All posts in Peri Zahnd

  • Lament and Laughter: Being Human

    plea-pray-lament-worship
    Peri has something important to say. –BZ

    Lament and Laughter: Being Human
    Peri Zahnd

    Last Thursday night at 9:30 I heard the sickening news of the police officers’ shooting in Dallas. I was tired and getting ready to go to bed, but then of course I couldn’t go to bed. The story was happening live and it was devastating. I finally went to bed at midnight, and laid there with a pain in my sternum, and the thought kept going through my mind, “I can’t breathe.” Which made me think of Eric Garner, the black man in New York who was killed by police, captured on video saying, “I can’t breathe.” The words echo in my mind, I feel them in my body. Lord, how can anybody breathe? What’s happening to this country?

    The next day I made myself watch the videos of the deaths of two black men killed a few days earlier in police altercations. Yes, I was very aware, and not at all callous — I just couldn’t make myself watch before. I am so sad about all this. It hurts. But I made myself watch. God, it was awful. The girlfriend of one calmly narrating as she watched her boyfriend die, and as we also watched him die. He was guilty of driving with a burned-out taillight. A nervous cop “jumped the gun.” Literally. Filled him full of bullets. It could never have happened to me. I’m a privileged white woman. The other man in a wrestling match with a cop, and then the cop pulling his gun and shooting the man in the chest multiple times. What on earth? How have we come to this. Yes, the two black men were also guilty of carrying guns, which was perfectly legal!!! Insanely legal. They died for nothing. And now five innocent white policemen are dead at the hands of an enraged, mentally ill black man, who, of course, is also now dead. It’s the casualties of a war we never wanted to be fighting.
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  • Nagasaki: The Sufferings of Christ

    Nagasaki

    This is the third in a series of blog posts on the seventieth anniversary of the creation and use of the atomic bomb. The first two are Los Alamos: We Have Become Death and Hiroshima: An Anti-Transfiguration. I have asked Peri to write the final one on Nagasaki.

    Nagasaki: The Sufferings of Christ
    Peri Zahnd

    1945. What a year it was. What it must have been like to have lived in that time — the last days of WWII, watching the evil Third Reich disintegrate, the fall of the Nazi regime, dancing in the streets of America when it was announced the war in Europe was finally over.

    I can’t imagine what it was like to hear in the days and weeks to follow the stories of the concentration camps being liberated, the piles of bodies, the skeletal survivors. Had such horror ever been seen on the earth? I absolutely agree, the world must “never forget” what awful things were done in an attempt to utterly wipe out a people group, the Jews.

    But the war wasn’t really over. America was also at war with Japan, and the Japanese had not yet surrendered. We were still at war, for a few more months, until August, when two atomic bombs were dropped in the space of four days on two major cities in Japan. I think it is safe to say again that such horror had never been seen on the earth.
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  • A Christian Perspective On the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

    Jerusalem

    Here’s a guest post from Peri. -BZ

    A Christian Perspective On the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
    by Peri Zahnd

    There can’t be a holier place than the Holy Land, can there? We first visited the land of the Bible nearly twenty years ago, and it was a life-changing trip, 1996. Brian and I had gone on a Christian pilgrimage trip while we were in the midst of building our sanctuary and church building here at Word of Life. This building program that had stretched on for nearly two years had turned into a nightmare. We had given all our savings to the building program, and could never have even considered the trip if complete strangers had not arranged to have our way fully paid.

    The trip was a surprise gift that came right out of heaven, a chance for a true rest from the relentless stress. From the very first day we were somehow able to forget everything we had left behind. (Even our three boys!) We both went asking God to speak to us and renew our hope — to do something special for us. And he did. I remember walking through the woods of the northern Galilee to an archaeological site that was being excavated — the ruins of the ancient city of Dan, the northernmost point of the land to which Abraham had been called. Archaeologists had found the gate, the four thousand year old gate of that ancient walled city and had exposed it to view. I stood in awe, looking right at the very stones that the Patriarch Abraham had walked on when he first set foot in the land of the Canaanites, the Promised Land.

    Something deep inside me shifted when I saw that gate. My perspective changed. I had always believed in Abraham, I believed the Bible, I believed it was possible to walk by faith and do by the help of God what we could not accomplish on our own. But when I saw that gate, I somehow knew it more deeply than ever before. Four thousand years ago, a man had heard the voice of God deep in his soul, and in obedience to that voice had somehow taken the world to a new place. Much more than the astronaut Neil Armstrong, his was “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” The ability to know and interact with God in a new way, the way of faith. The man Abraham emerged from the pages of a book and I perceived his humanity, that he was subject to the same limitations as I was but somehow transcended them. He was real. And he lived and walked by faith. Abraham, by faith, did what he was called to do, and somehow, by faith, Brian and I would do what we were called to do. Brian had his own moment of divine connection on the trip. That’s his story, not mine to tell here, but the bottom line was that we would return back home and finish this building to the glory of God. We left with a resurrected hope that we would and could walk with God, and God would help us. And we did, and He did. So help me God!
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