"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.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Awful Roar

"The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its mighty waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." - Frederick Douglass

Until Christians begin to roar, the darkness will endure. Christians are outraged by injustice and will not be silent - they cannot endure the darkness and would rather die than tolerate it. But this does not mean they embrace the laws of power:

"Power," wrote Rienhold Niebuhr, "always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God’s service when it is violating all His laws. Our passions, ambitions, avarice, love and resentment, etc., possess so much metaphysical subtlety and so much overpowering eloquence that they insinuate themselves into the understanding and the conscience and convert both to their party."

What is so disturbing about the current rebellion against the Iraq occupation is how it is being framed by virtually all parties, but especially the Democratic establishment. The argument that persuades Americans of all political stripes is that we have been ineffective and incompetent, but that implies that once we make our technical adjustments, the moral dilemma will be resolved. This is precisely the moral dilemma that Niebuhr saw so presciently: "Yet our American nation, involved in its vast responsibilities, must slough off many illusions which were derived both from the experiences and the ideologies of its childhood. Otherwise either we will seek escape from responsibilities which involve unavoidable guilt, or we will be plunged into avoidable guilt by too great confidence in our virtue."

To accept the end of childhood is to fully embrace responsibility as an inherent and inherently ambiguous part of our being. The American ideology acts as a hard and shiny shell from which this responsibility can easily be wiped, leaving us as "innocent" as we were in the misty beginning. Our leaders continue to cling to this childhood and in this clinging, violate every Christian law that such innocence ever embraced.

But my soul shall be joyful in the Lord
and rejoice in his salvation.
My whole being will say:
"Lord, who is like you
who rescue the weak from the strong
and the poor from the oppressor?"

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