Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Pharisee Nation by John Dear

I made the mistake of running into a political blog yesterday called The Progressive Blog Alliance HQ. Where I found a bunch of what passes for thought and theology among the hardcore pro-gay and anti-war, anti-Bush, anti-everything else left. One of the pieces was this rant called Pharisee Nation by a passivist Jesuit Priest named John Dear

I just had to reply to such self-righeous utter non-sense.

"I believe war, weapons, corporate greed and systemic injustice are an abomination in the sight of God. They are the definition of mortal sin. They mock God and threaten to destroy God’s gift of creation. If you want to seek the living God, you have to pit your entire life against war, weapons, greed and injustice--and their perpetrators. It is as simple as that."
Dude, you need to Love the Lord thy God with all your mind, because when you do I think you will discover that your condemnation can never be so cut and dried in a fallen world among a fallen humanity. If it is so cut and dried than why are these pronouncements yours and not directly uttered by Jesus himself? I would submit much of your Bibilical interpretation is wishful thinking more than serious hermineutic. Jesus himself said render unto Caeser what is Caeser and the God that which is God's. A Christian cannot simply avoid civic responsiblity for wishful thinking of their own making. That is not true faith, but foolishness.

"War, weapons, corporate greed, and systematic injustice (What?ever that is) are certainly inevitable necessary evils. These things probably in FACT have redemptive qualities or uses by God that accomplish good and restrain evil along with preserving grace and creation in some kind of pragmatic manor that is beyond our comprehension. The weather is not evil and yet it kills, steals and destroys as if at times it is authored by Satan himself. I would submit that "war" (conflict), "weaponry" (the sword), "corporate greed" (economics), and systematic injustice (political and civic instituitions) are all similiar to the weather as that they are a law unto themselves in a fallen creation and therefore are NOT automaticaly abominations as you claim.

"We have to resist this new American empire..."
If you think "American Empire" is bad, who would you prefer to be ruled by? A totalitarian Soviet/Communist one? A totalitarian Islamic one? A fascist Nazi one? An Imperial Japanease one? A totalitarian Pan-Arab one? A truely brutal pagan Roman or Mongolian one? How about a truely fucked up French Imperial one? Or do you favor some other small time authoritarian despot, kingdom, tribe or fiefdom?

From where I sit the best Empires in the history of the world are British and by extension it's successor the American one. That is an objective judgement that is pretty easy to make. well as its false spirituality and all those who claim to be Christian yet support the murder of other human beings.
This statement is about as morally obtuse an argument as I've ever seen. The options are not simply American empire vs. the utopia of the Kingdom of God. So the American Empire goes away and then What? Are you saying that the majority of people in Iraq where better under Saddam and the Bathists than they are with a true opportunity for self-determination and radical liberal democratic reforms?

It's not that we support murder, but that there is a difficult and real problem somewhere that involves us and we are trying to do as nation what we can to set things right and doing that means engaging in a violent struggle. Avoiding the problem won't make it go away or make life better for one single soul in Iraq or the USA or anywhere else in the world for that matter. There is a time for war and a time for peace, a time to throw stones and a time to gather them in.

We have to repent of the sin of war, put down the sword, practice Gospel nonviolence, and take up the cross of revolutionary nonviolence by loving our enemies and discovering what the spiritual life is all about.
I don't recall Jesus or the Apostles speaking of a "Gospel of nonviolence." Jesus was not a prophet or martyr for any so called "gospel of nonviolence." I don't recall converted Roman soldiers and commanders being commanded to resign and renounce their position. I think this Gospel you speak of is not "Gospel" at all and should not be accepted uncritically and without serious reservations.

I especially have a problem with this:

put down the sword
The secular/political authority commands those within it's authority and has not only the right but the obligation to bear the sword. Jesus and his followers understood this, but you seemingly do not. If commanded by the political authority to bear the sword to not obey could be to disobey God and promote evil rather than discourage it. That is good Biblical theology, your position however is not.

take up the cross of revolutionary nonviolence by loving our enemies and discovering what the spiritual life is all about
I reject the notion that too unilaterally disarm, which is essentially to hand your enemy the gun with which an evil enemy will then summarily shoot you in the head consitutes what Jesus meant with the line about "loving your enemies" "taking up the cross " or has anything to do with discovering what "the spirtiual life is all about" unless reaping the the consequences of stupidity is a spiritual discipline we are to seek.

Wake up from your delusions and enter the world of angels/demons and men.