I am still mulling over some of the ideas that I wrote about in the last two blogs. I spoke about my affinity toward religion in general, despite my doubts about organized big religion. I said that I have faith, though I am a little foggy on what I have faith in.
Here is a quote from the December 24th entry:
"Faith in what? Call it goodness, the power of life, positive energy--having faith can largely mean believing that improvement will happen, that goodness is there, that negative or life-threatening and defying energies or forces can be vanquished, that there is a higher (collective) consciousness trying to guide humanity to make wise choices and defend the good or life."
I hesitate to use the phrase, "faith in God" and I shrink from epithets such as "the King" or "my Lord". I guess one problem is language. What alternative terms could we use for Jesus Christ as a leader of a moral code and way of live? Furthermore, what should we call the universal power that necessarily has authority of people as "forces of nature" and "the origin of the universe" that exists today. I will try to think of something, but that will be a difficult job.
I certainly do not wish to utter the words "King" or "Lord" which are archaic terms of cruel and outdated social orders. "King" connotes absolute power and a "ruler" representative of state, chief authority and disciplinarian. Kings and Lords among humans have had more worth than other people, and been allowed great privileges owing to claims of birthright and divinity. They are owners of vast areas of land, and bosses over the masses.
Kings and Lords have more often than not been men. The typical image of Jesus or God is that of a man, and usually a white man, despite the documented history of Jesus the Jew. Organized religion is run nearly exclusively by males and the vast majority of historians are men. They have a habit of accrediting movements and transformations in history to a single gifted man of history, an approach to historical writing which is being criticized today. There is an effort to look at "ordinary people" in "everyday life" to get a better idea of what happened, how and who the significant players were.
For decades, activists and whole social movements have challenged the patriarchy, imperial orders (ancient, traditional and contemporary) and conventions of historical interpretations. They look at power structures and relationships, try to study issues of concern to women, people of colour, LGBTQ people, minorities and migrants and include their voices. The actions and thoughts of these challengers merge with anti-imperialist movements as a matter of necessity. There is a general rejection of all (white) male rule, especially the more military and authoritarian rulers, the structures and practice of empire-building, and extreme social and economic imbalance. This is the political current, despite setbacks and despite the formations of extreme retaliation against it.
Big religions have been imperial forces entwined with imperial states and kingdoms and have been active in struggles for power and wealth, even mobilizing their armies. They are still trying to preserve their institutions, wealth, power and influence. Regardless, there is more and more pressure by advocates for genuine peace, social justice, national liberation and equality. Norms and values keep evolving and shifting towards an vague idea of socialism. Religions are influenced by that evolution and shifting, as well as compassion for the victims of war and aggression, extreme poverty and persecution. Many having been at war with the states that once embraced them, have long been separated or are under going separation, most notably Islam and Buddhism and Hinduism. Christianity of many brands has largely been acting as capitalist player and powerful lobbyist, so powerful, for example, that it could propel the likes of Donald Trump to state power and get him to defy policy and diplomacy by declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel. The momentum to increase charity, step into the political arena to advocate for the poor, suffering and displaced is a source of deep-seeded conflict within the Church and between the Church and some states today.
As for Islam, it is obviously experiencing an internal division between modernists and traditionalists, to the point where Muslims have been rebelling their fundamentalist states, and Islamic fundamentalism has tried to make a challenge to contemporary Western, monopoly-capitalist civilization. The latter is torn between maintaining trade and political allies, and refuting Islamic fundamentalism. Christians often take sides. The fundamentalists of the world flock together, despite rifts in theology and credence. I regard Islamic fundamentalism and the states that uphold it as "imperial Islam" for it is about a partnership between religion and state to hold property and power, and direct and dominate the people. Some such states are empires clinging to imperial rule over nations within, and trying to expand their territories and might.
We have to include Israel as a faction within the modern imperial order. It is also a fundamentalist state safeguarded by a fierce military that desires expansion of territory, wealth and power. Favoring fundamentalism of any sort over socialism or independence from the imperialist orders, rich Western states, especially the USA have been supporting Israel. Meanwhile, the USA is experiencing an assault by Islamic fundamentalism of the worst sort, terrorists defending fundamentalism and archaic traditions.
With the extent of the conflict, displacement, poverty, terror and political persecution, Christian institutions cannot assert their moral authorities unless they adjust their morality and authority, and speak out to defend life, promote peace and moderation.