The Violence of Dogmatic Pacifism

“Violence means working for 40 years, getting miserable wages and wondering if you ever get to retire…
Violence means state bonds, robbed pension funds and the stock market fraud…
Violence means unemployment, temporary employment….
Violence means work “accidents”…
Violence means being driven sick because of hard work…
Violence means consuming psych-drugs and vitamin s in order to cope with exhausting working hours…
Violence means working for money to buy medicines in order to fix your labor power commodity…
Violence means dying on ready-made beds in horrible hospitals, when you can’t afford bribing.”

– Proletarians from occupied headquarters of the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE), Athens, December 2008

I was once a hardcore Christian pacifist who would justify non-violence in the face of rape, robbery, military occupation, police violence, or systemic racist violence. I have read much of the literature, attended and taught pacifist trainings/conferences/events, and have previously been one to publicly shame more militant tactics. As my political work has transitioned from liberal policy activism to revolutionary organizing (lead by and for the oppressed, working toward collective liberation) I have learned more historically-nuanced notions of violence, non-violence, and self-defense. I have come to think dogmatic Christian pacifism can be extremely dangerous and violent to oppressed human and non-human peoples.

One of the first things done in religious debates about pacifism is proof-texting verses from the Bible, picking verses (usually out of context) to prove one/your vision over the other. If we hold a more complex and nuanced version of our faith stories we recognize the goodness and the vast diversity, often contradictory, in biblical narratives and Church traditions. Much like the diversity of gospel accounts shows us the diversity of the early Church, the diversity of revolutionary tactics within our biblical stories and faithful traditions can help us shape our contemporary movements through a diversity of tactics. Rather than assume one way of thinking is right for all times and all places, no matter the context or people involved, we are better off using a diversity of tactics in our goal of our collective salvation from sin (aka our collective liberation from oppression). We need every tool in the box, we need all sorts of tactics available, and we need a great multiplicity of strategies if we want to win in taking down the capitalist, imperialist, hetero-patriarchal system destroying planetary life.

Continue reading The Violence of Dogmatic Pacifism

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Sermon: Exorcism in the Age of Trump

I never thought I’d say this, but I’ve become an exorcist.

I grew up terrified of the Hollywood Movie, the Exorcist, I vividly remember the scene where the demonic spirit possesses the little girl, she runs down the stairs upside down and backwards with her head spinning and green vomit spraying the room!

I remember being so scared that I would jump up out of my seat and join in when the priest started yelling: “The power of Christ compels you!”

When I was growing up in my little Southern Baptist church, much of what we thought about heaven, hell, and the demonic came from TV and Hollywood movies. The tradition of exorcism within the Catholic Church is far different than what we find in the movies but nonetheless does have some tradition and history to it.

I think it’s safe to say, Jesus envisioned the world full of spirit, alive with spirit, and even possessed with spirit. I think we can see the world in the same way, but with a little decolonizing of the mind. As I’ve been working through a PhD program in Anthropology, I’ve come to understand cultures around the world in a very different light. Continue reading Sermon: Exorcism in the Age of Trump

Which side are you on? Us vs. Them

I woke up this morning to see on Facebook the Trump Regime being questioned by the Capitalist Class Senate Representatives about the children and families who were separated from each other and then forced into concentration camps. I scrolled down some looking for a cat video to absorb some of my rage. I ended up seeing a Time Magazine video clip of Pussy Riot (nika nikulshina, olya pahtusova, olya kuracheva, petya verzilov) being arrested at the very moment they were released from prison because: ‘article “20.2.2” – “the organization and holding of public events without prior written notice’ – up to 10 days of arrest.’

I couldn’t handle the stupidity of the State, watching folx in uniforms abusing other people and calling it “justified” is absolutely disgusting. I flipped over to Twitter for something more positive. The first thing I read: “As of 2017, 42 people hold HALF of all the wealth in the world. Ten years ago, that number was 388.”

I could keep going with more shitty stories, but you get the point: the world is fucked up because of the wildly unequal distribution of power. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer; the rich get richer, the environment gets destroyed; the rich get richer, immigrant babies are caged; the rich get richer, the endless wars get bigger.

All of this information is available to us at a click of a button. All of the toxic politicians and their uber-rich overloads know exactly what they are doing and know exactly what excuses to use in covering up their atrocities. Exxon Mobile has been doing scientific studies confirming climate change for over 40 years but haven’t stopped polluting the planet and getting rich of oil wars. These bastards know exactly what they are doing: getting extremely rich on the destruction of the entire planet.

But why aren’t more liberals screaming, organizing, and fighting back?  Continue reading Which side are you on? Us vs. Them

Corporate Media Mind Control

In responding to meteorologist Eric Holstahgus’s post about the recent wildfires in Greece, journalist Elon Green wrote, “Sure would be nice if our news networks—the only outlets that can force change in this country—would cover it with commensurate urgency. Acting as if there’s nothing to be done is not excusable.”

Chris Hayes, the popular MSNBC host, responded with this freakish tweet: “Every single time we’ve covered it’s been a palpable ratings killer. So the incentives are not great.”

The corporate news is not about news. It is not about covering what is wrong with the world or about what people are doing to fix this broken mess. Rather the corporate news is about exactly what all corporations are about: the bottom line. Corporate news is about profit.

Noam Chomsky has been saying it for years: “The mass media serve as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general populace. It is their function to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs, and codes of behavior that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society. In a world of concentrated wealth and major conflicts of class interest, to fulfill this role requires systematic propaganda.”   Continue reading Corporate Media Mind Control

Make Nazis Afraid Again #SelfDefense

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

 Martin Niemöller

On Sunday evening, July 22nd, Nia Wilson was murdered by a white nationalist on the BART train in Oakland, CA. The security cameras recorded her helping an elderly woman get off the train at the MacArthur station when she and her sister were stabbed by 27 year, Jon Cowell.

In response, over 1,000 people gathered outside the MacArthur Bart station in Oakland to commemorate her life. The march then moved to Make Westings, a bar where a group of white nationalists planned to meet up that very evening. With over 1,000 people rallying outside the bar, the few Alt-Righters who did show up were yelled at and almost beat up before the police could surround them and protect them (as per usual). The police shot off flash bang grenades and made arrests – further riling up the crowd, which held their own and even rescued some comrades from arrest.

And this was just the most recent attack near me. According to multiple news reports: The past few days saw fascist, white nationalist, and neo-Nazi attacks take place across the US. In Kansas City, a long time white supremacist murdered an African-American woman, the latest in a long line of racially motivated attacks. In Pennsylvania, a white man, Chad Merrill, was murdered in a restaurant when he stuck up for his friend, and African-American man, in the face of racial abuse. Continue reading Make Nazis Afraid Again #SelfDefense

Idolizing Jesus and the Failure of Representative Democracy

After the AJ+ “Anarchist Pastor” video went viral people congratulated me but rarely asked how they too could participate in social movements to destroy capitalism. In some strange way, the video does a disservice in highlighting only me; the ideas I present have bubbled up from real revolutionary struggles, real oppressive violence, and long histories of people fighting back. I am but one person communicating the vision of millions of oppressed peoples around the globe.

To be clear: I am not a hero and I am not special. I am not a representative of revolution either.

In 1994 when the Zapatistas rose up in Chiapas, Mexico they declared that their vision for revolutionary transformation was a break in the revolutionary traditions of histories past. Previously, Marxists developed vanguard theories where a select knowledgeable band of political leaders would lead the people’s movement toward collective liberation and communism. The problem, as many capitalists who know nothing about Marxism or alternative economies to capitalism always bring up, is that this style of representative politics led to dictatorial Marxisms. Leaders continue to fall victim to too much power. Continue reading Idolizing Jesus and the Failure of Representative Democracy

Do Liberal Christians Worship God or Capitalism?

This weekend I wanted to buy a few simple tank tops for the summer heat. I’m a big fan of our local thrift shop, Savers, here in the South Bay and absolutely love the more eclectic ones up in the Haight – but sometimes it can be hard to find the simplest of items. Silky retro button downs and bohemian styled yoga pants filled the racks but there was not a tank top to be found (or at least not one without corporate logos).

My friend Jason and I were staying in a crummy hotel (that’s a hairy story for another post lol) in San Francisco; with H&M nearby, we thought we’d look for a tank top or two. I was not prepared for what happened next.

The streets were flooded with eager shoppers and tourists of all kinds. It never made sense to me why someone would travel to another city and then go shopping at stores they have in their own town. What’s so special about that? Continue reading Do Liberal Christians Worship God or Capitalism?