Tag Archives: justice

God IS Love: Joshua and the Genocide of the Canaanites, and John Piper

Detail of a stained glass window featuring a r...

 

Divine Wrath: An Open Theist Affirmation

Today, I want to give a few rejoinders to what’s been going around about the book of Joshua, with the New Atheists and New Calvinists walking hand in hand, sharing the same interpretation.

It was last year that Mark Driscoll preached a sermon why God hates you, and you, and especially you. Anyone who disagreed with him was accused of “not really believing in God’s wrath” i.e., your God isn’t manly enough. Unfortunately, that sermon is no longer available to us on youtube (I can only be left to speculate). Recently, John Piper joined in on the God Is Hate movement with the not so shocking Why It’s Right For God to Slaughter Women And Children Any Time He Pleases. Bible scholar Peter Enns had an excellent response, especially dealing with Piper’s proof-texting.

From a theological perspective, here is my take:

First things first, no where in Scripture does it say that God “objectively hates” groups of people. In fact, it is an impossibility to “objectively hate” anything, because hatred is a very subjective feeling. Simply put and understood in scripture, from the Old Testament to the New, God’s wrath is him moving his presence away from us, and allowing us to experience the consequences of our sinful actions. From what happened to King Saul and his lineage to when the Hebrews were exiled to Romans 1, God leaves us to our own undoing. God’s wrath. This removal of God’s presence is an acknowledgement of our free will and God’s dynmaic sovereignty. God’s power works relationally, what we might call covenant. God chooses to limit Godself in covenant. Where are examples of this; the two most well known are found in Ezekiel (Ezekiel and Judaens must repent, or perish) and in Genesis, with the story of Noah, where at the end, God promises never to destroy the Earth as Noah knew it the same way again. God is bound by God’s word of promise. This is a form of God’s self-limitation contra Piper Calvinism’s god who is free to break the very rules He sets up. Of course the latter idea (Piper’s god above the rules) leads to a very bad human behavior, where people, the lawmakers who set the rules for us in society, put themselves above the law.

Now, to get to the Canaanites. God does not objectively set himself against people out of hate. It is out of love, since God wants all people to know him. If YHWH’s and therefore Moses’ mission was for all of the nations to know YHWH (this knowing can be understood militaristically and religiously), then God has to provide a way for the nations to respond to YHWH’s actions in freeing the desecendent of Jacob. If the Gentile nations fail to respond the way YHWH desires, there are consequences. What literalists like John Piper fail to take into consideration is the fact that #1, history and archaeology show that much of this slaughtering did not take place, and #2, archaeological evidence shows that in fact the ancient Hebrews used Conquering rhetoric out of revolutionary self-defense as a migrant community. I think the difference is crucial, because first of all, this means that war and violence are not necessary, but free choices made by human beings. Narratively, most of the “Divine War stories include the celestial being we call the Angel of YHWH, so in a sense, the Hebrews theologically did not see themselves as depending on the sword entirely. In other words, warfaring nowadays as a human endeavor of self-reliance has more to do with our own violence and prejudices than any reliance on a higher power. Of course, it’s this dependence on God later that leads to Ezra’s Jewish Pacifism [see my post linked here. There are a few more episodes in the Hebrew bible where instead of going to war, God leads Israel break bred with its enemies. Violence towards the Nations is not THE SOLE response by YHWH. The problem with Piper’s reading is that VIOLENCE IS THE ONLY WAY.

God responds to our choices, and the Nations’ choices, just as God does to God’s own people. Take King Saul for instance, Saul loves God at one point, even as one among the prophets, but then Saul sins and disobeys God, and God responds to Saul’s choice wrathfully, but in love. By wrathfully, God’s spirit of prophecy leaves Saul (Is even Saul among the prophets? and a darker spirit enters). Pharaoh faces God’s wrath not because God hates him, but because God wants Pharaoh to know YHWH. In Romans, God “hates” Esau (the Gentiles) because God first loves Jacob (the Jews). But it is not anything that the Jews did to deserve God’s favor, nor the color of their skin, but God’s own freedom to love. That’s the story of Israel in a nutshell.

God’s character never changes. Yes, God’s hates sinners, but only out of his holines and love. God’s wrath spouts forth from God’s love. That is why so many times in the Hebrew Bible God relents YHWH’s punishment, like in Exodus 33 or we can go with his openness to receive our repentance. Based on this, hate is not an attribute of God. The idea of repentance refudiates God “objectively” hating anyone. Violences is not a part of God’s plan, but penance is. It’s God’s will that all will use their free will to repent (thats in Acts), and we should keep it that way.

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Why #Grimm @NBCGrimm is better than #OUAT @OnceABC

My epic blog post Why Grimm is better than OUaT

This is my contribution to the Political Jesus Triblog Event: Grimm Versus Once Upon A Time

Chad’s case for why Fable comic books From Vertigo are better than either Grimm OR OUAT

Amanda’s: OUAT: A Great Examination of Evil; Grimm Just Plain Awful

Tonight I have taken up the task of making a case for the NBC t.v. series Grimm over and against Once Upon a Time. I will have to defer to Chad and his argument for Fables. While the Pilot does sound like a rip-off from Fables, reformed-Werewolf helping to find kidnapped Red Riding hood(s), that was not what the whole season was about.

On Protagonists

 

Did you notice something about Amanda Mac’s post? She only discussed the ANTAGONISTS for her case in favor of OUaT. I chuckled after noticing, but yes, the reason I do watch OUaT was for the antagonists, Mr. Gold and Mayor Regina. Their stories are the most compelling and heart-breaking. Snow/ Mary Margaret has to be the least sympathetic heroine ever written (right up there with Alicia Silverstone’s BatGirly in Batman and Robin). Sheriff Swann as her sidekick  of sorts reminds me more of a Clark Kent from Smallville during the seasons 6-8, boring and just bland. The two actors who stood out and actually recently earned nods as cast regulars, Meghan Ory/Ruby and Emilie De Ravin/Belle. Preferably, Ruby should get more lines than, “Oh, look, over there!” or “Um, um.”  Given the difference in genres between Grimm and OUaT, OUaT sought to appeal to “girl power” since it was more a drama/fantasy.  Thus, the  reason why relationships (father/son, mother/son, lover/lover) were so essential to pushing the narratives each week.

 

OUaT unfortunately really did not have a culturally diverse cast (I read that that’s changing in season 2) but that wouldn’t be my ONE big critique. My larger criticism of OUaT is that everything in Once Upon A Time felt like a metaphor for marriage and weddings. For example, the fairies got their fairy dust from where? Diamonds! Of course diamonds that overworked dwarves (proletariat) mined for day and night. OUaT felt like ABC wanted to replace the now (thank God!) cancelled Desperate Housewives, with a more fairy-tale version of DH. You spin the Disney fairytale movies into Grey’s Anatomy/Desperate Housewives mix, with a little police drama on the side, and you get OUaT. Girl power? More like opiate for the oogling masses.

Grimm on the other hand is a part of the horror/fantasy genre of television, which I thoroughly enjoy. I have made my utter dislike for procedurals and cop drama shows (Law and Order, Criminal Minds, etc.) but Grimm because it is a horror/fantasy is a lone exception. Like OUaT, Grimm relies on the strength of the narrative each week rather than a strong protagonist. It was a surprise success for NBC in large part due to its procedural format.  Did I mention Amanda Mac’s epic FAIL prediction that Grimm would be cancelled; in fact, it was renewed more than a month at least than OUAT?  Grimm is a rarity for the horror genre; its culturally diverse cast in contrast to horror shows that have rather bad records when it comes to racial inclusion was a plus and a pleasant surprise. Next season, Grimm is shoring up its cast with a veteran horror tv genre actor, Mark Pelligrino (one of my favorites) of Supernatural and Being Human (USA) while OUAT seeks a more racially diverse cast with the addition of a Mulan-like story character.

 

EPISODIC ADVENTURES

Next, I will turn to comparing two episodes, inspired by the same fairytale, to show the essential differences between OUaT and Grimm. The fourth episode of OUaT “The Price Of Gold” was a re-telling of the Cinderella story with Ashley Boyd a “real-life” citizen in Storybrooke.  The driver of the story is Rumplestiltskin who grants Cinderella’s wish to dress really nice so that she may marry the prince. Cinderella owes Rumpy her first born child. Meanwhile, Ashley is struggling to survive in Storybrooke as a pregnant, unwed and single teenager waiting on a man to rescue her, which happens (sort of) in the Valentine’s Day episode,
“Skin Deep.”

In stark contrast, the Grimm re-telling of Cinderella (and the difference between it and OUaT’s version) is an excellent peak into the creators’ vision for Grimm as a show. The 21st episode of Grimm Season 1, “Happily Ever Aftermath,” follows the story of Lucinda and Arthur, newlyweds who are on top of the world. Unfortunately, Arthur’s fortune comes from a dad who is involved in a billion dollar ponzi scheme, and it’s up to Lucinda to get the couple back into the black. That involves Lucinda using her powers as a Wesen, a Hell Bat who kills people by making high pitch sounds. Her targets are her stepmother and her step-sisters who also happen to be rich.  Greed, it turns out, drives people batt-y! Yes! Cheese-ball puns, for the win! No, in all seriousness, Grimm had a consistent message of economic and social justice throughout the season. In the episode, “Leave It To Beavers,” Nick (our Chosen One-the Grimm) teams up with a group that Grimms historically bullied, the Beavers, to take on a collective of Trolls trying to run the beavers’ construction business into the ground. The Trolls were fighting for a tradition of extorting others, government collaborating with businesses. The armed confrontation between Grimm and the Trolls is an allegory for aggressiveness that lower class must have to survive in an unjust world. Grimm also addressed drug culture, domestic violence, and rape, the latter two prominent in “The Thing With Feathers,” as well as police corruption (Nick’s partner Hank).

CONCLUSION

Grimm is an allegory of race relations, and the particularity of European identities that go suppressed due to class struggles and race. References to World War I, the “Old Country,” “Royal Families” as well as Nick’s other sidekick, Monroe’s knowledge of languages such as German make obvious Grimm as a racially and culturally aware horror show in a genre where you can expect all the people of color to die first or have insignificant roles. Grimm contains an ontologically superior story to OUaT; OUaT has “true love” as an opiate, while Grimm has politics and social justice. I’ll take justice and love the Other over deceptive definitions of “true love’’ any day of the week.

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Bibliobloggers, Targums And Social Justice #OWS

The past week, we have seen our very own Optimistic Chad do an English Targum on Paul’s Letter to MegaChurches, I mean Galatians.

I also wanted to highlight Christian Salafia’s Targum of Habakkuk, or was that the Prophet of Occupy Wall Street.

If I were to do a Targum, which book (has to be 12 chapters or less) would you want to see?

🙂