Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Possible Objection To The Discovery That Protestant Christianity Is Complicit In The Perpetuation Of Race-Based Injustices

[NOTE: on rereading this, I realize that I wondered off topic. This post can be summarized as Christianity of whatever stripe is just another ideology just like any other ideology. They all came to bad ends and there’s no reason that it would be any different with whatever flavor of Christianity. Prepackaged worldviews never worked in the past and the only reason to believe so is the faith “that this time it will be different.” Any truth or rightness imputed to an ideology comes from appeal of its interlocking beliefs and its being a plan for action when something must absolutely be done. Pursuit of one’s own Greatest Good means that lesser goods like Fairness, Mercy, Compassion, Social Justice can be safely ignored.]

Apologists for Christianity (Protestant and otherwise) will certainly point out the importance of Black Churches in the struggle for Civil Rights and more generally that Christianity has played a significant role in various liberation-type movements. For as good of an example as any see the role of the Catholic Church in Poland’s resistance to the imposition under Martial Law and its aftermath. And after the changes and a New Poland? The Polish Catholic Church hierarchy feels that it is owed something for its contribution to throwing off the yoke of Communism (= alignment of Public Policy with Church teachings and a greater overall say in setting Public Policy and punishment for dissenters – so much for the struggle for individual rights and freedoms.)

Christianity makes its most appealing revolutionary pitch to the downtrodden, the impoverished, the God-forsaken and The Meek. (It is no accident that lotteries and religion are at their most popular among the impoverished.) Typically little thought is given to what comes after promises of Liberation and Social Justice are fulfilled. The promises of Liberation and Social Justice are described as God’s Will by His spokespeople. What happens after the struggle for Liberation and Social Justices achieves a regime change? These same spokespeople still see themselves as Divinely appointed, hence they are best able to divine God’s Will. There always seems to be some small minority that is able to resist the siren song of wealth, worldly power and the plan to realize the tantalizing dream of God’s Kingdom on earth. Some of these are the most ruthless in implementing the New Kingdom, Robespierre, for instance. Others become voices in the wilderness passing away into obscurity (sometimes through assassination).

What is necessary to realize God’s Divine City? Strategic Alliances with Worldly Powers. With the passage of time the Promise of Paradise on earth recedes into the future after death. Money, Favors and the need for Expertise in governance ease accommodation. The Powers That Be are also in need of Salvation and suffer from guilty consciences.

Promises of Liberation are inevitably betrayed. Liberation is only achieved through resentment and hatred of the Old Regime. The desire for something is lacking. Without love there is nothing. Resentment, Hatred and Chronic Dissatisfaction are not miraculously cured or satiated through achievement of Liberation. They remain unsated and like all passions of the heart demand expression through rearrangements of their environment. Consequently the usual hunt for heretics, hidden enemies and traitors.

This dynamic applies not only to religiously inspired liberation movements, but also to secular ones which have all failed, some more profoundly so than others. But all failed to one degree or another. In all of them to one degree or another Liberation/Revolutionary ideologies, whether secular or religious, allied themselves with worldly powers. In other words, business as usual.

The American Revolution is a notable exception. The American Revolution was at its beginning an effort to restore rights that had been taken away. Notably, the colonists had no representation in Parliament. The whole thing could have been avoided if the British had simply treated the colonists as ordinary British citizens, which is how the colonists saw themselves prior to the Revolution.

Widespread recognition in the Black Churches of injustices done to other minorities is lacking. It was not uncommon for there to be theologies presenting The Black Race as the ultimate victim of history looking for its Judgment Day. Similar theologies can be found in other oppressed Christian populations. When Poland was partitioned, there was a strand in Polish Nationalist thought that sees Poland as the Christ Among Nations with a special world-historical mission. And I am sure there have been others. Curiously, adherents of theologies presenting their ethnic/racial/national group as victims of history have notoriously bad relations with Jews. The Jews have the distinction of being the first to come up with the idea of being specially chosen by God for a world-historical mission. Everyone else coming afterward had to explain how the Jews fell out of favor with God and now a new Redeemer Nation was needed. And as luck would have it… FWIW, The New Testament, especially Paul’s Epistles, can be similarly read in the same way as an expansion and fulfillment of Judaism.

Bringing up Judaism points to a problem intrinsic to implementations of Liberation and Paradise. What is to be done with individuals and even whole populations that don’t want to go along with the Master Plan? The achievement of Liberation is “proof” that the ideology/theology (really their the same thing) is “true.” And if it is “true” then whoever disagrees is a heretic and consequent threat to implementing Paradise. No doubt ideologues and theologues see themselves as merciful in educating dissenters and their children, rather than executing them outright.

There is no reason to believe that Christianity of whatever brand escapes this cycle of Liberation followed by Oppressive Implementation, other than to make believers feel better. Traditionally, Christianity has been called a religion of comfort, after all.

* * *

I wanted to work this in. I explained this in a post way back when. If whatever brand of theocratic Christianity were to achieve its goal of thoroughly theocratizing (an ugly word for an ugly idea) American Society and American Government the fight against their enemies would not cease with total control (whatever that might mean). People being people, there would always be disagreements as to timetables, allowable degrees of severity, what to do with unbelievers because because people are different. Difficulties in furthering implementation of God’s Will would have to be attributed to somebody. The hunt for heretics and Enemies of God never ends or rather it does with the collapse of the regime. Just look at the history of the Soviet Union.

Of course wannabe theocrats will to a man (and a woman) respond with Jesus, just as the Bolsheviks would have responded with Dialectical Materialism and Marx (and later adding Lenin). That there is any disagreement at all is a quibble over details. Beliefs of any kind, religious or otherwise, are no guarantee of Justice and Fairness in any form. Joseph Conrad already knew this (see Heart of Darkness). It is naiveté to the point of irresponsibility to believe that all revolutionaries of whatever stripe were insincere except for one’s own comrades. “If that is so, then how do I know if my sincere ardor proves anything?” Unfortunately that is a question that no revolutionary ever asks him- or herself.

* * *

The chief appeal of God, Bureaucracies and Ideologies is that they all push responsibility for one’s actions of onto somebody else. “Somebody else is supposed to be considering the ethical and moral import of my actions.” I suspect that this is the source of the sometimes vicious hatred of whistle blowers and investigative journalists, but especially hatred and contempt in some quarters for Snowden. It is easier to punish someone who reminds you, even if only for a moment, of your unacknowledged bad conscience than it is to admit wrongdoing. Maybe that’s the seed from which racism grows. Admitting wrongdoing would mean going against fellow workers, social standing, friends, religious beliefs, and God only knows what else. They do not like or tolerate whistle blowers. There’s nothing a lazy crowd hates as much as one of their own making them look bad.

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