Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Further Thoughts on Non-Violence...

It seems to me the issue of the temple is pretty well settled. I haven't heard any reasoned argument(s) to establish that incident as a basis for Christian violence.

The other topics that always get interjected into the discussion - government; armed services, self-defense, etc. - all go the point of "practicality".

Because we can't envision a non-violent way to achieve and preserve our way of life, we claim that the capability to discuss non-violence (or anything else) rests on the presupposition of a violent government and the security and safety it affords. Therefore, that mode of government and its fruits countermands any questioning of that form of government. Of course, this isn't true for any number of reasons. Not least of which is that this discussion has occurred and continues to occur in dictatorships and under oppressive regimes throughout all of human history.

This "non-falsifiable" position becomes the fall-back when we are confronted with the clear teaching and example of Jesus - which folks continue to avoid discussing because we don't understand it or don't believe it can work. It must be "impractical" fluff - not ready for the real world.

For the pro-violence position, I still think C. S. Lewis' arguments in "Why I Am Not A Pacifist" which I reference earlier are the most compelling I have read in support of war and violent national government, though he doesn't get into personal issues of self-defense, etc.

I'm still convinced that violence, along with wealth and gluttony lust, are all rooted in the problems of security and fear. We are fearful creatures who are seeking to create a sense of predictibility and security by the means of our own wisdom and power. This drive to create a sense of security - a sense of control of our lives - becomes a kind of idolatry - at least, at the fundamental level, when we attempt to take control of things we have no right to try to control.

My reading of Jesus' teachings leads me to believe that this is the inversion he came to proclaim - that this driving fear of ours to relinquish control to any authority not of our own design, can finally be overcome. Why? Because God, unlike any authority we have ever encountered in our lives, will not betray us, let us down, fail us, abandon us, abuse us or dominate us.

In effect, Jesus is saying with his life and on the cross, "See, this is the kind of God I am - this is the authority you have wrongfully feared; I am unlike any authority you have ever imagined and you can at last trust without fear."

But we are so engrained in our distrust of authority - so fearful of losing control (because all of our human experience tells us that every authority has at some time and to some degree let us down) - that we resist and rationalize and excuse as impractical the example, command and call of Christ to live a different way.

No comments: