"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, February 23, 2008

A Conspiracy of Hope

In this video, Pete Seeger and a young Iraq vet keep hope alive by adding their spoonful of sand to the world's sad seesaw: Pete Seeger to Winter Soldiers

This is most apropos to the Lenten observance that many readers of the Nonviolent Jesus are carrying out, both in support of People Breaking the Silence, which you can join by clicking on the link on this blog and in support of the CPT Palestine Lenten campaign, where we see the face of Jesus in our brothers and sisters in Palestine, who, like him, are despised and rejected by all humanity, their sufferings unworthy of news coverage because they are not people in the same sense as the Israelis.

Today, we contemplate the second station of the Cross: "When the chief priests and the guards saw [Jesus] they cried out, 'Crucify him, crucify him!' Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him." ... They cried out, "Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!' Pilate said to them, 'Shall I crucify your king?' The chief priests answered, 'We have no king but Caesar.' Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha. John 19: 6, 15-17

For 40 years, Palestinians have born the cross of military occupation. Palestinians have lost their land, their homes, their olive trees, their cultural traditions, and their lives. Throughout these 40 years, people around the world, but especially Christian Zionists, have offered their support to the Israeli military occupation of Palestine. Because the unconditional support our governments offer the state of Israel, we are complicit in the suffering of the Palestinian people." - Christian Peacemaker Teams.

O Lord, how long shall the wicked,
how long shall the wicked exult?

We begin in solidarity with the suffering which will always remain the central act of a Christian, "To say the same thing in another way, the biblical witness not only stands against tyranny and oppression as such but comprehends tyranny and oppression as blasphemy, that is, as the repudiation and defamation of the Lordship of Christ in common history by the ruling powers and political principalities." - William Stringfellow, "Conscience and Obedience"

To tyrannize over the weak is not merely a violation of just order, but is a direct offense against the kingdom of heaven. The coming of Christ changes every relation in the world and what was once a crime becomes a violation of the new order. "The offense against humanity which any tyranny or injustice represents is, as it were, escalated because of Christ's dominion over fallen creation, so that it is not merely an offense against specific, conspicuous victims but is a burden for all humanity and for the life of the whole of creation, an aggression against the Word of God in which that life is bestowed, or so that it is exposed as blasphemous. It is, hence, not happenstance or sentimentality or, even, compassion that occasions the biblical association of the people of God with the impoverished, dispossessed, imprisoned, diseased, outcast, but that identification verifies, honors and implements the confession that Jesus Christ is Lord." - William Stringfellow, "Conscience and Obedience"

To confess that Jesus Christ is Lord means to identify with the oppressed. But this identification cannot remain theoretical - it must embrace a revolutionary praxis and a realistic analysis of the causes of oppression. "In the contemporary world of affluence and poverty, where man's major crime is murder by privilege, revolution against the established order is the criterion of a living faith." - James W. Douglass, "The Nonviolent Cross"

This too is the cross: "Man either gives life by himself taking on their suffering in that community of Christ working toward a new earth or he murders by turning from the God in man to the idolatry of a distant deity. There is only one God, and he has become man. Man can possess no life in God apart from God's life in the Suffering Servant." - James W. Douglass, "The Nonviolent Cross"

So we fast for the Christian Zionists who worship a Disneyland of illusory deities and pray that they might become human and suffer with us by looking into the eyes of those to whom we have caused so much pain. In that cross lies the true conspiracy of hope.

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