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