"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.

Friday, November 14, 2008

War Among the Gods

Effective struggle for social justice cannot be carried out without the sword of the spirit. The divorce of progressive struggles from the the righteousness of a loving God emasculates their spiritual roots and eviscerates their power to move hearts.

"For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places." - Ephesians 6:12 "The People's Bible"

Progressives often wonder why those who live in the spirit of peace and justice are constantly harassed, incarcerated, and murdered by the power of the established societies while those who violate every rule and principle of those same societies flourish and are lavishly rewarded. We are constantly perplexed by those like the Iraq war boosters whose every projection was demonstrably false, yet who continue to be receive the most prestigious positions in media and government. The same phenomena is even more pronounced in the current meltdown of finance capital. Those whose greed-driven irresponsibility with the lives of billions, all of whose bets came up bad, are awarded, despite massive and systematic fraud, with hundreds of billions of taxpayer revenues to make good their depredations.

As a Christian, we know that these are grave sins against justice, but what is the social mechanism which causes them? The answer must be sought in the spirituality represented by the institutions of those societies. Walter Wink has referred to this spirituality as the "powers", which the quote from Ephesians above invokes. These can be thought of as the spiritual personalities existing behind institutions such as Wall Street or finance capital more generally, which represent those forces which are decisive for the lives of virtually all human beings on this planet. This is not the spiritualization of a conspiracy theory, but a scientific description of how the power of finance and its instruments constrain the options within which we all must choose. Financial objects, such as commodities, become agents which control the fate of billions. The institutions which manage these objects are the subjects of the spiritual forces which these objects embody.

The result is that those who submit to the spiritual forces in heavenly places can break all laws and destroy all institutions while enjoying the rewards of those same institutions, while those who violate this spirit must suffer and be nailed to the cross though they scrupulously obey every law established. Wall Street bankers are a classic example of the former. Iraq veterans who oppose the Iraq occupation are sterling examples of the latter.

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