"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 23, 2006

The Nature of God

Virtually unnoticed amidst the outrage over the Pope's remarks in his recent lecture, in fact directly following the infamous quote, is the following spiritual light: "Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. 'God', he [Manuel II Paleologus] says, 'is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...'." Pope Benedict XVI, Address at the University of Regensburg, Sept. 17, 2006.

The Pope was not trying to contrast Islam with Christianity, but to contrast a religion that uses violence to convince versus a truer faith that has no room for violence. In fact, faith in God and violence are incompatible, whether one is a Muslim or a Christian. God does not conquer by blood and God's revenge is manifested through suffering for those who have shown him outrage. In fact, the Pope's words were primarily directed at Christians, particularly those who would bring on the apocalypse with smart bombs and mythical theories, who justify violence against the violent, while harboring inhuman dreams which violate the very nature of the soul. There is no "virtue of war", war being incompatible with the concept of theological virtue. Freedom cannot be spread by cluster bombs. It is blasphemy to think we can torture and burn our way to Christ's peace. Pope Benedict has asked the question that every Christian should ask him or herself, "Is it still licit to speak of the very existence of a 'just war'?" Have you answered that question in your heart and daily life?

"... the pope rejects the very basis for violence. It is not rational. One way of putting the pope's point is that the authentic commands of God are reasonable, even if faith is needed to penetrate their depths. And, of course, to see what the Father commands, we turn to the Son who shows us the face of the Father. In that turn, to Jesus Christ, we have full clarity. Christ offers a way of nonviolent, sacrificial love of friends and enemies. Period. No wiggle room for building nukes—whether it is Muslim Iran or Christian America-—or using violence to further principles." Catholic Peace Fellowship Newsblog, Sept. 22, 2006.

To contrast, this is what the religion of revenge has brought: "The bodies in Baghdad's morgue 'often bear signs of severe torture including acid-induced injuries and burns caused by chemical substances, missing skin, broken bones (back, hands and legs), missing eyes and wounds caused by power drills or nails', the UN report said. Those not killed by these abuses are shot in the head.

Human rights groups say torture is practised in prisons run by the US as well as those run by the Interior and Defence ministries and the numerous Sunni and Shia militias.

The pervasive use of torture is only one aspect of the utter breakdown of government across Iraq outside the three Kurdish provinces in the north. In July and August alone, 6,599 civilians were killed, the UN says."

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