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.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Make It New
"A hermit was asked why we are troubled by demons and he answered, 'Because we throw away our armour, that is, humility, poverty, patience and men's scorn.'"
This scorn is the price of resisting our soul's decomposition. The growth of the spirit is found by extending the circle of love, to one's enemies, to those far off, to members of alien religions and foreign cultures, until the whole of God's world is embraced.
Abdul Khaffer Khan taught: "The Holy Prophet Mohammed came into the world and taught us 'that man is a Muslim who never hurts anyone by word or deed, but who works for the benefit and happiness of God’s creatures. Belief in God is to love one’s fellowmen.'"
Nonviolence "is active, powerful, because it comes from the soul and it therefore has the power of truth, and is simply the right thing to do." - Mairead Macguire.
Our task is not to strut and bellow, but to attain humanity. In the words of Shakespeare, "O, there be players that I have seen play, and heard others praise, and that highly, not to speak it profanely, that, neither having th' accent of Christians nor the gait of Christians, pagan, nor man, have so strutted and bellowed that I have thought some of nature's journeymen had made men and not made them well, they imitated humanity so abominably." Hamlet 3:2.
Notice the progressive declension in this passage from Christian to pagan to mere humanity. In the U.S. today, war and greed have dropped the net from our scramble for mere humanity. To be apathetic in the face of organized murder is to abandon the struggle for humanity.
To attain humanity in the current age means to liberate one's mind from the frenzied rush of words. The first step is to deconstruct the propaganda that the war machine spews forth and analyze its true purpose. We have often attempted here to disambiguate that purpose and we will continue to finger the knot that ties our mind to lies and our heart to false enthusiasms, especially now that so much of the media has apparently embraced an antiwar message. Careful analysis shows that this is not the case.
Instead, the antiwar sentiments of the majority have forced a change in tactics. The media now acknowledge that sentiment so that it can be redirected into safe channels. This is not to prevent a democratic uprising - the corporate powers are still firmly in control, but the failure in Iraq threatens to divert resources from the effort to extend that control over Middle Eastern oil. Therefore, a false opposition is set up in the form of the Democratic party which attempts to channel the refocused antiwar energy long enough so that favorable oil agreements can be concluded under the banner of "ending sectarian strife". At that point, the media will reduce the visibility of our Iraq presence as much as possible and the issue will begin to fade.
Our Christian task is liberation from the internalized values and presuppositions of the Domination system. One major tactic of that system is to drain the will to act politically by projecting an illusion of total control, or "full spectrum dominance", as the military like to put it. An example of this was the "shock and awe" campaign at the beginning of the Iraq Occupation. The purpose was to install a magical sense of awe at American control not merely of the streets, but of the very sky above. A related tactic is the profusion of video cameras and email monitoring. The Israeli checkpoints in occupied Palestine fill a similar function. The system is not actually all-pervasive, but if the illusion of such control can be engendered, their purpose is accomplished.
However, these physical control mechanisms simply reinforce internal mechanisms that are the real locus of control. That purpose is well-defined as "decomposition" of the will to act without the sanction of the domination system. "Decomposition meant blocking people from acting. It meant paralyzing them as citizens by convincing them that everything was controlled. It meant relentless application of quiet coercion leading to compliance." - Walter Wink, "The Human Being".
The counterforce is the inner "well of life", fons vitae, which the Holy Spirit plants in our hearts that lets us act without the sanction of greed or pride. It heals the wounds inflicted by the crushing of the self. From this new center, we can see war for what it is, a disgrace not merely to Christians, but the decomposition of our very humanity. God has so created us that to fail to rise above the current state of our humanity is to devolve from it, and to bury our snout in the fascinating garbarge of consumer society is to do exactly that.
Success means that our hearts have remained faithful. In the words of Gordon Crosby, "Therefore, somehow, we have to learn to get our satisfaction and our joy in faithfulness and in our intimate relationship with Christ. Then the question of effectiveness and success, in the usual sense of those terms is not the issue. We can transcend that and get energized and nourished by faithfulness knowing we are doing what we must do to live - not what we must do to change the neighborhood."