Thursday, 30 May 2013

Loving Your Enemy: Part 3: The Old Testament

One of the greatest road-blocks for many in accepting a peace-theology is the Old Testament, or more specifically the violence contained within the Old Testament. The thinking here is that because God allowed violence in the OT,  then violence, cannot be inherently wrong. This tension really is magnified by a 'flat reading' of the Bible. Those that read all texts of bible as equally authoritative really start to feel the strain between a God who would say, "Show them no mercy", and the Crucified Saviour that cries out, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." 

Historically, the problem of Old Testament violence has always been a problem for the church. An early church leader, Marcion rejected the Scriptures of Israel, believing that they portrayed a God other than that known in Jesus Christ. (Curiously, Marcion also tried to collapse the Gospels into one document.) Irenaeus and other early Christian leaders vigorously opposed such a move. 

"Thinkers like Gregory of Nyssa, John Cassian and especially Origen felt compelled to embrace all canonical material as divinely inspired and thus considered it impossible to dismiss. Yet, largely because of the revelation of the enemy-loving, non-violent God in Christ, they also felt compelled to reject a literal interpretation of the OT’s violent depictions of God. They therefore embraced this violent material, but they did so while reinterpreting it." - Greg Boyd, The Coming Storm

(Side note: Right now the discussion on violence in the OT is a bit of a hot topic. Check out this article for some background. And this one. Don't forget about this one. )

It might seem laughable to some, to suggest that the Old Testament (OT) points and hopes for a peace-theology.  I want to suggest that the narrative movement of the Old Testament strengthens the commitment to non-violence by pointing to the promise of shalom.

But isn't the Old Testament filled with endless accounts of violence, genocide, and tribalism? 

Yes and No. 

Yes. There are accounts of the nation of Israel participating in genocide, wars, and personal retaliation


There is also a stream of texts that point beyond the violence of the OT to (1) a God who does not act like the other pagan gods and is progressively moving God's chosen people to a fuller understanding of God's self, (2) a view of peace (shalom), justice and mercy that promotes the breaking down of hostility for hospitality  and (3) the coming reign of the Mashiach (Messiah), who would proclaim peace to the nations. (Zec 9:9) 

What's going on here? 

Firstly, the Old Testament is theologically diverse. We cannot just point to any passage in the Bible and say, "God said it, I believe it, that settles it". The OT is immersed in a discussion on differing theological assumptions. A good example: 

Proverbs says, “Live righteously and good things will happen.” 

Job says, “Have you heard about me?” 

"The Old Testament is the inspired telling of the story of Israel coming to know their God. But it’s a process. God doesn’t mutate, but Israel’s revelation and understanding of God obviously does. Along the way assumptions are made. One of these assumptions was that Yahweh shares certain violent attributes with the pagan deities of the ancient Near East. These assumptions were inevitable, but wrong. For example, the Hebrew prophets will eventually begin to question the assumption that Yahweh desires blood sacrifice. Jesus was fond of quoting Hosea’s bold assertion that Yahweh doesn’t want sacrifice, he wants mercy." - Brian Zahnd, God and Genocide 

Secondly, the Old Testament is meant to be read through the lens of Jesus. When we go to the Bible (the words of God), we learn about Jesus, The Word/logos (logic/reason) of God, who has authority over all scripture. Scripture contains the words and revelation of God. We must remember that Jesus is the ultimate end goal of the book that tells his story – its telos.  The book is not the destination for a believer in and of itself.  This book is the place where I learn about Jesus who claims to be the final destination for our Christian lives. The whole of scripture is about one thing: Jesus. 

If you want to know who God is, look at Jesus. If you want to know what it means to be human, look at Jesus. If you want to know what love is, look at Jesus. If you want to know what grief is, look at Jesus                                            -N.T. Wright, Look at Jesus 

The writer of the book of Hebrews puts it like this: 

 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. (Hebrews 1:1-4) 
"The earliest Christians read the Bible messianically, or in the words of Warren Carter, with their “Jesus-glasses on.” That is, they saw Jesus in the Old Testament where others had not seen him or a Messiah." - Scot McKnight, Jesus Creed 

A few examples of the peace witness in the OT


1.1. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" 
  • God creates the cosmos using words. "let there be light"
    • The God of Israel differs from other near eastern and greek gods whose creation accounts were often great cosmic battles.   
    • "It is reasonable to suggest that the Genesis story is meant to be contrasted with the reigning Babylonian ideology; that is, one could argue that an important purpose of the Genesis story is to argue that the God of Israel is solely and fully in control of the cosmos. God's creation is...not the result of a power struggle within a dysfunctional divine family." - Peter Enns, Inspiration and Incarnation
4.1-16 Cain and Abel 

The first act of violence recorded in the Bible was a fratricide. The older brother Cain, in a fit of jealousy, killed his younger brother Abel. Did this murder demand retaliation? No, Adam did not think to take vengeance into his own hands. And God did not demand retaliation. In fact, God protected Cain to break the cycle of retaliation. 

"In Genesis we encounter a different voice. The voice of the God who takes the side of the victim unjustly violated. Of course we recognize this voice in the Prophets and their concern about the widows and orphans, but have we read the Cain and Abel story from this perspective?" - Michael Hardin, The Jesus Driven Life

4.23-24  "If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times."

"As in the story of Lamech, the problem of violence tends to escalate out of control. Right from the beginning of the Bible the connection between violence, sacrifice and civilization is being made". -- Michael Hardin, The Jesus Driven Life


Solomon is said to have been chosen by the Lord to build the Temple because 'he has shed no blood'. (1 Chronicles 28) Solomon leaves behind some indications of the wisdom of peace in book of Proverbs. In the NT, Paul quotes Proverbs in Romans 12, to further drive home the wisdom of peace making. 

16:7 When a man's ways please God. God makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

17:13 If a man pays back evil for good, evil will never leave his house.

18:14 Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.

18: 19 He who loves a quarrel loves sin; he who builds a high gate invites destruction.

10:12 Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.

24:17 Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, or the LORD will see and disapprove 

25:21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.

26:17 Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own.

The Prophetic witness to the Prince of Peace:

The Prophets tend to critique warfare and call for restoration of shalom. There is a hopeful looking forward to the days of the Messiah who would come to make peace. 


2.4 “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation will not take up sword  against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” 

9.6"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end." 

32.17"The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever." 

52:7 "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news,who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation." 


"The Lord will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nations will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore." (Micah 4:1-3) 

Jesus fulfilling Zechariah's prophecy

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
  Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
    righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
    and the warhorses from Jerusalem,
    and the battle bow will be broken.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
    His rule will extend from sea to sea
    and from the River to the ends of the earth. - Zechariah 9:9-10 

What do we say of the Old Testament hope of  a peaceful kingdom?

There is a temptation to read the prophetic promises of peace and think: "that will be nice... one day" or  "Won't that be great when the Prince of Peace comes?" The problem with this dispensationalist thinking is that it functionally denies:

(1) the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets in the life, teaching, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ.  

(2) The 'now and not yet" breaking-in Kingdom (inaugurated eschatology) 

(3) That Jesus is Lord. Not will be, might be, could be. Jesus is Lord, now on the earth and Christ follower confess this subversive Kingdom that is breaking in 'on earth as it is in heaven'. 

The OT peace witness is fulfilled and being fulfilled in the coming of the Messiah and the establishment of the Kingdom of God. The New Testament goes to great lengths to make it clear that Jesus’ life and teaching are grounded in Old Testament faith and practice. Jesus self-conscientiously presents himself as anchored in the story of Israel. He intended to fulfill Torah, not abolish it. His summary of the path to eternal life—love God and neighbour—is presented as the core message of the Law and Prophets. 

Jesus deepens the extent of the Torah by, extending love to the enemy, defining justice as mercy, and sending the church to fulfill Abraham's calling to bless the nations. 

(More on this in the next post) 

Be sure to check out Part 1 & Part 2 of this series. 

Here is Part 4!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Loving Your Enemy: Part 2: The Historical Context

The most important class I took at bible college was Hermeneutics, or the study of the interpretation of scripture. It was in this class that I learned valuable principals such as, “a text without a context is a pretext”, or the difference between exegesis and eisegesis. The goal of good hermeneutics is to ascertain the original meaning and intention of the author the text. It is to this end that I believe a historical study of the early church is beneficial to the interpretation of the Biblical text. History helps to paint the lines that we must stay within and it helps to construct the boundaries for a faithful reading of the text. Examining what was important to the apostles, and the generation that followed, and then the next generation, gives a basic tradition, a framework, of values and beliefs, that must guide our faith today. The study of church history helps us to develop that basic framework.

So what did the early church believe on killing? Here's what is completely amazing: 

The first three centuries of Christianity, all Christian leaders, without exception, were pacifists and called all Christians to live the way of peace.

Let's look at a few statements by the early church fathers:
Justin Martyr

  “We refrain from making war on our enemies, and [we] cannot bear to see a man killed, even if killed justly.”  - Justin Martyr (103-165 A.D)

Clement of Alexandria

“He who holds the sword must cast it away and that if one of the faithful becomes a soldier, he must be rejected by the Church, for he has scorned God.” - Clement of Alexandria (150-215 A.D)

“For even if soldiers came to John and received advice on how to act, and even if a centurion  became a believer, the Lord, in subsequently disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier” - Tertullian (160-220 A.D)

"Shall it be held lawful to make an occupation of the sword when the Lord proclaims that he who uses the sword shall perish by the sword? And shall the son of peace take part in the battle when it does not become him even to sue at law?" - Tertullian (160-220 A.D)

Hippolytus of Rome
"A soldier of the civil authority must be taught not to kill men and to refuse to do so if he is commanded, and to refuse to take an oath. If he is unwilling to comply, he must be rejected for baptism. A military commander or civic magistrate must resign or be rejected. If a believer seeks to become a soldier, he must be rejected, for he has despised God."
 - Hippolytus of Rome (170-236 A.D)

Military service is seen as wrong in the early church for 3 reasons:

a) ETHICAL: Violence is not an option for Christians. The early church fathers would often cite Jesus' teaching on enemy love to this end. 

b) PHILOSOPHICAL: War is based on the State’s goal of self-preservation or self advancement rather than the Christian’s goal of self-sacrifice.

c) SPIRITUAL: Military service demands too much loyalty, leading to idolatry.
 “ The overwhelming evidence suggests that the followers of Jesus were pacifists for the first three centuries. Many early church leaders and documents underscore the unwavering commitment to nonviolence.” - Ronald Sider, The Early Church on Killing.

The Early Church on Killing: 
(summarized points taken from Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed) 

1.Prior to Constantine not one writer says it is right to kill or join the military.
2.Many passages prohibit participation in killing or the military.
3. Rejection of killing is comprehensive.
4. It is inaccurate to say military participate is wrong because of idolatry. Sometimes, but often it is related to Christ’s teachings in the Sermon on the Mount.
5.The evidence for “divided and ambiguous” is overdrawn. No one says it is right to join the military. No one encourages capital punishment.
6. Sider also thinks the continuous theory toward Just War is overcooked.
7. There is clear evidence that by the end of the 2nd and early 3rd centuries that some Christians were in the military. Perhaps these are those who were converted after joining the military. Some texts condemn baptized Christians joining the military. Lactantius’ later writing therefore inveighs against what is going on, suggesting that by the early 4th Century the voice was being divided.

But what is clear is that no one supports killing in war. That some participated shows a Christian disconnect. There is no voice saying it was right, so anyone who says there were different teachings goes against the evidence we do have. To make this a little clearer: that some were in the military does not mean there were teachers who said it was right.

What happened? 

A sculpture of Constantine
The Constantinian Shift: Early in the fourth century, Constantine declares Christianity a legal religion through the Edict of Milan, immediately reversing any ongoing persecution. Instead, he lavishes gifts upon all Church leaders (e.g., increasing their salary, making them exempt from paying taxes, building church buildings, funding Bible copying, etc.). Crucifixion and gladiatorial games are abolished due to the traumatic connection with Christian victimization. Sunday is declared a weekly holiday for all people. Pagan holidays are absorbed into the Christian calendar. Pagan temples are converted into Church buildings, with statues of Roman gods replaced with statues of the Apostles and other biblical characters. The Church is now friends with the State.

"The Constantinian Shift amounted to a fundamental reorientation in the relationship of church and world."  
- John Howard Yoder

Theological Development in light of the Constantinian Shift:

• Augustine (354 – 430 C.E.) & later Aquinas (1225 – 1274 C.E.) develop and defend a
“justified war” theory for Christians, based on existing Roman and Greek thought.
• Christians are now encouraged to join the army and be involved in government. Violence is to be used as God’s instrument to “punish” evildoers (e.g., Romans 13:1-7).
• Augustine sees punishment as a more justifiable motive than self-defense.
• By 416 C.E., all Roman soldiers are required to be Christian.
• 500 C.E - 1400‘s In the Western Church Non-violence is restricted to the elite christians.
(monasticism, saints etc..)

Nonviolence was for a thousand years relegated to the monastic, saintly realm. It is during this time that the church openly participates in the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisiton, and church sponsored killings. Everything changed during the reformation. The church for first time was being openly critiqued and called back to a more faithful earlier expression of Christianity. The most important change that took place as a result of the reformation, was the translation of scripture in to local languages. Reformers like Luther toiled for years to place scripture in the hands of the common person. 

Groups of people began to read scripture for the first time and discover the radical teachings of Jesus' and his Kingdom. These people who began to take Jesus' teachings seriously were called the 'radical reformers'. The radical reformers were not content to stop at Luther or Calvin's reformation. They wanted to continue radicalizing the church back to the early church revealed in scripture. Soon they began to baptise by full immersion and as a result recieved the title 'ana-baptist', meaning 'again' and 'baptise'. The Anabaptists would be greatly persecuted for their beliefs. Both Catholics and Protestants killed, burned, and slaughtered the Anabaptists. The perfered way of execution was by 'third baptism', in which the unrepentant victim would be drown to death. Through all the persecution the Anabaptists maintained a faithful peace witness to the world. 

Check this video out for a more indepth look at Anabaptists: 

Historical Development of Non-Violence in light the Reformation.

• Anabaptists– The Radical Reformers

• Swiss Protestants...

• Conrad Grebel (1498-1526)

• Felix Manz (1498-1527) – the first martyr – death by “third baptism”

• George Blaurock (1491-1529)

• German Catholics... Michael & Margareta Sattler (1490-1527)

• Dutch Catholics... Menno Simons (1496-1561)

Today we have a small minority of denominations that espouse Non-Violence. (Anabaptists, Eastern Orthodox, Early Pentecostals)

Reflection Questions for Discussion

1. What has been your experience (or lack thereof) of peace teaching in the church?

2. What was your knowledge and/or experience of the Anabaptists before this blog series?

3. What are thoughts on the Constantinian Shift? Should the church and state be one or seperate? 

4. Should the church ever use violence to promote its agenda? 

(Click here to go to Part 3) 

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Loving Your Enemy: Part 1: Examining Our Lenses

I wear glasses. 

I have worn glasses since I was eleven years old.  The first time I ever wore a pair of glasses I was struck by the clarity of the world around me. The world looked sharper and more in focus than I had ever experienced before in my short life. I even said to my mother, “has the world always been this clear?"  

I am now twenty-six years old and without my trusty pair of glasses I am practically blind. The corrective lenses built around my ‘hipsterish’ thick black frames help me daily to see the world around me. I don’t leave the house without them. I can’t drive or shave or look at facebook without wearing my glasses. 

Theology is a lot like a pair of glasses. The right prescription can give you clarity of sight. You will see as you have never seen before. The wrong prescription can give you a headache or worse cause you to stumble around and never truly see. 

A huge ‘lens’ for me is the Jesus lens. I read the entire scope of scripture as culminating in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. Jesus is my hermeneutic. I believe that the Bible comes with its own instructions on how to use it, if we have eyes to see them.  The Bible records Jesus teaching that all of Scripture functions as a pointer to him.  Take Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees as an example: “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!  Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life. “ (John 5:39-40, NLT) Jesus accuses the Pharisees of using the Bible as their endpoint destination rather than as a stepping stone to Jesus.  They studied the word of God in print, and they followed the word of God in print.  If they had a summary slogan it might be, “The Bible says it; that settles it; I believe it; let’s do it.”  But Jesus says to all of us, “Follow me.”  When reading the Bible, I believe we too need to need to make that next step to Jesus. 

I admit that it is possible to read Jesus from different perspectives. Having a ‘Jesus lens’ is not a magical way of solving all theological issues and interpretations. But I bring up the 'Jesus lens' as an example that we all choose wear lenses in the way we approach scripture. This is why when I begin a blog series on 'loving your enemy', I believe it is crucially important to talk about how we read Jesus. The phrase 'love your enemy' can be interpreted, as we will discover, in any number of ways.  

I am going to focus in on the different lenses Christianity has used to view the Sermon on the Mount/Sermon on the Plain in conjunction with the question: Is it appropriate for those who follow Jesus to take up lethal force against an enemy? 

Theological Lens 
How do you read the Sermon on the Mount?
Is it appropriate for those who follow Jesus to take up lethal force against an enemy? 
Jesus’ teachings are for a select kind of super-Christians called “priests”,“disciples”, or “saints”.

Yes and no. Catholic laity can engage in justified war, whereas priests and nuns are to forsake the use of the sword.

Jesus’ teaching is designed to function like the Old Testament law – to show us we can never be good enough and to prepare us for grace 
Yes. “Christians may without sin occupy civil offices to punish evildoers with the sword, engage in just wars, and serve as soldiers.” Augsburg Confession. Luther.

Jesus’ teaching was right for his day, but not meant for ours 
Yes and no.
Evangelicals & Augustine 
Jesus’ teaching was right in principle, but not meant to be put into practice in literally. 
Yes. “Loving your enemies is an inward disposition, although it is not exhibited in bodily action or in words".- Augustine 
Anabaptists, Eastern Orthodox, Early Pentecostals and the Early Church. 
Jesus’ teaching is meant to be lived out today, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Christ followers are meant to imitate Jesus and his ‘way of the Cross’, by loving, forgiving, extending mercy to enemies, even  to the point of death. 
No. A Christ follower cannot take a life. The Kingdom is without coercion. We persuade by love, witness, spirit, reason, rhetoric, and if need be: martyrdom.  

“The Sermon on the Mount stands in Matthew’s narrative scheme as Jesus’ programmatic disclosure of the kingdom of God and the life to which the community of disciples is called”. -Dr. Richard Hays

Jesus’ teaching will be enacted in the future establishment of the Kingdom. 
Yes. Jesus’ Kingdom ethic of enemy love will come one day, but today we fight. 

Do you notice anything? 

Which lens do you identify with the most?  


I self identify within the "Anabaptist/ Orthodox/Pentecostal" lens of interpreting the Sermon(s). I didn't always believe in nonviolence. I didn't always have the 'lenses' that I do now. But here are a few reasons why I am at this 'perscription': 

  • I believe that the interpretative principal should be derived from the text.
    • Jesus ends his body of teaching on the Mount/ Plain with the example of the wise and foolish builders. The wise builder is the one who "hears Jesus' words (meaning the previous body of teaching) puts them into practice". 
        • Jesus expects his disciples obey and to enact the teaching of the Sermon(s).
        • Jesus does not appear to regard the discipleship of the Sermon(s) as an impossible ideal 
    • Jesus last words in the Gospel according to Matthew are a reiteration of the Sermon on the Mount. 
        • "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you."
  • I believe that Matthew is teaching an 'inaugurated eschatology.'
    • Matthew is writing at least fifty years after the death and resurrection of Jesus. He is well aware that history is continuing and that the church must reckon with an extended period of time , ‘until the end of age’.  During that time, he (Matthew) envisions the church’s mission as one of discipling all nations to obey Jesus’ commands, including the command of nonviolent enemy love."  - Dr. Richard Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament
    • “Inaugurated eschatology, or the presence and the future of God’s kingdom, was a hallmark of Jesus’ public career. To pray “your kingdom come” at Jesus’ bidding, therefore, meant to align oneself with his kingdom movement and to seek God’s power in furthering its ultimate fulfillment.  It meant adding one’s own prayer to the total performance of Jesus’ agenda.  It meant celebrating in the presence of God the fact that the kingdom was already breaking in, and looking eagerly for its consummation.” - N.T. Wright, The Lord’s Prayer as a Paradigm of Christian Prayer
  • I believe that the New Testament teaches the 'priesthood of all believers"
    • "The suggestions that the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is intended for a special class of supersanctified Christians is discredited by the Great Commision at the conclusion of the Gospel (according to Matthew). All baptized believers are to be taught to obeserve all that Jesus commanded." - Dr. Richard Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament
  • The Gospel(s) appear to  have a consistent prohibition of violence beyond the Sermon(s). 
    • In the temptation narrative (Mt 4.1-11) Jesus renounces the option of wielding power the kingdoms of the world, choosing instead to worship and serve God alone
    • In the three passion predictions (Mt 16:21-23, 17:22-23, 20:-17-19) Jesus foretells his fate as one who will be ‘persecuted for righteousness sake’; and he intimates that those who follow him will suffer the same fate
    • In Gethsemane,(Mt. 26.36) Jesus chooses to bear the cup of suffering, the way of obedience instead of the way of violence.
    • Jesus rebukes his disciple who uses the sword saying, “Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” (Mt 26:52) 
    • Jesus imposes an order of silence to keep his disciples from proclaiming him as Messiah until he as redefined the time in terms of the Cross. He instructs his disciples that their vocation must be the same as his. (Mk 8:27-9:1) 
    • Jesus withdraws from the crowd that wants to ‘take him by force to make him king’. (Jn 6.15)
    • Jesus openly renounces violence as a strategy for promoting God’s kingdom. (Lk 9:51-56)
    • Jesus’ death is fully consistent with his teaching: he refuses to lift a finger, rejects calling a legion of angels (Mt 26:53), and intercedes for his enemies. (Lk 23:34a) 
    • Jesus tells Pilate that his ““My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight” (Jn 18:36)

Reflection Questions- (feel free to post answers in comment section) 

1. Which traditon of interpretation (lens) do you most identify with? (see chart above) Why do you most identify with this lens? 

2. What has been your experience (or lack thereof) of peace teaching in the church? 

3. If you became convinced that Jesus calls us to absolute non-violent, active enemy love, no matter what... would you submit to his call? If you’re not convinced, what issue will this blog series need to address before you would be convinced? 

4. Can you think of any serious objections to the 'lens' that I am currently looking through? 

(Click here to go to Part 2)