An blog by a member of the Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi, to explore the nexus between contemplation and resistance. "The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The American Beast

The religion of George W. Bush was well characterized a few years ago: “The myth of redemptive violence is nationalism become absolute. This myth speaks for God; it does not listen for God to speak. It invokes the sovereignty of God as its own; it does not entertain the prophetic possibility of radical denunciation and negation by God. It misappropriates the language, symbols and scriptures of Christianity. It does not seek God in order to change; it claims God in order to prevent change. Its God is not the impartial ruler of all nations but a biased and partial tribal god worshipped as an idol. Its metaphor is not the journey but a fortress. Its symbol is not the cross but a rod of iron. Its offer is not forgiveness, but victory. Its good news is not the unconditional love of enemies but their final liquidation.” Wink, Walter. Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992. p. 30.

For many years after my conversion, I wandered in the desert of right-wing Christianity, wondering why their religion seemed to have so little to do with the Biblical Jesus, and more tellingly, why the tone of so much of their writing was so smarmy and cynical. They seemed secretly to be in love with power and wealth, marking them as confirmations of righteousness (or dominion) rather than as deeply ambiguous signs, as much of corruption as of favor.

Christians wait for the Lord to lead, then follow in his way. Not so the worshippers of America, the “hyperpower” whose cause is currently identified with Christ’s. Its words come thundering out in a flow whose naturalness validates their contents, “What joy for the virtuous, seeing this vengeance, bathing their feet in the blood of the wicked!”, Psalm 58: 10. In the words of a well-known spokesman from the Pat Robertson tradition, “The righteous … are called by God’s law to exercise a holy ‘violence’ against certain of the wicked, thereby manifesting God’s wrath.” (Jordan, James B. “Pacificism and the Old Testament”, in The Theology of Christian Resistance, ed. Gary North (Tyler, Tx.: Geneva Divinity School Press, 1983), 92. In fact, it is the presence of a surgically-implanted metal shield right over the ear drums that infallibly indicates the presence of the righteous. What characterized the “wisdom of the desert” was the infinite patience with which the voice of the Lord was sought. What the Desert Fathers feared deeply was the temptation to substitute their own voice for that of God. Our political blow-hards suffer no such weakness.

Out of the evil that our policy has inflicted on Iraq and the deeper evil our guilt has inflicted on us, may we not begin to perceive an outline of the good that God may one day shape from this horror? The Iraq escapade may one day symbolize the stupidity and ineffectiveness of globalistic violence in the way Nazism symbolizes the horror of racist violence. Let us pray that Iraq will at last put to rest the ghost of Vietnam and that the lessons that war should have taught us will be burned in our hearts like the words of the ten commandments.

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