"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, April 05, 2008

The Instruments of Domination

"... the radical gift of Good Friday is Christ's revelation of the power and the truth of nonviolence. There is no easy way to create a world where men and women can live together, it will be accomplished by persons who have the courage to put an end to suffering by willingly suffering themselves rather than inflict suffering upon others." - Jonah House

The cross of Christ was the instrument of imperial domination. Today, it is the weapons of mass destruction accumulated by the United States, or more generally the system of global capital, that has become the instrument of domination on which the vast majority hangs pinned and struggling.

"Top Bush aides, including Vice President Cheney, micromanaged the torture of terrorist suspects from the White House basement, according to an ABC News report aired last night.

Discussions were so detailed, ABC's sources said, that some interrogation sessions were virtually choreographed by a White House advisory group. In addition to Cheney, the group included then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, then-defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, then-secretary of state Colin Powell, then-CIA director George Tenet and then-attorney general John Ashcroft.

At least one member of the club had some qualms. ABC reports that Ashcroft "was troubled by the discussions. He agreed with the general policy decision to allow aggressive tactics and had repeatedly advised that they were legal. But he argued that senior White House advisers should not be involved in the grim details of interrogations, sources said.

"According to a top official, Ashcroft asked aloud after one meeting: 'Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly." - Dan Froomkin, Washington Post

Just as Hitler gloated over his enemies wiggling to death on meat hooks, so Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell, and Ashcroft acted out our collective revenge fantasies from their White House basement. Yet somehow conscience continues to be stirred. Even those who personally execute state terror are still capable of feeling qualms, though the practical result of these misgivings is only to create legal distance from what they know are crimes.

Where is the Christian conscience at the moment of this exposure? Its mouth is taped by the dichotomy drawn between spirit and the life of this world. What we call "religion" in the U.S. is restricted to that small fraction of our being referred to as the "personal" sphere. The reason for this restriction is that religion must be confined and tamed in this way so as not to interfere with the smooth functioning of globalized capital. The moral forces generated by the enthusiastic love of God could quickly become an obstacle to growing profits, as is currently taking place in Appalachia where Bible-based resistance to mountain-top coal mining is growing stronger daily. In the words of Richard Horsley, "Religion in the West was reduced to individual faith and marginalized activities on sabbath days to keep it from interfering in the imperial industrial and capitalist reconstruction of the world on the one hand and, on the other hand, to retain it either as the remaining heart in a heartless world or a vague spirituality for nurturing sick souls." - Richard A. Horsley. Religion and Empire: People, Power, and the Life of the Spirit (Facets). (Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 2003). Page 23.

By seeking to confine the potential globalizing power of religion within the fences of personal interest, imperial interests can continue its ever-expanding dominance without interference. Today even watching our government officials drive the nails into the hands no longer awakens outrage - after all, it has nothing to do with religion.

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