Our dear friends Ardeth and Carol are in Germany protesting at a German airbase where American nuclear weapons are deployed. Here’s a report from Germany:

On Monday, July 17, 2017, Ralph Hutchison <orep@earthlink.net> wrote:

US citizens take action against US nuclear bombs in Europe

Remove US flag; Blockade main gate; Meet with Base Commander

Among the American delegation were CWers:
Steve Baggarly, Virginia;  Susan Crane, California ; Kathy Boylan, Washington, DC.

Others we all know well ….
Srs Ardeth Platte and Carol Gilbert, Jonah House, Maryland; Ralph Hutchison, OREP Tennessee; John LaForge and Bonnie Urfer, Nukewatch, Wisconsin

A delegation of eleven US citizens joined with activists from China, Russia, Germany, Mexico, The Netherlands, Belgium and Britain at a peace encampment at the German airbase in Büchel, Germany, where US B61 bombs are deployed.

On Sunday, July 16, following the celebration of a Christian liturgy, Dutch and US citizens removed the fence blocking the main entrance to the airbase and proceeded on site, the Dutch delegation carrying bread for a “Bread Not Bombs” action and the US delegation carrying the text of the Nuclear Ban Treaty passed on July 7 at the United Nations in New York City.

More than thirty activists entered the site without incident, passing through the security gate that was accidentally left unlocked and unstaffed. The Dutch delegation placed loaves of bread on the wings of jet fighters; the US delegation lowered the US flag from the flagpole, requested a meeting with the base commander, and read the text of the UN Treaty to soldiers at the base.

After forty-five minutes, guards ran to seal the gates and police were summoned. Eventually, all activists were expelled from the facility without being charged.

On Monday, July 17, activists woke to find themselves prisoners in the peace camp as those attempting to approach the base with banners were rebuffed by police. More than a dozen police vans ringed the roundabout at the gate.

Undeterred, activists traveled through the woods and sat down to block the road leading into the airbase. They were joined by two other teams who traveled to blockade other entrance gates. The US delegation asked again to meet with the Base commander and were told that he would arrive shortly to meet with them.

When the commander arrived, they delivered the Treaty to him and then left the blockade to greet workers arriving at the main gate with banners requesting the removal of US B61 bombs from German soil. The Dutch activists remained in the road for another forty-five minutes before being removed by police. There were no arrests.

The US delegation arrived at the invitation of German activists to participate in a twenty week encampment at Büchel.

In the US delegation: Steve Baggarly, Virginia; Ardeth Platte and Carol Gilbert, Maryland; Susan Crane, California; Carmella Cole and Ralph Hutchison, Tennessee; Leona Morgan, New Mexico; Zara Brown, Minnesota; John LaForge and Bonnie Urfer, Wisconsin, and Kathy Boylan, Washington, DC.


By Joe Byrne

After their quick and wonderful visit to Jonah House, the Loras College students headed to Washington, DC, to participate in the Holy Week Faith and Resistance Retreat, organized by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker. Like the Loras visits to Jonah House, Loras’s participation in the Faith and Resistance Retreat is a tradition of many years standing. Joe Byrne was able to join the retreat as well.

The retreat began on Holy Thursday. For a good description of the retreat and for highlights, check out the blog entry written by Art Laffin of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker:

Report of Holy Thursday and Good Friday Retreat and Public Witness–April 13-14, 2017–Four Arrested at Pentagon

Good Friday began with a vigil at the Pentagon at 7am. This also is a tradition of a few decades standing. The retreat participants, including the Loras contingent, marched to the Pentagon carrying crosses.

Most of the group filed into the Protest Zone where they did a modified stations of the cross (the reflections of each station are included in Art Laffin’s description). We repeated the stations at the White House later in the day (see below).

Some of the students laid out a huge banner that said “U.S. Empire Crucifies Humanity and our Earth.”

While folks were in the Protest Zone, four people from the retreat attempted a blockade of the Metro entrance. These four included Joe Byrne. The other three risking arrest were Bill Frankel-Streit, Paul Magno, and Kathy Boylan.

Here is Joe and Paul, with their signs, risking arrest.

Those risking arrest are arrested and taken away.

The four people arrested spent a short while in lock up at the Pentagon being processed. They were released with a citation and given a court date. They were able to join the other retreatants for breakfast and to help plan for the noon witness at the White House.

The witness at the White House was similar to that at the Pentagon. There was a dramatization of the stations of the cross, showing those groups who continue to be crucified today. These groups included Iraq and Afghanistan war victims; drone victims; victims of militarism and nuclearism; victims of racial violence, poverty, economic exploitation, torture, and imprisonment; immigrant victim; nonviolent revolutionary victim; and the victim that is our desecrated Earth.

The White House witness ended at 1pm with a final circle with those who participated in the Faith and Resistance Retreat joined by all those who were able to come to the witness at the White House. Shortly thereafter the Loras students were back in the van for the 17-hour trip back to Dubuque, Iowa. We will miss them until they return next year for Holy Week!

Thanks to Lin Romano for providing these photos.


By Joe Byrne

During Holy Week, we had a very full and fulfilling one-day visit from Loras College students. Loras College has been sending a delegation for Holy Week for many years now. We’re so glad to have the tradition continue.

Here is the crew who helped Tucker remove leaves and trash from the south-east corner of the cemetery:

Meanwhile, Emily and a student collected wood chips for Mulch. Auggie helped too!

Here’s the crew helping Emily plow, plant, and mulch the garden:

These lettuce and cooking greens survived the winter and have been replanted so they can flourish over the summer:

Pema in her favorite garden/doggy bed:

And here is the two person crew who helped Joe prepare the food boxes for next week’s food pantry day:



We have begun our endeavor into raising chickens.  Our little chickadees arrived a week and a half ago.  At 7:30 in the morning we received a phone call from our local post office that a little box of peeping chicks had arrived.  Auggie and I rushed out to meet our beautiful new additions.  They are quite cute and we have been enjoying them thoroughly.  We spoil them rotten.  Digging up worms and dandelions daily.  They have already grown now and are trying to fly around.

Tucker and his father have been working diligently on building a nice coop for them.  We have had volunteers come weekly to help in the construction and we are nearly finished.  Now we just need to add a door and nesting boxes.  We will begin working on the run this upcoming week.

We plan on adding more Guineas to the fleet as well.  15 little Keets are due to arrive in June. Hopefully we will be able to keep our newest members happy, healthy and safe from predators 🙂


By Joe Byrne

We were recently graced with the visit of a contingent of seven folks from Loyola University Chicago, as part of their Alternative Break Immersion (ABI) experience.

The group participated in all the usual Jonah House activities, as well as a couple public witness demonstrations that occurred during their visit. On the first day, a Sunday, they participated in the Sunday liturgy with other members of the liturgy circle. Their orientation happened Sunday evening, and included a presentation by Joe on the Jonah House core value of nonviolence, the “ground” in which our four roots delve deep, and from which all the work of Jonah House grows.

The next day, while some were on house crew, cleaning the big house and preparing meals, others were working outside. Here is the “kindling crew,” namely Curtis, Kelsey, and Adimilola, who collected sticks from off the ground in the cemetery, broke them up into kindling sticks, and stored them in boxes.

In addition to our daily community tasks, Tucker, Emily, and Joe gave presentations on the Four Roots of Jonah House. Tucker presented on resistance (activism), Emily on community, Joe on resilience (stewardship). Here the students gaze out the glass doors during one of the presentations. They were otherwise very attentive!

On Wednesday, March 8, the whole community, including the Loyola student group, participated in a Women’s Strike march, to commemorate International Women’s Day. The march in Baltimore was one of many throughout the United States.

Here are Emily and Evie, along with our dear friend Lin Romano, chatting, while listening to speakers, waiting for the march to begin:

 Here the march heads downtown:

Here is Kelsey, with Tucker and Auggie right behind:

Here is Tucker and Auggie again, next to Sidney, with Emily and Matt in front:

One of the stopping points was the Women’s Prison in Baltimore. Some of the Loyola students were struck by the tragic irony of having a women’s prison across the street from a school. It’s quite possible that some of the mothers of the children who attend that school may be in that prison.

Here Adimilola, Sidney, and Emily do their best to support–with their fierce, gentle energy–the women in the prison:

Here is a shot of Tucker and Auggie in front of the woman’s prison:

On Thursday, the Loyola students were at Harriet Tubman House, helping with one of their new garden areas. Joe was in charge of the crew that put sheets over the raised beds (to keep the cats from pooping in them!):

Here is a shot of many of the raised beds covered. In the background are students helping dig holes for poles that are needed to create a grape arbor:

Eddie Conway (center), one of the founders of Tubman House, confers with Tucker and Azar, who is the chief “farmer” at Tubman House:

Here Curtis chats with one of the members of the Tubman House collective:

Here is the group at the end of our time at Tubman House:

You can see more about Tubman House at their Facebook page (Coalition of Friends). All the photos of the Loyola visit to Tubman House are courtesy of Tubman House.

On Friday, on their last full day, the Loyola group participated in two public witness demonstrations. The first was in Washington DC. It was a march on the White House by Sioux water protectors from Standing Rock, and their allies. The water protectors are nonviolently resisting the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), which is being built on their sacred lands and endangers their water supply.

Here Matt holds a sign that says “You Can’t Drink Oil”:

Here Tucker, in his Zen Buddhist priest robes, walks with Eric Martin, editor of a new book collection of the letters of Dan and Phil Berrigan:

Emily and the kids made the hour-long trip to Washington, DC, and part of the march, but Auggie and Evie reached their demonstration limit before the end of the march, and Emily took them back to Baltimore.

Here Ardeth and Carol march with Kathy Boylan of Dorothy Day Catholic Worker (sorry Carol for posting this pic):

We reach the White House:

This is one of the many sign/banners that caught my eye:

The students, who met up with another Loyola Chicago ABI group staying at Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, stayed for the rally that followed. But Tucker and Joe headed back to Baltimore.

Later in the day, some of the Loyola students participated in their second public witness of the day. This was our regular public sit at City Hall Park in Baltimore. Here are the sitters with a special DAPL-themed poster:

Here the bundled-up Tucker, Emily, and Kelsey beam peace from the park towards the war memorial across the street.

These pics show only part of the experience of the Loyola Chicago ABI, and don’t capture all the gifts the students brought to Jonah House (for instance, there are no pictures of “Fishbowl,” the game the group played five nights in a row during their stay). We miss them terribly and hope some or all of them will visit again soon (or perhaps stay for a couple months as interns).



By Joe Byrne

Lent 2017 is underway. On Ash Wednesday, Joe, along with Sisters Ardeth and Carol, traveled to the White House in Washington, DC, to participate in an Ash Wednesday service organized by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker and other Catholic social justice organizations. The message was repentance for the various social evils for which we of the United States are responsible–the sins of genocide towards First Nations peoples, slavery, ongoing racism, xenophobia, and sexism–including the election of the racist, xenophobic, and sexist Donald Trump as president.

Here is Colleen McCarthy, of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, offering a reflection in front of the White House.

Here Ardeth offers a prayer, with Art Laffin, of Dorothy Day Catholic Worker:

Ardeth and Carol as part of the circle:

The oft-seen and ever-pertinent “Wage Peace, Practice Nonviolence” banner from Dorothy Day House:

Here a child makes hew own contribution to the ash crosses on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House.

Here Pete Perry stands with Ardeth, who is holding up a poster that memorializes Connie, who spent nearly forty years vigiling for peace in Peace Park (Lafayette Park) across from the White House. This is our second Ash Wednesday without Connie. Last Ash Wednesday, Ardeth and Carol distributed some of Connie’s ashes on the White House lawn. Connie presente!

Here I am holding up some of the art work of the beloved and recently-deceased Sally Hanlon. Her message, in the form of her posters and her very distinctive lettering, as well as the memory of her gentle spirit, survives. Sally Hanlon presente!


By Joe Byrne

Recently I was charged by the community to learn about mushroom inoculation. This does NOT involve giving shots to mushrooms to keep them from getting the flu, but rather seeding logs so that they produce mushrooms (in this case, oyster mushrooms). The inoculation workshop was given by the Baltimore Orchard Project, which is part of Baltimore Civic Works, at Real Food Farm, at Clifton Park, in Baltimore.

The workshop was completely hands-on. The participants collectively inoculated the logs, then at the end of the workshop, each participant picked out a log to take home. The steps included drilling holes into logs (freshly cut logs from healthy, living trees–otherwise, other fungi and bacteria may prevent mushrooms from forming), pounding pegs covered with mushroom spawn into the logs, and sealing the holes with wax.

Here the wax crew works on sealing holes in the logs:

I was able to work on all the crews. In fact, for the log I picked out to take home I cycled through all three crews. That is, I drilled holes in a log, pounded the inoculated pegs into the holes, and then sealed up the holes with wax. Here is the lucky log:

Next, I have to put the log somewhere outside, in a moist shady area, and it should produce a couple crops of mushrooms this summer. And now that I know how to do it, I hope to inoculate other logs–though I don’t really want to cut down one of our healthy trees to do so. Maybe I can get a tree donation, like the huge tulip poplar a tree care company dropped off at St. Peter’s that we still need to cut up with chainsaws (subject of a future blog entry!).


We continue our Friday sits for justice and peace at various locations in Baltimore.

Two weeks ago we were at the intersection of Roland Avenue and Cold Spring Road. Andy Holter joined Tucker and Joe.

In the picture below, the placard to the right reads: “Suffering has no boundaries, compassion has no borders.”

One of the messages we feel most impassioned about is welcoming, and toleration of, refugees.

Last week we were at Baltimore’s City Hall Park. Joining Joe and Tucker were Melissa Brady, Michael McEwan, and Amy Pucino (who joined us for our first sit, at the North Avenue, Route 83 intersection, three weeks ago.) City Hall is in the background.

Here are the sitters from behind. We were facing the Baltimore War Memorial, meditating for peace!

Our messaging remains the same: compassion and toleration.

We will return to sit at City Hall this evening (Friday February 24) from 4:30pm to 5:50pm. Join us!


By Tucker Brown

This past Friday (2/3/17), from 4 to 6 pm on the grassy knoll at the intersection of North and Mount Royal, we practiced sitting meditation with posters expressing our support for refugees and Muslims and our opposition to Trump’s travel ban.

I have no clue how drivers experienced our witness. But we did speak with someone who approached us after spotting our signs. He mentioned that he’s currently unemployed and lives in a tent with his dog, somewhere in the city. He talked about his struggles and framed them with the same kind of anti-immigrant anger and fear that’s been a core part of Trump’s agenda and worldview.

The man had a lot to say and, to be honest, I really didn’t know how to respond to him. He was convinced that immigrants and refugees steal jobs from U.S. citizens, take away opportunities otherwise entitled to hard-working “Americans,” and breed violence. He also suggested, as Trump does routinely, that the mainstream media are dishonest.

A part of me wanted a debate, but then I concluded that wouldn’t be a skillful response — I don’t consider myself adept at debating anyway. So I just listened, tried to relax my visceral reaction and resistance to his views, and a few things happened. First, I stopped focusing only on the man’s judgments and started paying attention instead to his suffering. By connecting with his emotional experience, I was able to see the desperation beneath his views — as well as how thoroughly Trump and his team have reframed the causes of national wealth and resource disparity (i.e., five years ago we might have joined each other in the occupy movement).

Finding an “other” to blame is of course Trump’s strategy to form group cohesion in the service of his fascistic ends.  While I could have argued this point, by recognizing the man’s pain (i.e., communicating that I’d heard the fear and anger underlying his political positions) there was a momentary shift in the conversation. He stopped blaming immigrants and started talking instead about the culture of greed and materialism that necessitates global poverty, structural deprivation, and war.

Of course this line of inquiry is threatening, because to put our economic, political and social systems into question implies a re-evaluation of the values, motivations and myths underlying them. It’s easier to blame others, and the man eventually came back to this strategy and ultimately called upon “National Security” — in this administration, a euphemism for White Nationalism — as a reason to justify the travel ban.

The conversation taught me that, while I might want to argue with the people who support Trump, it’s vitally important for a new kind of intentional engagement with his promoters: hearing and re-framing the fear and anger that often motivates their allegiance so that, at the very least, they’re invited to consider an alternate view of what’s driving their dis-ease.

While the “America First” platform is delusional — and violent, racist, bigoted, etc. — I don’t think it helps to simply argue the points and dismiss the strong emotions fueling them. I wholeheartedly believe and participate in the movement to resist Trumpism AND I think it’s also necessary to make every effort to dialogue with even his fiercest supporters.  The way forward, in my view, is through encounter, not just opposition.

There are too many echo chambers, on both sides, and to realize a world without sides we need, I think, to practice dialogue as much as dissent.

I’m also realizing the importance of renewal in these turbulent times: returning to images, stories, symbols and words that inspire the fortitude to persist, to resist.

Amid all the Islamophobia, xenophobia and hate espoused by the Trump administration, and tolerated if not promoted by so many republican politicians, I find it inspiring to read and re-read and reflect on Emma Lazarus’ poem, The New Colossus.

Mother of Exiles. What a vision!  And what an indictment of the current administration!

Also, as I suffer and see other people suffering and struggle with my own anger and inclination to act out of it, I take refuge in these words, a prayer of Shantideva’s, a great practitioner of the Bodhisattva vows:

May I become at all times, both now and forever
A protector for those without protection
A guide for those who have lost their way
A ship for those with oceans to cross
A bridge for those with rivers to cross
A sanctuary for those in danger
A lamp for those without light
A place of refuge for those who lack shelter
And a servant to all in need.


By Joe Byrne

Recently, following the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, and in particular his suggestion that he would like to expand the United States nuclear arsenal and his doubts about the reality of climate change, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved its Doomsday Clock thirty seconds closer to midnight. According to that clock it is now two and a half minutes to midnight. That’s the closest we’ve been to Armageddon since 1953, when only three nations had a few atomic weapons, and climate change was far on the horizon. Given Trump’s recent saber rattling over Iran and his order that the EPA may not study or even discuss climate change, the Doomsday Clock will likely be moved even closer to midnight soon.

We may very well be living in the end times. Not the end of life on Earth, nor the end of human life, but the end of civilization–by which I mean industrial, capitalist, democratic, and global society on Earth. If current trends hold, by the end of this present century, due to over-population, resource depletion, and runaway global warming, civilization will collapse. As a result there will be the full menu of apocalyptic woe: war, pestilence, and—mostly—famine. It’s likely that billions of people will starve to death. Not before many more billions of animals will die. Many forms of life on this planet will go extinct. This is already true. As Elizabeth Kolbert argues in her book The Sixth Extinction, civilization has already ushered in the sixth period of mass extinction, with living species—many of them undiscovered and unstudied—going extinct every day.

There will be wars, and rumors of war. We saw in the 20th century war become industrialized, in terms of weaponry, production, and whole-sale destruction. War has become mostly a matter of slaughtering civilians. We’ll likely see this to the nth degree in the years to come. The U.S. military has already identified climate change as a major threat, particularly in the ways global warming—global drought leading to global famine—will lead to mass migrations of hungry people. War has long been a business of controlling resources. With dwindling resources, there will be more, and more desperate, fighting. Given this situation, it is unlikely that the nuclear nations will abolish nuclear weapons; and it is more likely that they’ll be used. I predict that if nuclear weapons are not abolished by 2050, they will be used again in the second half of the century. Some misguided leaders may think that nuclear winter is the perfect solution to global warming. When, in fact, it will only add to the perfect storm: when the radioactive nuclear clouds dissipate, decades later, global warming will be worse. Those nuclear clouds will continue to capture and contain within the atmosphere carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases.

Accompanying the breakdown of society—particularly the breakdown of medical services and research—leading to mass migrations, and mass starvation, there will likely be more mass epidemics. Some of them will be created, and weaponized, by humans. Millions are likely to die as a result.

I say all this is likely to happen, given current trends and what we know of human nature. You may say that, like Donald Trump, I believe what I believe, according to my own “alternative facts.” But, unlike our raving president, I do have evidence. It’s all around us, in the ever-increasing global temperatures, military budgets, and human population. Many experts point out that we are entering—or have already entered—the era of Peak Everything: peak oil, peak natural gas, peak coal, peak water, peak topsoil, peak arable land—peak you-name-it. By the end of the century we will be far past peak. It will nearly all be gone, with a largely diminished human population fighting over scraps—World War IV (we are already fighting World War III) fought on a dunghill.

While I think there is ample evidence that what I foresee will come about, I also claim prophetic license. The biblical prophets didn’t back up their pronouncements with studies and charts. They declared what they believed God had told them to say, in dire visions that are not that far removed from what I’m saying here. I won’t go so far as to say God told me to say all this, but there is certainly biblical precedent for it, and I say it after considering the available evidence (links at the end of this article).

Where is God in all this? This is—will be—the big question as the rest of this century unfolds. Am I describing the biblical Day of Yahweh, Day of Wrath? No. God will not destroy the Earth. God promised not to do that. But God may allow humans to destroy themselves. That is the judgement upon us. That may be our doom. God will allow human free will to play out. God will not save us from ourselves. But, as I discuss in a moment, if humans destroy themselves, God will save a remnant. Some will remain to carry on.

And what of resistance? Can we turn back the flood by organizing, by taking risks, by following the formula of Jonah—preaching repentance in the capital of empire? The people of Ninevah repented, they turned back from their ways of destruction. Why can’t we? And will God truly allow humans to destroy the rest of his Creation? I hold out a sliver of hope that the coming collapse can be avoided. For there is biblical precedent for hope, as well as doom. Perhaps God can inspire us to save civilization, and avoid massive suffering, turning back the Doomsday Clock.

But in the meantime, we would do well to proceed as if the collapse of civilization will be our lot. We need to start thinking about resilience—how to save what we can from the real possibility of cataclysm. Our resistance communities must also become resilience communities. We are given the task of preserving our most precious values: beauty, justice, peace, nonviolent conflict resolution and reconciliation. Even with civilization crashing all around us, we are tasked with the creation of the kindom of God, on Earth as in heaven. We can and must create something that will outlast civilization, keeping in mind that civilization has collapsed many times in human history, and something has always risen from the ashes. Our task is to make sure it is utopia rather than dystopia.


Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12013
1 Corinthians 1: 26-31
Matthew 5:1-12a

Our readings today speak to this task, and this hope. Our first reading is from the prophet Zephaniah—a minor prophet. It is a short book and most of it, unlike the passage in the lectionary, is an apocalyptic account of Yahweh’s Day of Wrath:

The great day of the Lord is near—
near and coming quickly.
The cry on the day of the Lord is bitter;
the Mighty Warrior shouts his battle cry.
15 That day will be a day of wrath—
a day of distress and anguish,
a day of trouble and ruin,
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness—
16 a day of trumpet and battle cry
against the fortified cities
and against the corner towers.
17 “I will bring such distress on all people
that they will grope about like those who are blind,
because they have sinned against the Lord.
Their blood will be poured out like dust
and their entrails like dung.
18 Neither their silver nor their gold
will be able to save them
on the day of the Lord’s wrath.”
In the fire of his jealousy
the whole earth will be consumed,
for he will make a sudden end
of all who live on the earth. (Zephaniah 1:14-18).

Let’s back up a bit. Zephaniah was active in Judah at the time before and during the reign of Josiah the king of Judah. This was a reformer king, who rediscovered the law of the covenant, but died young with his reforms barely begun. At that time the Southern Kingdom of Judah was a vassal state of Assyria. Two centuries before this the Assyrians had invaded the Northern Kingdom of Israel, reduced it to rubble, and then carted away the rich, the powerful, the nobility, to captivity in Assyria. They left the poor and powerless behind, on the land, as a remnant to carry on. The meek inherited the earth.

Zephaniah, in our reading today, prophesies the same for the Kingdom of Judah. Judah will be destroyed, the elite of the kingdom—the rich, the powerful, the nobility—carried off, leaving the poor behind as a remnant on the land. And so it came to pass in 587 BC. It was the Babylonians, the conquerors of Assyria, who did it. But in any case, God left a remnant. They, unlike their overlords in Judah, in Jerusalem, would “do no wrong, speak not lies” left to their own devices to “pasture and couch their flocks with none to disturb them.” Once again, the meek inherited the earth. Once again, some, chosen by God, had survived the end of the world. And they did fine, until those in the Babylonian captivity returned and re-established “civilization” with its attendant hierarchies of church and state—what Walter Wink calls the “Domination System.” This is what Jesus would come to challenge and replace with God’s compassionate kindom.

Our second reading, from the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, also speaks of a remnant. Paul believed that the end of the world—the end of civilization—was very near. But he also believed God would save a remnant. Paul’s mission was to shape this remnant, to create resilience communities, which would be the basis of a regenerated world. The kindom of God, a world-wide Beloved Community would rise from the ashes of Roman civilization. Paul also believed the meek would inherit the earth. God had called, into the church, as a remnant, the lowly, the weak, the foolish—rather than the ruling class, the powerless, the foolish. God had set aside the refuse of the world, sanctified them, redeemed them, because they knew the true meaning of justice. And this is God’s justice: the first shall be last and the last shall be first.

Though the world didn’t end in the ways we see it in disaster flicks, Roman civilization did collapse. And a remnant survived, the church survived. Much of that survival was profoundly nonviolent, surviving the “barbarians” by patient endurance, presenting a model that was ultimately attractive to the invaders, leading to their conversion. Granted, after Christianity become co-opted by the Roman Empire, there were some Christians who took up the sword to defend themselves. Augustine’s Just War Theory, based on the pagan philosophy of Cicero, an apologist of Empire, was supposedly composed with the “barbarians at the gate,” after Christianity had become the religion of the empire. As many Christians have now concluded, “godly” violence is a perversion of Christ’s gospel. In any case, a remnant survived the colonization and militarization of the Christian church, to carry forth Christ’s gospel of revolutionary nonviolence. We here continue in that line. We are part of that remnant.

Jesus speaks to, and of, that remnant in our gospel today. The beatitudes, at the beginning of Jesus’s revolutionary program presented in his Sermon on the Mount, describe the characteristics of God’s remnant, to God’s remnant—those initiated into Jesus’s program, his disciples.

Some interpret the beatitudes in a pietistic way, as referring to the qualities that earn one a ticket to heaven after death. But I think when Jesus says “the kingdom of heaven,” he means the kindom come, the kindom of God, on Earth as in heaven. He says “blessed ARE” not “blessed WILL BE.” True, he does say they “will be” comforted, satisfied, shown mercy, etc. That is, the kindom has not come quite yet, but is in process.

So who are the remnant according to Jesus?

  • The poor in spirit, translated as “beggars.” Not just the materially poor; also those who practice poverty, who live by an ethic of simplicity. Who share their resources in a spirit of mutual aid.
  • The meek, who will inherit the earth. This is the “anawim,” the powerless, the lowly, the “foolish,” the poor—the remnant according to the Apostle Paul and the prophet Zephaniah.
  • The merciful, those who practice forgiveness, particularly the forgiveness of enemies, whose mission is the reconciliation of warring parties.
  • The single-hearted (“clean of heart”), those devoted to the gospel of peace and justice. These are those who do no wrong, tell no lies, as described by Zephaniah.
  • The peacemakers, those who beat their swords into plowshares, who preserve the holy ideal of nonviolence and put it into practice as a tool of social change. Those who preserve the kindom—the family, the children—of God.
  • Those persecuted for the sake of justice. This follows from the rest. The world—civilization—is opposed to the poor, the meek, the merciful, the single-hearted, the nonviolent. It seeks to wipe them out, to destroy God’s remnant. And yet God’s remnant will survive, because the ideals that the remnant preserve are the only ones worth saving. And, in the end, violence is self-defeating, and nonviolence a better option for solving problems.

The beatitudes describe God’s remnant. For Jesus could see that the end of the world was coming. The end of Roman civilization, certainly, but Christ could also foresee the end of industrial civilization. He could see the strangling roots of that civilization in his own day, he could see how the next 2000 years would play out. That’s why there is a strong apocalyptic strain in the gospels. An end was envisioned, an end will come. And it might possibly happen, as the scriptures say, before the present generation—those who are alive today—has passed away.

I’ve gone on long enough, but I want to mention a few things about resilience communities before I open it up for discussion. What will a resilient community look like? Well, it will look something like what Jonah House is now and envisions for the future.

It will be an intentional community that includes both live-in and extended members who share resources, space, and work. It will be a community that lives on the land, growing its own food, composting, taking care of the soil. It will be a community that powers its tools based on renewable sources of energy. It will be a community that is a node in a larger, but still local, network. If civilization collapses, local economy will be the main economy. It will be a community that lives and survives by the principle of mutual aid. Those who barricade themselves in bunkers, filled with canned goods, guns, and ammunition, will not survive in the long run. Only those who share, and participate in shared defense, will survive. And that shared defense must be nonviolent. We will see, as we’ve always seen, that groups that are organized and resolute, knowledgeable and well-practiced in nonviolent methods, can face down empires, and cause armies to abandon their weapons and either flee or join those they had come to shoot down. In his book Engaging the Powers, Walter Wink provides numerous examples—those who resisted the Nazis, refusing to turn over Jews and other supposed “undesirables”; those who brought down the Iron Curtain in the period 1989-1991. As Wink puts it, “nonviolence generally works where violence would work, and where it fails, violence too would fail…. But nonviolence also works where violence would fail.”

I hope I’ve offered enough hope to help us carry on in the difficult years ahead. We may not live to see it, we may not survive the strife, the collapse that seems to be upon us, but we have the promise of God that a remnant will survive. Our ideals of peace and justice will survive. Some will be resilient and survive the deluge. In fact, our one thing that might save civilization is if the world takes up the sustainable practices of resilience before it’s too late. Whether civilization collapses or not, the world as we know it today will be superseded by God’s kindom of peace, justice, and reconciliation, the Beloved Community. That is the promise of God, the basis of our faith.

Here are just a few articles that consider the collapse of civilization. Each of the articles has links to numerous other articles.

“Human Extinction 2026” by Robert Hunziker

“Can a Collapse of Civilization Be Avoided?” by Paul and Ann Ehrlich

“Extinction Is the End Game” by “Xray Mike”:


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