Marianne Williamson, Reparations & Restorative Justice

Readings for 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time: WIS 11:22-12:2; PS 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14; 2 THES 1:11-2:2; JN 3:16; LK 1:1-10

Today’s readings for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time bring up questions of restorative justice and reparations for the harm we may have caused others as individuals and as Americans.

The day’s main focus is the familiar story of the tax collector Zacchaeus.  This very wealthy man was inspired by Jesus to give half of his possessions to the poor and to restore to those he had defrauded four times as much as he had embezzled.

Zacchaeus’ example makes me think of Marianne Williamson’s campaign for president which has made reparations a central plank in her platform.  

Of course, Marianne’s reparations focus is the African American community. But her rationale for it suggests something far beyond race relations within the United States.  It intimates as well reparations to victims of U.S. foreign policy and to Mother Nature herself.

Let me explain and then show how the explanation is related to this day’s readings.

To begin with, yes, I’m still supporting Marianne Williamson for president.  She is the only candidate who confronts us with the undeniable truth that Americans need a fundamental change in consciousness if we are to address the unprecedented problems currently facing humankind.

That’s what Marianne means by “miracles” — changes in fundamental perceptions. That was also central to Jesus’ proclamation about the Kingdom of God. We must think differently about the world and act accordingly.

So, it’s not a question of merely tweaking the reigning economic system or of reviving Roosevelt’s New Deal. What we need is an entirely new world vision that operates from the premise that everything we see is completely upside down. Reality stands 180 degrees away from what our culture tells us. All of it. If our culture says “black,” we should think “white.” If it says “good,” we should think “bad.” If it says “peace,” we should know they’re getting us ready for another war.

Instead, we are all one – women, men, children, immigrants, refugees, animals, plants, and the very air we breathe. That’s the basis of Marianne Williamson’s candidacy. There are no foreigners, no sacrosanct borders – no America First. In fact, the United States must take 100% responsibility for the world’s ills.  

My decision to continue my support of Marianne Williamson was reinforced by listening to a campaign speech she gave at Yale University last week.

There she made the following points that she has always centralized in her approach to politics and to simply living as an evolved human being in our troubled world. Notice how they echo today’s Gospel themes, reparations and restorative justice:

  1. We all know that until we identify and address the root of our problems in our personal, family, and community relationships, we’ll never truly solve those problems.
  2. However, what is true in our personal lives also applies to our nation, because nations are simply groups of individuals.
  3. As Americans, we have been unwilling to face up to the harm caused by slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation on the one hand and to the resulting wealth accumulation in the white community on the other.
  4. The same holds true for U.S. foreign policy which has been based on colonialism and neocolonialism which are simply euphemisms for forcefully transferring wealth from the Global South to the Global North.
  5. Such transfer-by-force has been destructive not only to people but to the natural environment destroyed by industrialized agriculture, rainforest destruction, overfishing, and massive waste disposal in what’s been called the Third World.
  6. We thus owe reparations to African Americans, to the Global South, and to Mother Nature.
  7. Marianne’s presidency would have us directly confront those problems as the sine qua non for solving our national dilemmas, world poverty, and impending climate catastrophe.

Now, those are truly radical positions (in the etymological sense of that term). No other candidate – not even Bernie or Elizabeth Warren – addresses them at the level of consciousness emphasized by Marianne Williamson.

So, think about that and Marianne’s position on reparations and restorative justice as you read the selections included in this Sunday’s liturgy of the word. You’ll find them here. They all invite us to radically transformed ideas of God, ourselves and of those we live with – particularly on the other side of the street, on the other side of the tracks and on the other side of the world.  (Note that the first reading is from the Book of Wisdom which imagines God’s Spirit as female.) What follows are my reading’s “translations.” Please check for yourself to see if I’ve got them right:

 WIS 11:22-12:2

The Real Master
Of the Universe
Is immense
And intense
In her presence
In everything
And everyone.
To her
Our “sins” and addictions
Are trivial.
They mean nothing
In her vast
Scheme of things
Where all people
Are loved and cherished
Just as they are –
As God created them.
“Repentance”
Means rejecting
False guilt
And “wickedness”
While repairing
The hurts
We’ve inevitably inflicted
On others.
 
PS 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14
 
Where God is recognized
As Love
Her name
Is constantly extolled.
She is lovely herself
And merciful
Never angry
But kind and compassionate
Always.
So, set aside
“Fear of the Lord”
And embrace your Queen
Who keeps her word,
Does nothing harmful
And favors her
Heavily burdened
And (necessarily) fallen
Children.
 
2 THES 1:11-2:2
 
Rabbi Paul’s
Constant prayer for us
Is that we might be
Like his teacher, Jesus
Who recognized
Everyone and everything
As lovable
And full of grace.
In fact,
Jesus is among us
Each day
Whenever we gather
Together
And not merely in some
Far distant future
As false teachers say.
 
JN 3:16
 
Yes, our wise Queen
Has given us Jesus
Who showed us Life
In its fullest form
That we might live
Happily ever after
 
LK 1:1-10
 
Zacchaeus,
The rich exploiter
Of his own people,
Was a tiny man
In more ways than one,
But as an example
Of repentance and reparation.
He rose above the crowd
To see Jesus differently.
Imagine his surprise
(And the anger
Of his victims)
When Jesus
Saw him differently
And invited himself for dinner.
The result?
Zacchaeus grew
Into a giant
On the spot
Giving half his possessions
To the poor
And paying
Four times
His extortions!
Four times!!
How’s that
For reparations?

I hope you can see the connection between those readings and Marianne Williamson’s emphasis on reparations for slavery and restorative justice for resources stolen in a system of unequal trades identified in the Global South as neocolonialism. The readings (and especially the example of Zacchaeus) show that such policies based on a clear moral sense of justice should represent the twin pillars of domestic and foreign policy.

No other candidate has identified those pillars with the clarity and conviction of Marianne Williamson. In the end, no other candidate — and very few spiritual leaders of any stripe — challenge us to rethink our entire understanding of life.

According to Williamson and Jesus, life, truth, and our health as a nation are to be found in exactly the opposite direction from that indicated by the reigning ideology.

Published by

Mike Rivage-Seul's Blog

Emeritus professor of Peace & Social Justice Studies. Liberation theologian. Activist. Former R.C. priest. Married for 45 years. Three grown children. Six grandchildren.

9 thoughts on “Marianne Williamson, Reparations & Restorative Justice”

  1. We can always hope that Marianne will have more luck in having her message accepted and acted on than Jesus did offering much the same message. Indeed, the message of the Course In Miracles that transformed Williamson’s life was said by the lady who spoke it to be the voice of Jesus himself.

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    1. Mike, I’ve just started my third time through “A Course in Miracles.” I find it very powerful. And you’re right: somehow the voice of Jesus himself comes through the text. The early exercises are bent on deconstructing one’s world vision inherited from our parents, teachers, ministers, priests, media and politicians. So much to unlearn!

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      1. Jesus and other Avatars have all told us that the Divine is with us , all around us, and even within us even now – and has never been absent since the beginning of our Universe. And yet we do not see it – what could be a greater miracle than that?
        Learning to be aware of what is already the nature of ourselves and our world is a lifetime’s work. How strange!

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  2. From ‘Paracelsus’ by Robert Browning
    I

    TRUTH is within ourselves; it takes no rise
    From outward things, whate’er you may believe.
    There is an inmost centre in us all,
    Where truth abides in fullness; and around,
    Wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in,
    This perfect, clear perception—which is truth.
    A baffling and perverting carnal mesh
    Binds it, and makes all error: and, to KNOW,
    Rather consists in opening out a way
    Whence the imprisoned splendour may escape,
    Than in effecting entry for a light
    Supposed to be without.

    II

    I knew, I felt, (perception unexpressed,
    Uncomprehended by our narrow thought,
    But somehow felt and known in every shift
    And change in the spirit,—nay, in every pore
    Of the body, even,)—what God is, what we are
    What life is—how God tastes an infinite joy
    In infinite ways—one everlasting bliss,
    From whom all being emanates, all power
    Proceeds; in whom is life for evermore,
    Yet whom existence in its lowest form
    Includes; where dwells enjoyment there is he:
    With still a flying point of bliss remote,
    A happiness in store afar, a sphere
    Of distant glory in full view; thus climbs
    Pleasure its heights for ever and for ever.
    The centre-fire heaves underneath the earth,
    And the earth changes like a human face;
    The molten ore bursts up among the rocks,
    Winds into the stone’s heart, outbranches bright
    In hidden mines, spots barren river-beds,
    Crumbles into fine sand where sunbeams bask—
    God joys therein! The wroth sea’s waves are edged
    With foam, white as the bitten lip of hate,
    When, in the solitary waste, strange groups
    Of young volcanos come up, cyclops-like,
    Staring together with their eyes on flame—
    God tastes a pleasure in their uncouth pride.
    Then all is still; earth is a wintry clod:
    But spring-wind, like a dancing psaltress, passes
    Over its breast to waken it, rare verdure
    Buds tenderly upon rough banks, between
    The withered tree-roots and the cracks of frost,
    Like a smile striving with a wrinkled face;
    The grass grows bright, the boughs are swoln with blooms
    Like chrysalids impatient for the air,
    The shining dorrs are busy, beetles run
    Along the furrows, ants make their ade;
    Above, birds fly in merry flocks, the lark
    Soars up and up, shivering for very joy;
    Afar the ocean sleeps; white fishing-gulls
    Flit where the strand is purple with its tribe
    Of nested limpets; savage creatures seek
    Their loves in wood and plain—and God renews
    His ancient rapture. Thus He dwells in all,
    From life’s minute beginnings, up at last
    To man—the consummation of this scheme
    Of being, the completion of this sphere
    Of life: whose attributes had here and there
    Been scattered o’er the visible world before,
    Asking to be combined, dim fragments meant
    To be united in some wondrous whole,
    Imperfect qualities throughout creation,
    Suggesting some one creature yet to make,
    Some point where all those scattered rays should meet
    Convergent in the faculties of man.

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    1. Such beautiful poetry. Such awesome reflection on evolutionary process. Such a wondrous tribute to the Creator, to truth, and to human beings as God has created us. Thank you for your sensitivity and generosity in sharing this profound reflection.

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  3. HomePoetryHail
    Poetry
    November 9, 2019
    author: Caitlin Johnstone

    Graffiti under the bridge says,
    “Life will pull you apart like mozzarella strips if you let it.
    And you should let it.”
    Your reflection in the mirror says,
    “We were friends once, long ago.
    Let’s be friends again.”
    A fungus angel dies in a forest at dusk
    while coal cranes coo a lullaby.
    A genius dies in a nursing home
    without ever once being seen or noticed.
    We are tossed like leaves in a hurricane of tenuous agreements
    (form ineffable, source ineffable,
    nature ineffable, outcome ineffable),
    and we worry what some Cathy Whatevernut thinks of us.
    We stand on the precipice of a plunge into chaos
    (form unknown, source unknown,
    nature unknown, outcome unknown),
    and we argue about Republicans with strangers.
    I once met a dead man in Barcelona
    who has been with me ever since.
    I showed him my hypochondria
    and my disdain for my body
    and the scars that cruel men have rent in my flesh,
    and I said,
    “Well? What can you do with this?”
    He turned me around on the balcony and showed me the universe.
    “This is medicine,” he said.
    “Swallow it.”
    And even now the aches still return,
    and tears flow like melting glaciers
    and I shatter as easily as eggshells in a blender.
    But now I am upheld by the same might which swirls the galaxies,
    and I know I can never truly fall.
    Hail,
    Holy Queen.
    Hail,
    holy moment.
    Hail,
    thunderous majesty of being.
    Hail,
    cold air in my nostrils.
    Hail,
    shameful errors of the past.
    Hail,
    emaciated bodies of Yemeni children.
    Hail,
    whale corpses choked full of plastic.
    Hail,
    teenage soldiers inflicting harm out of boredom.
    Hail,
    belched-up delusions of ancient grandfathers.
    Hail,
    flocks of featherbeasts.
    Hail,
    rays of starlight.
    Hail,
    frailty.
    Hail,
    smallness.
    Hail,
    vastness.
    Hail,
    boundlessness.
    Pull me apart like mozzarella strips,
    and let only the real remain.

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