With INTRO and ANALYSIS by Wayne Northey
In the “City of God,” St. Augustine tells the story of a pirate captured by Alexander the Great. The Emperor angrily demanded of him, “How dare you molest the seas?” To which the pirate replied, “How dare you molest the whole world? Because I do it with a small boat, I am called a pirate and a thief. You, with a great navy, molest the world and are called an emperor.” St. Augustine thought the pirate’s answer was “elegant and excellent.”
Noam Chomsky wrote a book, Pirates and Emperors, Old and New: International Terrorism in the Real World based on that story.
It is a truism that today’s Emperor is the President of the United States; that the US ruthlessly pursues empire throughout the entire world to remain the most powerful and richest nation on the planet; that it does whatever it takes, from assassinations the world over to instigations of genocide, to pursue those goals; that pervasive cultural “American Exceptionalism” utterly blinds the vast majority of Americans to that reality. René Girard says this kind of worldwide “scapegoat/victimage mechanism” works only as long as (in this case) Americans remain blind to the horror of their worldwide brutal exploits.
This is the job of prophets from time immemorial. Below you will read about yet one more instance of that American horror story, with a link to the original article.
It is a very strange world: Michelle Obama makes a highly impassioned, brilliant speech at the Democratic National Convention - one nearly universally praised, establishing again her extremely high approval ratings in America. She affirms contrary to Trump (who alone can “make America great again”), that “America is the greatest country on earth”.
One wonders: what does her husband not tell her about “what the greatest country on earth” has been/is doing to the rest of the earth, above all in the Greater Middle East right now? And what news does she (choose?) not to know? Does she not know about the estimated death toll of up to four million persons in the Greater Middle East in the past fifteen years, directly attributable to US military action there? (And, incidentally, does she not know that Hilary Clinton is a total war hawk, who has supported all that ongoing American barbarity in the Greater Middle East?) Does she not know about the fact that her husband is widely known as “Assassin-in-Chief” in much of the rest of the world, due to his use of ubiquitous reach killer drones that rain down terror and death on multiplied hundreds or thousands of innocents each year, people terrorized or dead, just because they live in the wrong place at the wrong time? Does she not know, as the link to the article below spells out in detail, that her husband's presidency has directly facilitated more arms sales throughout the world than all other countries’ arms sales combined (in 2011) – all to make billions in profit for the voraciously greedy arms dealers in America? Does she not know that weapons are designed to do one thing only: kill – regardless of a person's "innocence" or not? Does she not know that America's foreign policy for decades has been dominated by one overweening goal, and it is not to spread democracy and promote human rights around the globe: rather, to keep America overwhelmingly the richest nation on earth?
What has Easter to do with politics? What has the church to do with the state? What has the sacred to do with the secular? What has justice and peace to do with empires? What has Canada to do with the USA?
The Christian understanding of Easter has its roots in the Jewish tradition of Passover. There is, sadly so, a tendency to reduce the Jewish meaning of Passover to all sorts of rites and ceremonies, and, in the process, miss the deeper and more demanding meaning of Passover.
The Jewish tradition of Passover emerged from a clash, within Jewish history, between the Jews (an oppressed people) and the Egyptian empire. Pharaoh (the leader of the Egyptian empire) treated the Jews as cheap labour and mules. They were hewers of wood and drawers of water for the affluent Egyptian middle and upper class. The clash between Moses (who stood for the oppressed Jews) and Pharaoh is now part and parcel of western lore and legend, fact and feelings. Passover, at core and centre, was about an oppressed nation seeking and finding liberation from an imperial and unjust overlord.
Jesus, being Jewish, was steeped and saturated in such a memory. He lived at a time when the Jews were oppressed by the Romans. The script was the same. The actors were different. Once it was the Egyptians. For Jesus, it was the Romans. The Jews were still an oppressed people seeking national liberation. Jesus came preaching notions of the Kingdom and justice/peace.
The Beatitudes sum up his disturbing vision of the Kingdom quite well. Such a life and such insights did not please the power elites. Things did not bode well for Jesus. The Romans were not pleased. The Jewish leadership (Sanhedrin) was on the same page as the Romans. In fact, most had bent the dutiful knee to Roman power.
The Christian notion of Easter was formed and forged on the political anvil of the Jewish liberation from Egypt. Jesus sought to liberate both the Jews and Gentiles from Roman oppression. The Romans knew what Jesus was doing and why. They only put two types of people on the cross: common criminals and political subversives. Jesus, like Moses, was seen as a threat to the empire.
We, in the West, have tended to privatize, domesticate and sanitize the political meaning of Passover and Easter. It is now a rather quaint and nostalgic event with little political clout. In fact, both Passover and Easter have become rather harmless events in the liturgical life of the church. But, was this always so? Moses and Jesus would be rather shocked by the way such an event has been privatized and depoliticized.
Moses confronted the Egyptian empire. Jesus confronted the Roman Empire. Both men confronted the empires of their time. It is rather ironic that many Christians today bow and genuflect before an empire greater than Egypt and Rome. It is even more ironic that this is done in the name of being conservative.
The historic Canadian conservative tradition from Bishops Charles Inglis and John Strachan to Sir John A. Macdonald and John Diefenbaker to Suzanna Moody and Mazo de la Roche to Stephen Leacock and George Grant have been wary of the American empire. Such an empire is not much different from Egypt and Rome. Passover and Easter, in their beginnings, were political events. Can we imagine Canadians seeing Easter as an event about liberating Canada from the USA? Hardly!
This does speak volumes about how many Canadians have become tamed. The high point in the Christian calendar (Easter) has become, in many ways, a safe and innocuous event that has little to do with its political origins.
Is Easter ever likely to become a substantive political event? Not likely! The myth and ritual are now safe, domesticated and sanitized, But, for those with some memory, they know there is more to the event, and they cannot but feel the loss and lack.
Robert D. Crouse represents that paradigm of those catholic of scholars, whose investigations of the Christian tradition have consistently shown courageous sensitivity to its complex origins and trajectories from late antiquity to our present.
- Robert Dodaro (OCA) Instituto Patristico Augustinanum Divine Creation in Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Thought: Essays Presented to the Rev’d Dr. Robert Crouse (2007)
George Grant has been called Canada’s greatest political philosopher. To this day, his work continues to stimulate, challenge, and inspire Canadians to think more deeply about matters of social justice and individual responsibility.
- Athens and Jerusalem: George Grant’s Theology, Philosophy, and Politics (2006)
There can be little doubt that George Grant (1918-1988) and Robert Crouse (1930-2011), for different reasons, were two of the most significant Canadian Anglican intellectuals of the latter half of 20th and first decade of the 21st century. Grant was a public intellectual in a way Crouse never was, but Crouse had a depth to him (in his many probes into the Patristic-Medieval ethos) that Grant did not. Grant challenged the ideological nature of liberal modernity at a philosophical and political level in a way Crouse never did, but Crouse, in a detailed and meticulous manner, articulated and enucleated the complex nature of the Patristic-Medieval vision in a way Grant did not. Both men were deeply concerned about the passing away of a more classical vision of the soul, church and society and both attempted to retrieve the discarded image. Crouse was much more of an Anglican churchman than Grant, but Grant engaged the larger public square in a way Crouse never did.
I have been fortunate, over the last few decades, to do in depth work on George Grant and I have many a letter from Sheila Grant (George’s wife) on life at Dalhousie-King’s (where George began and ended his academic life). I also have many a letter from Robert Crouse, many a fond memory of visits with Robert (some fine photos also) when in Nova Scotia or when Robert visited the West Coast (Robert bunked in at our home). My interest, therefore, in the Anglican life and writings of George Grant and Robert Crouse is both of some academic interest but also of a personal nature. Hopefully, this essay will embody and reflect both these approaches.
It used to be said that silence is golden; however, it is also been said that all that glitters is not gold; It can be counterfeit. In 1965 Simon and Garfunkel sang about a silence that,”… like a cancer grows.”
In the current 2015 federal election campaign in Canada, there seems to be a conspiracy of silence about speaking of current criminal justice policies and prison conditions. Careful not to upset the public, one might hear about policemen being hired, but not about the fact that Mr. Howard Sapers, the Federal Correctional Investigator (ombudsman), who for over a decade has faithfully and courageously monitored Canadian Federal prison conditions, has essentially been shown the door by the Harper government. Click onto his official web page, www.oci–bec.gc.ca, and you can find his reports repeatedly calling for more enlightened crime policies and for more just and humane conditions in Canada’s prisons. His last report of May of 2015 disclosed the continued overuse of solitary confinement, which is disproportionately and inappropriately used for managing mentally ill, aboriginal, and black people; the number of Caucasian inmates’ in solitary is steadily declining. That’s dehumanizing, unjust, and smacks of corporate racism to me. Sapers’ reports’ recommendations for reform and action have been regularly ignored in Ottawa. As we know, the Harper government, having run on tough law and order values rhetoric since the beginning of its mandate, has objectified criminals as collateral for a strategy for winning votes from victims and a fear-conditioned public. Mr. Sapers’ latest report it seems paradoxically to be no longer convenient to the powers in portraying inmate-bashing as an effective moral model for dealing with crime in regards to public opinion. Official Conservative crime policy has not really been about people and the common good it seems; it’s been more about politics, and silence is golden in politics when politics demands it.
But does the church cry out in the wilderness or streets that in Christ our warfare…. against crime and drugs etc…. has been accomplished? Admittedly the ombudsman’s reports, when aired or published, don’t usually get much attention in Canadian society, church included. I can’t recall Sapers’ moral concern for prisoners’ conditions finding their way into many sermon notes or theological journals. I must admit there is aired some concern for their souls. Concern for the criminal, like the enemy, since the creation of the modern Westphalian state (1648), is left up to the care and mercy of the state’s coercive power which basically exists, it seems, to preserve itself. Most citizens in our disconnected society, therefore, don’t need to think long and hard about loving the socially distant prisoner and enemy very much, having lost their sense of co-humanity with them. A prevailing sentiment seems to be that a short prayer for their soul, and for a few prison ministries is adequate; their fate is left up to the state and God’ sovereign will do justice; not much to do here for human responsibility to other humans. Having lost the meaning of biblical justice to legal positivist hermeneutics, the public does complain fervently when punishment by the state is not seen to be severe enough. Sadly there have been politicians who are pleased to follow public opinion and silence inconvenient truths. But, as Simon and Garfunkel imply, the sound of silence will speak for itself.
Now, silence in the body of Christ about corporate injustice sounds alarmingly like collusive silence to me. We in the institutional church are not called to be political in the partisan sense, but we are called to speak our prophetic mind; to speak out against the injustice and abuse of the poor and needy; justice for the plight of the widow and orphan, and for the refugee and prisoner. The great commandment and Christ’s sermons on mount and plain, demand it. We certainly do need an intelligent hermeneutic regarding our underlying cosmology and doctrinal thinking that impact our social cognition and social action. However, as a social institution in relation with the neighbour, it is ethics, love, that is the ultimate mark of the church, not doctrine.
Increasingly in our individualistic consumer society, we may have lost a sense of covenant, relational, identity with the poor and enemy. Salvation has become a narrow search for personal salvation, a rescue from feared eternal perdition. Western liberalism’s concept of negative freedom legitimates legislation and coercion as a legitimate defense against threats to personal choices so as free autonomous citizens can achieve and enjoy what they desire. Ideologically of course there is also silence due to political philosophical forces that wish to keep religious values out of public discussions, seeking mythical neutrality. Deliberative democracy in a Rawlsian and Habermasian way, its public moral discourse, is important when done intelligently, respectful of those holding opinions of other than our own; but neutral discourse is not sufficient. Public moral conversation is anemic without transcendent values and prophetic voices. What is required is for the followers of Christ to be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves. We will need to become aware of the shadow side of our own biases and prejudices, develop our moral insights, and speak the truth in love to a world that no longer hears the voice of God, that has lost the light of God’s direction for peace, good order, and the common good. We live in a time in history, I think, when the social-political conditions, much like those of the first century, is a time in when we are called to be worth our salt in all areas of life.
It seems to me that if we want to find any passion and determination inside of ourselves (collectively or individually), we need to have some clear and shared sense of which enemy we are really wanting to fight. If we can find a common enemy that crosses political (or theological) lines, so much the better.
What many politicians throw at us is these days is that the enemy is “terrorism” – a ridiculous, if not laughably pathetic, answer given that a) the statistical odds of being directly affected by terrorism in North America (and most countries) is minuscule and b) when we want to identify the enemy we would be better off identifying the disease (which is present everywhere) and not the symptom (which is mostly present in the places already devastated by the real enemy). Terrorist acts are the predictable effects of a much greater enemy, and that is the enemy we should be trying to track down – the enemy that has proven itself capable of continually generating fresh pockets of terrorism.
Of course it is political opportunism that has deliberately offered up “terrorism” as the replacement for “communism-as-master-enemy,” a very useful enemy that had the misfortune of falling apart after nearly a century of justifying nearly every evil imaginable. What after all (the powers-that-be seem to think) is a little genocide, assassination or economic enslavement here and there if it helped the West to protect itself from the spread of communism?
I’ll grant that communism was certainly a better suggestion as an enemy than terrorism in that it goes a couple of levels closer toward what I will soon suggest is the actual enemy. The problem, however, isn’t so much that communism was an “effect” of the real enemy (though that case could also be made), but that it was only “one example” of the real enemy. The crucial thing to remember is that all the violence and exploitation that was used to defend the “freedom” of corporate business interests reveal another example of the enemy closer to home.
In a brilliant but sobering moment, President Eisenhower in his farewell speech warned Americans about the dangers of both the “military-industrial complex” as well as the “scientific-technological elite.” This was now getting even closer to the naming of a true enemy; one sign that this is true is that his language named the enemy at work both at home and among opposing power blocs. (Never trust the naming of an enemy that is not at work at home as much as abroad.)
It’s quite possible that Eisenhower’s terms still have a great deal of currency, and I wouldn’t argue against anyone who still focused on those terms. However, when I think of today’s global corporate world, which is increasingly entangled through huge trade pacts that always sacrifice human scale (the small, local and personal) for the sake of mass global competition (and thereby always sacrificing the weak in favour of the powerful), then I think new language is now required.
So here is my suggestion, which I confess from the outset is, unfortunately, not nearly as catchy as “military-industrial complex” or the “war on terror.” I believe the enemy that we face is the “global system* of dehumanization based on exploitation, fear and violence that co-opts the participation** of masses of good people.” When it doesn’t occur directly through the exploitation, fear and violence, this co-opting takes place by cloaking itself either in inevitability or invisibility (i.e. layers of mass bureaucracy or laws and agreements that are indecipherable at any human level). There is a clear subliminal message that we are powerless to change any of this – so just submit, obey, and hope for the best. This is the enemy we need to fight, and I believe that it is an enemy regarding which we can join together across many of the arguments which divide us. (And it’s ok with me if you want to call this enemy Satan – though more accurately that probably refers to the “spirit behind the system.”)
Memorial to the Victims of Communism (Prague)
*I hesitated about making this plural or singular – certainly there are many systems, but increasingly these systems are all becoming entangled with one another and it may be fair to consider it as one mass network of systems. Of course, Walter Wink’s writings on “domination systems” are part of the inspiration for this perspective.
**The co-opting of the masses is a crucial aspect (in spite of the complication this adds) because no enemy is frightening and powerful enough if it doesn’t make us all participants in the evil.
This paper was prepared for a symposium held at the Oakland High School for the Arts under the auspices of California Governor Jerry Brown in the summer of 2013. The occasion was the publication of Beyond Economics and Ecology, a collection of Illich's essays on these themes, edited and introduced by Sajay Samuel. The conference was called After the Crisis: The Thought of Ivan Illich Today...
POLITICS AND RELIGION IN THE THOUGHT OF IVAN ILLICH
The heading of today’s session is politics and religion, so I’d like to begin by reflecting on these terms, both of which can be extremely slippery. I know they have practical, everyday meanings – we will usually agree in ordinary talk that what goes on in churches and mosques, synagogues and temples is religion, while what is discussed in legislatures and government offices, is politics – but if we inquire a little more deeply, they become quite difficult to distinguish. One of the hallmarks of the modern age was the distinction between a private sphere in which one was free to cultivate one’s religion, and a public realm governed by the canons of secular reason. This regime began to take shape at the beginning of the modern age, roughly the 16th century, and it’s arguable that before that time there was no such thing as religion in the sense in which the word is used today. Wilfred Cantwell Smith, the great Canadian scholar of religion writing in the 1960’s says: “religion as a discrete category of human activity separable from culture, politics and other areas of life is an invention of the modern West.” Before the 16th century - at the earliest - the word can denote a virtue, a disposition, a habit – a practice let’s say - but not the adoption of a set of propositions or beliefs as “my religion.” In fact Cantwell Smith goes on to say that “the rise of the concept of religion is in some ways correlated with a decline in the practice of religion itself.” (Just as an aside here some of the slipperiness of the word religion can be seen in that quote, in which Smith, having just said that religion is not a transhistorical essence but a modern invention then goes on to speak of “religion itself” as if it were just such an essence. This shows, I think, the difficulty we still have in speaking of these matters.) By the beginning of the eighteenth century, according to the historian of Christianity John Bossy, the idea of religion is well established. “By 1700,” he writes, “the world was full of religions, objective social and moral entities characterized by system, principles and hard edges.” And religion once distinguished from politics became in many ways its scapegoat: the conflicts between the nascent national states of the 16th and 17th centuries, to take just one example, became known as the wars of religion, when they could just as plausibly – more plausibly - have been called the wars of state-making, and taken as illustrating the arbitrary and violent character of state power, rather than the violent and arbitrary character of religious belief.
One could say a lot more about the segregation of the secular from the religious in the modern world, and about the fateful imperial reorganization of other civilizations and cultures along these lines during the colonial era, but the point that I want to make here is that this whole mythology has come undone in our time – undone to the extent that, in some circles at least, one hardly needs to argue the point any more.
Liberalism was, in origin, criticism of the old established order. Today, it is the voice of the establishment. – George Grant
George Grant was Canada’s most significant public philosopher, meaning that his public was Canadian. – Graeme Nicholson
They are foolish and ill-educated men who don’t recognize that, when they get into bed with liberalism, it won’t be they who do the impregnating—but that they will be utterly seduced. – Grant letter to Derek Bedson Sept. 21 1965
The inside flap on the recent book about George Grant, Athens and Jerusalem: George Grant’s Theology, Philosophy, and Politics (2006), says this: “George Grant (1918-1988) has been called Canada’s greatest political philosopher. To this day, his work continues to stimulate, challenge, and inspire Canadians to think more deeply about matters of social justice and individual responsibility. However, while there has been considerable discussion of Grant’s political theories, relatively little attention has been paid to their theological and philosophical underpinnings”. There is little doubt, in short, that Grant was the most important Christian public intellectual in Canada in the latter half of the 20th century, and for those who take their faith with some intellectual seriousness, much can be learned from George Grant the prophet, theologian, philosopher and engaged thinker.
Athens and Jerusalem walks the extra mile to highlight the deep theological well where Grant turned to slake a thirsty and parched soul. There is more to Grant, though, than the theological and philosophical underpinnings for his public vision. George Grant was an Anglican, and, sadly so, his Anglicanism has often been ignored. In the midst of the culture wars in the Anglican Church of Canada, Grant can offer us a way through and beyond the theological and ethical tribalism of left and right, liberal and conservative that so besets and divides us these days.
Editor's Note: Many (not all) of our authors at Clarion would self-identify with the Canadian Red Tory tradition. Others, especially among the Anabaptists, lean toward Christian anarchism (a la Jacques Ellul). In this essay, guest writer, Wayne John Sturgeon brings his unique voice to the table.
I find myself in complete rupture with my epoch.
I sing freedom, which my epoch hates.
I do not love government and am religio-anarchist tendency, while the epoch deifies government.
I am an extreme personalist, while the epoch is collectivist and rejects the dignity and worth of personality.
I do not love war and the military while the epoch lives in the pathos of war, I love the philosophic mind while the epoch is indifferent to it.
I value aristocratic culture while the epoch degrades it, and finally, I profess eschatological Christianity while the epoch recognises only traditional-contemporary Christianity.
What do we mean by the word ‘anarchy’? Most dictionaries define it to mean lawlessness, chaos, disorder, confusion. Politicians and the media use the word in this negative sense; thus, it is a word that needs much demythologising, so as to distinguish it from this semantic subversion of meaning.
The word in Greek simply means ‘without a ruler, or leader’. In Latin during the Middle Ages, the word was used to describe God as being without a beginning. In the New Testament, ‘arky’ is usually interpreted as ‘beginning’. Milton used it in this respect, and the early Christians believed Jesus to be ‘the beginning’, ‘the Arky of God’ (1) who holds primacy and sovereignty over all the powers that be.
The prefix ‘an’ is the equivalent of the word ‘un’, meaning ‘not’ – it does not then have to mean ‘anti’ or ‘against’, but speaks of that which is more ‘not’ something than ‘opposed to’ or ‘against’.
It would be misleading nevertheless to offer a neat definition of anarchism, since most anarchist theory is in essence anti-dogmatic and anti-ideological, offering no manifesto, no party line, no economic blueprint and no pre-packaged description of how a new society would operate. Unlike the definitive and authoritarian manner of statist socialism or Marxist communism, anarchy rather proclaims that ‘where there is no vision, the people perish’ (Prov 29:18). They therefore must build and incarnate their own vision to become themselves ‘ends in the means’ of a world free from the centralised state, political violence and all economic domination and exploitation. (Micah 4, 3-4, Isaiah 2, 4-5 and 11-1-9).
Hegemony by Foster Stuart
The term, “hegemony” is used in at least two main ways: 1) as a more or less neutral term describing a geo-political state of affairs and 2) as a more loaded term, referring to the domination of democratic-capitalism in the twentieth-century. This latter way is associated with neo-Marxism and especially Antonio Gramsci who used the concept of “cultural hegemony” to explore the wide-spread power and influence of democratic-capitalism. From a geo-political stance, hegemony is the particular hold that one group of people have on the surrounding territory. Hegemony is said to exist when there is a relatively stable political centre to administer and protect the flow of capital within a defined territory.
Almost all hegemonies involve a hierarchy with those who make up the political centre receiving the most benefit from the hegemony. That is most of the capital flows into the centre. Despite this inequality, hegemonies tend to be relatively stable, at least for a time. The existence of hegemony is easier to understand when we begin with the household, which in most of history has existed as a mini-hegemony.
Two hundred years ago, on June 1, 1812, United States President, James Madison, declared war on England and its North American Colonies .Now from a 200 year old perspective, 2012 is going to be a reflective and patriotic year in Canada as it goes down memory lane to revisit the events, meaning, and impact, of this war on Canadian identity as a nation. In 1812, the conquest of New France in1760 by England was still a recent painful memory for those living in Lower Canada; for those in Upper Canada, the majority, as Tories, had chosen to remain loyal to Britain during the American revolution of 1776, and had, as Empire Loyalists, emigrated largely to the area we call Ontario today, and to the Maritimes. The war of 1812 involved what existed then, Lower and Upper Canada, (Quebec and Ontario) and the Maritimes. Now scant decades after these social political dislocations and migrations, the death and destruction by American militia type incursions into Canadian Communities around the great lakes affected both English loyalists and French Canadians, and a deepened sense of Canadian identity was forged. Some Canadian historians have identified the war of 1812, more than the loyalist migration from revolutionary United States, as being the significant beginning of Canadian nationalism (Mac Kirdy, Moir and Zoltvany, 1971, p. 117). But read any Canadian History book and you will likely not hear much of the war’s effect on, or participation of, First Nations peoples.
Brad Jersak has just returned from "Christ at the Checkpoint" —a conference sponsored by Bethlehem Bible College. On assignment for PTM, Brad here files his reactions just as he prepares to leave this volatile region.
This Christ at the Checkpoint report comes as my rich and intense week in Bethlehem winds down. I'm writing while the bombardment of charged experiences, emotional interviews, and eyewitness stimuli churns raw and semi-processed in my heart. Greetings in Jesus' name less than one mile from where our Saviour was born in this not-so-quiet, yet precious town.
The Lord's simple instruction for me was just these words: "surrendered lenses." We all see the world through our own cultural and religious lenses. These often blur our vision of reality, so I pray for Spirit-washed lenses to sharpen my focus and cleanse pre-conceived assumptions about the situation here. I have tried to listen attentively and non-judgmentally to the people's hearts and to find Jesus amidst a cacophony of conflicting narratives.
For the remainder of this report, click here.
Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Christ only says what He hears the Father saying. If the letters are in red- we’re hearing the words of the Father.
It appears the people interviewed are not Christians- and they are obeying scripture.
Some christian groups here in the West, say there will be no peace until Christ returns- and argue that to speak about peace is at best- naïve. Others go further and respond harshly to any talk of peace that includes showing compassion to Palestinians. As if to say- loving Palestinians is equal to hating Israel.
That’s ‘Bully’ talk.
There is a chorus being sung against peace that is out of harmony with the ‘song’ being sung by Father. His song expresses His desire for forgiveness and reconciliation between 'enemies'.
dis·so·nant [dis-uh-nuhnt] adjective
1. disagreeing or harsh in sound; discordant.
2. out of harmony; incongruous; at variance.
3. Music . characterized by dissonance.
Politically- the situation in the ME may appear ‘complicated’, but a strong desire for peace and the willingness to build relationships is evident- if we are willing to see.
The people desire peace. What do we desire?
We need a new song. Romans 12:21 "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good"
The Occupy Wall Street/Vancouver (and other cities) has garnered much media attention the last few weeks. The main concerns of the ‘Occupy’ movement have a great deal of legitimacy to them, and emerge from obvious injustices and imbalances of wealth and power. Are such issues new, though, and do they have a perennial ring about them? How have those in the past thought about such issues (that is those who saw them as issues rather than denying or justifying the problem)? Is in the street protest and advocacy politics the only and most responsible way to confront such inequities?
Thomas More was Lord Chancellor of England in the early 16th century, and he was acutely aware of the disparities of wealth and power in his country. More had a tender and exacting conscience, and he did not flinch from asking and acting on the hard questions. More’s missive, Utopia (1516), pulls no punches nor does it flinch from probing to the core the larger justice and peace issues. More would, in many ways, have a great deal of affinity with the Occupy movement. Book I of Utopia is a must read--there is a poignant and not to be forgotten conversation between More and Raphael that is a keeper. The late 15th and early 16th centuries in Europe was a period of time in which many States in Europe were turning to the Americas to establish colonies. The empires were very much at work to extend their global reach.
A friend of mine, Jeff Imbach, was recently interviewed at the Occupy Vancouver protest. I have to admit, I am still trying to get my head around the purpose and desired outcome of this protest. Maybe I need to go down and check it out for myself like Jeff did. You will hear in the interview below that Jeff believes that part of the protest’s success has been to simply raise the general consciousness of society to the idea that corporate institutions supported by governments is an unjust situation.
According to The Huffington Post a group from Occupy Wall Street have come up with a list of demands called the 99PercentDeclaration, but even these are controversial at this point, and aren’t supported by all of the various Occupy protests happening around the world.
For the CBC Radio interview with Jeff and others, see “Occupy Vancouver“
Janus, Terrorism and Peacemaking
For it was a witty and a truthful rejoinder which was given by a pirate to Alexander the Great. The King asked the fellow, ‘What is your idea, in infesting the sea?’ And the pirate answered with uninhibited insolence, ‘The same as yours, as in infesting the earth! But because I do it with a tiny craft, I’m called a pirate: Because you have a mighty navy, you’re called an emperor’.
St. Augustine City of God (Book IV, Chapter IV)
Emperors and Pirates
Janus was, in Roman myth, the god who had two faces, one at the front and the other at the back of his head. Janus looked in both directions, and, being able to do so, could not be taken in by a single perspective. The language of terrorism is very much with us these days, and the political use of the term has certainly intensified since 9-11. Janus can very much be a guide for us in this paper, as we ponder how the language of terrorism is employed, who uses it and to what end. In short, it is essential to gaze in all directions as we dissect the functional use of the language of terrorism.
The apt and insightful passage from St. Augustine in City of God mentioned above can, if heeded, clarify some often ignored realities. Terrorists are usually defined as those that threaten and disrupt the national security of the state. This does beg an important and significant question, though. What have been the decisions made by a state, at domestic and foreign policy levels, that threaten national security? The terrorists, like the pirates, are usually seen as the problem, but the state, like Alexander, is exempt from such questioning and scrutiny. And yet, it is often the state, like Alexander, that has much greater capacity to silence opposition and use greater violence against the pirates-terrorists. Many states often, in domestic and foreign policy, oppress and terrorize others through the use of death squads and the military, but when those who have been terrorized dare to fight back (with fewer arms and less sophisticated technology), they are branded with the terrorist term. Alexander can inflict massive hardships and brutality on people, but because he is emperor, he cannot be defined as a terrorist. The small scale pirates that oppose the emperor are called the terrorists. This simple yet often ignored point must be held front and centre in our understanding of how ‘terrorism’ is used. The large and vicious sharks are not seen as such, but the smaller fish, when they, in their limited sort of way, attack the sharks, are seen as the enemies of state security. Let me offer a few illustrations of this point.
Never mind that the word is actually spoken by a blue collar character in the song and that its usage was meant tocriticize people who would use such inflammatory terminology in reference to homosexuals. Apparently, the CBSC feels the majority of Canadians are incapable of making this distinction. So they're going by the old adage, "If in doubt, throw it out."
I have no doubt that equally worrisome to the powers that be is the song's chorus, which contains the words "Money for nothing" and "chicks for free." Clearly if Canadian citizens actually started to believe such things, there would be blood in the streets.
Viewed from another angle, it could be that the CBSC feels that Dire Straits' song unfairly characterizes blue collar workers as rampant homophobes. So perhaps in time this will be revealed as nothing more than a publicity stunt orchestrated by the Teamsters.
Next up on the CBSC's hit list: U2's Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own. Apparently, the CBSC has determined that sometimes you CAN make it on your own, and they don't want Canadians to get the wrong idea...