pacifist sermons

I heard a beautiful, at times deeply moving sermon today at church.  The reading (for the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels) was Revelation 12:7-12.  Particularly the priest focused on this line:

The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world– he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

The Revelation passage covers the so-called war in heaven between Michael and the heavenly hosts versus the Devil and his angels.

She asked how did the angels throw did Satan?  By the blood of the Sacrificed Lamb (v.10).  She interpreted that to mean through non-violence.  The ways of violence were overthrown.  She specifically stated that violence was not redemptive–a shot at traditional devotions to the bloody body of Jesus on the Cross.

I had a very interesting reaction in that it was profoundly moving and exquisitely delivered, but I actually thought it was in many ways quite wrong.

If violence is thrown done from heaven, if there is no redemption of violence, in violence even one might say, then this entire side of our humanity is unredeemed.

I’m not advocating violence mind you.  But an evolutionary picture for one, would tell a different story. War has been the greater force to bring together beings beyond tribal identities.  Only after fighting each other for so long did they cease and move into trans-tribal alliances.

The very moment to moment existence of the universe is steeped in violence, in chaos, in destruction.  Death in every moment.

A Christianity that can not accept this is one where we have to thrown down from our conception of heaven, violence, destruction.  Where God becomes a God of peace-only.  Where the great nondual Protestant realizer Jakob Boheme’s vision of God Janus-faced, one loving, the other terrifying and frightening is never realized.

I have said before, only half-jokingly, that Christianity suffers from a lack of a destructive force within the Trinity.  I’ve said we should have a devotion to a black-winged bat Holy Spirit, prayers to the Mother of Destruction.  A la Kali.  A recognition of the profound energy of destruction in this world.  (Often called Dark Feminine energy, Black Madonna).

Minus that our salvation, our freedom is held up waiting for a conditional change.  For the end of violence in the world.  i.e. Waiting forever and beyond.  A smug (unintentionally so) satisfaction of ourselves as the peacemakers in this world.

Why not instead burn our flesh black like Kali in the “kiln” of moment to moment existence?

Plenty of places on earth, plenty of people need peace.  Others perhaps need to align with the simultaneous Creation/Destruction that is every moment.

In Tantra everything that arises is self-liberated and therefore contains a seed of enlightened wisdom that can be transmuted, released from its seemingly negative outer shell.  The seed of violence is Passion, Vitality, actually being in the moment.  On the edge, heightened sensitivity, as soldiers often describe how hard it is to come back to mundane existence because when they faced death in every moment they were alive dammit.

Again I’m not glorifying violence, war or romanticizing it all.  War is hell.  It’s worse than hell.  Bodies and minds are flung about like leaves in the wind, detached from the branches.  Snuffed out like a mosquito on your wrist.

I don’t want to pick too much on this particular reflection.  There is a time and place for much of what was said in it.  But it locks realization and liberation into a set of conditions.  Conditions that predicate our happiness and therefore subtly enslave.  Conditions that will arise, come to pass (eventually?  ever in this case?), and then pass?  What if Origen was right and the universe is counted in world cycles (eons)?  Each round counted from the time all beings fall and return to God, only to have the chance to fall again.  What then of pacifism?

This notion of 100% non-violence is a green meme construct.  The theologians cited in this sermon were all of this ilk.  Not wrong, it’s a space in the Kosmic fabric.  I used to resonate with it years ago.  Not any longer however.

Violence sadly sometimes is necessary to prevent worse violence.

Published in: on September 30, 2007 at 10:12 pm  Comments (2)  

global guerrillas in Darfur

Straight outta John Robb this one is.

clipped from www.nytimes.com
Hundreds of Darfurian rebels overran an African Union peacekeeping base in the central Darfur region of Sudan in a surprise raid over the weekend, killing at least 10 soldiers, possibly kidnapping dozens more and seizing supplies that included heavy weapons, African Union officials said Sunday.The raid, which began late Saturday and appeared to be highly organized, was the deadliest and boldest attack on African Union peacekeepers since they arrived in Darfur three years ago.
Mr. Mezni said the rebels, whose precise affiliation was unclear as of late Sunday, came at the camp from every direction in what he called a “deliberate and sustained attack.”
The attack was the most dramatic display yet of the new kind of chaos that is engulfing Darfur, where the conflict has morphed from a rebellion and brutal counterinsurgency into a free-for-all among dozens of armed groups, with aid workers and peacekeepers increasingly in their sights.

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Published in: on September 30, 2007 at 9:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Steven Pinker on Direction of History

Towards less and less violence.  Percentage wise.

Guess when the shift really started to take place and where?  Beginning of modern period, Western Europe.  Score one for the dead old white guys.  (including deistic, atheistic ones).

Published in: on September 30, 2007 at 8:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Vatican Board Game

I s–t you not. Here.

This is either a fantastic gag game or unintentionally one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

From the About the Game Section:

– A fold out game board where the life and career of the aspiring cardinal is played out.

– A total of 286 cards including:

Career Events cards describe events that impact a cardinal’s career.

Take a Stand cards require players to choose positions on critical issues facing today’s church and address the issues from a historical perspective.

Electoral Run-Up cards present the opportunities and perils cardinals face in the critical days before a papal election.

Conclave cards detail important events that determine actual voting in the conclave.

Six cardinal game pieces; choose the one that best reflects your personality.

This game is designed for 2 – 6 players, ages 15 and up.

Shannon, we gots to get us one of these.

Published in: on September 30, 2007 at 4:43 pm  Comments (5)  

Michael Medved on the “Lie” of American Genocide

(Hat tip Daily Goose). Article here.

Medved is arguing against what he calls the PC narrative of European/white American genocide against Native American peoples.

Medved points to the brilliant work (imo) of Jared Diamond—Guns, Germs, and Steel. The second of those items, the Germs are a key element here. The largest number of indigenous peoples died from infectious diseases (e.g. smallpox, typhoid) which can not be blamed on the Europeans. And I here agree with Medved, the stories of “smallpox blankets”–i.e. a sort of historical biological warfare–are fraudulent accounts. I’ll get back to the Guns and the Steel part in a second.

The PC account derives from the Romantic tradition. Namely that the Americas, prior to contact with whites, was an Edenic paradise of bliss and peace, the natives living in perfect harmony with Mother Earth and one another. This myth is actually subtly (or not so subtly) quite racist in its conception, positing indigenous peoples as “noble savages”–to counter the equally immoral line then common of indigenous as just plain old savages. Either way savages and not humans. (more…)

Published in: on September 30, 2007 at 3:05 pm  Comments (1)  
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Update on Anglicanism

Right on cue with my prediction that there are multiple communions in the Anglican world and they would start to align along value lines, comes this (via WashingtonTimes):

Fifty-one Anglican and Episcopal bishops announced plans yesterday to form a separate Anglican province in North America within 15 months, giving disaffected Episcopalians a chance to flee their increasingly liberal denomination…The bishops said they will meet in December to put together an office staff for a 39th province of the 77-million-member Anglican Communion…

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has refused to recognize CANA and similar breakaway Anglican groups as part of the Anglican Communion. However, yesterday’s document did not refer to Archbishop Williams. It did refer to some 20 “Global South” bishops, most from Africa, who in 2006 instructed the North Americans to start forming a “separate ecclesiastical structure.”

Now to be a little more fair, the piece (which apes the communiques of these groups, the WashingtonTimes being very much in favor of this group) gives a sense of unity to these break away folks that is not there.  The dirty secret there is that they will split and split and split amongst themselves.

But it is interesting to me that they are at least honest that they do not look to the Archbishop of Cantebury anymore, while he still thinks this Covenant idea will work.

It is a 5th Generational Ecclessial Insurgency.  They are “global church guerrillas” as it were.  Not to demean actual violence, guerrilla action, and innocent civilian casualties.  But they are fighting an existential fight.  They fight asymmetrically and are not bound by rules of “fair play.”  They use the internet and global communication to link horizontally and build networked connections, with quicker response mechanisms, better PR machine, and strong tribal ethos than traditional top-down bureaucratic model.   As John Robb says about global guerrillas, they hollow out the state.  They do not want to destroy the state and or take it over, but leave it wounded, unable to act, yet not destroyed either.

I see the exact same mechanism at work here.

Apropos of that a message to Archbishop Williams:  Rowan, don’t forget to turn out the lights when you leave.  You’ll be the last one with the veneer of any real power left.

Unless I suppose a future ABC (Sentamu? Nazier-Ali?) just goes ahead and joins with the Akinola crowd.  Not that he would have real power but would have some delegated, seeming power.

Published in: on September 29, 2007 at 10:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Juan Williams on O’Reilly “racist” meme

In Time Magazine.

Key quote:

So, O’Reilly says to me that the reality to black life is very different from the lowlife behavior glorified by the rappers. He told me he was at a restaurant in Harlem recently and there was no one shouting profanity, no one threatening people. Then he mentioned going to an Anita Baker concert with an audience that was half black, and in sharp contrast to the corrosive images on TV, well dressed and well behaved.

I joked with O’Reilly that for him, a guy from Long Island, a visit to Harlem was like a “foreign trip.” That’s when he brought up his grandma. He said she was prejudiced against black people because she knew no flesh-and-blood black folks but only the one-dimensional TV coverage of black criminals shooting each other and the rappers and comedians glorifying “gangsta” life and thug cool. He criticized his grandmother as irrational for being afraid of people she really did not know….

That was the heart and soul of the conversation between O’Reilly and me. The point of the whole exchange was to defeat corrupt, untrue and racist images of real black people.

Published in: on September 29, 2007 at 11:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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Oh Lord….

From the NyTimes:

A few months ago, the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins received an e-mail message from a producer at Rampant Films inviting him to be interviewed for a documentary called “Crossroads.”

The film, with Ben Stein, the actor, economist and freelance columnist, as its host, is described on Rampant’s Web site as an examination of the intersection of science and religion. Dr. Dawkins was an obvious choice. An eminent scientist who teaches at Oxford University in England, he is also an outspoken atheist who has repeatedly likened religious faith to a mental defect.

But now, Dr. Dawkins and other scientists who agreed to be interviewed say they are surprised — and in some cases, angered — to find themselves not in “Crossroads” but in a film with a new name and one that makes the case for intelligent design, an ideological cousin of creationism. The film, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” also has a different producer, Premise Media.

The film is described in its online trailer as “a startling revelation that freedom of thought and freedom of inquiry have been expelled from publicly-funded high schools, universities and research institutions.” According to its Web site, the film asserts that people in academia who see evidence of a supernatural intelligence in biological processes have unfairly lost their jobs, been denied tenure or suffered other penalties as part of a scientific conspiracy to keep God out of the nation’s laboratories and classrooms.

Bueller? Bueller? Dawkins? Dawkins?

Published in: on September 28, 2007 at 11:21 pm  Comments (1)  
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Bhutto in the on-deck circle?

The way is now clear for Musharraf to take off his military uniform and rule as president along with possibly Benazir Bhutto.

clipped from www.nytimes.com

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Sept. 28 — The Supreme Court cleared the way Friday for Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, to run for re-election while still in uniform. The ruling removes the last major obstacle for the president before the Oct. 6 vote, which he is expected to win.

The Supreme Court had shown a newfound independence after its chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, fended off an attempt by General Musharraf to dismiss him earlier this year.

But Chief Justice Chaudhry did not preside over the two cases decided Friday, removing himself in order to ensure the impartiality of the court, and, according to opposition lawyers, to avoid another direct confrontation with General Musharraf.

Lawyers and politicians say that despite the change of mood in the country and in the judiciary after the chief justice was reinstated in July, most of the 13 Supreme Court judges, who were all appointed during General Musharraf’s tenure, are still pro-government.

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Published in: on September 28, 2007 at 11:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Long Haul

clipped from www.washingtonpost.com

In their debate Wednesday night in Hanover, N.H., none of the three top Democratic presidential candidates would promise to have the U.S. military out of Iraq by January 2013 — more than five years from now.

Whoever the next president is, said retired Army Col. Robert Killebrew, “the war in Iraq will go on at least for two or three years into the new president’s first term.”

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Published in: on September 28, 2007 at 11:12 pm  Leave a Comment