Justice Repentance

Only Justice Can Stop A Curse

“Only justice can stop a curse.” That’s from Alice Walker via Paul Rogat Loeb in The Impossible Will Take A Little While.

How far has the curse progressed?

  • We’ve messed up the climate, and significant drought is impacting many of us. The ice caps are shrinking, the aquifers retreating, safe drinking water is harder and harder to come up with.
  • Gas is passing $3.00 ($4, $5, $6? ) and that is going to show as a MAJOR blow to our national and international economies. Not to mention housing bubbles, massive unsupported and unjustifiable federal debt …
  • We are bullying our way into quaqmire and chaos in Iraq, which sad to say is just a larger-scale and much more public example of how we (the US) have treated many smaller countries and governments for many years.
  • Well known nuclear weapons material is left unsecured in great quantities – and the terrorist cadres who are eager to use them are increasing in number and in motivation – while we squander hundreds of billions of dollars because of the non-existent weapons of mass destruction Saddam was alleged to be aiming our way. We cut taxes to the super-rich while we don’t have funds to protect our ports from all that nuclear weapons material and technology that can be smuggled into the US in suitcases.
  • Elections in this country, especially for offices at the highest levels, are a bad example to the world if they are not yet a total sham.
  • The President and his spokespersons lie to us freely and hide what they don’t think they can lie about.
  • The popular “news” media, with direct access to hundreds of millions, won’t voluntarily tell us what we need to know, and when they do get around to it it’s no longer “new” since they only get real after the blogs and other internet sources have forced their hand.
  • We continue to “throw money at” problems without having real plans or even awareness of what’s going on.
  • Katrina has come and gone. We were not able or willing to be prepared, and we were not able or willing to respond quickly and intelligently.
  • We continue to throw money at the very rich in order to make them very much richer, while the poor get poorer, people continue to lose health care coverage, schools don’t have textbooks, American kids are being drugged – legally and illegally – at high rates, the billionaire-owned media keep pouring filth into our living rooms and ears, abortion is not diminished, we lock up more people than any other nation …

The curses are obviously on a roll.

ONLY JUSTICE CAN STOP A CURSE. I believe it. How does it work?

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6 Comments

  • The Curse goes on, wreaking havoc in the brains of the most astute of minds.

    Please take a look at the most recent entry in ParaPundit dealing with consequences to be drawn from New Orleans. Before long we are learning that people worrying about Climate Change are another kind of crusaders in an over-politicized unscientific debate.

    Who did Jesus say about the knowledge of God (or the knowledge of one’s own and one’s people’s sin, which must precede any knowledge of the Redeemer):
    “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” (Matthews 11:25)

  • (This comment was originally intended to simply invite you to a discussion I recently had in another blog forum. But it has grown to become a sizable article of its own. If you don’t have time to read it, please skip to the end at once.)

    ————————-

    Indeed, I have this feeling of living in a world that moves as under a curse since shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union. It grew steadily and was only occasionally subdued by my sheer incredulity that modern democracy should so readily abandon the promise of enlightenment that human fate can be managed by harnessing rationality and science. Of course I was aware that Christianity held a word of judgment over human ambition, such as enlightenment, but I would not have imagined this judgment to lie in a “Didn’t I say it all along” attitude of church against world but in a visible surplus of wisdom on the part of Christians in escaping general delusion.

    Living in West Germany in my late adolescence at the moment the Berlin Wall came down, was an impression apt to make me optimistic enough to almost expect Francis Fukuyamas figment of “End of History” to hold true (saying western style society and polity were ultimately vindicated and therefore history at its consummation). Yet, even on calm contemplation, I verily think, given all the years frustration and distress (not to mention fear and tension) due to the stagnation we had up to then attributed to the stubbornness of Soviet ideologues, one would and one should have expected more of an awakening in the global political arena when finally this drag was relieved.

    We hoped for a democratic departure and got gulf war one. We expected a peace divident and got the clash of civilizations. I truly believe that at this juncture the peoples of the political West have neglected to demand of their leaders that a new paradigm be defined for a new span of history, some idea to which ends the immense resources of capitalism ought to be devoted. The order of the day would have been something in the line of transforming industrialism to a renewable material basis, and adequately addressing the problem of population explosion. But the powers that were thought otherwise and regaled us with Senior Bush’s New World Order and the supreme dullness of capitalism serving its own ends, hatching of capital at the expense of anything else that belongs to a market economy, let alone to humanity and nature.

    Failing to be decisive at a critical time is nothing to be taken lightly, in public just as in individual life. It entrenches you on the wrong track once chosen and makes turning back increasingly dependent on true repentance, something nobody can positively contrive on purpose, let alone with others.

    Of course, the vigour of my disappointment was due to my youthfulness. The stolid and self-opinionated way how the west greeted victory and seized global predominance was somewhat predestined by the spiritual and intellectual course that our culture was following for at least a good decade then.
    When Ronald Reagan took office (and a swarm of vastly like-minded European leaders seconded him), the western world began pretty well to officially endorse a new philosophy of political economy (the so-called supply-sided economics) that supplanted the up-to-then ruling Keynesian school and its recommendation of an active state policy reacting deliberately on macro-economic disturbances in the way of restoring full employment. This new philosophy fervently argued that the state had no right to interfere with any outcome the free market processes might produce, even though it could do little in the way of scientifically refuting the vast evidence of “market failures” to be an abundant, not just a moot problem of capitalism, evidence which has since then condensed to certainty, as Joseph Stiglitz, the (former) chairman of President Clinton’s Coucil of Economic Advisors keeps reminding the public in his books. The new doctrine, “neo-liberalism”, was from its very inception based more on the might of its allies (corporate America) and the suggestive power of its ideology (“state’s meddling with economy is ineffective”, – well it has been in the past, must that remain so?, – “any active redistribution is unjust favoritism”, – what is active and what is passive, Keynesian economics is about activating otherwise fallow human potential by stabilizing employment, thus pursuing a well-defined general interest!) rather than on any real proof of its own effectiveness or truth. (What exactly is Reagan’s legacy other than a huge mount of debt and a consolidation of unemployment, – though this latter affected rather the economies that were intertwined with America, yet could not resort to the boost of gargantuan deficit spending?) – By the way, as Joseph Stiglitz also points out (in his book: The Roaring Nineties), America and most of Europe have never really come off it; Clinton put up some honest, but short-lived efforts to redefine the role of government, and some political management of the trade cycle was resumed by both parties, though at the price of a meanwhile inveterate heaping up of debt that Keynes’ design was innocent of..

    This neo-liberalism is nothing other than a rationalization of social darwinism in the field of economics. It demands that market failures may not even be conservatively weighed up against state failures, because any dollar gained in the free market process is a little tabernacle, immune against any disposal by the state (other than for waging war, of course), regardless of how well may be argued that state intervention is about upholding fair rules in the “game” the market process represents. In other words, “every dollar must be earned”, but nobody is allowed to ask how the border-line is to be defended between earning on the one hand and (more or less subtle) bribe or extortion on the other (which are, after all, just another form of services, in the broader sense). This is essentially the conception of a society devised as a life contest that is ruthless inasfar as its rules are not allowed to reflect any consideration of moral performance other than proceed from a fix rational principle deemed per se compatible with the “value of freedom” (such as civil laws or the ten commandments, if interpeted in a literal, outwardly fashion).

    Other fields of social or anthropological science bear the same stamp.The “clash of civilizations” topic, for example, is not about turning more attention to the quest of understanding how much rival and inimical relations between the spheres of culture have already grown, or even about endeavouring reconciliation, its bottom-line is none but keeping a suspicious watch and laying on armament, thereby subsuming intercultural relations under the idea of life-contest.

    The (erroneous but understandable) suspicion that demographic tendencies would work to undermine the contract between the generations to such a degree that our national retirement schemes must be gradually renounced is used by interested groups in America as well as Europe (in Germany it has turned into a veritable hysteria, we are preached these errors in the gravest manner by our head of state, president Köhler) to foster a resentment between the generations that might well turn into bad enmity before long. And science fails to provide any reliable check against even the most blatant misrepresentations in this debate.

    Evidence is rife that the scientific mainstream is increasingly turning away from the enlightenment conception of science being the harbinger of general emancipation to a broadly “fascist” notion of being the chief device of social ruling.

    So what is my central message in this comment? It is this: Although the aberration of Right Wing Dominion Theology and all that pertains to it is a real, indeed our main enemy, this whole conflict in the showcase of Christianity stands out as an epiphenomenon (something superficial and rather symptomatic) to the foil of the truth of God as revealed in the Gospel. For these people are resigned persons, resigned or constrained, even before they are deluded. In their core, they have desponded of finding a true Christianity, that’s why they hold so much convictions similar to biblical teachings, while themselves moving through this china shop like an elephant.

    How did this come? For centuries, ever since the Renaissance prevailed over both Reformation and Catholicism, Christians are fighting a rearguard action with regard to positive credibility, i.e. “probability” of their creed as such, as factual assertion. Secular, including enlightenment philosophers advised them to put up with a subjective, i.e. purely moral credibility of their faith (Faith is right as faith does right.), and they rightly sensed that such is not enough in order to found hope on that Word which says: “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (I. Corinth.15,14). Science and faith were falling apart.

    Now, since the rise of industrialism, some rapprochement came underway regarding the moral credibility of the Gospel. An anonymous society cannot rely on feudal, i.e. family solidarities, but needs some degree of that love which does not seek its own and therefore affords a groundwork for wider loyalties, such as the bible sees among all believers or even towards enemies. During the first seven decades of the bygone century some mutuality was growing between faith and science: science recognized the worth of Christianity as a cement of social cohesion between the most divisive ideologies or will-to-powers that beset this century. The traditional charge, rebuking faith for hampering science and learning by dogmata, grew outmoded, Christians themselves feeling genuine sympathy with a science that worked for relieving need and prejudice.

    But now, something has changed during the decades of cold war, and here is what I believe it to be: Science and faith are falling apart again. As in the first schism between both cynosures of moral education, in the era of humanist learning, now again there is a time ahead of us that will systematically set our efforts to do good at odds with our intents to be right. As in that era, the schism is not due to anything that science proves (though efforts will be prolific to put matters so) but to the far more trying question what exactly is proved by our finding what we know about any right of ours to presume that we thereby also know what we found (esp. when dealing with issues affected by our own wilfull behavior).

    As wealth suffused the western world and ideological factions grew old, with even Communism becoming a void word for some center of power, western mentality, and science along with it, lost its consciousness of how precious social peace is, not only for the public weal but also for giving science its crucially needed precondition of disinterestedness, of protection against ideological biases springing from power or emotion.

    Preoccupation with social peace has for ages induced many Europeans, and even more so Americans to abide by democratic values, where the education of the public is receiving as much attention as the heeding of public will and welfare by the educated. This unwritten social contract is about being torn to pieces at an astounding rate; and it is my assertion that therein lies a deeper reason for the crisis of Christianity than in the series of pill, gays and abortion, though the latter phenomenon is an outraging, the latter two are troubling, and all three are grave signs of the times as well. According to the Gospel, there is only one end in all morals: bearing witness of Christ’s stamp on believers: The idea that the widely sensed moral attrition of western societies is due to God’s judgment earned by a the cravenness of Christians not to denounce public immorality is subly mixing up things: For true morality comes from (individual) faith [Hebrews 11:6ff], and faith comes from preaching [Romans 10:17], but now this preaching is essentially “foolishness” (at least in the sight of the ruling forces on earth), it is the wisdom of some essentially “nonsensical” logic, which is trusted by its own dissemination to provoke an “answer” by God which is aroused but neither controlled nor due to our efforts. Now, classical morality, i.e. hardiness and discipline of individuals, does very well reckon with a controlled (at least causally understandable) reaction of God or fate.

    In Ezekiel 3:16-19 the prophet is warned himself against not heeding God’s calling to reveal His intention of judgment concerning some third person (or party) especially singled out by God to repent of his (their) vices. So, if Christians feel driven to warn, e.g., some or all liberal politicians against defending the “civil right” to abortion they have the backing of this word of Scripture, but nobody can generalize this to yield some moral guidelines for politics as the crucible of conscience which indicates an otherwise interior faith.
    Even the ten commandments were never intended to circumscribe some “second-rate Christianity”, that the members of a “Christian” society are demanded to heed in order to be “moderately God-fearing” even while refusing to call on the name of the Lord. The ten commandments hinge upon the first commandment, and from the moment this one got a new focus (i.e. in Acts 1:8), they have lost their intrinsic value apart from being a good frame e.g. for catechisms. Romans 13:8-10 clearly reveals my point in this.

    It is my opinion that the argument that deplores a devolution of Christian values in secular culture and warns of a judgment thereupon is well-founded but dangerously confused. It fails to understand that it is lack of true Christians that most grievously “disappoints” God, whenever judgment draws up (see II.Peter 3;9; Matthews 5:13-16; I.Peter 4:17-19]. Sodom perished on the grounds of too less godly people [Gen. 18:20-33]! Of course the believers cannot be held responsible for what an unbelieving majority does in way of rejecting the appeals of the godly, but this is precisely my point in saying that at the center of the spiritual strife [Ephesians 6:12] do not lie the issues of public morality, but the spiritual tepidity [cf. Revelation 3:14-20] of people who call themselves Christians (or adherents of the remnants of a Christian tradition, e.g. the ideal of tolerance) but refuse to let the Word of God mould their hearts and minds.

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer envisaged a future when Christianity must return from forming a popular church to being a community devoted to mission (amidst their own peoples). But since then, half a century passed that still did not see this essential shift in consciousness. Now, I think, God is giving us some prompting private lessons to come out of our pious shells. We have to reach for the stars in order to get the direction of the sun again.
    Reaching for the stars means demanding of the powerful in society that we are not to be treated according to any image of man (e.g., nowadays, homo economicus who suffers his values to be reduced to civil laws) that does not respect our being children of God in the first place. We witness God by showing that we stand in the presence of God and are no cog in the machinery of an ungodly society. [Romans 12:2] The word of God is no doctrine or persuasion that, after being learnt, calls for a showdown with the enemy in the discipline of vigour and self-abnegation, it is a simple message “I know that my redeemer lives” [Job 19:25], that only demands being spread at the (then automatically imposed) price of being made a laughing-stock and (possibly) a martyr. This message is the backbone of the interplay of heeding and knowing that constitutes the fibre of Christian morality. Commandments are there for heeding; if reduced to some samples of wit, they tend to be misconceived. On the other hand, heeding is heart-whole only when it tries to learn and escape the delusions affecting those who do not follow.

    Thus, the moral credibility (which I alluded to above) is indeed the chief pillar of the Christian faith. But it is misconceived if called a subjective credibility (which Christianity, after all, shares with any religion on earth, including atheism), rather, it must be presented as an embryonic form of indirect evidence that would (if life were endless and progressely solving its own mysteries) show that lacking it is finally betrayed into delusion (e.g. assuming life to be an all-out contest, which mind does not transcend, dwarves spirit and thinking).

    Coming from this background, we can detect theology and mentality of the Christian Right to be some kind of psychological device to govern and channel the stressing prospect of being made the laughing stock of fashion and learning. Anxiety to succumb to this stress is forestalled by an attempt to wilfully produce conflict with secular culture and science in some well-defined – and fairly manageable – fields of doctrine.
    In this highlight, they are pitiable persons, who indeed are comparable with their liberal opponents in that they would rather rely on adoption of a dogmatical belief than on living obedience to the Lord. Jesus would have wept over them, and he certainly does so, right now. But he will weep at us alike if we let ourselves be lured to fight what they say (the central tenets of faith) alongside with how they talk (in a self-centred way). The aggregate of their teaching is a will-o’-the-wisp on the path of Christian life, and a will-o’-the-wisp is most adequatly dealt with by prodding those who squint at its gloss to look back to the veiled shine of truth.

    Let us proceed opposing the Christian Right just insofar as they contort the message we are about to present to our non-believing compatriots.

    ————————-

    After this little introduction let me invite you follow me on a step into action, that I recently (most preliminarily) ventured. There is a blog (http://www.parapundit.com/) which takes a non-Christian, rightist-liberal, somewhat Bush-critical and vastly science-relying stance. In Germany they would be considered as downright to covertly racist, which is too simple a classification, but certainly points to some considerable dangers of which they are, as I think, not adequately conscious. On Friday, August 26th (“Charles Murray: The Inequality Taboo”; already in the archive, direct link here) and Wednesday, August 31st (Poverty Rises: Its The Immigration Stupid; still under “recent entries”, direct link here) I ventured to voice some opposition, which resulted in an interesting discussion in the Wednesday thread. Though the discussion seems to be at its end, I would like you to get involved. My first reply on Friday, August 26th was rather impetuous; I had to retract several times. I am young and have still a lot to learn. But it’s opinions like those they utter on this site making me absolutely certain we Christians have a lot to do in order to keep track of what is going on in modern society.

  • Amen!

    Preach it!

    For those believers who are unfamiliar with the course of events in Nazi Germany, Hitler held honest Christian people in his sway, on deceitful premises, for years before they figured it out.

    Now we are facing a dictator who has worse potential. He claims to be Christian, he invokes the Lord, he is surrounded by televangelists who love the limelight, and the church is getting sucked in.

    Can we sit by and watch this happen anew, and not speak up?

    Click Verse for Commentary Notes

    Jas 4:17: So, for the person who knows to do good and doesn’t do it, it is a sin.

  • For the evidently small number of U.S. Christians who read their bibles, we know that Jesus taught and practiced a gospel that was profoundly critical of the status quo.

    And who were the greatest opponents of Jesus… homosexuals and other sexual “outcasts”? left-leaning politicians? educators? actors? people of other religions?

    Because we’ve read our bibles, we know Jesus’ primary opponents were the religious elite of the most powerful religious assembly of his time. We also know these religious elites were closely allied with the political agendas of the imperial nation state.

    Today, over 2000 years later, the same opponents stand in the way of justice.

    Indeed, we should be very concerned about the most powerful religious assembly of the most powerful and most arrogant imperial nation of the world.

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