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, September 22, 2007
The Ex-Patriot Spirit of a New Kingdom
"Blackwater’s version of events is hotly disputed, not only by the Iraqi government, which says it has video to prove the shooting was unprovoked, but also by survivors of the attack. 'I saw women and children jump out of their cars and start to crawl on the road to escape being shot,' said Iraqi lawyer Hassan Jabar Salman, who was shot four times in the back during the incident. 'But still the firing kept coming and many of them were killed. I saw a boy of about 10 leaping in fear from a minibus–he was shot in the head. His mother was crying out for him. She jumped out after him, and she was killed.'"
We know the spirit to which Blackwater belongs and it is not the spirit of Christ. His spirit, in the words of Nicolas Berdyaev, is described as follows: "Christianity is the greatest power of resistance to the power of the world...Christian virtue is not compliance to norm and duty, but strength and power." This power reacts with anger and sadness to the violence bred in cynicism and greed. But the power of resistance arises in prayer and is distinguished by its willingness to suffer rather than impose suffering on others. The blaze of gunfire evokes the spirit of repentance in us. The bullets of Blackwater defend a society that melts the integrity of souls. As Christians, we owe no allegiance to the norm and duty of such a society. Instead our duty to God requires that we cry out against it.
The geniune power of Catholic truth is revealed in a commentary on the film, "The Camden 28" on the act of war resistance by Catholic activists: "But the very difference of these 'Catholic Left' conspirators — their religious motives — as shown in 'The Camden 28,' may well have made them more dangerous opponents in the eyes of the Nixon administration. A growing Catholic and religious opposition to the war could not be dismissed as extremist to mainstream America, so they had to be brought down."
The Catholic Church has a dynamite that could end war if only Christians could be brought to believe in their own spiritual power. The power of the gospel inspires us to acts of resistance to the powers of this world. "Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind." The Church has a power that the rulers of this world fear much more than the violence of revolutionaries because they know that the revolutionaries ultimately accept the world they have made. It is those whose primary loyalty is to God who actually threaten to undermine the order of that world. Nonviolence undermines those foundations far more radically than the fiercest revolutionary.
Instead the political reality faced by Christians is well-summarized here: "Politicians have taken advantage of our culture's apathy and nihilism to shed the last vestiges of accountability..."We are no longer enough of a democracy that the people feel empowered, but still enough of one that people feel responsible."
This nascent guilt lies at the root of the social conscience which God calls all Christians to, as the inevitable complement of personal salvation. "In personal religion the first requirement is to repent and believe the gospel." But then, "Social religion, too, demands repentance and faith: repentance for our social sins." Faith requires a revaluation of social values. There are two great entities in human life—the human soul and the human race—and religion is to save both." - Paul Rauschenbusch
"Christians are living in this sinful world and must bear its sinful burden, they may not steal away from its battlefield." - Nicolas Berdyaev. In other words, as cynicism burns the roots of our spiritual motivation, we can counteract its effects by willingly assuming the responsibility that peers and politicians refuse. No one compels us to assume this burden - we accept it freely out of love for God and our fellow man. When we act for peace, the kingdom grows.