Tag Archives: Ben Meyers

The Umbrella Revolution, #FergusonOctober, & the Social Order

I was revolutionary, before it was cool

I was revolutionary, before it was cool

Over the past couple of months, Ben Meyers at Faith and Theology has written a few provocative posts on Christian perspectives of the moral order and revolution: Apocalyptic and creation: why I changed my mind ; Christianity and Social Vision: once more on creation and the apocalyptic; politics, society, & institutions: a theological outline#FergusonOctober, I thought I would take the opportunity to discuss my own theology of revolution (which , albeit, is still in process).

1. I, for one, respectfully disagree with Meyers (and other Radical Orthodox writers) when they argue things like “The sole rationale for politics is original sin. The principal aim of political order is not to produce justice but to restrain injustice; not to cultivate the spirit of the law but to enforce the rule of law; not to create love but to set limits to self-interest […]” The art of politics in the original sense of the word, working toward the good of the polis, finds its ground and being in the goodness of the Creator. Yes, I assume that humanity and creation are fallen, but sin does not reign, and nor should the dictates of our human pride be considered the sovereigns of the world. If in fact Jesus IS LORD, and if Christ Jesus is the Creator who sustains all systems of the world (Colossians 1), then politics is humanity’s act of co-creating with the Holy Trinity. It is not the eschatological society {THE IDEAL CHURCH OF RADICAL ORTHODOXY, NO DOUBT!} but rather Christ Jesus himself who just as Deborah and Gideon did in the days of Israel’s judges, maintains justice between just and unjust parties.

2. As fallen human beings under the kingship and judgment of Jesus the Messiah, technically we are all in revolt versus the one true King. The only Law that truly matters is The Golden Rule [a summary of the Ten Commandments], given to the Church and the World by God’s Son Himself, the Second Person in the Trinity. Given the fact that Christians recognize One Lawgiver, Christians’ preference should be for freedom as a rule, rather than the Law and Order of Whiteness. For example, let’s take the situation in Ferguson, Missouri. There, an alliance of Christian ministers calling themselves the “Clergy for Peace” were making calls for reconciliation, slow revolution, and pretty much softer versions of Law & Order churchianity. While these slow revolutionaries were acting in the name of a false peace, their neighbors were having tear gas thrown in their eyes, being denied the basic right to worship and assemble, and suffering under the repressive curfews. While Meyers and others might argue, “Civil disobedience is not rebellion against political authority but an act of political responsibility in which some particular law is broken for the sake of another (more basic or more important) law, or for the sake of some widely shared value in a society,” I say with James Cone and others, that there needs to be an upheaval in values. Also, while yes Civil Disobedience can be a responsible political act, it is not a choice of choosing between a “more basic or more important” man-made laws, but between the conflicts of divine law of neighborly love that Christ revealed over and against the tyranny of the status quo.

3. Lastly but NOT LEAST, probably most importantly, the shape of revolution should not look backwards while walking slowly; rather, Revolution as a concept should follow in the hope-filled forward-marching paths set forth by the LORD of Hosts. Revolution as a future-oriented concept will not rely on abstract, celestial visions of a transcendental moral order. Rather, a would-be revolutionary must have a theology of the cross, and that means that in order for there to be a morality, there must be human bodies. God shows God’s goodness in the act of creation, Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection. If a revolution is oriented towards hope, this means that the revolutionary moment must be tied to the pedagogical moment. Revolutions must exist for the sake of the future, for the sake of future generations. Without such a view, the present realities of oppression are lifted up as the norm, and our responses to those realities remain limited. My friend and fellow KillJoy Prophet Justin Tse has two excellent write ups on Occupy Central: EXAM REVIEW: Hong Kong’s Occupy Central with Love and Peace and Benny Tai As Political Theologian. (side note: check out this post by my friend Valerie on what she’s learned from being in Hong Kong and observing Occupy Central ) One of the important takeaways from his pieces is the fact that Benny Tai, the organizer of Occupy Central, sees the Occupy Central movement as an educational movement. In a similar vein, a number of scholars and activists are using Twitter and the #Ferguson hashtag to educate others about police brutality, the militarization of the police, racial profiling, and the Prison-Industrial Complex. If indeed, knowledge is power, perhaps a more appropriate measurement of how successful a revolution is in how many persons from around the globe find that revolution to be an important learning moment for humanity? Perhaps this a way forward, but it is only a sketch for now.

Until next time, class dismissed.

Putting the Progress in Progressive?

Ben Meyers wrote an interesting piece on society’s worship of progress and reading as a subversive act to undermining the cult of progress. Anthony Paul Smith responded with a critique of the non-belief in progress.

For what it is worth, I am sick of hearing anti-progressive rants from the Glenn Becks of the world.  Child labor laws were an evil thing? Seriously? Such dualistic thinking, I believe, speaking as a principled libertarian, should really have no place in theology in the 21st century, but alas, it does. I suspect that the Christian “realism” of the mid-20th century still has his tight grip around American Protestantism’s throat. Thus, we have a war-mongering President who won the Nobel Peace Prize.  Seriously, I think that the Left is wrong when they claim that their victory is inevitable and the Right is wrong when they say that we are all doomed, inevitably.  I take my cues on the meaning of progress from two intellectuals who actually witnessed progress: Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr.  MLK Jr once said, “Nothing is inevitable,” meaning nothing is predetermined or left to fate. Let us not consign progress to some distant future in abstract notions of history, but in the current struggle, as Douglass suggested, that without struggle, there is no progress.

But you don’t have to take my word for it; according to some, I am actually a fundamentalist.


Would Clement, Athanasius, or Augustine Be Biblio/Theo-bloggers?

As I was working through my thesis and sometimes blogging on a few of my arguments concerning God’s transcendence, I tried to imagine, what if Clement of Alexandria was biblioblogger? He would probably entitle his blog something like “Magic Carpet Rides” or maybe even “Better Bearded Manly Men” or better yet, “The Teacher’s Pet!”  I am sure he would out right reject the NLT, universalism, The Ed Show, universal health-care, and and love for the Emo lifestyle (basically anything Joel affirms).  Augustine would probably post on his blog “Ambrose Redivivus” and discuss why we should not have to learn the original languages of Scripture, and that the plain English of the KJV was all that we needed [part of sentence has been deleted].  Perhaps the least popular biblioblog written by a church father would be “That’s What the Father Said!” by Athanansius, since, like Jeremy, he is never wrong about anything; like, ever.

All kidding aside, I think that Ben Meyers in his latest article on blogging and theology got it right; that the church fathers and mothers wrote as a form of spiritual practice, even recording unimportant and minute details like we do on Twitter.  If you have a chance, check out Ben’s post.