Friday, April 27, 2007

Systematic Theology and The Body Politic, My Answers to Thomisticguy: 5 of 6, Justice and the Body Politic

This is the fifth post in a series of six, which will, for the most part simply record part of a recent conversation with Thomisticguy at his post called "The Emerging Movement," on the importance and function or role of Systematic Theology.

B. 3. On the cross, violence and presence: returning to the quote on Brock and Parker:“Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Ann Parker argue that belief in the saving power of Jesus's death has created a culture in which violence and suffering are accepted, in which destructive self-sacrifice is endured by the faithful—and especially by women. Rather than build a message of salvation around a traumatic and torturous death—God's murder of his own son—Brock and Parker suggest that Christians seek salvation through love, through compassionate connection with God and the world. They suggest a theology not of atonement, but of presence.”

In light of all that body and self-image and McLuhan stuff, what would you have to say to the following, which I actually quoted above: “Christians...have a peculiar war to fight which concerns their identity? The Christian feels the downward mania of the earth and its treasures, and is just as inclined to conform his sensibilities [note: did NOT say CHOICES] to man-made environments as anyone else. When the secular man senses a new technology is offering a threat to his hard-won human image of self-identity [DIFFERENT FROM HIS HUMAN NATURE], he struggles to escape from this new pressure. When a community [BODY POLITIC] is threatened in its image of itself by rivals or neighbours, it goes to war. Any technology that weakens a conventional identity image creates a response of panic and rage which we call 'war.' Heinrich Hertz, the inventor of radio, put the matter very briefly: 'The consequences of the image will be the image of the consequences.'When the identity image which we enjoy is shattered by new technological environments or by invaders of our lives who possess new weaponry, we lash back first by aquiring their weaponry and then by using it. What we ignore is that in aquiring the enemy's weaponry, we also destroy our former identity. That is, we create new sensory environments which 'scrub' our old images of ourselves. Thus war is not only education but also a means of accelerated social evolution. It is these changes that only the Christian can afford to laugh at. People who take them seriously are prepared to wipe out one another in order to impose them as ideals."

In other words, I’m not asking you about Just War Theory. McLuhan’s perceptions and notions here about what often leads people into war is different from a theoretical and/or moral question about the justice of one particular war or other. He’s simply talking about that self-preserving urge in man to which Christ refers when he says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you,” and “Take up your cross, and follow me.” That’s why he said: “The Christian…is just as inclined to conform his sensibilities [note: did NOT say CHOICES] to man-made environments as anyone else.” And that he said “sensibilities” (and in light of the above conversation about Descartes, absence, presence and being could just as well have said, “conform his being”) is why McLuhan is not necessarily a pacifist based on what he says here about war. In fact, knowing that Chesterton is one of his heroes, McLuhan was probably not a pacifist (but I don’t know). That he is talking about “self-image” is, again however, why he’s not mistaking humans for animals.

So, to be clear and explain where I stand in relation to Brock and Parker (since my explaining of myself is the purpose of section B here). Although I am interested in “presence”, and compassion and such things as that…their devaluing of the cross and their feminism sound a bit off to me. I don’t really jive with Brock and Parker, based on what’s being said here, although I am interested in presence and compassion (compassion, partially, is presence with another) in a community of believers washed clean by the BLOOD of Christ (and not just by the teaching of Christ to be nice to each other). To me, however, that does not mean that the authorities of the state are not called to perform the justice to which the Bible calls them.

I just can’t imagine being Matt Damon’s character in the film “The Good Shepherd.” That one seems easy. But then the one that really stumps me is Rober DeNiro’s character, who is Catholic. Much of what consumes his being is his duty to his country, which often involves things that really aren’t just, even in terms of just war theory.

I also can’t the get line out of my head from the professor who was about to die, which he spoke to Matt Damon’s character early on in his “Intelligence career”: “Get out while you still can, while you still have a soul.” Sure enough by the end of the movie he was friendless and alone. That the world is called to perform its justice, and that we are saved by the BLOOD of Jesus, does not, however, mean that we are then, as part of the process of the salvation of the world, concentrate on shedding its blood. Rather Christ is meant to allow the following proclamation, from Psalm 45: “My heart bursts its banks, spilling beauty and goodness. I pour it out in a poem to the king, shaping the river into words.” That is not to dillude myself that suffering doesn’t come in Christ, but I hope you get my point.

Also - I am still wondering how all this relates, to the Aquinas link that you sent to me, as well as how it relates to whatever you meant by “the classical more hard-line” notions of justice. Here, then, I AM asking about Just War Theory – I suppose…?

B. 4. Hopefully the idea for me is the “presence” in the world of a community that identifies itself in Christ’s image firstly rather than by its own “now” sinful image as reflected in the world. The world follows that urge to build and maintain its self-image at all costs. That’s what makes it the world - that it hasn’t died to itself on the Cross! “What is needed is a readiness to undervalue the world altogether. This is only possible for the Christian. Willingness to laugh at the pompous hyperboles and banalities of moon-shots [very relevant to systematic theology] may need to be cultivated by some. The 'scientific mind' is far too specialized to grasp very large jokes. For example, Newton did not discover gravity, but levity, not earth-pull, but moon-pull." Such readiness for undervaluing and laughing at something so large as the world is needed, precisely because such pomp is an effort to fight for a strong self-image, which is of course a “vain” fight, to reference Ecclesiastes again. As a pastor said here in L.A. on Easter morning: “We all have a messiah complex.” Lol. Although its not funny when you feel like you’re o the cross with Jesus.



Jason, if you need a theological laugh, try

Hi Bro:

Long time no talk. Something to think about as it relates to "Justice"...look up the word "Martyr" in the dictionary to see how it is defined.
Most versions define it;
Martyr:(from the Greek: to witness) "A person who is tortured and/or killed for his beliefs."

Notice it does not say "Please see 'witness'" which would be the FACTUAL definition of the word. What it does do is defines "Martyr" as not what a Martyr is but what society does to witnesses...which is FACTUALLY another word altogether.
I have a number of NEW posts I'd love to get your thoughts on.

your humble servant,
ancient clown
Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]