Abortion: Its Theological Problem (and Goddess solution)

Thank God for the recent SCOTUS decision to effectively repeal Roe.

I say that not because I think the decision was correct. It wasn’t. I say it because Dobbs vs. Jackson has pinpointed the fundamental source of national polarization not only on the issue of abortion, but on climate change and war as well.

And that source was not correctly identified by Bill Clinton’s phrase (borrowed from James Carville) “it’s the economy, stupid.” Rather, the source of national polarization is not economics, politics, or constitutional law. It’s theology. Yes, theology! And until what passes for the “left” in this country takes that bull by the horns, it is doomed to impotence in the face of the religiously driven right-wing juggernaut that triumphed with Dobbs.

What that decision made clear is that the victorious “pro-life” position is based fundamentally on theological grounds that can only be described as patriarchal. Its foundations are abstract, divorced from life, and ignorant of the experience of those centrally involved in the question, viz., women.

Meanwhile, left-wing “pro-choicers” seem too “sophisticated” to respond in kind within an American context where people are basically religious and have been tricked into accepting mansplained theological reasoning about abortion. I mean, the left has proven strangely reluctant to engage its opponents on that powerful contested spiritual terrain.

What I’m arguing here is that the means for doing so is readily available in a highly developed feminist theology that is much more persuasive, older, comprehensive, and venerable than its more recently developed patriarchal counterpart. It’s the theology of the earth consistently embraced by our ancient ancestors and by indigenous people across the planet. (The latter btw, are not reluctant to address issues in theological terms.)

The theology in question has perhaps been best described by Monica Sjöö’s and Barbara Mors splendid 500-page volume, The Great Cosmic Mother. It’s the religion of the earth explained there that can save the day for humanity and our planet.  

To show what I mean, let me begin by sharing The Great Cosmic Mother’s contrast between matricentric and patriarchal religions in general. Secondly, I’ll compare matricentric insights about abortion with their patriarchal counterparts. Thirdly, I’ll show how those insights are essentially theological. My conclusion will suggest profound changes in the ways we speak about or ignore the spiritual dimensions of our lives.    

The Religion of the Earth

By “The Religion of the Earth” Sjöö, Mor, and other feminist historians refer to the first religions of the human species which for 30,000 years centered on Goddess worship.

That’s right. Widespread archeological discoveries of detailed goddess statues indicate conclusively that the supreme gods who reigned for most of human history’s concern with religion have been female. Under such dispensation, wise women functioned as community leaders, priestesses, counsellors, midwives, and healers. For millennia, they were humankind’s principal decision-makers.

Accordingly, worship for those 30,000 years celebrated “Mother Earth” with her abundant life-giving powers, as well as natural processes influenced by the moon, ocean tides, and seasonal changes.

Such emphasis also centralized life mysteries unique to women and completely foreign to male experience – the menstrual cycle, conception, gestation, birthing, nursing, contraception, and abortion. Obviously, men have only second-hand knowledge of such processes that largely shape female experience so central to propagation of the species.

So, Goddess religions emphasized female autonomy, male discipleship, the unity of all creation and the knowledge and insight available through the uniquely feminine avenues just listed. Wisdom came to women as well through peer interaction, prayer, contemplation, meditation, ecstatic dance, music, chants, spells, rituals, and female intuition.

Patriarchal Religion

Then about 12,000 years ago (coincident with the development of agriculture) worship of the Great Cosmic Mother was gradually replaced by patriarchal religion. Particularly in the west, the reigning Father God came to replace Mother Earth and women’s “religion of the earth.” Patriarchal religion centered on law, animal and human sacrifice, logic, competition, war, and commercial exchange.

In its Judeo-Christian incarnation, the single Deity (Yahweh) was emphatically male. He replaced Mother Earth with her loving maternal instincts and mysterious natural cycles characterized by predictability, lavish abundance, prodigality, plenty, generosity, sharing, mercy, and forgiveness. Her place was taken by a patriarchal lawgiver and judge who condemned, punished, blamed, and tortured.  

Even beyond that, women and their cosmic faith came to be vilified by the new religion as irrational, and as superstitious. Women spiritual leaders — those wise community leaders, priestesses, counsellors, midwives, and healers – fell from grace and were viciously persecuted by vindictive priests as witches and agents of evil spirits.

The religion of the earth with those wise priestesses was forced to go underground. But the patriarchal Inquisition and its Puritan counterparts hunted them down relentlessly – eventually killing as many as 9 million accused witches over a period of 300 years (1450-1750). Obviously, this “women’s holocaust” represented the most extreme attempts to control women and their bodies and to deny their traditional roles as expressions of the divine.

Under this new dispensation, celibate male priests within the Catholic Church (presumably without any experience of women’s sexuality) assumed the role of dictating a predominantly sex-based morality. In this context, the celibate clergy saw women as temptresses. Female bodies and wiles sinfully incited otherwise holy men reluctantly suppressing their own sexual urges and those of others both male and female.

In line with such blatant sexism, priests outlawed extra marital sexual pleasure. They declared that the only valid reason for sexual intercourse was the begetting of children. Consequently, women’s attempts to control their bodies, destinies, and family sizes through their traditional practices of contraception and abortion were classified as evil and warranting eternal punishment with everlasting torture. In particular, the traditional abortion practices of women’s earth religion came to be seen as criminal and even homicidal.

Goddess Religion & Abortion

And what were those practices? How were they justified? Though by no means the focus of their book, here is what Sjöö and Mor have to say about abortion:

  • Matricentric cultures considered life as a continuous divinely spiraled (vs. straight line) process with both repetitions and ascendent progress. It is a mystery from which human beings emerge.
  • For women-led societies, human life did not begin when sperm fertilized egg. In fact, in no way was life considered to emerge from humans. Instead, humans were thought to emerge from Life’s incredibly abundant, prodigal, and even wasteful profusion. [For instance, each month of their existence women who do not become pregnant send down the drain an egg with incredible life potential. Similarly, each male ejaculation “wastes” about 2 million sperm. Moreover, 10-20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage – not to mention unknown pregnancies. Put otherwise, prodigality, abundance, and spontaneous abortion somehow constitute nature’s way (387).]  
  • Amid such prodigality, the first law of matricentric cultures was that women must control their own bodies (200).
  • Consequently, questions of abortion were traditionally considered outside the realm of masculine competence. They were none of men’s business. This was because questions of pregnancy or nonpregnancy found no analogy within the experience of men who could never become pregnant, gestate fetuses, give birth, or have abortions (385).
  • Clearly, women in ancient times didn’t (as they still don’t) always want children.
  • So, under matricentric arrangements, female intuition decided the time to be pregnant or not as well as whether to bring pregnancies to term (385).
  • With women in charge of their bodies, they developed herbal contraceptives and abortifacients (200). [The earliest discovered recipes for abortion date from around 2700 BCE (203).]
  • During the time of Spanish colonization of the Americas, indigenous women even practiced abortion to rob the imperialists of “Indian” slave labor (206).
  • Tribes that practiced abortion and even infanticide (far from considering such practices homicidal) were instead convinced that the spirit of the dead child returned to the earth womb to await a new birth – when the time was right for its mother (201). As expressed by Sjöö and Mor, “What has come once – when the time is wrong – can come once again when the time is right” (388).

Patriarchy & Abortion

Now, contrast this matricentric approach to life and abortion with that of the rather newly arrived patriarchy. As described by the authors of The Great Cosmic Mother, celibate priests, and theologians, along with the male-dominated fields of philosophy and logic made the following highly theoretical and unproveable assumptions:

  • Morality is determined not by human experience or nature, but by sacred scripture, abstract logic, law and by mostly pre-scientific theology interpreted by those (often celibate and gynophobic) men particularly obsessed with questions related to sex (165).
  • Ultimately, decisions about pregnancy lie in the hands of an off-planet divine patriarch rather than in those of a female co-creator. A divine Chess Master above the earth decides when to “ensoul” or not a human zygote. (According to Thomas Aquinas, males received souls 40 days after conception; females, 40 days later than that.) The Great Patriarch’s decision is final in all cases.
  • On this understanding, women are seen as quasi machines or nests– receptive objects rather than actively contributing to the process as autonomous decision-making subjects (365).
  • History moves in a straight line. Far from being spiral in nature with repetitions along with ascendent progress, it has a beginning and an end.
  • Individual lives are similarly linear and unrepeatable.
  • Consequently, each fertilized egg represents from the moment of conception a unique individual, which if aborted is forever lost to the world, humanity, and history. Her or his God-determined destiny remains eternally frustrated.
  • Therefore, human interference in processes of pregnancy is immoral and (depending on the time of intervention) can even be considered murderous.

Theological Differences

As evident from the above side-by-side comparisons of matricentric and patriarchal approaches to abortion, resolution of the question at hand comes down to theologies describing the nature of God, the direction of history, and autonomous human individuality. None of these considerations is subject to definitive demonstration or proof. They are matters of faith.

Or as Sjöö and Mor put it: “The fundamentalist Protestant and Catholic anti-abortionists are following the ways and dictates of their God. The rudimentary question remains: Is their God the God?”

And where in a pluralistic society do atheists fit in – or citizens whose religious faith locates the beginning of personal life at the stage of viability outside the life support system provided by its mother’s body, or at a baby’s exit from the womb, or (as in some tribal cultures) after the child is painted to distinguish it from the animals?

Again, in a pluralistic culture, why privilege one unproveable faith- based interpretation over all those other ways of understanding the beginnings of personal life?

Sjöö and Mor argue that such questions of faith disappear if matters of pregnancy and abortion are understood within the context of the Great Cosmic Mother’s “religion of the earth.”

There, women whose very monthly processes mirror those of the seasons, moon phases, and tides, are granted overriding insights, intuitions, and understandings about their unique processes inaccessible to the men whose patriarchal pronouncements would explain, invalidate and govern them.     

In specifically theological perspective, proponents of the reemergent goddess religion add: “If God is seen as female, the problem of abortion does not exist. The entire question of sex, pregnancy, birth control – and even abortion – undergoes an ontological somersault, a revolution of basic terms”

Conclusion

This article has been about abortion. It has argued that solving its dilemmas begins with recognizing their roots in patriarchy and patriarchy’s God.

The same argument could be made about climate change and the threat of nuclear war. In all three cases, the problem is the relatively recent arrival of a world governed by men (patriarchy).

Theologically speaking, man’s world has been grounded in the worship of a God divorced from life’s most basic processes. Fundamentally, patriarchy’s God is a war deity. He legislates, judges, condemns, and punishes. He is a God of fear. He has been used as a tool to persuade the politically, economically, and historically illiterate to endorse patriarchy’s omnicidal agenda.

[Think about it. It is men who run a world economy that is irreversibly destroying the planet. It is male politicians, generals, and CEOs (aided by the relatively few women admitted to their clubs) who have developed and currently threaten the world with nuclear destruction. It is men, not women who are the planet’s principal rapists, child abusers, mass shooters – and clergy. And the latter’s misogynist theology is unconsciously rooted in a 12,000-year-long battle against The Great Cosmic Mother.]

By contrast The Great Cosmic Mother herself embodies life’s rich abundance, generosity, extravagance, and prodigality. She welcomes humans as co-creators with Life’s Source. She is the Ground of life’s cycles and rhythms. Those rhythms assure that what has come once – when the time is wrong – can come once again when the time is right. The Great Cosmic Mother could never endorse her own matricide whether by climate change or war of any kind, nuclear or not.

And it is women spiritual leaders who are most in touch with her. These are the guides who must replace the male priests, pastors, imams, rabbis – and presidents. And (in American culture) they have names such as Louise Hay, Liz Theoharis, Caroline Myss, Monica Sjöö, Barbara Mor – and Marianne Williamson. Their theology is earthy, experiential, eminently practical, and expresses the insights of those whose lives are deeply connected with earth’s rhythms in ways the patriarchal order has proven incapable of understanding.

What I’m suggesting is that it is high time to overcome “sophisticated” reluctance to recognize such truths and leaders. It is far past time for churches to debunk the modern patriarchal God in favor of the ancient Great Cosmic Mother who frees from patriarchal laws, empowers humans as co-creators, forgives, appreciates, and rewards.

Fundamentally, our problems are not economic, political, or ideological. The left needs the courage to recognize and profess that faith. Only The Great Cosmic Mother can save us now.

Sorry, Mr. Clinton, it’s not the economy. It’s the theology.

The Taiwan “Crisis”: Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden Belong in Jail

Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden belong in jail. In fact, any world leader who creates situations that make nuclear war possible, belongs in prison. Who gave them or anyone the right to threaten the future of our planet for any reason at all –but especially for no reason whatsoever?

Let me put that another way: Our elected officials have invented out of whole cloth an entirely avoidable crisis with China, a nuclear power. Out of the blue and for no compelling reason at all, they’ve decided to turn Tuesday August 2nd into what Australia’s Sky News described as possibly “the most dangerous day of this century.”

And why? Simply because they can – or they think they can!

They want to demonstrate their conviction that no one can tell U.S. officials what to do.

[What? Are these high school adolescents? No, they’re octogenarians! (Maybe that explains it.) In any case, their “reasoning” is worse than juvenile.]

Get this: they’re convinced that it’s worth risking your life, mine, and those of our grandchildren to make some inane schoolyard point: “No one’s gonna tell me what to do! I’ll show you, even if it kills us all!”

Let me repeat: because they’ve demonstrated such unmistakable immaturity – for nothing more than a public relations stunt – the instigators of this event (the Biden administration and Pelosi) have clearly displayed their stupidity, incompetence and unfitness to hold public office. As a Great Man once said, “Lock them up!”

Why Villainize China?

In fact, this whole villainization of China is puzzling beyond measure.

Why consider it an enemy at all? Think of what the Chinese have accomplished for humankind in an extraordinarily short time. Their system:

  • Has for the last 40 years experienced the fastest economic growth rate of any country in the world.
  • Is on track to displace the United States as the world’s premiere economy by the year 2030 if not before.
  • Has raised more than 800,000,000 people out extreme poverty – and in record time.
  • Has enabled Chinese families (almost 20%of the world’s population) to work decent jobs, feed their families, secure a good education, and enjoy health care, with ever rising expectations.
  • By prioritizing health care during a pandemic, has been far more successful in saving the lives of its citizens than the pitiful response of the United States, which prioritized profits over human life.     
  • Over a period of merely 70 years, has reversed a situation where perhaps a million people each year were dying of starvation to one where life expectancy in China is now longer than that of U.S. citizens.
  • Through their Belt and Road Initiative has constructively engaged the developing world in coordinated efforts to eliminate international problems like hunger, climate change, and decrepit or non-existent infrastructure after centuries of debilitating colonialism and looting at the hands of Europe and the United States.

And yet, the United States treats China as though such accomplishments were somehow bad – as though joblessness, hunger, ignorance, sickness, short life expectancy, and narrow nationalism were preferable to decent jobs, ability to feed one’s family, access to higher education and health care, along with longevity, and foreign aid.

Democracy in China

Obviously, the Chinese people prefer life and prosperity over their opposites. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, 85 percent of Chinese people in 2013 were satisfied with their government, while only 35 percent of Americans felt the same about their government.

But what about democracy? Am I somehow claiming that China is more democratic than the United States?

Yes, I am.

In fact, according to the report of longtime China resident Cyrus Janssen, that’s the way citizens in China (and Vietnam by the way) perceive their country. Janssen based his report on Denmark’s 2022 “Democracy Perception Index” (see video above). It’s the world’s largest annual study on how people in general perceive democracy.

According to that study, fewer than 50% of Americans feel that the U.S. is truly democratic. By contrast 81% of Chinese feel their country is democratic – and this even though China is a one-party state.

How can that be?

It’s simple. The Chinese people are evidently convinced that a government that meets the needs of its people is more democratic than one who holds periodic elections but ignores the popular will.

Moreover, according the “Democracy Perception Index,” only 5% of Chinese believe their country does not have free and open elections for offices below the country’s presidency.

China’s Problems

None of this is to say that China is somehow without its problems. Like any country – especially one with such a huge and culturally diverse population – China has problems. But lack of democracy, it seems, is not one of them.

Instead, China’s problems include:

  • Threats by the United States, a country with merely 4.6% of the world’s population whose policies indicate that it should be able to control the entire world including China which lies 7000 miles away from the U.S. mainland.
  • A Muslim problem which (unlike the United States) it addresses not by wars and bombing, but by efforts at development and re-education. (Say what you will about the latter, but it’s arguably more enlightened than the U.S. way of dealing with Muslims at home and abroad by waging its forever wars for the last two decades and more.)
  • Taiwan. There is no denying that Taipei and the secessionist tendencies of the ideological descendants of Chiang Kai-shek remain a problem. But in all of this, there are three simple facts to keep in mind: (1) according to three bilateral agreements solemnly signed by the United States and China (1972, 1979, and another in the 1980s) TAIWAN IS PART OF CHINA; (2) apart from the one created by Pelosi, THERE IS NO CRISIS IN TAIWAN, and (3) Without external interference CHINA AND TAIWAN SHOULD BE LEFT TO WORK OUT THEIR DIFFERENCES deliberately and diplomatically at their own pace.

Conclusion

So, how should (even self-serving) diplomats truly concerned with avoiding World War III have dealt with China’s objections to Pelosi’s visit – even if they wanted to portray China as somehow run by a dictatorial madman (which Xi Jinping is not)?

They should have said:

  • Pelosi’s intention in visiting Taiwan was completely innocuous meant only to strengthen economic and political ties with the island that the U.S. has always recognized not only as part of China, but as an important trading partner.
  • Moreover, the United States is committed not to opposing China, but to cooperating with its marvelous and unprecedented economic and social achievements.
  • Yet, China’s president irrationally has decided to turn this peaceful visit into an international incident that (again, irrationally) threatens the entire planet.
  • To prevent the prevalence of such unfounded irrationality and in the interests of world peace, the House Speaker has decided to postpone her visit until such time as cooler heads prevail.

With such explanation, maturity would have been demonstrated on the U.S. side. China’s president would experience no humiliation. And no face would be lost either side.

And finally, at least by any credible moral standard, Biden and Pelosi would have avoided condemnation as the schoolyard bullies and international criminals they are instead proving themselves to be.

As anyone can see, international diplomacy (at least for those concerned about your future, mine and that of our children and grandchildren) is not that hard.

Pelosi and Biden don’t get it. Lock them up!

Russia in Ukraine: Champion & Proxy for the World’s Oppressed

I never thought I’d live to see something like the biblical battle of Armageddon unfold before my eyes. But it’s happening, I’m convinced, as we speak.

However, in this case, the field of battle is not the fabled Plain of Esdraelon. In this case, it is the entire country of Ukraine.

I put it that way because the war in Ukraine is far more than a conflict between Russia and NATO. It’s far more than a proxy war between the U.S. and its former Cold War foe. No, the Ukrainian conflict represents at the very least an opening salvo in the long-awaited definitive showdown between the world’s oppressed and those who have subjugated them for half a millennium and more.

In other words, (as even U.S. officials have agreed) the war in Ukraine is surely a proxy affair. But in this case, I’m arguing, Russia is a stand-in for the world’s oppressed. NATO on the other hand is an umbrella organization whose core comprises Europe’s and the New World’s traditional colonizers. It represents the oppressors. (Grasping that fact, as the poorer countries evidently have, explains why virtually the entire Global South has refused to get on board with NATO’s proxy war.)

I realize that no one is saying what I’ve just written. I realize too that at first glance saying so might seem outrageous. After all, the dominant and simplistic narrative, “Russia bad, NATO good” is carrying the day.

So, let me explain by first presenting my reasons for identifying Russia as the champion of the world’s oppressed. Then, I’ll describe NATO as a desperate union of former colonial powers losing its larcenous grip on the world. Finally, I’ll try to show how Armageddon in Ukraine holds the possibility of producing a new and better world order.

Russia as Champion of the Oppressed

But you might object, surely, you’re not saying that Russia can be classed with the oppressed Global South.

However, that’s exactly what I’m saying. And I’ll tell you why.

After its rise from its Czarist ashes in 1917, Russia used its version of socialism to become in record time a kind of superpower. As phoenix, it quickly transformed from Europe’s most backward nation into a worthy opponent of the United States and its European allies. The development of the USSR’s nuclear capabilities insured a level of invulnerability against direct attacks from the colonial powers in Europe and America.

Despite the revolution’s many mistakes, Russia’s example frightened beyond description the capitalist nations. Its success inspired revolutions throughout the latter’s vast colonial holdings in Africa, Latin America, and South Asia.

Capitalist panic increased exponentially when China’s socialist revolution colored red its 20% of the world’s population in 1949. The fear rose higher still in 1959 when socialism entered the sphere the United States claimed as its backyard in the form of Cuba’s successful revolt against U.S. hegemony – and even higher in 1979 when Nicaragua attempted to establish a socialist system within driving distance of U.S. borders.

Opposing all of this involved a 70-year Cold War intended to thwart the possibility of any other former colonies imitating Russia’s and China’s socialist triumphs which removed them so rapidly from the list of the world’s underdeveloped countries.

Thwarting worldwide socialist aspirations involved a familiar four-step pattern invariably implemented by the U.S. and its allies relative to their former colonial possessions: (1) install a puppet government by hook or crook, (2) equip that regime with police and military hardware to eliminate from society all communist and socialist elements, (3) rob the country blind of its valued assets and (4) repeat steps one and two as necessary should the proxy puppet decide to disobey imperial orders.

Well, long story short, here comes Russia’s reduction to Third World status for fully a quarter century.

That is, when the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991, the U.S. and other colonial powers quickly followed the above pattern. They (1) installed a puppet government – this time under the “leadership” of Boris Yeltsin. (2) They used Yeltsin to largely neutralize Russian communists already drastically weakened and discredited by the widely perceived failure of all things Marxist. (3) Yeltsin obediently did the puppeteers bidding reducing his country to Third World status by selling off Russia’s publicly owned assets at fire sale prices to invading capitalist opportunists. He thus left the Russian people with nothing while creating a whole new class of billionaire mafia oligarchs. Then, after Yeltsin drank himself out of his job, the west endorsed Vladimir Putin as a worthy replacement marionette. (So far, so good.) (4) However, when Putin unexpectedly proved less than reliable (like other puppets such as Manuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein) it became necessary to discredit and replace him. After all, he tried to tame the oligarch class and objected to NATO threats to the Russian independence he unacceptably sought to restore. So, the imperialists embarked on their tried-and-true regime change gambit.

That’s where the Ukraine War fits in. As Joe Biden admitted, NATO wants Putin out of office. And as Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin put it, “We want to see Russia weakened” (i.e., returned to its third world status as “a gas station masquerading as a country.”) And as John Bolton recently admitted, regime change is for the United States its standard outlaw operating procedure.

But unlike Third World victims of similar imperial thuggery, Putin would have none of it. Unlike those others, Russia had managed to retain credible means of defending itself. Its well-trained and expertly led military was still intact and it possessed the world’s largest stockpile of nuclear weapons. Moreover, all of Europe was dependent on that Russian gas station – as well as on its supply of grain and fertilizer. Putin had those aces up his sleeve. They distinguished him from his less advantaged Global South counterparts. So, he found himself willing and able to take on the oppressive west either directly or by proxy.

Additionally, even though he presents himself as an enemy of socialism, the clever leader of the largest country in the world allied himself with the planet’s most populous country which happens to be socialist. Of course, I’m referring to China. It too is a nuclear power and is armed to the teeth. After what it calls its “century of humiliation” by the west (1839-1949) China has vowed never again to experience such imperial subjugation, come what may.

According to Russia’s and China Declaration of a NEW WORLD ORDER (Feb. 4, 2022) the friendship between the two countries “knows no limit.” That means that capitalist Russia (with its socialist history and large communist party) has allied itself with its ally’s “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” Together they have pledged to establish a new era of sustainable development. In its service, they have specifically expressed their refusal to submit to U.S. hegemony. (I’ll return to this point later.)

NATO’s Union of Oppressors

Of course, the U.S. led NATO has been slow to understand the changed circumstances I’ve just described. Having performed their four-step tango in Ukraine, they’ve made the mistake of underestimating their Russian opponent. They’ve continued to treat it like some banana republic.

Explicitly attempting to throttle the Russian economy (to “make it scream” as Kissinger described the dance in Allende’s Chile) the western colonial powers have failed miserably.

Instead of making Putin’s economy shriek, their own economies are the ones suffering from the “mother of all sanction regimes” vaunted by Biden and company.

The sanctions have backfired in Europe and the United States with the recoil taking the form of general inflation and unacceptable price tags on fuel and food. It’s as if NATO members have sanctioned themselves.

Meanwhile, Russia’s economy remains relatively unaffected. As a result, NATO leaders are facing angry electorates in Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany, and America, while Putin’s popularity in Russia soars. Watch the political heads roll. Bojo has just resigned from Downing Street, hasn’t he? Macron has lost his majority. Italy’s Draghi will likely fall next. Then it will be Biden’s turn.

Who’s gloating now? Is that a satisfied smile I see crossing Mr. Putin’s face? Is that cheering sound in the background coming from the Global South as it finally witnesses their imperial oppressors getting their just deserts from their new champion?

The Emerging New World Order

Where all of this will likely lead is no mystery. The destination has already been envisioned in detail. It is an order that incorporates the west’s former colonies as respected partners rather than as objects of exploitation.

Towards that end, on February 4, less than three weeks before the onset of Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, Russia and China issued a 12-page declaration with the mouthful title “Joint Statement of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China on the International Relations Entering a New Era and the Global Sustainable Development.” (The declaration was largely ignored in western media.)

There, the combined superpower alliance (calling itself “the Sides”) directly challenged the United States. The statement’s parties minced no words in criticizing the expansion of NATO and similar military alliances (specifically, the one between the U.S., Australia, and Great Britain called AUKUS). The sides rejected such unions as remnants of the long-ended Cold War concealed under deceptive rhetoric about the spread of democracy.

The joint statement also proclaimed the strength of the two powers and their refusal to submit to U.S. hegemony. Towards defending themselves against that now defunct unipolar arrangement, they announced a new Russia-India-China East Asian Cooperation Association. It will include, they stated, mutual trade and defense provisions whose purpose is “peaceful and gradual development” across the planet without arms races or nuclear proliferation.

According to the Side’s declaration, such alliance should be seen by everyone as mutually beneficial. Therefore, the new Asian trade partnership and China’s Belt and Road Initiative should be encouraged and joined (not opposed) by the rest of the world. Their purpose after all is to help developing countries catch up with the developed world by prioritizing sustainable transport and fighting climate change.

As for democracy, the Russia-China joint declaration recognized that no one system fits every context. The validity of various systems (based on specific national and cultural contexts, histories, and traditions) should be recognized by all. According to the Sides, it is up to the people of individual countries (not outsiders) to judge whether their country is democratic. They further affirmed that outside interference in the name of foreign concepts of democracy and human rights only incites divisions within given countries and undermines local systems.

Finally, the Sides called for world peace founded on true multilateralism, mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and win/win cooperation. The new order, they said, should be based on international solidarity rather than on artificial divisions, confrontation, and the law of the strongest. This means the end, they asserted, of international bullying, idiosyncratic “rules,” and arbitrary sanctions.

Instead, the Sides called for international relations governed by the United Nations and the World Trade Organization. Only under such predictable international governance, they said, can regionally balanced powers have a chance of being respected.

It should be no surprise then if the Global South welcomes the proposed new order and suspects that the war in Ukraine has its interests at heart.

Conclusion

In the light of what I’ve just sharedis it an exaggeration to describe the war in Ukraine as an Armageddon showdown? Perhaps. However, at the very least (and by the accounts of many) the war portends a shift in global power from unipolarity to multipolarity. And that can only be good.

Moreover, in Ukraine, we’re dealing with an agent of that shift that enjoys vital links not only with the Third World, but with world history and culture. All of us are hugely indebted to Russia which should be seen as an ally whose record identifies it as an irreplaceable beneficiary of humankind instead of a one-dimensional axis of evil.

Think of what Russia has conferred on us all by way of art, music, and politics. Think Chagall, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Pasternak, Stravinsky, Nureyev, and Pavlova. Think of Russia’s political accomplishments as the first nation in the world courageous enough to experiment with socialism as an alternative to capitalist exploitation. Despite its numerous inevitable, and lamentable errors, the new system demonstrated its power to lift an entire people out of misery in an extremely short time. Think of how its Great Patriotic War played the key role in the defeat of Nazism, though at the cost of 22 million deaths of its heroic people.

Though we might not be witnessing in Ukraine Armageddon’s final confrontation between good and evil, we’ve got to go beyond the official narrative of “Russia bad, NATO good.” It’s simply not true. The reality is much more complicated. NATO, I’m arguing is closer to bad, and Russia to good.

And we shouldn’t be surprised if the poorer nations see it that way.

Russia & China Vs. NATO (aka “The Machine That Destroys Humanity”)

Here’s a little experiment on my part — me sharing some thoughts about the world without writing them down. Just reflecting on life. Let me know if you think this is a good medium. More importantly, let me know your own thoughts on the topic I’m addressing. Thanks.

Abraham & Yeshua Correct My Primitive Understandings of God

Readings for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Genesis 18: 20-32; Psalm 138: 1-8; Colossians 2: 2-14; Romans 8: 15bc; Luke 11: 1-13.

My remarks this Sunday will be brief. All day yesterday, I worked hard on a revision of my letter to my granddaughter, Eva. Recall that last Thursday she left for a two- week service project in Panama. That made me want to help her understand her context and how it related to U.S. history and even to U.S. support for the war in Ukraine. You can find that revised text here. I published it on OpEdNews where I’m a senior editor.

But even as this Sunday is running out (It’s now 5:00 in the afternoon) I find myself unable to resist reflecting on the extraordinarily beautiful readings for this 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (as if these times could in any way be described as “ordinary!”).

My inability to shut my mouth is sparked by the fact that this Sunday’s readings speak directly to my lifelong struggle to free myself from a very primitive understanding of God inflicted on me (and so many others) by my strict Catholic upbringing. Thankfully, today’s readings end up offering liberation from that understanding.

I mean, here I am a would-be theologian formally trained in that discipline for 12 years in the Catholic seminary, and for five years in Rome till I got a doctorate in moral theology. And then I taught theology-related courses for 40 years at Berea College — all the time studying liberation theology with some of its greatest proponents in Italy, Germany, Brazil, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and India.

And though it’s true that all that study long since caused me to change my idea of God INTELLECTUALLY, I must confess that PSYCHOLOGICALLY and EMOTIONALLY, I’ve struggled to liberate myself from an idea of God inflicted on me initially by the good Sisters of St. Joseph (whom I still love and admire) at St. Viator’s Elementary School on Chicago’s Northwest side. (I went to school there from 1946 to 1954.)

It was an idea of God as strict patriarch, law giver, and judge. Yes, he (sic) was one who judges, condemns, and punishes especially any transgressions connected with sex.

(Do any of you share my experience?)

Anyway, that idea was driven even deeper by my pre-Vatican II seminary training in the Society of St. Columban by the wonderfully good and sincere Irishmen who taught me there from 1954-1967. But at least until Vatican II (1962-’65) they too were captives of this Great Judge who (in retrospect) I now see as closer to a devil figure than the Divine One manifested in Yeshua of Nazareth — along, of course, with the Buddha, Krishna, Mohammed, and untold (literally) indigenous religious figures.

I’m pleased to say that my post-Vatican II studies in Rome (1967-’72) liberated me from my primitive conceptions — at least, as I said, intellectually. Ironically, I was saved there (and in my late seminary years) from “God” (or should I say “Satan?”).

Well, it’s that more angelic Divine One replacing the diabolic Great Punisher who receives welcome emphasis in today’s lessons. Please read them for yourselves here. Then check out my “translations.” I hope I got them right.

I know that I’ve joyfully tried to capture their liberating spirit.

Genesis 18: 20-32

Imagine a man,
A human being,
Mere dust and ashes
Proving himself 
More moral,
More just,
More compassionate,
Than his entire tribe
And even
(It seems)
Than God Himself!

That was 
Our Ancient Father
Abraham
Who incredibly
Defied his 
Vengeful people 
And persuaded
Its wrathful 
War God
Not to massacre
The 50,000
Of arch-enemy Sodom
If only 
10 innocents
Could be found
Among them.

Now there
Was a great theologian! 

Psalm 138: 1-8

Yes,
Abraham replaced
Israel’s unforgiving 
Warrior God
With a loving Parent,
Responsive to human need,
Truthful and kind,
Especially to the oppressed
Protecting them 
From all harm.

That Great
 All Parent
Indeed merits
Praise and thanks.

Colossians 2: 2-14

And imagine
That Great Parent
Further manifesting
Compassionate divinity
Even more fully
Than Abraham.

Yes,
It happened in Yeshua,
The precious expression
Of God’s boundless
Forgiveness
Though our transgressions
Might be greater
Than Sodom’s
And condemned 
By merciless human law
Even demanding
Our execution
As it did Yeshua's.

Romans 8:15bc

Far from
A cruel War God,
Yeshua said
We could
Call such a 
Source of Life
Daddy!
Yes “Daddy!”
Halleluiah!!

Luke 11: 1-13

That’s what
Yeshua meant
When his friends
Asked for 
A prayer like John’s.

"Say this," 
The Master replied:
“Papa, we love you,
Keep all of us
Safe,
Well fed,
Debt free, just, 
Unthreatened,
And filled
With your Spirit.

"The One
Who always gives
Good Gifts
(Never stones or snakes)
Inevitably responds
To a simple prayer 
Like that
Or even a silent one
Breathed 
Only from 
Your heart’s 
Holy Spirit." 

Isn’t that great? Far from being a harsh Patriarch, Judge and Punisher, Yeshua’s Yahweh (and Abraham’s at least in this tale) is more like a soft loving Mother, one who frees from reactionary human laws, and who loves, appreciates, and rewards.

We can’t hear too much of that.

Hallelujah indeed!

Critical Race Theory: How Much Should You Tell 13-Year-Olds about U.S. Crimes?

On Thursday, my granddaughter, Eva, left her home in Westport CT – on of our country’s most affluent towns – for a service project in Panama – which has recently returned to the news because of protests and demonstrations there against policies that Panamanians see as caused by the United States.

Eva’s project is called “Amigos,” and bills itself as following:

“Discover AMIGOS is a two-week group volunteer experience for ages 13 and 14. Travel to Panama with a group of students to learn about environmental issues like conservation preserving endangered wildlife! From exploring beaches for turtle eggs to hiking through nature reserves, you’ll earn 30 service hours. See how local youth are getting involved with issues they care about. Enjoy Panama’s unspoiled Pacific beaches and immerse yourself in the tropical forests of the Azuero Peninsula.”

In other words, despite Panama’s current problems, the trip promises to be completely (or at best rather) ahistorical and almost certainly apolitical. And why not? After all, how much should you tell 13-year-olds about what our government has done in places like Panama? Why spoil kids’ beach vacation saving turtles?

And besides, opponents of Critical Race Theory (CRT) would say that early teenagers like Eva are too young to face such harsh realities.

I disagree. So, despite anticipated objections of CRT opponents, I’ve decided to share as much as I know.

That’s because I care too much about my granddaughter to pass by this highly teachable moment. After all, Eva’s already very curious about politics and history. She’s read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous People’s History of the United States. She also watches Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now” every day. And we discuss all of that on long walks together (as shown here in a poem I wrote for Eva on her 13th birthday).

With all that in mind, I’ve thrown caution to the wind and have written Eva the following letter. We’ve already discussed it. And I’ve tried to answer my granddaughter’s questions about references she finds obscure.

I wonder, have I gone too far?

Dearest Eva,

I’m so proud of your plan to visit Panama as part of an early teens group going there for two weeks of service and learning. I know you’ll be doing environmental work, living with a local family, and visiting places of interest in Panama. All that makes me even prouder of you than I constantly am.

I also know, Eva, that you are making this trip with pure intention. You’re not going to Panama thinking you’re somehow conferring benefit on or “helping” your hosts. Neither are you traveling south because your parents or some church youth group persuaded you to do so. You’re not going simply because this “service project” will look good on your college applications years from now.

No. Your purpose we’ve agreed, is to continue our project of learning more about the world and how it works. You ‘re already such a good student of those things. You’ve manifested that by following through on your commitment to watching “Democracy Now” every day. Our conversations about what you (and I) have learned from Amy Goodman demonstrate your interest in understanding how the world really works. You want to know what really happened in the past, what’s going on now, and how to do your part in changing the world.

Of course, I join you in those intentions. Again, it’s what we end up talking about so often on our long walks together.

In fact, Panama is an excellent place for gathering the information that will help you grasp what’s happened in the entire Global South for the last 500 years. As Raoul Peck has shown in his film series, “Exterminate All the Brutes,” it’s been a long process characterized by white supremacy, colonization, and slaughter of non-whites.

You know from Howard Zinn that by “colonization” Peck is referring to the system of robbery whereby Europeans and North Americans have invaded countries in Latin America, Africa, and South Asia to steal the natives’ rich lands, gold, silver, minerals, oil, uranium, and other products. Such colonial and imperial theft has been going on since 1492 and is the reason why countries in Europe along with the United States, and Canada are rich, while those robbed of their land and resources by the whites are either dead or left extremely poor.

The shocking fact is that all the world’s poor countries are former colonies of Europeans and North Americans. That tells you something about the entire larcenous process I’m addressing here.

And yes, it’s all involved with white supremacy. I mean the white colonists (or imperialists) from Europe and North America typically have regarded the black and brown people in countries like Panama as inferiors, as “less than,” and even as animals to be exterminated. (I know you’re aware of all that because you’ve read that book your grandma and I gave you years ago, An Indigenous People’s History of the United States.)

So, keep what you’ve already learned in mind as you work in Panama. It represents a classic case illustrating the imperial and colonial practice of (1) Using force to steal land including entire continents and transferring the riches involved to the “Mother Country,” (2) governing the stolen countries through collaborating (usually white) puppet “presidents” who represent the country’s rich elite 10% (again, usually white) while the poor non-white majority is left in slums, poblaciónes, favelas, and impoverished barrios, (3) replacing the puppets by rigged elections or even assassination should they institute programs that actually help the countries’ poor brown and black majorities by providing benefits such as universal health care, free education, decent housing, low food prices, and guaranteed jobs.  (The process of replacement is called “coup d’état” or “regime change”).

Now, think about how that process evolved in Panama. There, U.S. imperialists actually created the country out of nothing back in 1903. It was then that the Colombian government refused to sell to the U.S. the part of its country which eventually became Panama. Responding to the refusal, President Theodore Roosevelt simply sponsored a “rebellion” of secession against Colombia and immediately recognized the breakaway section as a new country (now controlled by the United States as described above).

And why was the U.S. so interested in Panama? What did it have to offer? Look at a map, and you’ll see.

Panama happens to be located at the thinnest point between the North American continent (including Mexico and Central America). That means that it was an ideal place for digging a shipping canal that would help European and U.S. merchants, adventurers, and “gold rushers” obviate the need to sail all the way around the southern tip of South America (Tierra del Fuego) to reach California. This became extremely important after the 1849 discovery of gold there (on land btw stolen from Mexico whose Spanish colonizers (i.e., thieves) had in turn stolen it from the continent’s indigenous).

Well, the poorer people of Panama didn’t much like that. So, they often rebelled. But their uprisings were consistently defeated by the United States military which installed a large military base on the isthmus to keep the “peace” (i.e., U.S. control). The base was called Fort Sherman and was commissioned till 1999.

The United States also maintained “The School of the Americas” in Panama from 1946 until it was expelled from the country in 1984. In that year pressure from Panamanians forced its relocation to Fort Benning, Georgia. The school trained military officers from all over Latin America as a violent and often brutal insurance policy against the frequent rebellions of poor people against what they saw as exploitative U.S. control of their bodies and work.

One of those rebellions occurred in Panama in 1968. It was then that Omar Torrijos unseated a U.S. puppet and proceeded to change the country’s economy to help Panama’s long-disadvantaged lower classes. He also pressed the United States to cede ownership and control of the Panama Canal to Panamanians instead of the United States. That happened in 1999.

For his efforts, Torrijos was classified by the United States as a “dictator.” Still, because he was so popular with the Panamanian majority, he managed to remain in power till 1981 when he was killed in a plane “accident.” Insiders like John Perkins say the tragedy was engineered by the U.S. government. Perkins should know. He secretly worked for U.S. intelligence agencies (linked to the CIA) specifically charged with thwarting democratic tendencies in Latin America. His work assured continued United States control in places such as Panama. Conveniently, all CIA records about the Torrijos’ crash have somehow been lost.

Torrijos was succeeded by a long-time CIA asset called Manuel Noriega reputedly connected to the Torrijos plane crash as well as to Panama’s flourishing drug trade. But strangely, once in power, Noriega continued his predecessor’s programs aiding Panama’s poorest.

Noriega remained in power from 1983 to 1991. At that time, the United States decided Noriega had outlived his usefulness. So, he was reclassified from CIA asset and ally to a hideous drug dealer whose regime needed changing.

But how did the U.S remove Noriega from power? They bombed an entire neighborhood of Panama’s poorest who had benefitted from the Torrijos reforms. The barrio is called El Chorillo. The bombing killed at least 2000 mostly brown and black people (some say as many as 10,000) and created 15,000 homeless refugees – all, they alleged, in order to remove one man from power. Critics however say it was also intended to test new weapons systems on live people.

In any case, a subsequent “new order” in Panama restored to power the usual suspects (white affluent businessmen) who returned to the United States de facto control of the Panama Canal.

Chief among the businesses controlling Panama is Chiquita Banana (formerly called United Brands and United Fruit). Founded in Boston in 1870, it has controlled (exploited) Central America ever since. In fact, throughout Central America Chiquita is referred to as “the Octopus,” because in all the “Banana Republics” (Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Panama) the firm has its hands in everything. It controls who’s elected president and how long presidents remain in power. It controls wages, the living conditions of its workers, their education, health care, etc.  

Panama is also an infamous center of high finance. It has become a tax haven for businesses from all over the world. This means that such firms can avoid paying taxes at home by “legally” setting up fictitious offices (often mere post-office boxes) as their headquarters in Panama where taxes are kept very low. All of that was confirmed in 2016 by the publication of “The Panama Papers” detailing widespread crime, corruption, and wrongdoing by Panamanians and outside investors backed by the U.S. government.

There’s so much more to say about all of this, dear Eva. But this will have to do for now. If you want more, you should read John Perkins’ Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, and/ or The American Trajectory Divine or Demonic? by Process Theology’s David Ray Griffin (pages 328-332), and/or Jonathan Katz’s Gangsters of Capitalism (chapter nine).

With all of this in mind, as you get the opportunity, please ask your teachers and guides in Panama about these matters. You might also share these insights with any friends you happen to make there in your Amigos group.

But I’ll bet you this: even the leaders of your adventure probably won’t know this story in as much detail as I’ve shared with you. Panama’s history (and history in general) is way more complicated and shocking than our “teachers” are willing to admit. They’ll never tell you that “our” wealth has been based on the transfer of resources from the world’s poor to the coffers of largely white bankers and businessmen. They’ll never admit that the United States has been an unrelenting force of hardship and oppression in the Global South. They’ll never tell you the unvarnished history of countries like Panama.

But now you know the rest of the story. You’re now in position to employ your sharp research skills to first of all check out the veracity of what I’ve shared here. Then having done so, you can ask questions and weigh the “experts’” responses.

Needless to say, I look forward to our discussing all of this and your experience when you return home in a couple of weeks.

Till then, have a great time in Panama. Make friends. Keep your eyes open. And if you can, visit El Chorillo. That would be much more interesting than the tour I’m sure they have planned for you.

With great love,

Baba

Eva’s Public Reading of Her Non-Fiction Piece

I know you won’t be able to hear the words Eva (my dear 13-year-old granddaughter) is speaking in the above video. It was “captured” second or third hand from a computer mic. Sorry about that. (But don’t worry, the words she’s reading appear in print below.)

Despite its problems, I include the video just to give an idea of the way Eva looked making her presentation at the final event of her three-week writing workshop at Michigan’s Interlochen Arts Camp. Isn’t she lovely?

Students picked their favorite piece (poetry, nonfiction, fiction, drama) and read it aloud to their colleagues and teachers. (If you look hard down in the right hand corner of the video, you’ll see my bride, Peggy (Eva’s proud grandma), looking on. Peggy is sitting next to her college roommate (Eva’s ‘Aunt Micki’) from so many years ago at Central Michigan University.

In any case, I share below the text of Eva’s nonfiction work about her none-too-happy experiences at sleepaway camp in Maine. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did when I heard the words without the recording’s distortions.

Summer Camp Reflection

When I was eight, my parents shipped me off to seven weeks of sleepaway camp in Poland, Maine. I hated it. Breakfast, lunch and dinner consisted of cubes of uncooked tofu. Cubes. I only had one friend. For privacy purposes, let’s call her Hazel. She was a good friend. She hugged me when I cried, she accompanied me to the activities I hated. When she met me, I was shy and sad. Over the course of five years, however, I changed. But she didn’t leave me. She stayed with me for each horrible year of sleepaway camp. I wrote her parents letters for her because she didn’t like writing them, and she gave me her dessert so that I had more than just tofu. We ate candy in secret, sitting on a hidden rock by the cold, murky lake, even though we weren’t allowed. We were good friends. But I wasn’t happy at that camp. I felt sad every day. And so, after five years, I made the decision to switch camps. And here I am. But I left Hazel alone. She didn’t love the camp. I left Hazel alone. She stayed with me even when I couldn’t stop crying. 

“It’s okay, Eva. Only 50 days left.” She would tell me.

I would take a shaky breath, and we would skip our activity and go to our special rock to eat candy and talk about everything we wish we could be doing. “Thank you.” I told her.

“That’s what friends are for!” She would always say.

But I left Hazel by herself. Now, she sits alone on that rock, watching the lake hit the shoreline, the water spraying her with white foam, eating candy and humming a tune to herself. Or maybe she found a new Eva. One she likes better. Maybe she doesn’t miss me the way I miss her. Maybe the new Eva doesn’t cry as much. Or maybe the new Eva would rather go to Marksmanship than read a book. Or maybe the new Eva doesn’t exist.

My Granddaughter’s First Sonnett

Eva with her proud grandparents

My 13-year-old granddaughter, Eva, has spent the first three weeks of her summer vacation at the famous arts camp in Interlochen, Michigan. She’s really enjoying her high-level introduction to writing poetry, autobiographical reflections, and fiction.

On this blog, I’ve written about Eva and our relationship several times — most revealingly, I think, in a poem I wrote to her on her 13th birthday.

I’m so proud of this young woman and cherish the conversations we share as we frequently take our exercise in morning walks. We always end up sitting by the Saugatuck River consuming treats from Starbucks.

In any case, Eva is a writer with ambitions to eventually pursue a degree in English with an emphasis on creative writing at Princeton (her father’s university) or Wellesley (her mother’s alma mater).

However, at this point, she’s just getting started though the instruction she’s received at Pierrepont School here in Westport, CT has been excellent. It has prepared her well for Interlochen.

During my nearly 14-year conversation with my granddaughter, Eva has evidenced more interest in creative prose rather than poetry. “Poetry’s just not my thing,” she’s told me more than once.

So, you can imagine my surprise when during the first week at Interlochen she waxed enthusiastic about her poetry classes. She shared with me her first sonnet. Its topic was to be some personal experience. Eva chose to write about witnessing the birth of her 4th brother, Sebastian 3 years ago.

Here’s what she wrote:

Sonnet:
I saw a new life come into the world

It was a magical experience;

A small red baby with his fingers curled,

His vision blurred and brain delirious.

It made my eyes shine with watery tears

And my body feel a sense of wonder;

His skin is as soft as small rabbit ears,

I whisper to my mom how I love her,

And how proud I am of her good effort.

She smiles at me and says it’s not the first

Also babies always make her head hurt;

But after the baby had bathed and nursed,

And to our fam’ly friends we said farewell

My mom let me name him, Sebastian Nels.

Over the next few days, I’ll share two other pieces Eva has written at Interlochen — one a personal reflection, the other a work of fiction.

Christian Dominionism, White Supremacy, and Yeshua’s Law of Love

Readings for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time: DT 30: 10-14; PS 69: 14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36, 37; COL 1:15-20; LK 10: 25-37

Recently, Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and current Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley published an article called “The Ideology of Christian Nationalism.”

The piece reviewed the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s “Road to Majority” conference held in Nashville in June. The meeting promoted the theology of Dominionism which (ignoring American pluralism) holds that Christians have a duty to take over all aspects of government, culture, and society.

According to Reich, speakers at the convention including Donald Trump and Florida senator Rick Scott, promoted not only a union of church and state but the promotion of “gun violence, the subjugation of women through forced birth, and strongman authoritarianism.”  

It all represented, Reich said, an effort of white supremacists to “hold onto power in the face of massive demographic shifts: toward women (who now constitute 60 percent of all university enrollees, and therefore the future power structure) and people of color, and away from formal religion.”

Of course, over the long term, such denial of irreversible social realities is doomed, since (to repeat) it ignores our culture’s religious pluralism and the widespread secularism.  

It also runs contrary to the simple message of the selections in today’s liturgy of the word on this 15th Sunday in ordinary time. Their emphasis is not on the culture wars around abortion (which is nowhere mentioned in the Bible) and gun rights but on love even for enemies (which represented, of course, the heart of our Great Master’s teaching). Much less is the emphasis on the values of the dominant culture.

Promoting love and even admiration of enemies, today’s liturgy presents the familiar parable of the Good Samaritan – the religious and socially rejected outsider whose generosity and compassion put to shame the Jewish dominionists of Yeshua’s day.  

(Samaritans were considered enemies of the state, because their ancestors back in the 8th century BCE, intermarried with Assyrian occupiers of the Jewish homeland. Intermarriage rendered Samaritans unclean. They were simply sub-human.)

So, Jesus’ making a Samaritan the hero of his challenging parable and contrasting the outcast’s compassion with the “couldn’t-care-less” attitude of professional holy men – the priest and the Levite – also connects directly with the hypocrisy of Christians who lack understanding and compassion towards those who don’t share their identity politics or faith.

In doing so, they’ve actually criminalized God’s law of love as described throughout today’s liturgical readings. Read the descriptions for yourself here. For what they’re worth, what follows are my “translations” of their main ideas:  

DT 30: 10-14
  
 The Great Liberator, Moses
 Exhorted the former slaves
 To return to LOVE
 The most obvious, uncomplicated 
 Reality
 In the world.
  
 PS 69: 14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36, 37
 
 Love is all we need
 From Life Itself.
 It is always kind 
 And helpful
 Overflowing with gifts
 And ready to protect 
 The poor, the imprisoned,
 The exiled,
 And those in pain.
 Yes: All we need is Love.
  
 COL 1:15-20
  
 Jesus, the Christ 
 Shows what Love means – 
 That absolutely everything
 Was created for Love,
 The bond, the glue
 That holds us all together
 In complete at-one-ment
 Transforming the human race
 Into a single body
 Despite resistance
 And crucifixion
 By a hostile world.
  
 LK 10: 25-37
 
 For Jesus (like Moses)
 Love of God and Neighbor
 Is the only law
 Promising fullness of life.
 The two laws are one.
 
 Being “neighbor”
 Means rejecting 
 The ignorance of 
 Professional holy men
 And politicians,
 Adopting instead
 The compassion of
 The very minorities 
 We’re taught to hate
 Who provide
 Health care, transportation, 
 Lodging, mercy
 Follow-up,
 And money,
 For those they have every reason
 To hate.
 
 That’s what it means
 To love Our very Self! 


So, Moses was right after all: Love is really all we need. It couldn’t be clearer. Yeshua was right too: Love is God’s only law. There is no other.

Consequently, the theology of Christian Dominionism is wrong. It disrespects not only the Constitution’s separation of church and state, but the religious and moral convictions of human brothers and sisters not sharing their beliefs in the context of a pluralistic culture.

Most importantly however, for the followers of Moses and Yeshua such disrespect violates their teachers’ supreme law of love.

The Truth behind “Great Replacement Theory”:Capitalism, Imperialism, & Regime Change Are at Fault

Readings for 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Isaiah 66: 10-14C; Psalm 66: 1-7, 16, 20; Galatians 6: 14-18; Luke 10: 1-2, 17-20

You’ve all heard of the “Great Replacement Theory,” right?

It’s the analysis holding that white mostly Christian males have recently come to constitute an oppressed class. They are being “replaced” in the U.S. economy and culture by interlopers – immigrants, women, non-whites, and non-Christians. As a result, white Christian males suddenly find themselves unemployed or working in dead-end jobs for much lower wages than before.

Proliferation of the theory has led to widespread animus against the apparent replacers – non-males, immigrants, non-whites, and non-Christians.

Just another right-wing conspiracy theory, no?

Not really.

The Truth of Replacement

In fact, according to my favorite economist, Richard Wolff (see above video), there is more than a grain of truth in that way of thinking.

According to Wolff, the replacement theorists are correct: white Christian males have indeed experienced substitution by others in the neo-liberal order organized by capitalists over the last 40 years or so.

But the ones responsible for the tragedy are not immigrants, women, and non-Christian people of color. Instead, the fault is systemic. It lies with capitalism itself. That system’s pursuit of profit has capitalists freely choosing to substitute previously high-wage earners with robots, policies of offshoring, and (far less often) by employment of desperate immigrants.

And there’s more (something Professor Wolff doesn’t note). U.S. policies of imperialism and regime change themselves end up being all about replacement of people’s governments with pro-elite puppets. It has removed socialist leaning governments throughout the world (closest to home in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala) and put in their place regimes that favor rich landowners, multinational corporations, drug cartels and gangs. Such replacement has spawned generations of desperate impoverished peasants anxious for a better life even if it means leaving the homeland they love.

Actual imperialism then and regime change (along with the normal dynamics of capitalism) are not just about theory. They are long-standing practices of the United States.

Identifying others as the culprits purposely distracts from the real problem – deregulated capitalism as administered by our own government.  

Today’s Readings

I bring that up in this Sunday’s homily because its readings (translated below) once again focus on the ways the biblical God favors the victims of empire and regime change – the very ones vilified by white Christian males who feel that their previously advantageous position in society is currently being usurped by those displaced workers who are overwhelmingly Christians too. The readings call people like us to re-identify our oppressors.

As suggested by Isaiah, the biblical psalmist, Paul, and Yeshua, the immigrants and refugees that our politicians want us to hate are exiles very like the ancient Hebrews in Babylon. They are the victims of the rich and powerful as were the Jews in Jesus’ day, when Rome occupied his homeland aided and abetted by the Temple clergy.

Put otherwise, today’s biblical selections say that the poorest and most vulnerable among us are God’s own people. The readings call us who live in the belly of the beast to acknowledge that hidden fact. Implicitly, they summon us to replace the true oppressor of white Christian males – the capitalist system itself – with a new order favoring the truly oppressed. Yeshua called that order the Kingdom of God.

Additionally, we’re asked to recognize that the homelands of Christian exiles and immigrants from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua are the very countries whose economies our government purposely and permanently crashed in the 1980s and subsequently.

Then, the Reagan and Bush I administrations used drug money to finance illegal wars that ended up killing hundreds of thousands while replacing governments and social movements whose primary beneficiaries would have been the parents of those at our borders today. The latter have been substituted by the drug lords we established and supported during the ‘80s and who today are doing the same things they did 40 years ago – marketing drugs while terrorizing and murdering the innocent. I’m talking about the generals and other military officers who are now the drug kingpins.

To repeat, it’s been that way from biblical times and before – rich foreigners oppressing poor locals for the benefit of the “Mother Country.” Listen to today’s readings. Or, rather, read them for yourself here. My “translations” follow:

IS 66:10-14c
 
These are the words
Of Isaiah’s prophecy
To exiles re-placed
By Powers
Foreign and domestic:
“Your time of desperation
Is nearly over.
You will soon
Rediscover a home
Like starving infants
Returned to
Their mother.
With hunger satisfied
And incredible
"Prosperity
Along with joy
And comfort, comfort, comfort
At last!”

PS 66: 1-7, 16, 20
  
Our liberator
From exile
So kind and powerful
Is the answer
To the prayers
Of replaced people
And a source of joy
For the whole
Human race
And all of creation.

No obstacle
Can impede
Our Great Parents' destiny
Of liberation
Joy and freedom
From oppression.
  
 GAL 6: 14-18
 
Yes, our true inheritance
Is an entirely
New World!
Where distinctions
Between rich and poor
Oppressor and oppressed
Are meaningless.

Anticipating
This New Order
Now
Will bring
Everyone
Compassion and peace.
However empires
Might crucify us
For this belief.

Nonetheless,
We are called to
Bear their torture
And scars
Gladly
As did Yeshua himself.

LK 10: 1-12, 17-20
 
Paul’s words
Agree with the Master
Who sent
Thirty-six pairs
Of “advance men”
And women
To announce
(Like Isaiah)
Liberation
From oppression
By powers imperial.
Like lambs among wolves
Like monks
With begging bowls,
They healed and proclaimed
God’s Great Cleanup
Of a world
Infested by demonic
Imperial oppressors.

And it worked!
Every one of those 72
Cast out evil spirits
Just like Yeshua.
(Despite powerful opposition
And crucifixion.)

Conclusion

Today’s readings should awaken those attracted by right-wing replacement theories. The selections call for a shift of blame for job loss and low wages from capitalism’s victims (both here and abroad) – from non-males, people of color, women, and immigrants. Instead, we’re reminded, blame for replacement belongs to the dysfunctional system that impoverishes all but the imperialists and regime change artists themselves.

In other words, the Great Replacer is the deregulated capitalist system of globalization that victimizes all concerned. The vilification of immigrants, people of color, and women is meant to distract us from that fact.

Today’s readings remind us that it has always been thus. Ancient Israel under the Babylonians and Yeshua’s Palestine under the Romans both had their governments replaced by imperialists. The result was predictable: impoverishment of empire’s victims, rebellion, and revolution.

In sum, the liturgy of the word for this 14th Sunday in ordinary time represents a prophetic reminder that imperialism and regime change despite their banal normalcy are not part of our Great Parents’ plan. The readings call us to join a band like Yeshua’s 72 emissaries who accepted, proclaimed, and lived according to the New Order the Master envisioned – a borderless world with no despised outgroups, but with room and abundance for everyone.