"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, June 17, 2006

The Kingdom of Heaven

The kingdom of heaven grows from the soil of our hope. Christians have often been told that true humility is the acceptance of things as they are, that to aspire to change the world is to despise the gifts of God. In fact, true love of the gift means to love what one has been given so much that one wishes to eliminate what mars it and to see so deeply into it that one sees more than what lies fixed within our undeveloped perceptions of it. To love what is without faith is to try to love the frozen expanse that sin has etched on the face of God's creation. To say with the marketers of savage capitalism that human nature cannot be weaned from its slavery to greed, that violence is endemic to technological progress, or that oppression is the price of comfort, is not to be content with one's lot. It is a cry of despair that no technological marvel will ever compensate, no multi-million dollar home ever solace.

War is the illusion of despair that whispers to us with aweful finality that violence can never be quelled except by more violence. Of course, we must be "realistic". Ultimately, the serpent whispers, it is the only way to stop the works of evil and depraved people.

The current episode in Iraq will one day be told from the perspective of a world which saw beyond the fearful clinging to "realism" which has resulted in the agonizing deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. That world will unfold the cynical hypocrisy of lust, which leads to the degradation of women in that country, both by the U.S. military and by Islamist rigidities which cling more desperately to the past the more dead it becomes. That world will uncover the desire for revenge writhing beneath the smirks of soldiers stamping on the faces of those unfortunate enough to be born Arab and Muslim. Again, the serpent whispers, the depraved understand only violence and torture - you must learn the universal language.

What lurks behind the fundamentalist Christian drive to believe in a fixed, unalterable and utterly depraved human nature, a world order that makes irrational slaves subject to a spiritual dictator, makes literalist orthodoxy more important that the spirit of life that breathes through everything that God has made - is it not clear? We want a God that looks like us, that we can control, who stays within the boundaries we have made.

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