"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 30, 2008

True Self-Realization

"And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need." Acts 2: 44 - 5.

Communism is foundational for Christianity, and Communism remains an ideal that all Christians should cherish. It is the opposite of the type of economics that always places profit and technology ahead of human need. Such a system is antithetical to the Christian spirit.

What is opposed to the Holy Spirit is an economic system that privatizes belief and makes public relationships of economic oppression, while demanding that religion have nothing to say about economic justice. Indeed, the way "religion" is conceived in the West makes it ideologically impossible for religion to be more than a kind of psychological escape valve where anything can be believed as long as it has no effect on the realities of daily life. Moreover, religion itself has become an object of consumption, a commodity that can be produced to enhance the profit margins of corporate interests. Most Christians accept the power structure that marginalizes their deepest beliefs without examination.

Many of us are beginning to understand that the spiritual does not reside in a realm separate from social-political life. Reduction of religion to private belief is very convenient for the forces of global capital, but is a fundamental distortion of human spirituality. Every political and economic formation, such as a corporation, has both a physical and transcendent dimension. This is the basis for what we call the "principalities and powers" referred to by Paul.

The separation of the corporal and the spiritual is un-Biblical and violates the traditional Catholic teachings as presented by St. Thomas Aquinas. It is a fundamental distortion of the unity which should characterize our life as a child of God. As in matters of personal activity, matters of political activity require spiritual preparation by the Christian. "In preparation for political activity, one must first journey to God, in order to shed an obsessive egoism. True self-realization comes only in relation to a larger concern. Only through a sustained spiritual discipline could one prepare for engagement in political affairs, that is, to preach the word of God and implement the divine will in society." - Richard A. Horsley. Religion and Empire: People, Power, and the Life of the Spirit (Facets). (Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 2003). Page 59.

"True self-realization comes only in relation to a larger concern." In other words, true spirituality involves something larger than the self. This concept separates genuine spirituality from the privatized spiritualism which has dominated the West, as if Jesus came to save individual persons abstracted from their socio-political framework. The notion that we can reform that framework "one soul at a time" by encouraging the growth of individual virtue is not merely forlorn from a materialist perspective, but violates human spiritual integrity.

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