In the days to come God’s justice will extend beyond the heavens encircling galaxies, borders, and flags All peoples and creatures shall recognize such love They will say, “Have you heard? The Not-Yet has become the Now-Is! People who once lived on the streets, now have roofs over their heads. Our bellies are full of food and joy. Prisons are empty! Oil is no longer necessary to survive!” God has given us all these beautiful resources and imparted in us how to use them. World peace agreements will be immediately signed with God overseeing that they are enacted Warheads, drones, tanks, and guns shall be melted into communion tables, tennis rackets, and new bridges. The people of nations will learn gardening skills, they’ll design new musical instruments, and neighbor will care outrageously for neighbor.
I’ve been thinking about how difficult voting with a clean conscience appears to be with this election, and perhaps all elections. I consider myself a single issues voter; my issue is justice. More specifically, I care deeply and have been part of peace movements for almost a decade. Unfortunately, the nominees for President are rather slim pickings when it comes to justice and peace issues. Neither wants to shut down Guantanamo Bay* or side strongly with the Black Lives Matter movement or even consider to decrease/eliminate our military budget.
Since I’m a new Presbyterian I thought John Calvin, a founder of Presbyterianism, might give me some insight into our predicimate, but unfortunately I was sidetracked by his affirmative writings on war:
In Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin declared war to be lawful and right. His reasoned “that in the Apostolic writings we are not to look for a distinct exposition of those matters [i.e. war], their object being not to form a civil polity, but to establish the spiritual kingdom of Christ” (4.20.12). Calvin depoliticizes the Gospels and the letters of Paul, Peter, John, and James. He completely ignores the Imperialist context they were resisting. For example, Paul rebukes Peter of not practicing reconciliation around a meal with non-Jewish Christians (Galatians 2:11-14). James tongue-lashed the rich for condemning and killing the non-violent righteous one (5:6). Or even John’s First Letter, which declares that loving other people and loving God go hand-in-hand (1 John 4:20-21).
For Calvin the Scriptures show “in passing that Christ by his coming has changed nothing [i.e. war and violence] in that respect” (4.20.12). In other words, Christ came to bring a spiritual kingdom, not to change the present one. This kind of logic has made it possible to kill hundreds of thousands of people since Calvin’s time. But then must we ask Calvin: “What does Jesus mean when he prays, ‘May God’s will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven’ mean?” Does nationalism exist in God’s heaven? Will heaven’s borders have tanks, drones, or angelic national security guards? How does someone who’s faith demands of them a respect and love for all people, especially the poor and marginalized, would want to even wield a gun, or even be violent? What say ye, Calvin?
I am reminded of “Garden” by The Collection:
“So I shot a man in Afghanistan, he was bleeding on me
then he said his name was Jesus and he never had an army
as he took his dying breath, the last thing that he thought he’d tell me is
“It’s better to die for nothing than to kill just for your country””
Sure, Calvin does not tickle my fancy when it comes to war, but will this effect my reading of him as I go further into the Presbyterian rabbit hole? I’m not sure.
What I am sure of that is there are many other faithful Christian anti-war/pro-peace advocates whom I adore and look to for inspiration including these two incredible women, Dorothy Day and Mother Teresa:
*Still disappointed that President Obama did not fulfill his promise to shut it down.
This was written by my mentor and thesis advisor, Dr. Rehmann.
The skyrocketing increase of U.S. incarceration rates from the late 1970s onward indicates a particular neoliberal response to what Marx analyzed as the deep-structural production of “surplus population” by capital. This essay reevaluates the classic contributions of Marx and of Rusche and Kirchheimer and relates them to approaches that emphasize racial continuity, from “convict leasing” to the “New Jim Crow” of the current incarceration system. What is needed is a multifaceted approach that accounts for the overdetermination of class and race relations. Today’s U.S. prison system is a particular way of “managing” the devastating social consequences of high-tech capitalism that has lost its hegemonic ability to mobilize its subjects on a “voluntary” basis. A part of the surplus population needs to be sacrificed in a theatrical spectacle in order to keep the working class, the poor, and the threatened middle class complacent and under control.
O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see wrongdoing and look at trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. -Habakkuk 1:2-3
Maybe it’s the heat, or perhaps it’s because theodicy has been on my mind for the last 10 years, or mayhaps I just enjoy good music. Any way, ‘Prayer In C’ by Lilly Wood & The Prick has been my song for the week.
Yah*, you never said a word You didn’t send me no letter Don’t think I could forgive you See our world is slowly dying I’m not wasting no more time Don’t think I could believe you Yah, our hands will get more wrinkled And our hair will be grey Don’t think I could forgive you And see the children are starving And their houses were destroyed Don’t think they could forgive you Hey, when seas will cover lands And when men will be no more Don’t think you can forgive you Yeah when there’ll just be silence And when life will be over Don’t think you will forgive you
Its posture of prayer, questioning, and lament fills my heart with such joy. Partly because it’s good to know that there are songs like this out there, since this would never be sung in the context of a church service. As well, it harkens back to the tradition of the prophets, like Habakkuk (quoted at the top) and the psalms, especially Psalm 6 with the psalmist pleading with God saying, “For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who can give you praise?” (6:5). In other words, don’t let my enemies kill me, for who will praise you then.
As well, “Prayer in C” has these great statements and questions about forgiveness: 1. God does not respond to my pleas and prayers. How can I forgive God? 2. Our bodies are deteriorating. How can I forgive God? 3. The world is falling apart: children dying, housing destroyed. How can those effected forgive God? 4. Once the Earth is destroyed and no living creatures are around, will God forgive Godself?
This lament is not as much as the singer becoming an atheist; rather, it’s her expressing frustration and wanting God to respond with cosmic justice, quickly.
This week I picked up Keywords of Radicals: The Contested Vocabulary of Late-Capitalist Struggle and it has been a treat. Since each chapter is around four or five pages long, I’ve been using it as a radical daily devotional.
This is from the chapter on hope:
Hope is not fantasy, faith, optimism, or wish, but rather the strongest of all human emotions. “Hope, this expectant counter-emotion against anxiety and fear is therefore the moist human of all mental feelings and only accessible to [humans], and it also refers to the furthest and brightest horizons. It suits that appetite in the mind which the subject not only has, but if which, as unfulfilled subject, it still essentially consists”(Bloch 1995, 75). In this view, hope possesses a utopian function, which enable us to engage with the “not-yet” dimension of reality that inhabits the present and can be anticipated her and now. Hope in this sense is willful rather than wishful: it informs people’s concrete behaviors to forge a better life.
The attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were horrendous. Hundreds of thousands dead in an instant and hundreds of thousands have suffered the long-term consequences of radiation. The article linked above is one of better ones I found explaining the bombings through a political lens I can appreciate.
I took this photo today at a peace vigil for Hiroshima and Nagasaki and for nuclear proliferation.
Wokémon provides for leftists a way to enjoy Pokémon. The quote coming from Venusaur’s mouth is by Berta Cáceres, a Honduran human rights and environmental activist, who was murdered earlier this year. I like Wokémon because it is a good access point for Pokémon lovers, including myself, to be introduced to critical theorists, activists, and politicians.
Before the craze of Arthur memes, Clickhole wrote the hilarious article linked above. My favorite section is: That You Can Live With Someone For 6 Years And They Can Turn Around And Forget You In A Second
When Buster moved away, he and Arthur kept in touch via postcard, demonstrating that the bonds of friendship are unbreakable. If only Arthur had mentioned that the same can’t be said for romantic relationships, when in the span of one argument, you can go from intertwined souls imprinted on each other’s cellular memories to strangers in the same bed with so much distance between you that it may as well be infinite, until finally there’s nothing left to talk about but the logistics of packing up the IKEA plates as you ring in your new life as a ghost in your own skin. Thanks for nothing, Marc Brown.
When I finish reading Nussbaum’s television review in the New Yorker, I scroll through her tweets. She is on the pulse of pop culture and other than the podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour from NPR, I more often than not trust her analysis.
I hear you call, pine tree, I hear you upon the hill, by the silent pond where the lotus flowers bloom, I hear you call, pine tree.
What is it you call, pine tree, when the rain falls, when the winds blow, and when the stars appear, what is it you call, pine tree?
I hear you call, pine tree, but I am blind, and do not know how to reach you, pine tree. Who will take me to you, pine tree?
One of the best things I did this summer was sign up for the Academy of American Poets’poem-a-day. Through this daily email, I’ve been introduced to more diverse and eclectic poets, beyond my usual, yet still utterly amazing Francis Choi and Mary Oliver.
Today’s poem by Yone Noguchi knocked me on the floor. It leaves me with many questions. Is the pine tree calling out to the writer personally or to anything or anyone who will listen? Is this call actually a command? Does the call change depending on the environment of the pine tree (i.e. rain, wind, at night)? The blindness of writer too is curious at the end. Are they blind to the call, as if they need an interpreter to translate? Why would the speaker ask the pine tree for a companion, if they don’t even know what it is saying in the first place?!? This poem fills me with such content while at the same time has me wanting more.
What attracts me to this poem is the sense of mystery and what I believe to be apophatic theology poetic style. The call from the pine tree is never understood fully. The writer thinks the pine tree is talking to them, yet doesn’t know with any certainty. In the apophatic tradition, God can only be understood through negation or beyondness. For example, God is beyond any human conception of love or goodness. God is beyond being. I’ll have to think further on this metaphor of God as pine tree.
Yet, the last question still lingers: “Who will take me to you, pine tree?” Perhaps it is not a person at all, but an experience. The experience of mystery. The experience of beyondness. Or perhaps it is a person, but not an interpreter of the call, but someone just to hold our hand. Perhaps.
The abstract for my paper, “The Eschatological Lens of Saga,” has been accepted at the Mid-Atlantic Pop and American Culture Conference in November. I’ve been so excited for it that I even started to re-read one of my sources for the paper, Jürgen Moltmann’s Theology of Hope.
One quote struck me tonight, it reads,
“Theological concepts do not give a fixed for to reality, but they are expanded by hope and anticipate future being. They do not limp after reality and gaze on it with the night eyes of Minerva’s owl, but they illuminate reality by displaying its future. Their knowledge is grounded not in the will to dominate, but in love to the future of things” (36).
According to Moltmann, it’s not necessarily the historical relevance of how a theological concept came about, but what the concept is pointing towards. For example, to assume that everyone deserves hell because of original sin presents a certain future, which one can act out in the present by being selfish or only enjoying the company of fellow-heaven goers. Rather than actually caring for those around you who are in need. Our theology shows us what we want the future to be like through our present actions. For a similar reason, I love reading Saga. Unlike other futuristic sci-fi films, such as Her and Lucy, which only white people are represented, Saga writer Brian Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples construct a future-universe much like the present: full of diverse populations, creatures, and hopes. A world I love being in living in New York.
I guess my conclusion is: theological concepts and visioning another world are not so different after all.
“Mutual Aid at its finest” would probably be a better title. This episode is about how forests have setup a network of care and communication through fungi. A must listen for those in need of a little hope.
I have re-read, shared, and quoted this article many times. I find it so relevant.
“Smartphones extend the workplace in space and time. Emails can be answered at breakfast, specs reviewed on the train home, and the next day’s meetings verified before lights out. The Internet becomes the place of work, with the office just a dot on the vast map of possible workspaces.”
Over the years, I have become less interested in the genre of horror in movies. It has relied heavily on boding and loud music to accomplish what it did in the past to scare its viewers. But I’m also a sucker for holiday themed movies, so I had to give it a chance. Holidays is an anthology consisting of seven holiday short films by seven directors. Each of them have a surprising spin to these classic holidays that had me wanting each section to be longer than the twenty or so minutes it was allotted. If you like horror, or at least don’t mind it, and enjoy great story telling, Holidays is for you.
For the past two years, I’ve gone to North Carolina to attend the Historic Thousands on Jones Streetwith Rev. Dr. William Barber II and the Moral Mondays Movement. I’ve been awe-inspiried the several times I’ve met Rev. Barber. I’m glad last night a much wider audience has been able to experience the presence and prophetic witness of Rev. Barber.