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February 24, 2006

Comments

zero

chuck, my friend, you use the word "disappointed" a ton to describe how you feel about the way the gw machine operates. is there another word or words that also describe your feelings about said machine?

the internet seems to have done much for grassroots. i am on probably every action alert there is from organizations of all sorts and this allows me (and the nation's citizens) to respond quickly to issues. this action allows access by email or letter or phone call to elected officials and otherwise. when a followup email arrives announcing that 45,000 (for example) responses to an action call were sent to congress in a day's time! that's something that's difficult to be ignored. phone lines are jammed, email accounts freeze, faxes continue to spin out of the machine, letters to the editors are going out across the country. this is good. and it takes mere minutes per day and one need ever leave home to be involved. this is, i'm convinced, is why there is the highjacking of the internet afoot here in this country! forget china, if this happens, we are china.

action is good. speaking up is great. saying no in every form possible is better than the best. however, when power is grabbed illegally and nothing is done about it, when laws are broken by said illegal power and the lawmakers don't hold that branch accountable (because the lawmakers are complicit) and the press abdicates, there isn't much beyond trying that can be done. forget south american countries, we are them!

whatever concessions power will make it's to maintain power by throwing the masses a "bone". that said, whatever bones we masses can manage, i'll take them.

chuck

I know what you mean, but I continue to be remarkably disappointed because of the extent to which this administration has tried to wrap itself in the mantle of Christian faith. I am disappointed even more in a church that allows this connection to be made and affirmed. I have high expectations for such folks, and get really disappointed when the extent to which they have lost their way becomes evident.

Bill

I think "disappointing" is a good term to describe the current state of the Church..and American society...and Islamic societies for that matter. How in the world have we gotten to this point? Well, I think when a community is confronted with the reality that they are complicit in evil they tend to go to great lengths to justify themselves. So, many Americans can say, "Yes, Gitmo and Abu Ghraib are bad but not as bad as beheading innocent hostages." And many Muslims can say, "Yes, beheading innocent hostages is bad, but not as bad as the abuses and injustices our societies have suffered from the West for decades." I think this drive for self-justification--plus the huge doses of fear that the actions by all sides have engendered and manipulated--contribute mightily to our present state of darkness.

zero

that's a hallmark of being a contrarian realist, chuck: not having high expectations of such folks. it should certainly be so, but when, really, has it ever been? and just because the public didn't find out about nonsense along the years of this nation's history doesn't mean it didn't happen! it means we didn't find out. if there's one book people who are often disappointed about the state of affairs should read is howard zinn's "a people's history of the united states". first page of chapter four, tyranny is tyranny, sums up power and it's relationship to the "common man" (the powerless). consider looking at this volume, please, even if only to read the first page of chapter four. and for a contratian realist, these guys didn't lose their way, they know perfectly well the road they walk. and they count on us to believe, when they are caught, that it wasn't intentional, it was a way lost. it is we, the people, who need to reframe, not power for clarity.

Bill

zero, on my bookshelf I have a copy of Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" right next to a copy of Schweikart and Allen's "A Patriot's History of the United States." I am waiting to see if this will cause some sort of explosion ... :-)

zero

excellent, bill! i haven't read the patriot's history. how is this one different from the zinn volume?

commondreams.org (a very good site for issues) has a link to howard zinn's website. actually looked at it today and there's a tv series in production of his "people's history"!!! i wonder who will run it? maybe link or fstv or documentary tv (which i get on dish, channel 197). this series will be a treat.
maybe those who aren't interested in reading the book will watch.

Bill

zero, if "A People's History" is matter, then "A Patriot's History" is anti-matter! The authors of the "Patriots" dismiss "Peoples" as Marxist rhetoric and seek instead to focus on "America's overwhelmingly positive contributions to society." I am fascinated by the biases that academic historians can bring to the table. So much for the objectivity of history. But I force myself to read both sides--it is the price I pay for seeking common ground. By the way, please let me know if I ever start sounding schizophrenic... :-)

zero

ok. first, which bill am i talking to?

the credibility that zinn brings to his volume on american history is that he uses original documents and publishes them as they are written throughout the book. it's difficult to refute an actual document as a leftwing, liberal, commie plot to trash the ever pure and morally superior united states of america.

there's another great book. "in their own words" (or something like that). the editor compiled, from before america was america, way back to columbus et al landing here, correspondence, diary entries and other first person accounts of witness to events throughout history. one shipman wrote that he watched as columbus ordered the slaughter of native peoples just because. and they had done nothing other than just be there to be slaughtered!

moral superiority?
which bill wants to discuss that? :@>

chuck

Thanks, folks, I'll check those out. I may be a contrarian idealist:>)

Bill

Oh, I would not ascribe moral superiority to the United States or to the Church for that matter. (While we're at it, should we just exclude all political and religious institutions that exercise coercisive power from making claims of moral superiority?). I do, however, ascribe moral superiority to the teachings of Jesus; hence, I am a Christian. I am particularly fond of the Sermon on the Mount; it's just climbing up that Mount (individually and communally) that I find vexing.

Brad Anderson

Bill, just to probe a bit, do you think "political and religious institutions" are the only one exercising coercion? What about the academy, the marketplace, the media (in the broad sense)?

I do resonate with you, but there has always been part of the church universal that refused to use coercion, perhaps more of the church than we know, given that the recorded histories make much more visible those who wore the mantle of worldy power. Thus, church defined as community in which institutions exist (rather than primarily as an institution) still retains moral authority (I would shy away from "superiority") over those claiming Christ.

I'm quite sure we're on the same page here - I just wanted to address these minor considerations.

zero

well put, billbill.
what i find vexing is those who proclaim loudly how christian they are and their actions prove otherwise.
as for ascribing, i'm with you on both counts.

chuck, how about a contrarian optimistic realist?

zero

your post must have been coming in for a landing, brad, when i responded to billbill and chuck....

your point is also well stated. there is coersion throughout. it's subtle or covert or blatant and overt but it's just about everywhere. the key is to remain free! it helps to be a contrarian under these conditions.

chuck

I like that way of putting it, Zero:>)
Brad and Bill, what do you think of our focusing on the way Tony Thistleton put it in "God and the Postmodern Self." He observed that pms are distrusting of all "metanarratives" as disguised plays for power. Thistleton said that the only meta narrative that undermines that suspicion is one that genuinely puts the interests of the Other first. If we Christians could live that out....oh, what a change!

zero

putting others first! that would be something. those that have sooooo much in the way of material comfort and security and the opportunities that come with, it wouldn't be such a slap in the face if, once gained their lot, they would be willing to share but they are all the more adament about shutting the havenots out after gaining their wealth. explain that headscratcher!

as to true sacrifice, witness how people marvel at it and wonder how someone could be so willing to give so much. why is this?

chuck

Because, I think, deep in our hearts, we know this is right. What do you think?

Bill

Yes, if Christians could incarnate the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount, what a difference that would make! (Let's not limit it to Christians; Gandhi incarnated the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount and look at the difference he made!) Is it over-simplistic to think that the one thing that is stopping us is FEAR? And what are we told drives out fear? Perfect love. Perfect love: what is it and how do we get it? Christians should be unanimous in how we answer that. Pity we rationalize it all away and speak with a thousand (30,000 denominations?) different voices. Other faith traditions and humanitarian philosophies have something to bring to the discussion too about this matter of love.

zero

expand on the fear part here, billbill.
what is it that people fear?

we know it's right, chuck. we have the perfect model as well as human examples. and yet it's rare instead of the rule.

Brad Anderson

Chuck, I've read the same from McLaren. I tend to agree regarding metanarratives in general, but I do believe we have one as the Body of Christ, and that it is not a disguised play for power, but an undisguised, clear assertion of Christ's power and authority, which precludes human claims to the same. I don't like the approach of disregarding ALL metanarratives, because I think the Christian one is so important, and because I think embodying it means necessarily that we give up our pretentions. It is both an assertion of Christ's power and an act of putting the Other first simultaneously.

Brad Anderson

I like Bill's statement on fear and love. I'm convinced that a/the primary motivation behind fear is an obsession with one's own survival. Perfect love lets go of this priority and enables perfect self-sacrifice.

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