Reflections on Reborn on the Fourth of July by Logan (Mehl-Laituri) Isaac
One of the most important tasks in the work of conflict transformation is to facilitate honest, respectful conversation about difficult issues. Ministers of conflict transformation co-create with God sacred, safe(r) spaces where God’s people can share stories of hope, despair, grief, joy, peace, and conflict. We rely upon the surprising, transformative work of the Holy Spirit as we seek to ground individual stories within the ancient communal story of the people of God.
In seeking to enfold individual stories within the communal story, of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we conflict transformation folk share a sympathy with Logan (Mehl-Laituri) Isaac’s work. I learned of Logan Isaac through a series of Spirit-led convergences as the Conflict Transformation Ministries became involved with care for veterans and their families (see blog post Honoring All). Recently I read Reborn on the Fourth of July, Logan’s story of how he has come to inhabit a frontier space of being both pacifist and patriot, soldier and saint, combat veteran and follower of Jesus Christ. The book is both a memoir and a manifesto about life in the middle-ground where there are no easy answers. Logan writes with dogged honesty and there are parts of Reborn on the Fourth of July that will make readers uncomfortable. A little holy discomfort is not a bad thing, I think.
Logan’s writing, public speaking, and advocacy call Christians to thoughtful, risky, and respectful conversations about difficult issues. He seeks the same kinds of spaces that we in conflict transformation ministry seek: dialogic “thin-places” where heaven and earth touch, leading one to exclaim, “Surely God was in this place and I did not know it!”
Do we (do I?) have the courage to hear the stories that make us squirm? Do we have the eyes to see that which we would rather not see? Do we (do I?) have the heart to listen? In the wake of Memorial Day and as the Fourth of July approaches, can we risk moving beyond a brief “Thank you for your service” in order to stay in the places where we might even be reborn?