Anti-Capitalism, Christainity, Justice, Scripture

god as trinity or why we should care for the Earth and others

All theology is constructed–whether the theologian realizes it or not–s/he is writing a constructed theology. In other words, the context of the theologian echoes in her or his theological constructs. For example, James Cone’s theology of black liberation focuses on the liberation of oppressed black persons in the US. In A Theology of Black Liberation, Cone writes that “the Holy Spirit is the spirit of the Creator and the Redeemer at work in the forces of human liberation in our society today. In America, the Holy Spirit is the black persons making decisions about their togetherness, which means making preparation for an encounter with whites” (64). Cone grounds his theology in the black experience in the US, which has an atrocious history of slavery, rape of black women, lynching, and incarceration. Yet, Cone finds eschatological hope in the God of Liberation in the Scriptures and in the Spirituals.

Since all theology is constructed this means that no theology is universal, all is particular. Thus, like Cone, I wanted to write my own theology and so I start with the Trinity:

Eternal, yet ever immanent, God dwells as Trinity– God the Source, Jesus the Word and the Sustaining Spirit. For eternity, or how our hearts hyperbolize infinitude, God in relation with God’s self was and is in community. God in community has radical implications. If God made humanity in God’s likeness, as the opening poem of Genesis declares, then we too are communal internally and externally. We have voices, intuitions, and a conscience all within our single being: we are a multitude. Externally, we need other people to be ourselves. Humans have traditions that we lean on including family, religious communities, etc. that we inherit with our birth. This same co-dependent existence revealed in the Trinity continues in human relations.

This Triune Diversity encompasses perichoresis as well, in which God is unified in God’s diverse members. Hence, the Trinity shows us that Love holds everything together even when its parts differ. For social and political praxis, perichoresis gives the ideal for polyculture farming methods, multiculturalism, and generalist studies and so on.

The multiplicity of God opens us to understand God in a fuller way. The present dilemma, as theologian Elizabeth Johnson writes “dead metaphors make strong idols.” The rich metaphor of the Trinity, in Christian history, has been reduced to “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” It must be reworked for new generations to find faith and hope in the Plural and Multiplicities of the Divine.

Trinity

“The Hospitality of Abraham” by Andrei Rublev

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Anarchism, Anti-Capitalism, Beliefs, Christainity, Liberation Theology, Philosophy

desert ascetics in the land of plenty

God in Pain: Inversions of Apocalypse released last year and was co-written by Slavoj Zizek and Boris Gunjevic. Re-reading it again for a third time, I am enjoying the chapters written by Gunjevic even more. Gunjevic uses St. Augustine’s City of God as an ethical playbook to destroy capitalism. In the quote below, Gunjevic writes that to subvert capitalism one must follow the way of an ascetic. Walter Benjamin points us that capitalism is a religion; Gunjevic believes that the way to dismantle this religious system is though religious asceticism.

“This is why a measured dose of voluntary, disciplined asceticism is necessary, from which rough fragments of efficacious truths may surface and heal our desire, as Augustine says, since we will guide our desire not to something beautiful, desirable, and transitory, but to Beauty itself, immutable Truth itself, and Bliss itself. This is why we need asceticism, as only asceticism can redirect desire towards eternal plenitude. For ascetic exercise is not the destruction of desire as is suggested by various forms of Buddhism. Augustine’s understanding of ascetic practice begins with a voluntary renunciation of submission to pleasure the renunciation of a weakening of the soul and body, and renunciation of the avaricious aspiration to greater wealth. The lust for glory is a nasty vice and an enemy of true devotion, says Augustine, calling on the words of the carpenter from Nazareth and the Apostles whose practice was to place the love of God above.” “Babylonian Virtues–Minority Report” (100-101)

God in Pain

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Anarchism, Anti-Capitalism, Politics

corporations and a modest proposal

Jonathan Swift wrote the essay, “A Modest Proposal” in 1729. The essay expresses another way to keep Ireland’s economic head above the water. Swift satirically proposes that those who are poor should sell and/or eat their children. This was during the time that England ruled over Ireland, and were oppressed into an economic depression. Ireland was not allowed to trade with any other country, but more than that, much of the land was owned by those in England having the Irish people rent from them. The money then exited Ireland and poured into England. Jonathan Swift noticing all of these injustices around him spoke out against them. Luis Landa wrote in an essay titled “Swift’s Economic Views and Mercantilism,”

“One of his few sermons to come down to us, On the Causes of the Wretched Condition of Ireland, is devoted to an analysis of Ireland’s economic difficulties, in which he complains bitterly that ” The first cause of our misery is the intolerable hardships we lie under in every branch of trade, by which we are become as hewers of wood, and drawers of water, to our rigorous neighbors” (ELH, Vol. 10, No. 4 (Dec., 1943))

During Swift’s time, Ireland was losing money from their economy to assist the growing English Empire. This is a tragedy. Today, as a world population we are dealing with something much larger. The Empire instead of being a concrete country like England, it is liberal capitalism. In liberal capitalism, the State is the global market that all pay into. This Empire is not something that we can see, but is a virtual island full of mostly wealthy white men. Our money that we pay into goes not towards the worker, but to the company’s overhead.

The liberal capitalist island fills with the money while workers stand as pawns in their greedy game. Jesus, in his great rhetoric in the Gospel of Luke, says :

“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
Woe to you who are full now,
for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and weep.” (6:24-25 NRSV)

The idea here is to say that if you have an excess amount riches then that’s all that your worth. God’s kin-dom* and thus God’s justice is about distributive justice, unlike U.S. society which focuses on retributive justice. Therefore, those who have excess amounts are not participating in the vision that Jesus declared about the kin-dom of God. Fighting against these kinds of injustices and educating the masses of how the system works should be our top goals. We must always remember the wisdom of Paulo Freire that taught, “Critical and liberation dialogue, which presupposes action, must be carried on with the oppressed at whatever the stage of their struggle for liberation…But to substitute monologue, slogans, and communiques for dialogues is to attempt to liberate the oppressed without their reflective participation in the act of liberation is to treat them as objects which must be saved from a burning building” (52). Dialogue gives us a good middle way for liberation of the oppressed and the oppressors. The first step we must take then is to become friends with those whom we believe to be oppressed.

*I prefer to use kin-dom over kingdom because the later has been used in patriarchal hierarchical structures that have oppressed citizens. I believe that God’s kin-dom does not represent that reality, but a kin-dom where all are the family of God.

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Anarchism, Anti-Capitalism, Patriachy, Spiritual

the revolutionary act of ash wednesday and lent

I have been reading Pedagogy of the Oppressed for the past week now. It was not intended to be my Lenten book, but it has become such. The first few chapters relate to this Christian season in several ways. I would call it a Liberation Theology text for the non-theological, since it speaks in non-bibical langauge in the same ways that the South American liberation theologians were using the Exodus story and the narrative of Jesus.

The first chapter speaks of a revolution, where the oppressed and the oppressors both are liberated. Paulo Freire writes “As oppressors dehumanize others and violate their rights, they themselves also become dehumanized” (42). Freire sets out to have both oppressed and oppressor humanized. This means that a revolution must have the oppressed not be over the oppressors, but everyone come out as equals. Slavoj Zizek has spoken some on Haiti, using a post-colonial context, writing, “it was perhaps even more of an event than the French Revolution itself. It was the first time that an enslaved population rebelled not as a way of returning to their pre-colonial “roots”, but on behalf of universal principles of freedom and equality.” While the French revolution promoted equality for all people who were not slaves, it was the Haitian Revolution who made both slaves and free all under the banner of equality and freedom. It’s as if they took the words of Freire to heart 170 years earlier.

This brings me to a theo-political understanding of the imparting of ashes. 40 days before Easter Sunday, catholic Christians attend a service in which to re-member, both in embodying the church, but also a time for self-reflection, remembering our short comings. As an Episcopalian, we like to kneel for Eucharist and for ashes, and this time I knelt recognizing my faults, but also kneeling in solitary with the rest of the persons in church. We were at that moment all on an equal plain. We are all part of familia dei, Family of God. In other words, the politics of Ash Wednesday show us that if any political system should be prescribed that it should be one of anarchism. That we need no human leaders since we are all on this equal plain. Yet, the problem is that as U.S. citizens we live in a psycho-spiritual context where to feel secure that we must have an authority figure, e.g. President, patriarch, etc. in our lives to give us structure. In Zizekian/Lacian lingo, we are searching for the “subject-suppose-to-know.” We are looking for the one who knows all the answers so that we can elect them to office or believe that they know best and follow whatever they may say. Speaking of the 2008 financial crisis, Jacques Lacan’s son-in-law, Jacques-Alain Miller says in an interview

“The financial universe is an architecture made of fictions and its keystone is what Lacan called a “subject supposed to know”, to know why and how. Who plays this part? The concert of authorities, from where sometimes a voice is detached, Alan Greenspan, for example, in his time. The financial players base their behavior on this. The fictional and hyper-reflexive unit holds by the “belief” in the authorities, i.e. through the transference to the subject supposed to know. If this subject falters, there is a crisis, a falling apart of the foundations, which of course involves effects of panic. “

The presidential candidates want to be this kind of subject, knowing what is best for the financial and political realm. Yet if we are Christians who wear our “faith on our foreheads” recognizing our failings, how can we not help to see that there is no one who is “suppose to know” that it takes us a community of self-reflecting people who now more than ever need the dialectic and each other to create a more just world.

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Anti-Capitalism

anti-capitalist critique of the super bowl

Since I left my hometown and no longer have cable television, my desire to watch the Super Bowl has dissolved. Before I would watch the game for the half-time show and the new commercials. Although, I was never a big fan of sports, my parents and brother were/are and my mother still tells me about my brother and father’s arguments about which team is better, etc. Noam Chomsky explains this obsession with sports as

“…And I suppose that’s also one of the basic functions it serves society in general: it occupies the populations, and it keeps them from trying to get involved with things that really matter. In fact, I presume that’s part of the reason why spectator sports are supported to the degree they are by the dominant institutions.” (Understanding Power, 100)

This is usually how I understand corporate sports (differentiating between local sports in which one can participate with neighbors). Corporate sports are supported by corporations, forcing players to advertise with logos on their uniforms, and have many commercials inserted during breaks. One of the reasons I did enjoy the Super Bowl was because of the commercials. Reflecting on it now, it seems that commercials help to reinforce the ideology of capitalism in the U.S.. Teams compete against one another in hopes for winning, which is the capitalistic dream, for businesses to compete with one another in hopes of gaining more profits than another. Vidyadhar Date explains this beautifully in the article Capitalism and sport: Sports for a few

Competitive sports generate belief in capitalist values. We start believing that competition is the order of life, when in fact we should be striving for cooperation and friendship. Competitive sports make us feel that one must reach the top, be the first, and be willing to make any compromise.

Corporate sports is a reflection of the society at large and present no new challenges to culture or society. With this in mind, it makes sense that these sports are also pro-patriarchy. Since all of the players on the field are males bodied persons, this also includes the announcers, coaches, etc. This gives them an authority that other events do not, e.g. women’s tennis. If we are to shatter patriarchy, and capitalism, we must form coed leagues that have no corporate sponsors. This will probably never get air coverage, but the people involved will get to know one another better.

One final note: In Indiana, the location of the Super Bowl this year, the governor passed the controversial Right to Work law, which helps to bust up unions. The governor signed this bill privately, bypassing all of the public procedures that a governor has to do to pass a law. Thus, Occupy the Super Bowl began. Hopefully, discussion of this bill will be brought up sometime during the Super Bowl and in the weeks following, more dialogue with Gov. Daniels about repealing this law.

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