others heard voices also, voices, apparently from an angel, voices from heaven…..  OH, and the voice of this Jesus, who states that ” But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”

Draw all men?  Draw Greek men?  Draw Jewish men?  Draw Chinese men? Draw American Indian men?  Keep in mind there were no “Christian” men at that time…  Draw unbelieving men? Draw atheist men?  All men? Really?

I already know you are thinking, that John is just a Universalist, and he thinks everyone will be saved….  Actually, I would like to be a Universalist, and I would like for everyone to be saved, but I have some cognitive dissonance regarding that matter…

I do believe with all my heart and all my mind that God will draw all men, without compulsion, as the Islamist might say, to himself…  I want to believe it…. I do believe it…. Some who are reading this say that is just not what it means, to draw all men, just like that… They do not want that to happen….  I do…

It is possible that everyone will not accept that drawing, that given a free choice to believe or not to believe, some will just say no…..  I hope not, but I do see some possibilities of that scenario…  But, I can only imagine, that in this drawing process, whether it be now, whether it be tomorrow, next month, next year, at the end of a human being’s consciousness, or, when a human being is resurrected at a future time an place, having never been yet drawn by God, that it will be beautiful, beaconing, Irresistible, Graceful, pure, Holy, Loving, and True…  I think it will have something to do with Cruciform Love, that I just wrote about….. But still, a choice… a willing, free, noncompulsory choice….

Some say, (Jesus, actually), that God knows every bird that falls to the earth….  I can only imagine that if a beautiful human being makes a choice not to be drawn into this love, this substance in whom we are to live and have our being, that God will see it, and regret it, and cry about it, and grieve….  For a while anyway, then all tears will be wiped away, and joy and love and peace and harmony and happiness will reign in a new Kingdom, forever, and ever…

God so loved…..

John Cooper


Peace on Earth

Peace on Earth

(From the Manger to the Cross)

As I write at this time of the year, near Christmas, 2011, I am reminded of words often heard around this time each year….

Luke 2:8-15

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”


We see angels announcing the Peace God wants to bring to us, to all the earth, to all people on the earth through this birth of Jesus. Paul, also in another place, speaks of this desire of God to bring peace to people groups, and by extension, all people groups:

Eph 2:14-18

14 For he himself is our peace , who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace , 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.


We see a major mission of Jesus is to bring us forgiveness of sins and Peace with God, and each other, bringing people groups who were estranged in the past together to live in peace and love with one another. In fact, Jesus claims to be our peace, the source of this peace, the same source the Angels sang about when they sang at the manger.

We can see that one of Jesus’ principle concerns throughout his life on earth was this peace. If one is going to share the important things he wants to pass along to as his heritage to others, it is often done just preceding one’s death… Jesus is no different:

John 14:25-27

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.


Soon we find Jesus coming to do what he was born to do, to bleed and die for our sins. We see eyes of peace in Jesus nonviolent, (on his part) practices in the Garden of Gethsemane…

Matt 26:48-56

49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.

50 Jesus replied, “Friend, do what you came for.”

Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

55 At that time Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.


Jesus, advises his followers to put the sword back, that he has legions of angels he can call on if he wishes to use violent means to accomplish peace. And, it would have worked, but only temporarily, for that time and place only. Nothing would have been solved in defeating Evil permanently. Maybe some of these waiting angels were the same angels who sang “Peace of Earth” at the Manger…. Maybe they were actually on call, waiting for God’s beaconing, to see how God would bring peace to this world, through his own bloody death, burial, and resurrection, or perhaps they would be called upon to put down earthly political forces and bring about a temporal kingdom on earth now… Maybe they did not actually know what God was doing… Maybe some of us who are Christians now do not know fully how this is being done either, not yet…

I read an article in the most recent Sojourner’s magazine recently, entitled, “The Way of Peace and Grace”, (http://www.sojo.net/magazine)written by Derek Flood, p. 46, who states:

“Paul’s conversion from religious violence to the way of grace in Christ became the interpretive lens through which he sub-sequentially read all of scripture. This enabled him to sort through the Hebrew Bible’s competing narratives, rejecting the way of violence he had formerly held, and zeroing in on the scriptures that pointed to God’s grace revealed in Christ.

If we wish as Christians to adopt Paul’s way of interpreting scripture, then we need to learn to read our Bibles with that same grace-shaped focus. This is not a matter of picking and choosing which verses one likes, but rather of coming to have the mind of Christ – spending time with Jesus, and growing to care about the things he cares about. Through this relational formation – not only by studying the words of Jesus, but living them – we learn to recognize what reflects Christ and Jesus’ way of cruciform love.”

Cruciform love is the way to Peace on Earth, the lens of Grace toward us, given by the suffering, loving, dying, bleeding, and now living God in Jesus. This is the way of cruciform love.

Maybe the angels who came to sing “Peace on Earth” at the Nativity Scene, and returned to heaven, were in the legions of angels watching from heaven through giant lens of Grace when the sword was put away… Maybe the angels thought, “We have swords, like the ones we used at the Garden of Eden, we can use them in this garden also, (or that they could use the same swords used in the book of Judges,) Let’s be ready, we can be there in an instant, but, Jesus said “”put away the sword””, He said “No More” Let us just wait, and see how this Peace on earth is to be brought to the earth by Jesus”

They may have been watching to see if they might be called to defeat Evil finally and for all at that time, but I think they found Evil was to be defeated finally, once and for all on the cross, that Evil was to be defeated by Good, that all people groups were to be brought to peace through good, by good, by suffering love, by cruciform love….

So, when we sing “Peace on Earth”, or when we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, or for peace in our individual lives, and peace for our children, for our families, for our nation, for our world, let us remember who brought it, how it was brought, how much it cost, and look at scripture, at other beautiful human beings who are fellow travelers with us, from all people groups, through these same eyes of Grace and Peace that must be the eyes of Jesus, still peering down to us from the cross, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”

Oh, them?? That is me… Them is us…

Love, Grace, and Peace,

John Cooper


Who is the Strongest?

Who is strongest?

I just read the obituary of the Mother of one of my classmates in Marshall High School, Marshall Illinois, the class of 1967… That will give you a clue as to how old I am….  My classmate’s name is Dan Garner, and his mother, who just died is Emma Faye Garner.  She was born in 1928.  According to her obituary in the Terre Haute, IN, Tribune, she “She was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother and friend to many. She loved to quilt, sew and read and enjoyed the simple things of life.”

I used to enjoy the simple things in life….  However, my life has gotten much more complicated over the years…  I used to enjoy walking in the woods, communing with nature, hitting rocks with the flat piece of wood I had crafted as a “baseball bat”, imagining I was going to be a major league baseball player like Mickey Mantle, or Stan Musial, or other stars of the early 1960’s… I liked to catch golf balls I would throw against the concrete steps of our front porch, and catch them as they would rocket by at several times the speed of a real baseball….  Simple things….

And I went to school…. There they taught me more complicated things…  Physics, Latin, Algebra, Biology, etc….. However, I was never taught how to enjoy the simple things….  I was never taught ethics or peace, not nonviolence, or social justice, for that matter… Just these things I would need to match the tests they had given me,  Algebra, Physics, Latin, (which you use when you become a scientist or doctorJJ), and Biology… Nothing about ethics, or Peace, or Nonviolence…  Not social justice, either…

Which reminds me, I used to love to fight too, another simple thing… The strongest wins…. Got that?  I used to like to fight the big and the strong… I felt bad, If I fought the weak and won… I remember slamming a weak person on his back onto a wrestling mat and knocking the wind out of him on time… I felt bad, nearly as bad as when I killed the mother possum who was carrying a litter with her, or when, out of frustration, I kicked a pig one time in the stomach and it died…  I slammed a very tall basketball player up against a locker one time and cut his head open after he picked a fight with me… I felt good… Until later on the whole basketball team got a hold of me and slammed my head against the gym floor and I had to be taken to the doctor to get my head sown up… (You can feel my scar now, if you wish)

Dan Garner was very tall also…  I think he was 6” 8” or more… I never got into a real fight with him, except once….  It was just an arm wrestling contest…. He was known to be very strong also… I think he was the tallest person in our class… Very, tall… Even taller than the basketball player I slammed up into the locker… Probably stronger, too…   Well, we had the arm wrestling contest to find out who was the strongest…. Me, or him?  Simple things…  It took a long time to settle this simple thing… we wrestled and wrestled, and after a very long, long time, we had to call it a draw….   We were out of time… This was the day I had to take my driver’s license test… I was 16 years old… I could barely lift my right arm up to the steering wheel, but I passed the test…

Simple things….

I know a lot of people think I am just too complicated, and I admit, I am…

Back to simple things…

Nations think in simple things… I am the strongest… I have 100 times more nuclear weapons than you… I can destroy you more than once, more than you need to be destroyed… I will shock you and cause you to be in awe of me…. My army can defeat your army… Shock and Awe…. I have power over you…. By my violence, I can make everything right……  OH, and God, is on our side…


The strongest wins, Really?

What about the Peacemaker?  Does he win in the end, really?

Why don’t we all just get Naked, and have an arm wrestling contest, President Obama, and whoever it is we are supposed to be fighting, (we just simply don’t even know the answer to that… Who is it?) Or, why is it?  Is it the weapons of mass destruction?  Is it to bring democracy to the whole world? Is it “freedom”?  Who is it, what is it?  This is a simple question… Can you answer it?

Let’s just have and arm wrestling contest, just like Dan Garner, and I, and let’s call it a draw and go on to take other tests that come up in life, like driver’s license tests, and tests to determine if we love one another or not; real tests, that mean something after all these years.. Do we love one another?  That is a better test than Algebra tests, Latin tests, as we have been taught to answer…

I love you, Dan Garner….

Love & Peace,

John Cooper


Don’t Let Nobody

Don’t Let Nobody

Can we, as Christians and Jews, support our largely Muslim brothers of the Arab world seeking freedom by largely nonviolent means?  Are they our brothers?

Let us think of Abraham, our common ancestor, either by blood or engrafting, and Ishmael, the son Abraham also loved…  Think how much God loved and Abraham loved and still loves Ishmael and his descendants….  Can we imagine what the world would be like now, if Ishmael had been accepted?  What if his descendants were accepted today?  Accepted by us, both Christians and Jews?  Can we see God’s love for our brothers in God in their struggle for peace, for freedom, and justice in order to set their identities free, from the largely self-appointed, unaccountable rulers, principalities, and powers over them?

To all who struggle in this world, may we say that God loves you?  To the rulers, to the principalities and powers who rule the kingdoms of this world, we call you back to the original goodness in which God created you…  Yet, you have fallen; yet you can be transformed….  We, who are Christians, hear Jesus’ cry on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”….  Rulers, principalities, powers, God loves you too….  Although God can constrain you in an instant by the Truth coming from His mouth, God is so patient to give you time, which seems to be running out now….

I am a follow of Jesus, and I only claim authority if my words are the same as His, but I am reminded, that Jesus tells us, that “Whoever does the will of God is my mother, bother, and sister”.. Note, no fathers are mentioned here…  Note that God is our Father, for all of us, and we know, or perhaps have heard, “God so loved the world that he gave his Son, that whoever believes………”  Maybe you already know the rest of the story….  I would only say, if God is your father, and you seek to do the will of the Father, I am your brother, and I love you, and hope your quest for freedom succeeds by nonviolent means….

I am reminded of the words of an American preacher, perhaps it was Billy Sunday, “Don’t let Nobody tell you god don’t love you, cause He do…”  Bad English, but the meaning is the same in any language…

Your Brother,

John Cooper

Circles of Peace


Bloody is the Lamb

Bloody is the Lamb

As part of what I do in Circles of Peace, I respond to various emails and questions regarding Peace and Non-violence….. It seems much of the misunderstanding of what I am attempting to share comes from conservative evangelistic segments. I imagine that many who read about these things simply do not care or do not understand and do not wish to invest the time involved to consider what may be contrary to what they have learned in today’s culture.

Below are excerpts from a recent conversation that will serve as a basis for what I will add to and clarify later in this essay:


Thanks for your question… I don’t think you actually responded to the whole mailing list, which is good… Let’s just you and I talk…

(Cut) also mentioned the difficulties (cut) has been having… I am not in the inside loop on things like that…. I hope and pray for the cleansing of the blood of Jesus on all matters…

As a matter of fact, what you are referring to very much concerns the blood of Jesus….

Accomplishing Peace in the world, as much as possible, is a mystery, and it can be hard to understand, even for Christians…. Let me quote a Scripture to consider:

Eph 2:11-3:1

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.


[John] We see here how Jesus makes Peace, by His own blood…. He is the one preaching the Gospel of Peace, not just to Americans, but to all those far and near… This transcends nationalities…. Notice all the references to Peace in this selection… Our Peace must be founded on Jesus….. The mystery is that Jesus creates Justification, not just for individuals, but for people groups, both the Jews and the Gentiles…. All of us, Jews and Gentiles, (we are gentiles) are joined together as one people, God’s people….members of his household, the way I see it, that is Jesus’ intention… It is somewhat a mysterious intention that it is spoken of that even the Principalities and Powers did not understand… Nor do many Christians yet understand…..

Now, if Jesus makes Peace through His blood, breaking down the hostilities, the dividing walls between people groups, such as Jews and Gentiles, how is it that we should interpret Romans 13, (I just wrote an article on that subject, at https://jcooperforpeace.wordpress.com/ ), as our participating in the killing process of those He came to save? Would it not be better to mimic as much as possible the suffering Love of Jesus, in dying for our enemies if needed, and loving them, as much as we can, just like Jesus?

Now, also, if Jesus bled and died on the cross for the sins of mankind, and all the people groups, all of the world, pictured in the joining of the Jews and Gentiles mysteriously, why would he come again in Revelation 19 and start killing those he came to save, that he bled and died for, to save?

My view, and those of some others who have tried to understand Revelation in view of all the other revelations of Jesus, about loving our enemies, blessing those who curse us, praying for those who despitefully use us, etc. is that the war of Revelation in which Jesus participates follows after His ethics in the rest of the New Testament, that of sacrificial love… True, there is blood everywhere, the rider of this horse is soaked in blood… I believe the rider of this horse is Jesus, and it is His own blood in which He is soaked…. This is the blood that saves us…. Then, He sends one angel out to seize Satan, the Beast, and the False Prophet…. The sword Jesus uses is the sword of the word of God…..

All this is in symbolic language, not literal language….. It is written in Apocalyptic genre….. I do not think we can take this as proof text that Jesus is actually going to be killing those He bled and died to save, generally speaking…. Certainly, there is no way we can interpret it to be that WE should go about killing our enemies in opposition to what Jesus expressly says, to Love our enemies….. All the things in Revelation were written as to have “shortly come to pass”… Although there are four views of Revelation, one of them is that these things have already occurred, shortly, as it says, in the destruction of Jerusalem… I think it is a stretch to interpret this in any way to justify our own warfare….

In the past, it seems every time I respond to you in detail, it seems you just drop the subject, and you never respond….. Would you please consider reading my response, thinking and praying about it, and responding to tell me if you do or do not understand my viewpoint?

Also, If you would like for me to copy the group you mentioned, for their response, let me know, and I will forward it to them… I would be happy to do that… Maybe they all have some valuable input….

Grace and Peace,

John Cooper


[John’s Friend wrote:]


Thanks brother. I appreciate it. I wanted to ask you and the folks on

your mailing list this question.

How can those who hope to achieve world peace before Jesus put their trust

in Jesus when He promises to come back to wage a bloody war with His

heavenly saints following? See this scripture below.

Is not Jesus the Price of Peace and a mighty warrior?

The Coming of Christ Revelatoin 19:11-20:

11And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it

is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.

12His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has

a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13He is clothed

with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14And

the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were

following Him on white horses. 15From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that

with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of

iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.

16And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS,


17Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a

loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, “Come, assemble

for the great supper of God, 18so that you may eat the flesh of kings and

the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses

and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and

slaves, and small and great.”

19And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies

assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.

Doom of the Beast and False Prophet

20And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who

performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had

received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two

were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. 21And

the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat

on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.”

[John – additional ideas:]

Let us explore this a little more than we did before…..

Let’s quote the original reference, Revelation 19 in more of its context:

Rev 19:6-20:1

6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:


For our Lord God Almighty reigns.

7 Let us rejoice and be glad

and give him glory!

For the wedding of the Lamb has come,

and his bride has made herself ready.

8 Fine linen, bright and clean,

was given her to wear.”

(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)

9 Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

10 At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:


17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.”

19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.


I would like to point out a few different ways of thinking of these verses…..

1.) This is a time of rejoicing… This is a time of the wedding supper of the lamb.

2.) The saints, the righteous ones, the church, who have met the Lamb in the air, have clean, white robes as they accompany the Lamb into this “battle”. They do not appear to be participating in carnage. Their robes remain clean and pure.

3.) The armies of Heaven, or, the good angels, not fallen, are also accompanying the Lamb, and their robes are also clean and white, hardly the type of robes one would wear to battle, but the type one would wear to a wedding.

4.) Those who are militaricalisticly minded, such as my friend who originally brought this Scriptures from Rev. 19 up to me, to support his militarialistic viewpoint, are the ones who are apparently not pleasing this Lamb riding in robes dipped in blood, upon a white horse and are figuratively to be eaten dead or alive by the birds of the air, NOT the ones clothed in pure and clean white linen who accompany the lamb. Why would one want to be in the military at this point?

5.) Note that the lamb comes to this “battle” clothed in robes already dipped in blood BEFORE the “battle”….. One might imagine the robes were already dipped in blood before they were put on. Was this blood already shed? Is it Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross that defeats Evil? Has the “battle” already been won? Is it already finished? Maybe that is why in Rev. 20, only one angel, a nameless one, at that, comes to restrain Satan for a thousand years…. What is the meaning of “dipped in blood” as opposed to being spattered in blood, as if one were cutting off people’s heads and blood is spurting out and spattering one’s robes? Why do the saints remain spotless, pure, and clean?

6.) The sword coming out of the Lamb’s mouth is apparently the word of truth. Jesus had already advised his disciples what to do with the sword… Put it away… No more….

Let us go back to the beginning of Revelation:

Rev 1:4-7

4 John,

To the seven churches in the province of Asia:

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father — to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

7 Look, he is coming with the clouds,

and every eye will see him,

even those who pierced him;

and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him.

So shall it be! Amen.


What could the Apostle, John mean, wishing us Grace and Peace, and going off on this long tangent, saying that all these things are to “shortly” come to pass? Why, many are looking for them to come in the future… Maybe there is a dual meaning, but why would we want to ignore the clear words that these things will “shortly” come to pass? What about even the mention of Grace AND Peace? PEACE? If the Apostle, John, tells us that Jesus has already, in the past, freed us from our sins by His blood, so that we will be clothed in white, clean, and spotless linen when He returns, why the hell :):) would some of us want to be a part of the militants, on the ground, getting figuratively eaten up by birds; perhaps having our eyes plucked out by vultures? I personally, would rather ride with Jesus on this one…….

I feel the world has been deceived. I feel fundamentalist Christians have been deceived and “deluded” along with most everyone else who subscribe to the theory of redemptive violence…. I feel we are living in a culture dipped in blood, That blood of our children sent to and going ro be sent to war….. violence in the streets, violence in the home, and our eyes cannot see clearly…. I feel we need a Revelation like this one…. Let us not ask the questions, as Coleman McCarthy would say, but as he would say, Question the Answers…. The main answer we have been given throughout history is that we defeat Evil with Evil. This is the Myth of Redemptive Violence…. This is simply not the message of Jesus. His message is that Evil is defeated by Good, by suffering Love and sacrifice.

Is there really any battle at all? I hope not. I believe the battle has already been fought and won, on the cross….

While we come with Jesus, in the air, will we be reminded of the ancient text?:

“Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.”

– Psalm 85:10-11

I am writing this at the beginning of the traditional Advent season, 2011…. If I remember my Latin from years ago correctly, advent means coming to…. It happens in these passages that Jesus is coming to us in the clouds, riding a white horse, with robes dipped in blood… We Christians look forward to that, and even speak of Peace, the majority of us only once per year around this time…. I think as we consider these things Jesus could come to us now, and is coming to us, as we read of His words that may be cutting to the heart of those of us who realize we have been deceived by the Myths by which we have lived for so long…

Just thinking, … again…. Feel free to disagree or add your input.

Grace AND Peace,

John Cooper


Being Thankful for……Things?

Being Thankful for….. Things?

I went to church today.  It was Grace Church’s (http://www.gracenews.org/index.php) annual Thanksgiving service…  It is our tradition that the congregation actually does the speaking in this annual event.  Anyone who wishes can come up to share what they are thankful for.  People who spoke were thankful for many “things”…. These “things” were not just physical “things”….  Some spoke of being thankful for their friends, for physical healing, for Divine healing, for their church congregation, for the leadership of the church, for their children, for being able to be a foster parent.  children spoke up being thankful for their parents, and family, for God, Jesus, etc.  By now you may imagine I am not going to write merely about “things” form a materialistic point of view, therefore, I will cut the “quotes” around things……

I shared some things also…

It has been a hard three years or more in my personal life.  My business is housing related, and these are probably the worst of times for the industry I have worked most of my adult life in.  I have lost a lot of things.  I have lost money, I have lost customers, some of whom have had to go out of business, some of whom have, I suppose had to find less expensive places to purchase their products.  It has been difficult, but I am thankful I have more than I really need, and, compared to the rest of the world’s economic standards, even considering all our losses, I am still in the 1%.  Even the poor in America are probably in the 1%, and much of the rest of the world is in the 99%.  Therefore, I am thankful for the trials that have occurred in my life.  I feel it has made me more productive and more fruitful, but enough about me….

In relationship to all these things, I was thinking about how “in Him we live and move and have our being…”  I realize that several who read my writings about Peace are not Christians, but let’s just imagine these things are actually true for the time being, and test the hypothesis…..  Let me quote below:

Acts 17:24-28

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28’For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’


Those who are not Christians may not be aware that this statement by the Apostle Paul resulted from a quote from a person who actually was not a Christian either. Paul had read an inscription on a Greek non-Christian altar, and he recited the quote from non Christian, non Jewish, sources. The altar was, “TO AND UNKNOWN GOD”…..  If you wish, you can read more about it in Acts 17 and 18.  The Greeks were said to be very intelligent people…  Paul respected that, and some Christian doctrine even contains traces of Platonism and Aristotle’s tenants….  Paul said that this unknown God did not really need any “thing” … oops…. I said I would cut the quotes…  He says, there is a God, we are all created in Him, (God’s image?), and in Him we live and move, and have our being.  ALL of us… Christian, and non Christian, Jew, and Greek, Jew and Gentile… Everyman.

To me, Paul seems to be saying that if this were not so, if we did not live, and move, and have our being in an unseen God, an unknown God, relatively speaking, we would not exist, that all “things” would simply evaporate, or, more correctly, not exist at all, never having existed to begin with.  However, since we do exist, so must this God exist, now let’s get to know Him.

This living and moving and having our being in God is not guaranteed to be easy.  We all suffer, yet we can all be thankful.

Many in Grace Church have suffered in many ways…  There have been losses, losses of life, losses of health, losses of friends who are no longer here, losses due to sins, losses due to misunderstandings, perhaps losses financially, losses of innocence, all types of losses.  However, we have not yet evaporated into nothingness. It is in Him we still live, and move, and have our being….  We all do so individually also, and do so in whatever people group, or nation we are a part of.

After thinking about the above hypothesis, I thought of another one, related to it, which seemed to make sense to me.  It is also about an image of God, also about an invisible (unknown to some), God.  Normally I do not quote a lot in writing this type of essay, but just refer to the concepts, however humor me again.  I feel I should quote the following:

Col 1:15-20

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.


And, you thought you would be spared my talking about Peace, just this one time:):)

Really though, mankind having peace among themselves, and with God, and God with us, is founded upon such thoughts as this… It grieves me that so many, even Christians, are offended when the subject of peace is broached….  One of my trials is living with objections from the majority opinion, not just of the world, but even from Christians, regarding this subject of Peace, Non-violence, and Social Justice…..

Back to the “things” thing, again…. All “things” were created by Him, For Him, and held together through Him, (else everything would melt away into nothingness)….  Everything, that is All people, All physical matter, that is things visible, and invisible, that is powers, rulers, and authorities, that is Grace Church, and all churches, that is all Jewish synagogues, and all Islamic temples, that is the Pagan alter to the UNKNOWN GOD, that is our wife, our husband, our friend, and even our enemies, whom Jesus asks us to love.  That is the difficult customer, the cranky schoolteacher, the domineering boss, the snotty child, the rank sinner, the prostitute, the drug addict, the pornography addict, the murderer, the evil dictator.  That is the chair you sit upon, the computer you have, the food you eat, the water you drink, the home you live in, the car you drive, the business you own….  Be thankful for all the above, even your enemy…  All of them, belong to God.  He owns them ALL…

If God owns every “thing”, all things, even the devil and his fallen angels, that were created for him, why don’t we give up on holding on to “things” so tightly?  These things do not really belong to us.  They belong to God.  We are only their stewards…  We belong to him also, (in him we live and move and have our being) and should go about dressing and keeping all these things, reconciling all these things, and yes, telling everyone about the Peace God has made, and wants to continually make, with us…and us, with each other….

Oh, and also, going about being thankful, for all these “things”…..

John Cooper


Who is John Cooper?

Who is John Cooper?

John grew up in a large Catholic farm family in central Eastern Illinois, about 15 miles West of Terre Haute, Indiana, between two small towns, Marshall, IL, and Paris, IL.

His boyhood days were spent working with his Father and Uncles, who both owned farmland, and walking in the woods, seeing the beauty of nature, and living close to it.  He grew up poor, but had plenty of food to eat.  He attended school in the Marshall, Illinois school system, graduating in 1967.

John used to love to fight, winning all but one fight he was in, when the whole Marshall, IL basketball team got hold of him at once, slamming his head into the gym floor because John had beaten up one of the tallest and biggest basketball players.  He was also avid reader, (his brother, David referred to him as a “bookworm”), perhaps he read so much because his family could not afford a TV until after he left home.  There was no indoor plumbing or running water in the Cooper home either, until John left home.  He excelled in school and decided to attend Samford University, in Birmingham, AL, largely because his uncle by marriage, Dr. Everett Lemeron, taught accounting and business there.  His plans were to be a psychologist, getting his Doctorate at the University of Alabama, and perhaps working at the VA hospital in Tuscaloosa, AL, which was and is a VA mental health facility.

Things did not quite work out that way however…..  In the last two years of High School, John entered the beginnings of a conversion experience that brought him to crisis of conscious regarding what he had been taught form childhood regarding many facets of religion and faith.  He had been fully supportive of his nation’s war ethics before this crisis of conscience began to occur.

John attended Samford University in 1967 and 1968, while living with his aunt and uncle, working part time, and paying for his own education with funds he had saved working on the farm in Illinois for his uncles. His uncles, and the whole McCulley family, proclaimed that one should not work in the fields on Sunday, the Christian Sabbath, even though the many animals they owned had to be taken care of…  In the final year of high school, he came to knowledge that Saturday, the seventh day of the week, is actually the Sabbath, and has been, from creation….  Having been raised with a high regard for the 10 Commandments as being normative for Christians, upon this discovery, he began to have a crisis of conscience regarding this matter…  In beginning his studies of the Christian Bible, John began to see other ethical problems with the systems (Kosmos) of the world, and the teachings of Jesus, one of which regarded the ethics of warfare which seemed to him diametrical opposite the teachings of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, whom John understands to be the exact representation of God, the essence of his being…

Therefore, John began to observe the Sabbath on Saturday, and other Old Covenant Feast Days, and often spoke of the personal conflict he had with warfare, during this period of the Vietnam war.  He was kicked out of his aunt’s home for observing the Sabbath, (on Saturday) and had to find a place to live and pay for on his own.  He could not afford to continue his education at Samford University and choose to take action upon the new beliefs he had come to understand.  He became a member of the a Sabbitarian church with historic peace church roots at that time, and began attending church in Birmingham, AL.  Also, during this time he was convicted to apply for conscientious objector status, and received paperwork from his draft board to approve his request.  He served two years of alternative service in Birmingham, AL, beginning at Spain Rehabilitation Center, caring for people who had been paralyzed.  While there, he moved into the University of Alabama, Birmingham, Cabinet Shop, and found he was gifted in and enjoyed woodworking.  He decided to enter a carrier in this field and in Ca. 1977. After moving to Tuscaloosa, AL he established Cooper Cabinet Shop, where he still works today.  In addition, he established Cooper Wood Specialties, which currently imports cabinetry from China.  Business links for the companies he has help found are: http://www.cooperwoodspecialties.net/; http://www.coopercabinets.com/; http://www.tuscaloosacabinetgroup.com/.

John met Wynema Walters at a church picnic, and after a period, they were married in 1973.  John and Wink have no children, although both have numerous nieces and nephews.  John was an avid tennis player until he was 42, then he took up golf and has played that game ever since.  He would rather be a sports participant than and observer….

John remained in the same church fellowship, now renamed Grace Communion, International, http://www.gci.org/ He served in many offices such as deacon, (his wife, Wink, was also an ordained deaconess), Elder, and Co-pastor….  When this church as a group began to understand the New Covenant around 1994.  John just could not understand how the 10 commandments could be abolished and the New Covenant could be a replacement for, not an addition to, the Old Covenant, at first, and studied and prayed late into the night until he too finally, after about six months, he began to understand these matters…  John still respects individual’s choice to observe days, times, and food laws if that is their understanding…

John now attends Grace Church in Tuscaloosa, (http://www.gracenews.org/index.php) where the thought of something like Circles of Peace has brewed in his mind for several years.  Having met resistance in the community to his ideas regarding Peace and Nonviolence, he put those thoughts on the shelf for a while as he became active in other venues such as assisting the International student community in Tuscaloosa…. He also helped in the formation of Compassion Coalition, with others in the community, an organization to organize faith based groups across religious divides to assist in disaster relief.  He served on the board, and as Executive Director for over two years, and is still serving on the board and the Executive Council of this organization.  Circles of Peace FOR, (http://tuscaloosacirclesofpeace.blogspot.com/) is an officially recognized Affiliate of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the oldest active Peace, Non-violent, and Social Justice organization still active in these areas in the world.  (http://forusa.org/)

John now feels strongly his calling is to serve in the area of Peace, Social Justice, and Nonviolence, helping to return the Christian community to its historic peaceful roots, and to develop common ground across religious divides of all types to bring peaceful cooperation to our community, the nation, and the world.

He has been planting the seeds of peace, social justice, and nonviolence for many years, struggling against resistance, but hoping to garner the vision of a younger generation to help bring peace, mutual love and respect, to other people and religious groups in this world, before we destroy ourselves with hate, and it is too late…