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, November 03, 2007
The spiral of violence is broken by those willing to absorb the violence in their own flesh
Christianity is intrinsically opposed to the system of normalized injustice that pretends to be civilization. There is no need to reconcile Christian with progressive values - we are still catching up with the values of the most progressive man in history - Jesus Christ. I pray to God each day that I may one day be able to accept and realize his progressive intensity. The direction of history is toward nonviolence, toward justice for all, towards ending the domination of each human being by another, but not merely by ending the injustice out there, but by extinguishing the injustice living in my heart. And even this division is unreal since there is an organic link between the two that welds both injustices together.
Christianity is more radical than Marxism because it gives the soul an anchor-point outside of time and matter. No matter how much the Marxist believes in economic justice and economic determinism, in the end there is nothing outside the material processes of history for him to cling to. If his class loses the battle, the loss is absolute because for him there is no spiritual realm of justice in which all will be redeemed. It either happens in history or it doesn't happen. Though the Marxist may see this redemption as a projection of unfulfilled hope, it acts as a powerful source of spiritual strength which the materialist denies himself.
The radicalism of the 60's can be critiqued in many ways, but probably it's greatest flaw and the reason it fizzled so quickly after (or even before) the Vietnam war had ended was the sense of futility and cynicism that it instilled. After the idealistic fervor subsided, all that was left was the pursuit of personal pleasure in sex, drugs, and media, which was characterized as "liberating" by the uprising capitalistic class which has since triumphed. The sense that the forces of repression and control were so powerful that there was no alternative but to serve them, while knowing and repressing the knowledge of their corruption, was the final result of much of that radical critique. Rather than empowering the free individual with a sense of his ability to create change, the effective power to make change was drained off in a thousand different directions. Many were the exploiters of that initial fervor, but few stayed to cultivate its deep roots, roots that must reach into sources of spiritual renewal if the blossoms are to live.
There is a wisdom that comes from years of thought and struggle over revolution and one of its fruits is the insight that there is no revolution "out there" for us to join. In the 60's and 70's, I devoutly believed that and I searched restlessly for the perfect movement to join. Then I fell back in bitter disappointment, thinking I had missed the revolution, that I was too slow to act, and that it had passed me by. But now I know that this was not the case. The revolution that I was searching for was one that I was carrying in my heart the whole time. Gandhi said it best: "We must be the change we wish to see." In other words, the missing element in my search was myself. There are organizations of course and magazines and marches, but they are really just props, not the actual revolution that we seek. The revolution begins when we act with compassion, when we care even when no one joins us, when believe in peace and act on that belief even in the uncaring void.
So clap your hands!: "So in Isaiah God speaks of making a new people, and in Thessalonians Paul warns, not against associating with non-believers, but associating with lazy believers. The struggle of the human heart is constant, and the only comfort in the struggle is knowing that the struggle goes on in God, in the community of faith, among believers. The comfort is knowing that the struggle to open your heart to all the closed hearts around you is one shared by those in faith with you, that when you share your faithfulness you don't do it alone, and your strength doesn't come from your will alone. Will is not faith, and it will not preserve you against the challenge to what you believe. Standing alone is weakness, not strength. What would Jesus do? Find a group who shared his beliefs, and open his heart to them; and from them, in them, with them, open his heart to the world; not as an act of will, but as an act of faith. And then you will see "the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing together for joy at the presence of the LORD." Which is what you are looking for, after all; not your victory, but the victory of God." - Adventus