Jon Pahl Speaks on Religious Peace at Longo Lecture

By Emily Mathe on February 28, 2014

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Jon Pahl, Ph.D., spoke for Pacific Union College’s Longo Lecture, a lecture series endowed by Lawrence D. Longo, M.D., in honor of his parents Frank and Florine Longo. Pahl, an author and professor at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, titled his lecture “A Coming Religious Peace.”

Speaking in Scales chapel to an audience of more than 100, Pahl used examples of Disneyland and shopping mall architecture in describing the components of “religion that kills”: ignorance, crass consumption, and enemy-creation. He went on to define religion, concluding that “when we treat others like we want to be treated, that generally means we don’t want to kill them … which leads us to religious peacemaking.

“Religions exist as the cultural equivalent of ecological and biological systems of elimination … religions exist to eliminate violence,” Pahl argued.

Pahl spent the remainder of his lecture speaking about the promise of religions to create peace. He gave three examples of religious individuals who helped bring about peace through non-violence: Mahatma Gandhi in India, Leymah Gbowee in Liberia, and the Turkish Imam Fethullah Gulen. These religious peacebuilders illustrate that “collectively, people of faith have the capacity—the spiritual and social power—to accomplish whatever we set our minds to,” Pahl stated.

Pahl ended his talk with a description of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s role in the “peacebuilding garden.” He encouraged the audience to consider the “five seeds” of peacemaking: education, engagement, empathy, pluralism, and sustainability. Adventist have been leader in education, social justice, service, and religious liberty, said Pahl, but have the potential to do so much more. “We join in joy as workers in the peacebuilding garden,” he concluded.

Jon Pahl, Ph.D., is the Peter Paul and Elizabeth Hagan Professor in the History of Christianity and Director of MA Programs at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. He has also served Visiting Professor of Religion at Temple University, in Philadelphia, and as Visiting Professor of Religion at Princeton University. He has authored or edited six books, along with dozens of articles, essays, reviews, and columns. Dr. Pahl has appeared on numerous media outlets and in the feature documentary film Malls R Us as a commentator on the intersection of religion and culture.

The Longo Lecture series is presented by Lawrence D. Longo, M.D., in honor of his parents Frank and Florine Longo. The endowment was created in 1992 to establish a lectureship with topics related to religion, society, and learning. Dr. Longo, a 1949 graduate of Pacific Union College, is director of the Perinatal Biology Center and professor of Physiology, Obstetrics, and Gynecology at Loma Linda University School of Medicine. He is one of world’s most respected specialists in developmental physiology. Dr. Longo’s goal for the lecture series is to increase the depth of ideas and matters of the mind in the Christian experience.