The focus of attention among forerunning expressions of church is at last shifting from self focus to other focus, from the community of the church to the family of humanity.
Some have been pioneering this for a long time now, as I was reminded only yesterday when connecting with Together for the Common Good an initiative of the late Bishops of Liverpool David Shepherd and Derek Warlock. I’m remembering how much I gained from my associations with the early years of Frontier Youth Trust and the Evangelical Coalition for Urban Mission that David Shepherd was such an inspiration to many moons ago. What is so good is the new alignments now taking place between what used to be called ‘liberal’ and ‘social gospel’ Christians and evangelicals, pentecostals and charismatics, together with lovers of humanity from other faiths and none. Many of us have been longing for this. Once we enter the common human space of the incarnation we rediscover what Jesus was talking about when he distinguished between those who display their credentials for reasons of power and self-aggrandisement and those who do the will of the Father whether or not they fully realise it (Mtt7:21-23).

A profound vocabulary change
Last Autumn my good friend medical practitioner Andy Knox and I were together facilitating a kenarchy course in Mississauga, Toronto’s less well-known twin city. While there we had the opportunity of attending a meeting of the Canadian transformation network facilitated by good friend Richard Long and listening to reports of developments from across Canada. It was immediately obvious to us that a profound vocabulary change had taken place. We left acknowledging the significance of the change, to us evidence of the real impact of the prayer movement, the Holy Spirit outpourings of the last three generations and the fulfillment of the voice of true prophets for those with ears to hear. The language was no longer centered around the gathered church, but the needs of the poor and marginalized. With our ears newly attuned and our hopes raised it’s hardly surprising that on our return we read the symbols and heard the statements of Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin as signposts to a dramatic shift in the positioning of the church. With Francis’ warnings about global capitalism and Justin’s about pay day lenders ringing in my ears I attended the UK Charismatic and Pentecostal leaders gathering in December. I like this grouping because of its breadth of representation within the life of the Spirit, having been co-hosted by Catholics and Protestants since its inception forty or so years ago, and bringing together those with a recognition of the centrality of Jesus and his life in the Spirit without dogmatic doctrinal demands. Here once again the shift in vision and vocabulary was obvious. The church is becoming obsessed with the poor and the marginalised once more! There I discovered the impact of FaithAction and their great resource Faith With the Sleeves Rolled Up and the fine example of the Dagenham Community Resources initiative Students from the Political Theology for Peace programme that I convene for the Richardson Institute in the PPR Department here at Lancaster University, were able to taste the kenarchic politics for themselves at a day workshop in February.

Highly motivated people positioned in the gap created by a government desperate to recover economic stability for the rich and powerful
Lest I start to sound too triumphalistic, the February launch of the Christians on the Left in London did reveal something of the old tension between social action and social justice, something that the testimony of Jesus never divides. However, the room was packed with a very representative cross section of highly motivated people positioned in the gap created by a government desperate to recover economic stability for the rich and powerful amid the implosion of capitalism while trying to hang onto power and the vote. In the enthusiasm of that launch I found my way to a subsequent event co-sponsored by Christians on the Left in Liverpool. Here I connected with Together Lancashire and discovered encouraging evidence of the same repositioning happening locally right here on my doorstep… here’s one example Pretty certainly it’s happening on your doorstep too, so please add your evidence to ours by commenting on this post.

Posted by: rogermitchell | March 4, 2014

Jesus and money: reblogged from Philip Evans with thanks

I thought that this post of three days ago by Philip Evans of the All Souls Clubhouse was so good that I have copied it verbatim.

“No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other,
or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
Jesus of Nazareth

I’m surprised that none of Jesus’ listeners challenged his assumption that people serve money. The first time the statement is recorded is in the Sermon on the Mount; the second was as Jesus confronted the religious establishment, which professed to serve God but who in fact were ‘lovers of money’ (see Matthew 6:19-34 & Luke 16:13-15). He never said anything similar about other vices: he didn’t, for example, say, ‘You cannot serve God and sex’. Nor did he say the more obvious, ‘You cannot serve God and the devil’!

Today, we take it for granted that people serve money. Money is the driving force of modern society and economic theory is a primary means of studying and explaining human life; maximising profit is the goal of modern business and every personal, moral choice has to be financially viable. Money itself is the global status symbol, promising freedom, security, purpose, power, happiness – and even love. Some people make its accumulation their life’s goal; others see it as the path to fulfilment or the things it can buy as defining who they are.

But it hasn’t always been this way and that’s why older translations of Jesus’ statement don’t say ‘money’ but ‘mammon’. The difference is still important. Money is a tool, invented at various times in history in various parts of the world, as if for the first time, to enable people to exchange goods and services easily. That’s why there’s no sin or evil in being rich, although wealth brings with it responsibility and many challenges.

But money evolved and took on a life of its own. It became more than just a tool for living – even an indispensable tool – and acquired the power of ‘the force of an idea whose time had come’. That’s why generations of artists have portrayed mammon as a demon. When enough people began to give disproportionate importance to money, entire societies began to revolve around it. Everyone else had little choice but to rely on money too. That is, unless they trusted God sufficiently to underwrite their obedience to living by his criteria.

The Sermon on the Mount describes a lifestyle that puts God and people first: not first ‘by a head’ but way ahead of every other consideration. I’m sure Jesus included his statement about serving God and mammon so his followers would not be deterred from living the way he described by the financial consequences.

Most people today, including most Christians, would say that they do put God and people first, and they would be sincere in saying so, but in my experience financial issues often come such a close second they divert attention and compromise rationale and behaviour. I’ve experience this in my own lifestyle choices and seen it in others. I’ve also seen churches submit what they believe to be God’s will to financial criteria, not quite believing that God will provide the resources for what he calls them to do but waiting for the money to be banked before taking even a first step of faith.

Money is system of trust. This was the case when everyday things like seashells and coloured beads were used as the first money. It remained the case, to some degree at least, even when coins were made of gold and silver but today it’s more true than ever. Almost all money now exists as data in sophisticated banking systems and there is so very much of it that Planet Earth lacks the resources to convert it all into material wealth. Even the 2-3% of money that are coins and banknotes exist in the real world only like a novel, giving expression to an idea but not really real.

This is another reason why we can’t serve both God and money. We can either live in grateful dependence upon God, using money as the tool it was created to be, or we can rely on humankind’s ultimate system of trust, loving and serving the money we think we need to live. The Pharisees who listened to Jesus were prime examples of this: they purported to serve God but loved money. Next weekend, I plan to look at why Jesus called their wealth ‘unrighteous’.

© All Souls Clubhouse Community Centre & Church and Philip Evans 2014.
Please feel free to copy, print and share these Reflections on a non-profit basis.

Posted by: rogermitchell | March 1, 2014

Fellow Europeans of Ukraine hang on in there!

At the beginning of the century I helped initiate a prayer partnership for Europe. It was a partnership that involved the US and Canada as well as the nations of Europe including Ukraine. Some of you clickers and surfers on this blog were part of that. Tragically when 9/11 hit, it exposed the chasm between those who advocate peace through sovereignty, and its violent defense, and those who who follow the non-violent politics of Jesus. When some of us pleaded for people of faith to choose the way of peace many engaged in the so-called war on terror instead. No good came, only more violence, suffering and the displacement of human beings from their homes and their hopes.

But the politics of love and kenarchy flowed out of that prayer partnership nonetheless and is constantly gaining ground among grassroots people. And so we plead with people of faith in Ukraine today, including its interim president, Oleksandr Turchynov, a baptist pastor, CHOOSE THE WAY OF PEACE whatever the Russians do. Go to Moscow, go to the Crimea, go in peace whatever the consequences and ultimately resurrection will come into the situation. After all, the evidence is there in the recent history. It was not violence and war that brought down the iron curtain and the Berlin Wall, it was prayer and forgiveness and love for one’s enemies, and it is only more of this that will ultimately bring freedom and human flourishing for all the people of the Ukraine, and Europe as a whole.

Posted by: rogermitchell | February 12, 2014

love that substantiates a new humanity

It’s high time that I concluded this set of posts on the authority of love!
As sometimes happens I’ve been waylaid by other writing deadlines and also this time by working with the ace bunch of students who are currently tackling the Richardson Institute for Peace Studies distance learning module in Political Theology for Peace. If any of you clickers and surfers are interested in registering for this module in 2014/15 please let me know. I am now working on a second module on Politics of Love in Places of Conflict that I hope will also be up and running in 2014/15. Use the comment box below if you are interested in either of them.

One of the writing deadlines was a sudden opportunity to contribute a chapter to a book considering the nature of kenotic authority with a view to providing resources for the ongoing reform of the Roman Catholic Magisterium – an opportunity too exciting to miss! The book should be out over the next few months. Watch this space for more information. The former posts on the authority of love provided good resources to work on for that book, so thank you, all of you, that contributed to the discussion. This post is adapted from what became the final section of that chapter and makes the following three basic points:

1. By displaying the authority of love in a human being, the incarnation of Jesus not only reveals the divine nature, it restores the image of God back into human nature. This is of course, in part, a recovery of what Christians believe that God did when he created humankind in his image in the first place. But it goes far beyond that. Now a human being is in the heart of divinity for ever, and a divine human is substantiated in the heart of human history. Let no-one say that the incarnation didn’t change things! If it happened, then God and humanity are for ever changed! The theologian Thomas Torrance speaks of this in terms of the vicarious humanity of Christ (See Incarnation. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic 2008, 125ff). That is to say that Jesus lived the life of a human being in the fullness of the divine nature, and did it on our behalf so that his life would be available as a resource for any human who desired it.

2. In order to substantiate this new humanity, it was necessary for Jesus to take on all that stood in the way of the authority of love. Undoing empire, disarming the powers, empowering the powerless, as the previous three posts have articulated, are all necessary to demonstrate the authority of love. It is because empire ultimately identifies and kills those who oppose it that the power of death has to be overcome for the authority of love to be demonstrated. Similarly, the powers are the powers of death, and the powerless are the raw material of a system that ultimately eats them up. So in order to manifest the authority of love, love has to be stronger than death.

3. The authority of love is life laid down in love for one’s enemies, to the point of death itself. The new humanity is defined by this characteristic. The gospel narratives continually emphasise Jesus’ repeated statements about needing to go to Jerusalem and be crucified and slain, and rise again on the third day. The disciples, with their sovereignty understanding of power, simply did not understand this. Even post-resurrection, as Luke describes in his account of the incident on the Road to Emmaus, this prevented them from recognising who Jesus is. When they had grasped it then Luke quotes Jesus linking his death for his enemies and the subsequent resurrection to the promised authority carried by his message of forgiveness to the nations. The writer of John’s gospel makes this clear when he explains the time qualification to Jesus’ description of the coming of the Spirit: “But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified”( John 7: 39.)

From the believers’ point of view this is the real substance of the uniqueness of Jesus, and the reason that it needs to be included in political discussions in the public forum. In articulating this I wish to underline that I am not making an exclusive claim that says only Christians can love their enemies. What I am doing here is focusing on a significant resource for positive peace. If we can find it elsewhere, great. But here is an extraordinary articulation of it from the heart of a tradition that something like a third of the world’s population embrace. It is not a matter of excluding the others, but activating the displaced heritage of this multitude on behalf of the rest.

Posted by: rogermitchell | January 12, 2014

Love that empowers the powerless

Not only does the authority of love undo empire and disarm the powers, it empowers the powerless.
What I have elsewhere described as the kenarchy manifesto, and kenarchy’s clear sense of direction, is even better described as the empowerment of the powerless. For it is more than a statement of intention or priority, it is an actual release of power that empties out empire by reversing its direction. It’s important to understand that this is certainly not about using the hierarchical power of sovereignty to do something good or make peace. That would be to repeat the old lie. Rather it is about ending hierarchy and inequality altogether. Those previously at the bottom don’t simply become the new ones at the top. The bottom and the top become the same place, and the practice of empowering the powerless is how we achieve it. In the Magnificat, Mary embodies her insight into the divine nature as the authority that empowers the powerless: “He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble.” In so doing she is herself an example of the way this kind of empowerment works for she becomes the evidence of the first category for the empowerment of the powerless in the Jesus’ story.

God’s choice of Mary as the means to the full manifestation of the divine nature to humanity makes the instatement of women the first category of empowerment.
Her focus on the hungry marks the second category, the poor. Altogether, as I have already pointed out elsewhere, there are some seven main foci of empowerment in the gospel narrative, instating women, prioritizing children, advocating for the poor, advocating for the marginalised and strangers, caring for the creation, freeing prisoners and caring for the sick. An old friend of mine remarked to me recently that he could find nothing particularly new in kenarchy. As he put it “I am not sure… how it differs from our normal understanding of an incarnate God who is imminent in all He does, sustaining the whole universe by His very being.” From what I know of him, he is someone who tries hard to empower the powerless in his daily life and work as a pastor. But I believe that the authority of love means more than that. The good news of the kingdom of God that Jesus announced, proclaimed a completely new politics. It still does. It means using whatever power is at our disposal to empower the powerless. We call it kenarchy to distinguish it from theological terminology that so often connotes the domination system that the church has fallen foul to over the centuries and is all too often obvious in the way the church and the world system operate.

I not am denying that a great deal of work to meet the needs of the powerless among people and the rest of the creation has already been done and continues to be done.

But it is often violated by the intrusion of the overarching, controlling context of sovereign power. When this happens in the context of the life of the church, instead of the followers of Jesus being a prophetic servant community able to challenge, or where appropriate support, the prevailing political power, they become a tool for the contemporary government or its opponents, or subside into an ineffective and irresponsible sub-culture. William Cavanaugh unpacks the twentieth century implications of this in his analysis of the church in General Pinochet’s Chile, Torture and the Eucharist (Blackwell, 1998) where the priests of the Catholic church at first supported and then acquiesced in the gradual erosion of freedoms which then led to disappearances and murders of those who worked for justice and equality. Thank God for those who began to embrace Jesus’ example instead.

Right now in the contemporary West we face government policies that are the opposite of empowering the powerless.
Specific policies are currently going through parliament that threaten the freedom of the streets;, the freedom to lobby and protest, and the freedom of the courts The government austerity measures continue to disadvantage the poor and the vulnerable to the benefit of the rich and the powerful As I have said before, the sovereignty system underlying Western representative democracy is only different to fascism by degrees, but it is on the same spectrum of power, as the strong support Margaret Thatcher gave General Pinochet witnesses.

The authority of love squares the circle of need and powerlessness.
As the apostle Paul saw so clearly, reconciliation and empowerment together make up the fulness of divine authority. God shares his throne with us and that changes everything (Ephesians 2:6). God is all about power sharing. This kind of authority makes government and empowerment a single, synonymous initiative, not mere associates, let alone competitors. Government without empowerment is an abuse of power. The practice of empowering the powerless soon tells me who my friends and enemies are, for if these seven groups are the primary targets of kenotic love, those individuals and institutions that oppress them are identified as enemies whether they are so intentionally or not. How I then treat these will mark the extent of love that is required for peace to be achieved. For as Dyfedwyn underlines in his comment to the previous post on Undoing Empire “loving the enemy also means loving those within your own community who choose to stick with the empire.” I attempted to set out what this looks like in the post on how the authority of love disarms the powers, two posts back, based on Jesus’ temptations. But I recognise that this is not an easy call. My wife Sue pointed out that in my interaction with my friend Dave over my book The Fall of the Church, I specified by name a group of Christians among whom I encountered dominating behaviour. She rightly thought that this was less than loving towards them. I’ve removed the reference and changed what I said. Love does confront the issues, but it does so with the authority of love, otherwise we are hypocrites.

Posted by: rogermitchell | January 10, 2014

Don’t miss it!

Please keep commenting on my post on love that undoes empire, below. But at the same time, don’t miss the interaction over my book The Fall of the Church on the new blog page above!

Posted by: rogermitchell | January 9, 2014

Love that undoes empire

The “first few days” of the new year are fast passing and I’ve yet to cover how the authority of love undoes empire, empowers the powerless and substantiates a new humanity. Here is how love undoes empire.

As I have pointed out many times, contemporary theological, archaeological and historical research makes it a hundred percent clear that Jesus’ life and teaching confronted the Roman Empire head-on. King Herod in the north of Israel and the high priestly family of Annas and Caiaphas in the south were the puppet representatives of Roman rule. The contemporary inscriptions on buildings and monuments at gave divine titles to Augustus and Tiberias Caesar, titles like ‘Son of God’ and ‘Saviour’ that Jesus applied to himself. In this way the kingdom of love he proclaimed was positioned as a totally different kind of authority to empire from the very start, in order to undo it.

The authority of love undoes empire in three ways:

1. The government of love is demonstrated by love for one’s enemies.

But, as Carl Schmitt, the most influential political philosopher of twentieth century shows, sovereignty is defined by the distinction between friend and enemy. So the authority of love quite literally undoes the very foundations of empire by making my enemy my friend, even at the cost of my own death. Quite literally the authority of love is a government of peace that makes wars to cease. All forms of oppression towards those different to me, for the benefit of my particular tribe, city, people group, religion, culture or civilization is brought to an end by the government of love.

2. The authority of love replaces the fear of lack.

Fear of not having enough, or losing what I have, is basic to empire. Once the creation is understood as a divine gift to be stewarded by the human race and God, then the whole idea of an economics based on fear of lack is negated. Faith in divine generosity issues in a gift based economy that removes the need for dependence on an economics of greed and profit. The supremacy of the market and faith in the ‘benevolent hand’ of free enterprise capitalism is replaced by just trade and the promise of blessing and provision for those who make the welfare of the poor and vulnerable their priority. Luke’s account of Jesus’ words underlines this clearly. “Do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you” Luke 12:29-31).

3. Love embraces the penalty for resistance that lies at the base of the sovereignty system.

Jesus started emphasizing the cross from the beginning of his public ministry as the most important sign of what it meant to follow him, long before he began to point towards it as the literal and inevitable culmination of his life. In this way Jesus’ death and resurrection demonstrate the heart of the lifestyle and outcome of the authority of love. It is the heart of kenarchy from which everything else about the government of love flows. It measures an unstoppable authority that eventually carries all before it, not because it insists on its own way, but because it willingly embraces the worst that any alternative force can do.

The work of Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben helps us understand what Jesus was doing. He explains what he calls the state of exception that lies behind all sovereign power. It signals the point at which the military, legal and economic norms are suspended when seemingly rebellious or threatening behaviour confronts the existing order. Agamben suggests that the imprisonment and torture without trial in the no-mans land of Guantanamo is the sign of the state of exception in contemporary America. In the Roman Empire of Jesus’ day, it was crucifixion. This is a crucial part of the significance of the cross, and why it featured so soon and centrally in Jesus’ teaching long before his own death. The cross represents the choice to embrace the worst deterrent or punishment that can, will or might be put in place by a sovereign power to stop someone from acting in such a way as to ultimately damage or contradict its self-interest. It is the decision to love one’s enemies in a way that willingly embraces death at the hands of the existing political system if that is the outcome of loving others. In this way the cross and resurrection of Jesus undoes the government of the Roman Empire and the regimes that followed it, including our own Western representative democracy.

Posted by: rogermitchell | December 31, 2013

Love that disarms the powers

The sequence of the Jesus story takes us directly from his own trinitarian relational encounter with love to a major confrontation with Satan.
In Luke’s account of Jesus’ baptism, “the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, ‘You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased’” (Lk 3:22). Straight afterwards the Spirit led him to confront the devil in the wilderness (Lk 4:1). My post from Jerusalem on October 30th, several posts back, suggests that the three temptations that make up that confrontation expose deep structures of evil that undergird the foundations of empire. All three configure a self centered use of power, and the social and political structures that emanate from them and the evil spirit behind them, form the powers.

By this measure the essential powers of empire are the economics that preserve one’s personal and tribal survival at the expense of other human beings; the politics that dominate one’s fellow humans and their socio-cultural lives; and the competitive drive to risk all to gain the high ground of religion, fame and popularity.
It is important to grasp how the story depicts the way an encounter with altruistic love accentuates an awareness of the powers. The authority of love then deliberately confronts evil head on, but not with the violence, law and appeasement that are the tools of sovereign power, but with the word of love from the mouth of God that the baptism incident narrates, with its resultant worship, service and humility. Even in relations with the devil, seen here as representing ultimate evil, dialogue replaces violence, and the use of the written word is conversational not judicial. The devil remains free to leave. The final “be gone” is until “an opportune time,” until another opportunity to oppose Jesus presents itself, and there is certainly no attempt here to appease the devil. When the culmination of the confrontation of Jesus and the powers takes place at the cross it is this same loving authority that is manifest. The authority of love at the cross is seen in Jesus’ willing suffering at the hand of the powers in order to prove the enduring victory of a life given in love for the other, not in violent retribution against the powers. Love disarms the powers by rendering them powerless.

It is impossible to overestimate the impact and importance of a deep relational encounter with a love that loves through and beyond us and includes our enemies.
This is the kind of love that completes me but is not only about me. Without this, love has no authority. As Luke describes later, Jesus was very clear about this “even sinners love those who love them” (Lk 6: 32). The love that overcomes the powers is not a self-centered love. It is a love that so affirms the identity and value of a human being that the whole of humanity is thereby affirmed. The story of Jesus affirms the existence of this kind of love. I am emphatically not making an exclusive point here. I initially encountered this kind of love in friends who cared for my family when I was a small boy. Ultimately I concluded that its source was Jesus. But this is beyond some narrowly religious confessional claim. I simply maintain that this kind of love exists, that if it does it has an authority that undoes the powers and it is important to understand how!

Posted by: rogermitchell | December 26, 2013

the authority of love

Thank you to all my long suffering friends and guests who keep visiting this blog in hope of new material!
There have been several draft posts recently that never made it online, as I’ve worked away at material I’m still struggling to make sense of. This question of love as authority was the subject of discussion at a kenarchy study weekend here at the friary two weekends ago. I think I eventually made clear what it is that I’m trying to clarify, but only just!

As we have been reminded once again this Christmas time, in the words of the ancient prophecy “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”(Is 9:6).
Basically it is the practical nature of this loving government, or authority, that I have been focusing on for many months, work that now needs to culminate in two current writing projects: my contribution to the coming collection on Discovering Kenarchy, and a chapter for a Catholic collection of essays on Kenotic Authority. Both are due in January together with the intensive teaching weekend of the Political Theology for Peace postgraduate distance learning module that I am convening here at Lancaster University PPR Department. So I have quite a bit on my plate currently!

While working on all this, I encountered a delightful Muslim woman who has been previewing kenarchy and summed it up in conversation with me as “emptying out religion.”
By religion she clearly meant what I have called transcendence subsumed, or colonized, by sovereignty. Viewed in relation to this, the authority of love trumps the authority of sovereignty by undoing it. So it is not a competing form of authority, but a totally different kind. Love is a totally different kind of authority to sovereignty and ultimately undoes it altogether because it empties it out completely. Instead of an authority demanding obedience because it’s so much bigger, older, wiser or holier than me, we are talking about an authority that I follow because its love for me and through me motivates me to love others in the same way that I am loved.

My current thinking suggests that there are five key qualities of the authority of love all of which result from the first. This first is a relational encounter with love.
From this the other four all flow: this love disarms the powers, undoes empire, empowers the powerless and substantiates a new humanity.
Today we begin at the beginning and I hope to cover the four subsequent qualities over the remaining few days of 2013/ first few days of 2014.

1. A relational encounter with love is both the beginning and the end of the authority of love.
It is rooted in an encounter with a love that exceeds and overflows love for self to include one’s enemies to the point of death itself. It is not a policy or a program, let alone a system. It is embodied in the whole story of the incarnation and its climax in death and resurrection. This measures an unquenchable authority that ultimately carries all before it not because it insists on its own way, but because it willingly embraces the worst that any alternative force can do. This is what the cross is all about. It is the willing embrace of the worst deterrent or punishment that anyone can, will or might put in place to stop someone from acting in such a way as to ultimately damage or contradict the perceived self-interest of society.

It is the decision to love one’s enemies in a way that willingly embraces death at the hands of the existing political system if that is the outcome of loving others.

I have already blogged on this, but I am seeing more and more the significance of the of the way that Jesus introduced the cross from the start of his public teaching as the essential measure or symbol of what it meant to follow him, long before he began to point towards it as the literal and inevitable culmination of his life. In this way Jesus’ death and resurrection measures the heart of the practice and consequence of the government of love. It is heart of kenarchy from which all the further characteristics of the authority of love flow.

Posted by: rogermitchell | November 9, 2013

the deception of remembrance day

The deception that lies behind remembrance day and the accompanying red poppies is the epitome of the false belief behind our Western world. It is the fact that the day and the poppy identifies that deception that makes them such important means to disclose this false belief and explains why I keep returning to it every time this annual occasion comes around. It is the redemptive potential of an ugly season that otherwise underlines the utterly unacceptable quantity of lives wasted through political pride. We need some way of dealing with the grief and pain that this has embedded into our social and family life for generations. But strengthening false belief does not help.

What makes it so particularly shocking is that it is one of the few apparent manifestations of Christian religion in public view, yet it conveys the utter opposite of the message of Jesus.
The Remembrance Day ceremonies honour human sacrifice as the means to preserve one’s self, people, way of life, religion, nation and political system, whereas Jesus laid down his life to save his enemies. War amounts to insisting on our own way at the cost of the lives of the next generation, both ours and our enemies, however willing they may be to pay the price. We then dress it up to look like they sacrificed themselves for our freedom. They did not, because insisting on the sovereignty of our own way of life over that of others does not and cannot bring peace, it can only lead to more violence. What is paid for with violence is not freedom, and certainly not peace, because it simply justifies the ongoing violent military and financial cost of maintaining our own political system over that preferred by others.

Basically, as I have argued elsewhere and in many previous posts on this blog, our Western world is a system developed out of the insistence of the rich and powerful on their own way and advantage by means of law, war and money.
This has been intensified over the years by the necessity of making room for more and more people who are motivated by the same selfish desire to emulate the example of the rich and powerful. It is a situation more or less acceptable for those content with a certain measure of personal freedom and money despite the disparities of income and lifestyle between those at the top and those at the bottom. However, the extent of these disparities between the poverty of the majority world and the West has now come home to roost and over the last five years has become increasingly obscene here in the UK and the USA for those with eyes to see …. It is my prayer that the blood soaked myth of Remembrance Day will cry out against the economic oppression of the poor and disabled by the rich and powerful in today’s Britain and America. I long that the breadth of economic disparity will soon uncover the truth that what we call the free, democratic West is actually a selfish and inequitable system sustained by violence and bloody myths.

Kenarchy, on the other hand begins by facing the cost of refusing this way of life, what the Jesus’ story describes as taking up the cross and dying every day.
Absolutely not in the twisted sense of risking death to get your own way, but fully in the cause of reaching across to one’s fellow human being, whoever they may be, even when they prove to be one’s worst enemy. A stretch measured by what Miroslav Volf describes as “the will to embrace” even to the point of the worst that your political system or theirs can do to you. This creates the space for a whole new inclusive politics that the world has yet to see the fulness of, but of which the prophets have dreamed. Thank God that despite the horrors of the Western wars of empire we live in a generation that has seen some of the fruit of those who have decided to live this way, sons of peace like Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, and many others whose sacrifices in the cause of peace we have serious reason to honour.

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