According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Monday, November 14, 2011

Can There Be Worldwide Common Cause between Christians & Muslims?

"Revolutionary ideas do not come from books and manifestos,
but from experiences and connections with different peoples."

 Tarak Barkawi, Senior Lecturer in the Centre of International Studies, University of Cambridge.

The Peace of All Nations found
in Cooperation, Trust and Goodwill
The following opnion-column was submitted to the Muslim newspaper Aljazeera by a Muslim professor of Internation Studies of the University of Cambridge, England. It provides a vision created by the unappreciated and oft-overlooked common men and women of the world - who seek justice amongst the unfortunate; who are willing to seek peace within their own communities; and who wish to remove unjust political contexts from where they must live and work. To the common goal of creating a system of good welfare to all who hope to find life, liberty and justice within the oppression of their own religions, cultures and the mis-founded attitudes of family, relatives, friends and neighbors.

The Ottoman Empire's Symbol of Peace
stylized in calligraphy as an Ostrich
The question must be asked, "Is it possible in this diverse world of ours that Westerners, Asians and Muslims can lay down their attitudes of superiority in a multi-racial, multi-regional, multi-cultural resistance movement? Or will we continue to suffer from repression, regression and from the paucity of words and actions of support to coalition, solidarity and selfless actions of peace amongst one another?"

World Peace Logo
The choice is ours to re-work into our own religious contexts of beliefs and attitudes, and into the peaceable structures of inter-cooperation, protection and asylum to all the world's participants.... More plainly... "Can Christianity learn to become peaceable with Islam and the Middle-Eastern peoples threatening terror to the West? Can Islam learn to become peaceable with Christianity and the West who have responded in kind? And can both Christianity and Islam learn to become peaceable with the Asian religions and attitudes of the Far East?" We are all humanity's brothers and sisters. Surely there can be a way found.

Chinese Symbols of Peace
Moreover, it is this author's opinion that within Christianity this mindset and behavior can be possible through Jesus. But insofar as it is promised in the Bible that the Christian Jesus is mankind's God and Savior, not just our own privately-kept, iconic form of  Jesus. Where is found God's promises of peace in Jesus' personage, ministry and Gospel. And to that same degree I believe Christians must find a way to communicate and live that out with one another, and with those who believe differently from the Christian religion. At the last, it is a heart issue, "Is it not?" For the God of love has come through Christ Jesus His Son commanding us to "Love one another." Love conquers fear. Love conquers strife. It seeks all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

This is the love of Christ Jesus. And it is infectious once caught, no matter what the religion, the culture, the resistance. God's love allows men and women to find Jesus within their own religions, cultures and family structures. To this we must be supportive. But not to our own Westernized or Americanized version of what we think the Christian Gospel must look like. We must adopt the attitude that God is quite capable of allowing His Love and Revelation through Jesus to be assimilated within all the communities of the world, and not just our own ideas of it. To know that Christianity may live and breathe differently from our own versions and inculcations of it, but that its centrality of doctrine and focus will still be substantially the same in Jesus. This will be the work of God and His Spirit. Not our own. Our trust then is in God, not ourselves. He will work it out. But it is our responsibility to LIVE it out.

Japanese paper cranes of Peace
So then, learn to love, to serve, to become peacemakers. To better behave our actions and jingoisms before one another. And to seek the peace of God with all men everywhere. That is the way of God. It is the way of Jesus. It is the way of God's love.

R.E. Slater
November 14, 2011

1 Corinthians 13

The Way of Love

1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] 6it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Citizens of Toronto Create the
Universal Symbol of Peace

Many Hands, One World
Free & Interdependent

Can Ron Artest's Name-Change
Bring "Metta World Peace"?

A vision of the whole human race

Source: Al Jazeera

Last Modified: 09 Nov 2011

Tarak Barkawi is Senior Lecturer in the Centre
of International Studies, University of Cambridge.

"Revolutionary ideas do not come from books and manifestos,
but from experiences and connections with different peoples."

The Arab winter will see a 'counter-revolution', as new forms of repression are imposed [GALLO/GETTY]

On February 22, 1803, Colonel Edward Despard was hung and beheaded in London for organising a revolutionary conspiracy to overthrow King George III and establish a republic in Britain.

Among the crowd of 20,000 in front of the gallows was Colonel Despard's wife and partner in conspiracy, Catherine, an African American who Despard met during his military service in the Caribbean. She helped him compose the speech he made with the rope around his neck:

"... his Majesty's Ministers... avail themselves of a legal pretext to destroy a man, because he has been a friend to truth, to liberty and to justice. Because he has been a friend to the poor and the oppressed. But Citizens, I hope and trust, notwithstanding my fate ... that the principles of freedom, of humanity and of justice will finally triumph over falsehood, tyranny and delusion, and [over] every principle inimical to the interests of the human race."

What Despard meant by the "human race" was far in advance of the political theorists of his time. He included in this concept not only white males, but women and men of every colour and every status and class, native peoples, slaves and all the mixtures of white, brown and black that he had encountered during his service in the Americas.

How did the son of a family of small, Irish landlords, who became an accomplished professional soldier, develop such an expansive view of humanity?

As a boy in Ireland, he watched peasants driven off the land as English-backed landlords enclosed land that had been held in common. As a young officer building fortifications in Jamaica, he was nursed by Afro-Caribbean women. He learned to effectively command multi-racial work parties, and saw firsthand the terror used to enforce discipline among slaves, sailors, soldiers and workers.

Along with a young Horatio Nelson, Despard led a harrowing expedition to evict the Spanish from Nicaragua. They successfully captured the main Spanish fort but then their men began to die from starvation and disease.

Challenging societal norms

Survival was possible only by cooperating with nearby free communities of Mosquito Indians - composed in fact of native Americans, runaway slaves and lower class whites who preferred freedom to backbreaking labour. (Nelson, who became Britain's greatest naval hero, would later unsuccessfully appeal for clemency for Despard and for a pension for Catherine.)

Despard then became the Crown's leading official in British Honduras. There he sought to distribute land to indigent men and women of colour. He set aside lands for common use; sought to keep food prices down "for the poorer sort of people"; and worked with Indians who understood the local ecology.

The landlords and big merchants were outraged. One railed that Despard had placed the "lowest Mulatto or free Negro" on an equal footing with the wealthy whites.

People of different origins can find a common cause, and work together for change [GALLO/GETTY]

Not to be trifled with, the landlords and merchants appealed to their networks in London and had Despard removed. Despard and Catherine returned to London and started plotting their conspiracy which ended on the gallows.

What does the story of Edward and Catherine Despard offer us today, as we live through another moment of upheaval, revolution and counter-revolution?

One thing the Despards teach us is that new political ideas do not generally arise from intellectuals and theorists alone. Rather the cut and thrust of experience and practice throws up new political possibilities. 'Practitioners' like Despard draw on their stock of ideas to develop new and creative responses to the situations that confront them.

It is worth remembering that many of those we regard as great thinkers were also practitioners. Karl Marx was a revolutionary not an academic, and his comrade Friedrich Engels managed a factory. Karl von Clausewitz, the philosopher of war, was a Prussian officer with much experience of war. Socrates too was a veteran soldier; Freud a working psychologist; Keynes a civil servant. Gandhi was an activist.

Even Rene Descartes, the supreme rationalist philosopher, was a professional soldier who sought to 'gather experiences'. His worry that he might be a brain in a vat, fooled by his senses, was perhaps an early modern case of PTSD.

Despard developed his expansive concept of the human race because he had lived and worked in the multi-racial world of the 18th century Atlantic, not because he had read Immanuel Kant. In any case, Kant's cosmopolitanism was profoundly limited by comparison with Despard's. Kant [falsely] believed that "Humanity achieves its greatest perfection with the White race".

In Haiti in 1801, revolting slaves managed to produce a constitution that went well beyond the liberal thought of the day. All slaves were freed and everyone made equal before the law. The US Constitution of 1787 regarded slaves as three-fifths of a person so that their white owners could have more representation in Congress.

[The Arabian Spring] Counter-revolution

And so, when we look upon the Arab Spring, we should not interpret it as a matter of Arabs having finally read John Locke and Thomas Jefferson and applied Western ideas. We should look instead for the new ideas, the new possibilities, the new politics created up by the protesters, activists and ordinary people who have made revolution.

We should be cognizant too that the Arab Winter will be a university of counter-revolution, as new forms of repression, of neo-imperialism and of exploitation are developed in response to novel circumstances.

The Despards-of-the-world have one last, difficult lesson to teach us. For over two centuries, liberal political theorists have been writing of human rights and democracy. Their well-intentioned acolytes have sought to spread the word around the world.

Yet today, despite globalisation and multiculturalism, it is difficult to imagine political activism, cooperation and resistance across lines of race, religion and region that match what the Despards achieved.

Think about it: A lordly Irish officer in the 18th century finds common cause, even love, with Indians, Africans and all manner of oppressed folk, and returns to the West as a revolutionary citizen of the world. Catherine, too, of slave origins and "violently in love" with her husband, crossed lines to help organise London's sailors (white and black), longshoremen, and other workers in the failed plot to create a republic.

Here and there, in our time, Westerners, Christians and Muslims may find common cause - as in the Palestinian solidarity movement; or whites, blacks and mixed race people, as in the resistance to the apartheid regime in South Africa.

But in a jingoistic age, when Westerners, Asians and Muslims are all convinced of their own superiority, a multi-racial, multi-regional, multi-cultural resistance movement on the model the Despards cooked up is almost unthinkable.

Despite our own delusions, we have regressed - not progressed - from the Despards' vision of the whole human race.

Tarak Barkawi is Senior Lecturer in the Centre of International Studies, University of Cambridge.

Al Jazeera readers can find out more about the Despard conspiracy in Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker’s The Many-Headed Hydra: The Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic (London: Verso, 2000)

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

Source: Al Jazeera

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