Friday, April 23, 2010

Love in the time of Somoza

Uriel Molina, OFM; Wobblies & Zapatistas:

We ourselves may not be the ones to discover our role but others may point us to it. For example, during the time of the insurrection against Somoza, we felt that we might lose, we might all be killed. One day I was talking with a man who never came to church but was a very dedicated person. I said, "Things are looking very bad. Maybe we better pull out because it looks like it is all over and we are all going to be wiped out." And the young man, William, said, "If you do that then the whole community will lose their hope, because your presence here is during the day like an open door and at night, a light."

In the time of the New Testament, Christians were called atheists. They rejected the gods of the empire and the standard religious beliefs, so they were called atheists. Now there is a new need for a kind of atheist vision where the idols need to be knocked over and the true God is to be found, because the old conception of God doesn't speak to people today. It may be time for becoming atheists with regard to ideas about God, and discovering the true God.

Let us consider for a moment our priest with the healthy instincts. The priest tells us we must become atheists about God, because God has become a lie produced by power.

God is always a lie produced by the powerful, just as "the will of God" has always concealed the material interests of that holy minority presuming to speak on its behalf. Whatever the alternative, this God is always on the scene; and it is instructive that today's Christian God finds its roots in that body given up in opposition to the God of its day, while bodies are offered in sacrifice to its modern incarnation.

Surely a priest knows his prospects when he opposes the God of power, which under Somoza meant the alliance between a military regime and his employer. For a priest to say, "Let us become atheists about God" is to risk losing the good will of both.

And so he finds himself in a place where he is likely to get killed -- standing beside his neighbors, who have begun to fight back. But now, absent the God of power, the priest perceives his role, which is to be "an open door during the day, and at night, a light." It's not something the priest needed to explain to his parish, but what his parish had to reveal to him.

This doesn't need to be a religious story in a strict sense. "God" may be important to some people, but power will find its way to the top of every value system, whether those values are "secular" or "religious." Power conceals itself within the whole, and insists on its legitimacy.

Depending on our preferences, some of us may need to be atheists about God; but others may need to be atheists about Atheism, or democrats about Democracy, feminists about Feminism, and so on. In other words, we want to be loosely acquainted with our identity as we understand it, not so strongly attached that it permits a lasting foothold for power. The temptation of power is always to impose; what we want is to begin to listen.


Jack Crow said...

If you get a chance, "After Christianity," by Christian thinker, Vattimo.

A similar theme.

Enron said...

The last sentence is quite prescient.

C-Nihilist said...

fantastic post.

MP said...

That was really beautiful.