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The story so far 2

The Story so far 2

Action research like this is often a matter of sitting on the margin of current events and endeavoring, to the extent to which we can bear to feel it, to speak to the truth of them. A cluster of ‘love of power’ stories has variously warmed but mostly saddened my heart in recent days; I’ll try to do justice to the depth of hurt that they entail.

Gun culture

On January 12, 2006 life in the town of Halifax paused for the funeral of a policewoman shot dead in the street while attending the scene of an armed robbery at a travel agent. From the scene of the shooting 400 policemen lined the route of the cortège to Bradford cathedral for a funeral service.

Sharon Beshenivsky

The killing of Pc Sharon Beshenivsky leaves five children motherless, an appalling piece of damage. But then the cultures of domination in which we swim teach us to disconnect from the consequences of our celebration of the use of force, a lesson her killers had learned well. How did they learn it? Well Sony Corp. is one of the teachers.

In the same week as PC Beshenivsky was killed, Sony Corp released the 50CENT movie 'Get Rich or Die Tryin'. The ad for it featured the gansta rap singer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson holding a baby and with a gun in the waist band of his pants. The current official Sony Corp. 50CENT site, now (May 2006) entitled 'The Massacre', packages violence, coercion, and intimidation as an attractive product. Moving the mouse arrow over the image gives the sound of a gun being cocked, click on ‘biography’ or the other menu items for the experience of being repeatedly shot at (and to reveal Curtis Jackson wearing a crucifix).

50centgrodt Wallpaper Web

In this 50CENT ad the question, ‘at the end of the day what will you hang on to?’ is framed by heavily tattooed shoulders. Apparently a message from, or at least intended to appeal to, people who feel exploited, or oppressed. Where did 50CENT pick up such an extreme culture of dominance and desperation? The streets of New York City? Would that be enough to account for it?

This earlier poster suggests that artists like 50CENT are likely to be generating icons of cultural damage due to pain that still rolls down the generations, the pain of people brutalized, tormented, exploited and killed due to slavery.

50CENT Bullethole

Curiously the cross in this picture hints at one of slavery's most enthisiatic proponents, christianism.

The previous week I had been reading Adam Hochschild’s account of the abolition of slavery, Bury the Chains. He tells of hundreds of slaves being worked to death on the Codrington plantation in Barbados in the Caribbean who had the word SOCIETY branded on their chests. How so? They were owned by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, the Missionary arm of the Church of England.

Dominionist Christianity

With Dominionist Christianity the violence is attenuated but it is still there in its attempts to trying to entrance the rest of the world into living according to an Adam and Eve worldview.

For an example of the arrogance of christianism and the disconnect between its Jesus message and the damage that as an institution its embrace of domintion it continues, to inflict on the world, take a look at this missionary page that features an article on spiritual warfare entitled "A Theology of Power".

Many missionaries and church leaders typically respond to folk religious practices by using power methodologies to defeat the powers of Satan. Frequently Christian ministry is reduced to spiritual warfare: The powers of God defeat the powers of Satan thus facilitating the in-breaking of the kingdom of God. Kraft says, “Power-oriented people require power proof, not simply reasoning, if they are to be convinced” (2000, 775)

God’s power is not always apparent in a world that is largely controlled by Satan (1 John 5:19)

The world, which is “under the control of the evil one” (1 John 4:19), does not easily put together the words power and love. Only God, because he is both all-powerful and all-loving, and those who follow him can intertwine the two.

The consultation statement from the Lausaane meeting on spiritual warfare, entitled Deliver Us From Evil (DUFE), affirms the need and essence of spiritual warfare but adds this caution:

Engaging the Evil One is not the work of heroic individuals . . . . We were saddened by stories of people, emboldened by self-assured certainty and money, who come from outside, overwhelm local Christians and carry out hit-and-run ministries of spiritual conflict that (1) presume superior knowledge of the local reality, (2) treat local Christians as inferior or unaware, (3) claim credit for things that local Christians have been praying and working toward for years and (4) leave uneven results and sometimes, pain, alienation, and even persecution of the local church, while claiming great victory. (Moreau 2000, xxiii)

On an adjacent pages the task of turning on the pagans to christianism is described as ‘Communicating Christ among Folk Religionists – Kingdom ministry in satan’s nest’ That’s right, non-christians inhabit ‘Satan’s nest’.

Spiritual Warfare

Until last year when I began looking into US christianism I had not been aware of the extent to which ‘spiritual warfare’ or ‘missiology’, as they call it, was normality in many communities in the US. Here is another example of it, in the hands of someone who would seem to epitomize the heroic individual in the paragraph quoted above.

Chrishillportrait2ndtest

Judging by the itinerary on his web-site, The Rev. Chris Hill, a Pentecostal preacher from Denver Colorado, is in tremendous demand across the world as part of the Power Invasion Ministries movement. He’s certainly an inspiring speaker,

Chrishill Mediaplayerj

In this short video Rev. Chris Hill does his stuff with a more than willing congregation. Willing to embrace such shrieked statements as:

Can I give you another weapon…? Can I give you another weapon…? it is the weapon …of the name…THE NAME… the name of JESUS… at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow… at the name of Jesus… every tongue confess… that Jesus Christ is Lord… to the Glory of God the Father…

(points to the ceiling)

I want us to do something here… at the count of three… I want everyone…in here to say your name…aloud… at the count of three… you’re going to say your name… out loud… One, two, three,

(cacophony as the congregation yells their names)

that was nice… that was cute… that was nice… but nobody gets healed… when we call on your name… demons don’t get nervous… when we call on your name… cancer doesn’t run out of the building… when we call on your name… but there is a name… that I know…that when we call… Jeeeesuuus… Jeeeesuuus…

I want us to do something together… at the count of three… at the count of three this time… I don’t want you to say your name… At the count of three… I want you to call on the name of Jesus. …. One, two, three… Jesus…. Do you feel the difference… when you call on Jesus… He shows up… when you call for Jesus… when you lift him in the earth… when you call on his name in the air… the power of god invades the building. When you call on the name of Jesus… it is a weapon… when the devil comes at you… when people come against you… when they laugh at you… when they criticize you… all you have to do… is open your mouth… all you have to do… is open your mouth and call on the name… of Jesus… Yeeehhhhhr…

His name is a weapon… His name is more powerful… than an atomic bomb… His name is more powerful… than an M16… his name is more powerful… than an AK47… when you call on the name of Jesus you can do a drive-by on the deviiiil…

(mimes machine gun spraying bullets…)

If there was such a person as Jesus, and if he had a message that mattered, what else was it than love, not this marriage of the power of weaponry, christianity, domination, and violence. And isn't it remarkably similar to the 50CENT products marketed by Sony?

I continue to find it astonishing that so many christians can be asleep to the disconnect between the endlessly repeated injunctions about the value of love and the violence and damage that flows from a belief in domination.

US Domination Theology

On the same theme, I came across this article America's outdated domination theology, by Canadian writer Abid Ullah Jan on the al Jazeerah site. Ullah Jan invites us to see past the Christian influence on the current Bush administration, to by-pass the role of the so-called neocons in the propagation of full spectrum domination and see US domination as intrinsic to its historical experience as a nation, i.e. that domination has became so deeply embedded in the US psyche as to merge with statehood into a domination theology. Ullah Jan gives a concise account of domination theology.

…the prerequisite for American tolerance is America’s rule. Even its relations with Europe, NATO and its closest allies, the contemporary world’s much vaunted “international community,” is premised on the primacy of American dominance.

…Like a religion, Americanism has become a universal faith that envisions the ultimate transformation of the world in America’s image.

…many of [America’s] leaders lived to see nothing but the triumph of their “invincible” America. Because America knows power from its very inception, many Americans come to see dominance as their birthright.

…US domination theology… demands total submission to the values espoused by American “intellectual,” political and military war lords.

…Those who want us to believe that the American invasions and occupations abroad and curtailing civil liberties at home are merely the work of a frustrated Neo-con fringe and a few bigots like Pipes are weakening the world’s ability to recognize the scope of the threat and to defend itself from a new totalitarian onslaught.

Elsewhere, in God invades White House; I have explored the deep seated consensus trance-making of christianism in the US that supports this perspective.

Other events in this recent cluster of culture of domination experiences included a web reference that Ullah Jan gives on the Native American genocide that he claims is a precedent for US domination theology. Following some of his references I came across this poster recruiting Indian fighters,

Indianfightersweb

The recorder, Hal Sayr, promises the voluntary cavalry, like mercenaries throughout history, that ‘the company will be entitled to all horses and other plunder taken from the Indians’.

The killing, abrogation of treaties and transportation to reservations of native American nations that amounts to an American Holocaust was only the latest in 500 years of damage to indigenous peoples in the Americas. This site gives access to other more subtle forms of dominion that followed for example the use of Native American imagery as mascots and product names. Here are three examples from my own collection.

Nativeamericancomposite600p

A book to avoid

Avoidmyheartisonground

Lastly, more subtle but just as important in this cluster of horribilities, was a review of My Heart is on the Ground, a US best-selling book, best-selling in the sense of year on year popularity. Actually historical fiction, it purports to be the authentic diary of a 12 year old Native American girl who is taken away to a white school to be educated, a process of ‘taking the Indian out of the Indian’ that followed dispossession of the Native American nation and the transport of them to remote, inhospitable, valueless lands.

A long review by a cluster of women, several of them Native Americans, details why this book My Heart is on the Ground amounts to a gross denial of the truth about the ethnic cleansing that first killed, captured, or imprisoned hundred of thousands of native Americans and then literally set about brainwashing their children of their universe of beliefs and traditions. Definitely a book to avoid as the Books to Avoid web site suggests.

What did this tell me? Only in the last decade or two have the horrors of the American Holocaust begun to come out from the shadows of the Hollywood travesty machine; which made primitive savages out of nations that lived close to the ground in a huge variety of ways, and made the Plains Indians into the only Indians we know. It reinforced Ullah Jan's notion that quite understandably, the American historical legacy of slavery and the destruction of the Indian nations’ culture, echoed and reinforced by free market capitalism and the exploitation of huge natural resources, means that domination is seen by most Americans as normality, as inevitable and natural.

I began to see that this may be why so many Americans seem asleep to the disconnect between their christian values and the consequences of their belief that they have a God-given right to exploit, coerce, invade, and torture, and then lie to others and to themselves about it.

If, as in the US and elsewhere, being a successful bully is celebrated as a very high social value, then empathy with the lived experience of bullied and victimized persons is likely to be absent, dismissed as weakness, pathology, failure, wrongness or, as in the case of 50CENT, respected only so far as it mirrors the brutality and dominance.

Yes, we Europeans dominated appallingly abroad but at home most people’s experience was of oppression, serfdom, exploitation, invasion through subordination to brutal kings, queens, landowners, industrialists and dictators. Does this perhaps account for what seems to be continuing European skepticism of the full spectrum dominance of current and recent American administrations?

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This document was last modified on 2006-05-20 21:56:41.