Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Perhaps I should clarify the problem as I see it.

The world is consumed with violence. That violence, from my vantage point, is only being aided and abetted by the US and I do not trust the US's motivation. That is the foundation of my problem.

The crux of the problem, however, is that Christianity has been sucked into it. We "crusade." The religion has been hijacked by political figures, specifically the Right, to justify global atrocities. That is unacceptable to me.

So what are the solutions?

Religion is being used to get people on board with political agenda precisely because it's so powerful and so many people find their meaning in church, so Christianity must be reclaimed and used to change people's minds about the world around them. We have a responsibility as global Christians to remind the people we go to church with, the people who find their life's purpose in Jesus, exactly who Jesus was and what he preached in its entirety.

We have to recreate Jesus. The Jesus being used to support US involvement in global conflict is not the Jesus of the Bible who authored a message of peace, of removing ourselves from the ways of this world. Jesus called people to a higher purpose than toiling over barrels of oil, fighting about petty differences like ethnicity or sexual orientation, he cared about more than the bottom line, and Jesus was most certainly about more than simply saving souls. He cared about each and every person in the here and now, not just the here-after. We have to remind people that Jesus preached a message of actively sidestepping the world's goals which include thinking that stuff will make us happy, the inherent good of economic growth, and the quest for political power - often at the expense of peoples' lives.

I think my friend Nate is right - we have to "crusade," if you will, for human rights issues. We need to be outraged in some sense by countries like North Korea and regimes like the Taliban; HOWEVER, fighting fire with fire doesn't work. That's the core of Jesus's message. If we want to change the world - and I think we NEED to change the world now or face a rather gloomy end for all of humanity in the next century - then we have to march to a different drummer. We have to love people, ALL people, and be passionate about it. Jesus's message needs to motivate us to be activists for peace. I think history has shown us that war doesn't lead to peace. Violence begets violence.

As for the theory that the Pax Romana was a peaceful era brought into the existence by a hyper-powered authority? Perhaps, but let's look a bit closer.

Remember: Jesus's story takes place during the Pax Romana, so that gives us a bit of a historical perspective. So yes, there was "peace" in world, but at what cost? The only people who can enjoy the kind of peace that a hyper-authority brings about are those at the very top of the political scale because in order to maintain that peace, you have to maintain a constant military threat to all who would oppose you. That includes your own citizens.

Take the Jews, for example. They were under constant watch by the Romans who feared that the Jews might stage an upheaval and try to establish their own political authority. The Jews dealt with this subjugation in several ways: Essenes retreated to the wilderness, Sadducees and Pharisees integrated and compromised part of their religious message to do so, Zealots became violent against Rome. Nobody was happy. Further, look at the land in the time of Jesus from a Biblical perspective. Perhaps there weren't any wars, but human rights issues were abound. Corruption existed on every level, and the only way Rome could keep people from staging a coup d'etat was by hanging people on crosses in common areas so all could see what happens to those who threaten the hyper-authority.

This, the Pax Romana, is where the Jesus narrative comes from. We achieve TRUE peace by establishing new, higher values. We have to create a self-sustaining community with compassion and love as the currency, not oil and money and power.

Does that clarify my position and perhaps give some insight into a very possible solution? Goodness. I could write a freakin book.


Mozart said...

That's all fine and dandy--but how well does turning the other cheek actually work in practice? And how do we go about spreading this newfound sense of love and fellowship all around the globe (even to uneducated, brainwashed, starving people in third-world countries who know nothing but pain, violence, and survival of the strongest)? I'm not trying to be snarky or pessimistic here....I just honestly don't see how we could carry this out on a large scale. Baby steps, I guess....

Lady A said...

I think in any recorded history you will find that "peace" is a relative term. In any case I dont think peace or its total opposite has ruled globally. Or ultimately.

I think there are moments of war, moments of revolution, moments of renaissance. It's cyclical.

Human nature hasnt changed a ton. We are however more educated than cavemen, and the information that got us there is easily accesible/recorded... and debated.

But as you know a college education can only give you theories, scientific facts, and pieces of paper that say youre "smarter" than you were. No degree gives you character, wisdom, or substance.

I dont think institutions like churches can give you more than what a college education can either.

People will have to want more (for themselves) than their regular mundane routines- if they wish to seek change or wisdom.

And I think Mozart is right... it comes in baby steps, that amount to waves, and potentially social change. Whether you are promoting ignorance/arrogance or honesty/compassion.

P.S. I think if your "friend" Nathan wants to call you stupid he ought to call it to your face.

Apparently college didnt offer him any courses in maturity. He must feel pretty clever with his degree... even though it didnt come with a pair of balls.

-Sorry Mark, I just dont feel particularly nice about that one.

Mark said...

Shanna (Mozart) -
I think you're right. The implementation is the tricky part, but we HAVE seen some awesome evidence of passive resistance leading to greater cultural shifts and changes than any violence ever could. Gandhi, MLK Jr., Muhammed (PBUH), etc. These are people who understood that succumbing to violence doesn't change people, it just silences them for a while.

Lady A-
Nate's a good guy that I've known for close to ten years now. Guys just make fun of each other a lot and I don't think that kind of humor transfers well into writing. He really is a great guy though. Promise.
And you're right, people have to want these things for themselves, but I think that churches and other institutions can go a long way in that regard. Watching that video you sent me about Fast Food Nation made me think about it a lot. If we had an $18 billion advertising budget for peace, could we change people? I'm not sure about that answer, but the corporate world has done a pretty good job of convincing people that they "need" things they never even knew about before.
Is it possible to open people's eyes to needs they didn't even know they had before? It's an interesting question for me.

Lady A said...

Youre right it doesnt transfer well through the internet... considering all the people who troll around for blogs to say something to.

I was TOTALLY playing about Nathan needing balls! It just didnt transfer well through text. ;)


Anonymous said...

man, i leave one comment and i get hated on! the joke is that the first guy (anonymous fellow) said you were stupid and since i was technically leaving an "anonymous" note, i figured i should say the same thing.

and now people ripping on my college degree and testicles. what a true disaster! however, to answer your question, college did not offer any courses on maturity and it definitely made me no more clever than before : (

i like lotsa the stuff you're talking about though mark! i could definitely talk about the Kingdom all night, especially in contrast to USofA and the world at large. good day sir!

-anonymously yours, nathan textor