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cracking.the.spell. [Jan. 4th, 2009|02:41 am]
[music |the weepies. "and the world spins madly on."]

somehow i've managed to stir up a cocktail of certain books and films and world news reports and internet info-searches that is brewing up a storm of dark eyebrow-clenching anger in me right now.

right now, the new year is raining fire and blood on Gaza. God, if that doesn't make the sweet Sudoku game on my new phone seem a little inconsequential. even while watching the Bourne trilogy on january 1, all i could think was: this is not so far from nonfiction. our government trains people to kill and then kills them, or at least kills a significant part of their humanness. our government sells weapons of mass destruction to countries, assassinates their leaders, inadvertently helps trigger rebel groups against the inhumane way people are being treated as a result of these interventions, and massacres hordes of precious human beings under the dehumanizing labels: 'soldier'. 'terrorist'. 'civilian'. all considered as 'collateral damage' for 'the cause'. our government arms both sides of a war and sits back on its obese behind and collects the profits. our government has acted like a vicious vampire, sucking the life-blood and hopes of the nations so we can get stronger and more comfortable and 'free'. normally i would balance this kind of venomous criticism with some nice sentiment about how we've also done a lot of good for other countries, you know, gave them clothes after tsunamis and tried to get food to them during genocides and famines, and tried to pump Popeye's miracle spinach into their economies by providing a yellow brick road from the burgeoning shelves of American mega-super-greatland-stuff-marts to the friendly factory near them! where they can work! 12 hours a day! for a whole DOLLAR!

okay, maybe i'd say it a little nicer than that, on a sane, kind day. the books i've been reading say it much, much nicer. but they also cut the crap, and crack the spell that binds so much of the U.S.A. with the incantation 'God bless America! God bless the troops! they're fighting for our freedom! let's win this war on terror! Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition! don't worry, we've got the Just War theory!' Just.War.has nothing to do with Jesus. [does it mention him? or any of his teachings? have you read it lately?] and Jesus wants nothing to do with it. he said LOVE YOUR ENEMIES. since when does that include killing them? since Christianity got drunk on the cup of power Constantine handed it, that's when. oh, i've known vaguely about the atrocities committed in the letter of the name of Christendom but in the spirit of mad grabs for power over society, and vaguely abhorred them, but haven't really known what to do with that. i still don't know what to do with that.

because these incidents are not just history; they are current events. when presidents and war chiefs tell us they are saying their prayers that good will triumph over evil - who is good? who is evil? who the hell are they even praying to? Wendell Berry wrote [quoted in Jesus for President] "These prayers are usually understood to be Christian prayers. But Christian prayers are made to or in the name of Jesus, who loved, prayed for, and forgave his enemies and who instructed his followers to do likewise. A Christian supplicant, therefore, who has resolved to kill those whom he is enjoined to love, to bless, to do good to, to pray for, and to forgive as he hopes to be forgiven is not conceivably in a situation in which he can be at peace with himself." are we able to be at peace with ourselves while 36 cents out of every tax dollar we pay goes to grease up the military machine and muscle up the war squads and tighten our government's grip on the necks of our enemies and allies alike? if i sound paranoid and full of rage here - it's because i am.

i feel like we're Prince Rilian in the Silver Chair, captive in the service of the evil witch, with many vertical miles of dirt and roots and rocks between him and the lovely, true, Aslan-serving, air-and-love-and-miracle-filled land of Narnia. she swirls her green gases into his brain every day so that he can't remember who he is or where he comes from, and remembers only her and her underground kingdom of darkness, but the illusion wears off every night and he knows the truth, knows who he is and whose name bears all light and truth and goodness and Love-power, which is no power at all, but overcomes everything anyway. he knows, in the dead of night, but she chains him to the chair ['for his own good'] so that he is unable to act on his knowledge and return to Narnia, to the real, beloved community where his life is meant to be lived.

i have no idea where[s] in the world the rest my life is meant to be lived, but right now i'm squarely placed in the Midwest United States, and with this new burden of knowledge, of Jesus and his example and teachings of nonviolent resistance to injustice [graced by Shane Claiborne, Anne Lamott, Walter Wink, and Father George Zabelka] i know i need to take some steps, baby steps maybe, to not stand up for this bloodthirsty empire of the U.S.A. any longer. i'm rethinking portions of my high hopes for Obama because i think he's probably still under that spell of the delusion that "this country is still the last best hope on earth" [his own words from the David Letterman show, quoted in Jesus for President]. it's scary to think about laying down a lot of parts of my way of life that seem to fuel the greedy imperialism of this country, but also there's a secret, subversive relief to the dream of living more simply, being less weighed down by the scramble for stuff to make you seem like you stand up tall and cool and successful in this society. but mostly, i don't want to stand up for it because i think Love lays down.

i mean, just look in the book, for Christ's sake.
besides all those times Love actually lays down
[in manger. in boat. on cross. in tomb.]
still Love lays down pride
even when sitting
[in temple. on hillside. on donkey-back. at supper table.]
even when kneeling
[to wash dirty feet. to pray in garden. to be flogged by barbed whips.]
even when standing
[turning water to wine. calling the disciples from shore. traveling and healing. clearing temple of money-changers. being betrayed by kiss. carrying cross. walking on Emmaus road, alive!]
Love lays down.

ha, i already didn't do a very good job of it, in using such violent defaming words against the people who've made those horrible decisions in the U.S. government and the historic church. i've never bought into the childhood taunt that "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." bullshit. words hurt. like hell. but they can also heal, and so i will keep trying that, in light of whatever i learn. i wonder: how cold is it in Gaza tonight? how much fear is in the air in Israel? how many cries are bouncing off of the Wailing Wall? how many tears are the angels of Palestine catching in their bottles while we go on sleeping and eating and playing Uno?

cracking the spell, tonight, means cracking open my own heart and adding a little trickle of my tears to their torrent. for all of the above and more. because Christ is suffering. again. in the land of Palestine. tonight. laying down with the bleeding bodies, laying down before the hardened hands pulling the triggers, laying down with the fatherless children, the prodigal sons and the prayerful Christians and Muslims and Jews and with the atheists, too. that's reality tonight.

in other news, i think everyone should see Slumdog Millionaire [in theaters]. and The Kite Runner [out on DVD now]. in their fiction, they hit smack dab in the middle of some of the truth about India's slums and Afghanistan's war effects, respectively.  this opinion from an armchair existence, of course.  may the residents of Bombay and Kabul reprimand me if i am misrepresenting their reality in my impulsive judgement.

ha! i just found a couple pieces of advice from a long-time foreign resident in the Middle East about how to react with trust in God in this situation:

1. When you watch TV don’t get upset or fearful about the future, but turn those emotions into prayer. Literally. Stop for just 30 seconds and pray for both Israelis and Palestinians. Spend a bit more time praying for the ones you wouldn’t most likely be praying for.
2. Ask God what your part in this is. We’ve all heard that “we might be God’s solution to some problem.” It might be true. Don’t take yourself too lightly. You might hold some key to ...

[...cracking the spell. Walter Wink calls it the 'myth of redemptive violence']

let's pray so. let's pray. pray peace. pray that we will lay down. that we will love. love Love.

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