Tag Archives: nonviolent terrorist

Batman And Race #DCComics #MLKDay

Recently I have came across a couple of excellent, well thought out blog posts on Batman and racial issues. Perhaps the most shocking was Chris Gavaler’s Batman’s Debt To The KKK, or the Origin of An Origin.

“Comic book expert Will Murray was the first to identify Batman’s debt to The Bat, but the story goes deeper. Kane and McCulley were both influenced by an even older source. D. W. Griffith’s 1915 The Birth of a Nation (a disturbing combination of landmark film innovation and unbridled racism) contains the first origin story for a masked hero’s costume.”

The other article was by Comic Vine’s BatmanShrine: Batman Family Lacking In Diversity. This piece was quite interesting, especially given the fact that a common rejoinder now will be “But what about BatWing?” I have my own thoughts why I gave up BatWing last year, but the fact remains, all of Batman’s friends of color live outside Gotham city, outside the United States. Representation is a problem in story-telling because the stories we tell are a reflection of the power-structure we live in/want to live in.

As BatShrine put it,

“I am actually going to make a list for this cause there are a multitude of reasons. The first is simple representation and subliminal messaging. Without decent representation of different groups then you get subliminal messaging of the represented groups superiority. A very real example is Superman was first introduced to represent white america. Many of his inicial villains were foreign, and what did he fight for again, Truth, Justice, and The American Way. So there are problems when you constantly present rich white people as the saviors. It might sound ridiculous but the affects of subliminal messaging is powerful, when all you read of black people in the comics are is that they are poor people that need saving, or thugs that rape and beat innocent people (never the crime boss though). It sends this subliminal message that black people are inferior and need white people to save and protect them, that or they are dangerous and avoid them.”

Stories about vigilantism are not without their problems. The history of vigilantism in the United States is not a positive one. One person’s vigilante hero (the cowboy of the late 19th century Wild West or rebellious white male Southern politician) is another person’s terrorist (think of the First Nations’ populations, for example).

On the other hand, today we celebrate the lives of one of the most recognized “vigilantes,” who broke laws because he followed the law of Love, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This brings up the question, “what does it mean to work outside the law to bring about good?” I think the answer is through nonviolent means, whether it is with a cape, mask, or business suit!

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Nonviolent Politics Par Excellence: Bonhoeffer, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, & The Seamless Garb

No, I’m Not Talking About The Seamless Garb Jesus’ Fake Wife Sewed Up For Him

In Christian and political circles, there seems to be  some confusion about what the Consistent Life philosophy, the Seamless Garb, is all about. In one of its most recent essays, Keith Pavlischek of the Institute for Religious Democracy berated pacifists who couldn’t stick to their “unrealistic” positions, in his post, Distorting Just War Theory. At a crucial juncture of his post, Pavlischek dismisses the Seamless Garb philosophy and the idea that Jesus’ demand to love the enemy includes embracing them has no relevance when it comes to politics. Under the guise of Niebuhr’s Christian realism (like President Obama: see: Preisdent Obama’s Christian Realism, the Institute for Religious Democracy promotes a new American Crusade mentality, where violence IS THE ONLY POSSIBLE response to evil in the world. This is the significant difference between reasonable Just War Theorists and the IRD.

In another essay by Pavlischek, Seamless Silliness, he argues that, “The “seamless garment” or “consistent ethic of life” position recognizes no moral difference between the acts of a cold-blooded murderer, a vigilante lynch mob seeking revenge.” Not only is this premise inaccurate, but as the principle argument that the IRD and KP rely on, their entire argument breaks down because they just do not read pacifist and Seamless Garb (TSG) closely. The Just War has a limited set of criterion (suggestions) in which politicians should use (ideally) as a guide to know when to get to war. Just War Theory as Public Policy has leaders of nation-states (as part of asking the question who goes to war), based on Just Cause (self-defense sometimes), Right Intent (an intent, mind you that does not limit warfare since occupying is considered a valid part of JWT throughout its history), and the pursuit of the common good (which gets confused a lot with the national interest).

What the Seamless Garb/Consistent Pro-Life Ethic does is it takes the Just War Theory, and eliminates all of the aforementioned criteria, and makes One Person the set criteria for Justice and Peace: The body of Christ Jesus. One of the most articulate voices of the Seamless Garb is the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin. Apart from being reform minded when it came to ecclessiology, he was also an advocate of a Christ-centered, tradition respecting nonviolent politics. Born to Italian immigrants in South Carolina, he grew up in the Bible belt and the former hotbed of the Confederate States of America. Coming from a place of marginality, Italian and Catholic in uber-Protestant South, Bernardin grew intellectually to value human life as sacred, in a world where black bodies were desacralized during the Jim Crow Era. “I have a profound belief that the gospel invites us to embrace a “consistent ethic of life.” Such an ethic is based on the belief that life is a precious gift from God which must be protected and nurtured from the moment of conception until natural death” (Selected Works of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Volume I: Homilies and Teaching Documents. Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 2000). The cardinal was morally opposed to the Cold War, especially to Ronald Reagan’s over-aggressive military spending. Nuclear arms build-up produced a culture of fear and death. The revenue usurped by the Pentagon could have been use to uplift those who lived in poverty. The Vatican under Pope John Paul II continued to advance Bernardin’s agenda. Today, as for Pope Benedict, that is still up in the air, but Sister Helen Prejean continues to be an outstanding opponent against the death penalty.

Joseph Cardinal Bernardin (1928-1996), Archbis...

The IRD sees the lives of our “enemies” as cheap, expendable, in the name of Church Crusades Revitalized. While there are many Consistent Lifers who are pacifist, there are some who are Just Warriors. I just happen to fall into the former category. The beautiful thing about the Seamless Garment is that it is about putting Christ Jesus of the Gospels first, him on the Cross. In John 19:23, there is a picture of Jesus’ robe being divided up by the Roman soldiers. They agents of empire are splitting up and dividing up that which gives us life, like when Jesus’ encounter with the woman with the issue of blood, she was given new life just by touching his garment (Mark 5: 21-34).

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One respected Protestant thinker of the Seamless Garb position was that of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. As I mentioned in my review of his ETHICS, following the Crucified Christ means that Jesus invades not just the depths of hell, but also the everyday mundane sinful state of our affairs. Bonhoeffer views human bodily existence as absolutely essential, and of sacred worth much like Bernardin, as I argued in Prolife And Black 2: Bonhoeffer, Slavery, Abortion, and Black Bodies.

Lesson: When we treasure the embodiment of YHWH’s Word Made Flesh as Invaluable and absolutely necessary for our salvation, rather than something as inconsequential, in politics, we will come to see every person as being of infinite worth.

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More Than Equals: Women, Men, and the Bible #Mutuality2012

This is my contribution to Rachel Held Evans synchroblog Week Of Mutuality

One of the biggest fears I have if I ever become a senior minister at a church is that I will be type-casted as both the “celebrity power hunger black male preacher” as well as the Angry Black Man. Just as an honest assessment of my experience, I support women’s equal standing the Body of Christ, and ordination, but because of the histories of a large group of men who call themselves pastors, who have blocked black women away from the pulpit, I know I will always be looked at with suspicion.

Yet I am more than my race. I am more than my gender. I am more than my (non)marital status. More than my accomplishments or labels (both those that I have accepted and those imposed on me) as Sarah said it best. So, I am not asking for anyone’s permission to write this post.

Complementarians, Christian men and women who believe that “the Bible requires Christian women to submit to male leadership in the home, church (and, according to some*), society” would say that the Bible requires us to experience life in a patriarchal hierarchal order, or rather in some cases, “patricentric” (centered around fathers); for an example, see Denny Burk’s latest post in response to #Mutuality2012. Others, perhaps from the field of non-believers, would say that the fact that the Bible is hopelessly patriarchal means we should do away with the text and its god to boot!

Both complementarians and those who would discredit the Bible altogether rely on different ways of reading Scripture. Is one reading the Bible more literally than the other? We could go back and forth on whose is being more literal, but that would just lead us to an abstract and distracting debate. One of the contentious passages of Scriptures that complementarians suggest that women are placed under submission to men is 1st Corinthians 11:3 (NIV), “But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” I think the best way to read and understand this passage is not to separate it from the letter’s corpus of a whole, but to maybe even read it together with 1st Corinthians 10. In that passage, Paul is reverting back to the Hebrew Bible, and the formative stories of Israel. He re-tells the story of the rock as the source of the people’s water, and finds the tale’s meaning in Christ and if we fast forward to chapter 11, Paul praises the church at Corinth for not only remembering him, but holding on to the traditions (which one can presume to be the Jewish traditions and stories from the Old Testament).

The term kephale (which is translated by English writers) as head can also mean “source”, concepts such as Zeus is the source of life, etc., were used back then. It’s reasonable to argue that Paul is reminding the Corinthian church of the story of Adam and Eve [if we buy into the whole ribs thing], that Adam (Man) is the Source of woman (Eve), Christ is the Source of Man, and God is the Source of Christ. Paul continues, “Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God” (verses 11-12) The passage has a very Trinitarian conclusion: Just as the Triune God is the Source of the Messiah and is interdependent of Christ, so do men need women, and vice versa.

Bottom line: Men and women are more than equals. We can be considered “equally made in the image of God” and still there be no reciprocity in the relationship, while gender segregation is still tolerable. However, because the Holy Trinity is the Source of all there is, we have a Life we can partake of, humanity as One in Christ, the New Adam, with both genders living interdependent of one another, for one another.