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.
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Making All Things New
We should have known that it was inevitable. The housing crisis is a symptom of a much larger spiritual and economic crisis that may give birth within the next century to a new humanity, one that will break consumerist addiction and embrace a much fuller vision of what we can become. The system that began the Iraq occupation, the Afghanistan occupation, the Israeli occupation and so on is near collapse. These invasions and occupations were the result of a fundamental moral weakness engendered by an enslaving ideology of consumption that must be broken if we are to reclaim our humanity. Since we are unable to break that slavery voluntarily, the slavery will be broken by force - the onrushing force of climate change. It appears as if the legend of Atlantis is actually to take place in the near future.
The fact that the current presidential candidates think it is too risky to propose an immediate withdrawal from Iraq shows them locked into the propaganda apparatus of the ruling elite. These forces are far too powerful to be countered with anything less than actual catastrophe.
The economic forces behind these developments degrade the powers of life, the long-term nurturing of those ecological foundations that build up the human and natural bonds from which civilizing decencies such as care for victims emerge. All the profit pressure is in the direction of death, compelled as they are by it "...to neglect infrastructure when it does not contribute immediately to the generation of wealth." - Joel Kovel, "The Enemy of Nature".
The great divide is between those who merely decry the unjust effects of the capitalist system and those who realize that these effects are the inevitable result of a system that places profit before people. Such a system is inherently unjust and can't reformed itself without destroying itself.
According to St. Thomas Aquinas, since God is the creator of the universe, the goods of this world do not belong to us, but rather to Him. He gave us the goods of the world not to be hoarded by the few, but shared for the flourishing of all. As the early Christians recognized, these goods were intended for common use, and given to all. For from being pro-capitalist, true Christianity is the underlying inspiration behind all movements for economic equality. St. Thomas held that natural law decreed not private property but the common use of goods and that all human beings have a right to satisfy their basic needs.
This rich teaching provides the basis for a Christian economic perspective, one that puts human need, not profit or consumption, first. Christianity as normally presented in America means submission to the arrangements of power, the current political, economic, and military domination system. No matter how unjust the present system may appear, Christians must submit, and even relish their submission as a sign of Christian respect for authority. Socio-economic stratification is divinely sanctioned - rebellion is invariably at the instigation of Satan.
The gospel of prosperity is the spirituality of the empire. It hides the subordination of human values to material values and celebrates material power as the revelation of God's power.
The teaching of Jesus Christ is far different:
"Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." - Isa. 55:1
Biblical economics defy the imperial economy of exploitation and debt:
"And He who sits on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new' And He said, 'Write, for these words are faithful and true.'
Then He said to me, "It is done I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost." - Rev. 21:5-6
All things are renewed in Christ, including the essentials of life, which will be provided free from the hand of God. We have the ability to carry out this command of God today, but first we must break the lock of false economics supporting the system of domination which preaches submission to greed and violence.