Richard Rohr Meditation: Joy and Hope: Weekly Summary

The Gospel is primarily communicated by highly symbolic human lives that operate as “Prime Attractors”: through actions visibly done in love; by a nonviolent, humble, and liberated lifestyle; and through identification with the edged out and the excluded of the world. The very presence of such Prime Attractors “gives others reasons for spiritual joy,” as St. Francis said.

Bonaventure pays little attention to fire and brimstone, sin, merit, justification, or atonement. His vision is positive, mystic, cosmic, intimately relational, and largely concerned with cleaning the lens of our perception and our intention so we can see and enjoy fully!

Richard Rohr Meditation: Roots of Liberation

Large companies, churches, and governments get away with and are even applauded for killing (war), greed, vanity, pride, and ambition. The capital sins are rewarded at the corporate level but shamed at the individual level. This is our conflicted Christian morality!

Instead of legitimating the status quo, liberation theology tries to read history and the Bible not from the side of the powerful, but from the side of the pain. Its beginning point is not sin management, but “Where is the suffering?”

The world tends to define poverty and riches simply in terms of economics. But poverty has many faces—weakness, dependence, and many forms of humiliation. Essentially, poverty is a lack of means to accomplish what one desires or needs, be it lack of money, relationships, influence, power, intellectual ability, physical strength, freedom, or dignity.

Is Feminism the Answer to Sexual Harassment?

Beyond partisanship, the feminist record is unhelpful. From the inception of “second wave” feminism in the 1960s, the movement embraced sexual “liberation” as part of women’s liberation. Feminists weren’t so much upset that some men behaved like pigs as they were that women couldn’t do the same without loss of reputation. It was the “double standard” they took aim at, not sexual license itself.

.. Womanizers used to at least make an effort at seduction. Now they seem to act out repellent narratives from porn movies.

Antifa: The Other Evil Political Force

a group called the Direct Action Alliance declared, “Fascists plan to march through the streets,” and warned, “Nazis will not march through Portland unopposed.”

.. “we will have two hundred or more people rush into the parade … and drag and push those people out.” When Portland police said they lacked the resources to provide adequate security, the organizers canceled the parade. It was a sign of things to come.

.. If you believe the president of the United States is leading a racist, fascist movement that threatens the rights, if not the lives, of vulnerable minorities, how far are you willing to go to stop it?

.. For a while, antifa has remained on the fringes of the Left, smashing up storefronts to protest globalism, and things like that. But:

.. According to NYC Antifa, the group’s Twitter following nearly quadrupled in the first three weeks of January alone. (By summer, it exceeded 15,000.)

.. An article in The Nation argued that “to call Trumpism fascist” is to realize that it is “not well combated or contained by standard liberal appeals to reason.” The radical left, it said, offers “practical and serious responses in this political moment.”

.. The legitimization by mainstream people of violent political action is a Rubicon. Mark my words, it will be followed by the same thing on the Right.

.. And, as Beinart notes, these violent attacks on people on the Right, making no distinction between true fascists like Richard Spencer and ordinary Republicans, is being cheered by some on the mainstream Left. Thus, antifa — which reserves to itself the right to determine who is allowed to speak publicly — is growing.

.. Mines concluded that the United States faces a sixty-per-cent chance of civil war over the next ten to fifteen years. Other experts’ predictions ranged from five per cent to ninety-five per cent. The sobering consensus was thirty-five per cent. And that was five months before Charlottesville.

.. Mines’s definition of a civil war is large-scale violence that includes a rejection of traditional political authority and requires the National Guard to deal with it.

Mines cited five conditions that support his prediction:

  1. entrenched national polarization, with no obvious meeting place for resolution;
  2. increasingly divisive press coverage and information flows;
  3. weakened institutions, notably Congress and the judiciary;
  4. a sellout or abandonment of responsibility by political leadership;
  5. and the legitimization of violence as the “in” way to either conduct discourse or solve disputes.

Seems to me that the only one of these conditions not in place is the final one. Charlottesville may have changed that. People of goodwill on both sides have to hold the line against the legitimization of political violence. Empathy — the ability to put yourself in the shoes of someone unlike yourself — is a fundamental quality of liberal democracy. Losing the capacity for empathy is a precursor of political violence.

 

.. This, by the way, is why I am so alarmed by Texas A&M Prof. Tommy Curry’s radical racialist rhetoric, and how he is given a pass by academia.

In African American political thought, integration and the hopes of non-violent progress has become the unquestioned foundation of Black political and legal theory. This author believes that the dogmatic allegiance to non-violence is a price that African descended people in America can no longer afford to pay. Historically, the use of violence has been a serious option in the liberation of African people from the cultural tyranny of whiteness, and should again be investigated as a plausible and in some sense necessary political option. 

.. Curry talks about racial violence — about blacks attacking whites — as cleansing, as “anger realized as liberation.”

.. It’s as if the media do not want to see it, or do not want to talk about it for fear of giving fuel to the fire of white racists. The coverage has generally portrayed Dr. Curry as the innocent victim of a right-wing blogger who stirred up the crazies. Never mind that I quoted at length Dr. Curry’s own words. This kind of thing is why so many people on the Right simply do not trust the media.

.. The media should talk about every instance of people on the Left and the Right, especially authority figures (pastors, politicians, academics, and so on) legitimizing violence as a way to solve political disputes. And the rest of us should fight hard to make it taboo, to establish it as a line we as a society will not cross. We have to stop with whataboutism, the habit of responding to revolting things your own side does with “but the other side does it too!” Donald Trump is an accelerant to both the radical Left and the radical Right.

.. Ross Douthat says don’t panic, that we are nowhere near as violent and fraught as we were in 1968. He’s right about that. But if we are going to keep ourselves from going there, it is time for people in authority — whatever authority they have — to speak out forcefully and repeatedly. Not just people on the Right, but people on the Left.

.. It doesn’t matter who’s worse, antifa or the neo-Nazis. Both are capable of doing severe damage to our democracy, because they both hate the political order, and they both love violence.

The world wide cage

The greatest of the United States’ homegrown religions – greater than Jehovah’s Witnesses, greater than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, greater even than Scientology – is the religion of technology.

.. In 2014, the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen sent out a rhapsodic series of tweets – he called it a ‘tweetstorm’ – announcing that computers and robots were about to liberate us all from ‘physical need constraints’.

.. And: ‘The main fields of human endeavour will be culture, arts, sciences, creativity, philosophy, experimentation, exploration, adventure.’

.. By spreading a utopian view of technology, a view that defines progress as essentially technological, they’ve encouraged people to switch off their critical faculties and give Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and financiers free rein in remaking culture to fit their commercial interests.

.. Intellectuals spanning the political spectrum, from Randian right to Marxian left, have portrayed the computer network as a technology of emancipation.

.. The culture that emerged on the network, and that now extends deep into our lives and psyches, is characterised by frenetic production and consumption – smartphones have made media machines of us all – but little real empowerment and even less reflectiveness. It’s a culture of distraction and dependency.

.. And it is to deny the assumption that the system, in order to provide its benefits, had to take its present form.

.. John Kenneth Galbraith coined the term ‘innocent fraud’. He used it to describe a lie or a half-truth that, because it suits the needs or views of those in power, is presented as fact.

.. The computer screen was becoming, as all mass media tend to become, an environment, a surrounding, an enclosure, at worst a cage. It seemed clear that those who controlled the omnipresent screen would, if given their way, control culture as well.

.. The Valley-ites were fierce materialists – what couldn’t be measured had no meaning – yet they loathed materiality.

.. In their view, the problems of the world, from inefficiency and inequality to morbidity and mortality, emanated from the world’s physicality, from its embodiment in torpid, inflexible, decaying stuff. The panacea was virtuality – the reinvention and redemption of society in computer code.

.. What we’ve always found hard to abide is that the world follows a script we didn’t write. We look to technology not only to manipulate nature but to possess it, to package it as a product that can be consumed by pressing a light switch or a gas pedal or a shutter button. We yearn to reprogram existence, and with the computer we have the best means yet.

We would like to see this project as heroic, as a rebellion against the tyranny of an alien power. But it’s not that at all. It’s a project born of anxiety. Behind it lies a dread that the messy, atomic world will rebel against us. What Silicon Valley sells and we buy is not transcendence but withdrawal.

.. What I want from technology is not a new world. What I want from technology are tools for exploring and enjoying the world that is ..