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oldlady Donating Member (513 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 01:43 PM
Original message
Cornel West KNOWS
Anyone still scratching their heads over the political confusion of fundamentalist Christians should find some firmer ground in these 3 paragraphs from Cornel West's "Democracy Matters" pg. 150-151. It's the same old struggle -- his solution...LOUDER voices from the Prophetic (non-Constantinian) Christians. We can not secularize this debate or it collapses.


Ironically, Jesus's message of love and justice promoted a separation of his prophetic witness from Caesar's authority - 'render unto Caesar what is Caesar's.' Christ said. Yet the nihilistic imperialism of the Romans was so power-hungry that it couldn't tolerate the growing popularity of the Christian sects. When the growth of religion couldn't be stopped, the Roman empire co-opted it. With Constantine's conversion, a terrible co-joining of church and state was institutionalized from with the religion and many of its victims, especially Jews, have suffered ever since. Constantinian Christianity has always been at odds with the prophetic legacy of Jesus Christ. Constantine himself seems to have converted to Christianity partly out of political strategy and imperial exigency, and then proceeded to use the cloak of Christianity for his own purposes of maintaining power.

Most American Constantinian Christians are unaware of their imperialistic identity because they do not see the parallel between the Roman empire that put Jesus to death and the American empire that they celebrate. As long as they can worship freely and pursue the American dream, they see the American government as a force for good and American imperialism as a desirable force for spreading that good. They proudly profess their allegiance to the flag and the cross not realizing that just as the cross was a bloody indictment of the Roman empire, it is a powerful critique of the American empire, and they fail to acknowledge that the cozy relation between their Christian leaders and imperial American rulers may mirror the intimate ties between the religious leaders and imperial Roman rulers who crucified their Savior.

I have no doubt that most of these American Constantinian Christians are sincere in their faith and pious in their actions. But they are relatively ignorant of the crucial role they play in sponsoring American imperial ends. Their understanding of American history is thin and their grasp of Christian history is spotty, which leaves them vulnerable to manipulation by Christian leaders and misinformation by imperial rulers. The Constantinian Christian support of the pervasive disinvestment in urban centers and cutbacks in public education and health care, as well as their emphatic defense of the hard-line policies of the Israeli government, has much to do with the cozy alliance of Constantinian Christian leaders with the political elites beholden to corporate interest who provide shelter for cronyism. In short, they sell their precious souls for a mess of imperial pottage based on the false belief that they are simply being true to the flag and the cross. The very notion that the prophetic legacy of the grand victim of the Roman empire - Jesus Christ - requires critique of and resistance to American imperial power hardly occurs to them.

peace
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Jade Fox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 01:48 PM
Response to Original message
1. That's good. West is a very smart man.....
This is similar to another critque I have read about Christianity: that it also
offers up the role of Christ's crucifiers to be enacted, wether one is concious
of that or not, in the name of Christianity.
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oldlady Donating Member (513 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 01:54 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. kinda freaky
to picture the dark and silent theatres showing Passion of Christ and the dark and uncomprehending minds behind the horrified eyes...

sigh
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mdhunter Donating Member (373 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 01:52 PM
Response to Original message
2. good reading (nt)
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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 01:54 PM
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4. Beautiful! I love Cornel West, what a powerful & soulful intellect!
Edited on Sun Nov-14-04 01:55 PM by scarletwoman
I'm not a Christian, so I don't know what I can to raise the voice of the non-Constantinian believers. If ever there were a time that we need them to push back against the right-wing religionists, this is it!

Imho, they have allowed the right-wing distortion of Christianity to proceed unchallenged for far too long as it is.

Thank you for posting such a excellent excerpt!

sw
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noel711 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 02:05 PM
Response to Original message
5. Brother Cornell...
has got it goin' on.
He can talk circles around anyone. Unleash him on *
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ismnotwasm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 02:52 PM
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6. He is mesmerizing
The man's mind is so all encompassing. I need to read that book, I was looking at it at while browsing around the book store and ended up not getting for some reason.
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doni_georgia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 03:12 PM
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7. Excellent. I love Cornell West
My husband and I have been talking extensively about how to combat the religious right. It's perplexing. As liberal Christians living in a very conservative area, it is an overwhelming thought. The problem is so many of these people simply believe whatever their pastors or other like-minded church leaders tell them. When you try to tell them the truth, they dismiss it as lies. The fact is (and this is what my own pastor preached on today) there are different realities for different people. He used the example of the movie - The Truman Show. In that movie, Truman didn't know he was living in a made-for-tv world. What was real for him wasn't real for anyone else. He knew what he had been exposed to. That is how it is for these religious conservatives as well. Their world view is a different reality from that of the rest of us, and unlike Truman in the movie, they don't even have a desire to explore the outside world. They are fully enclosed in their own dome-worlds with no desire to find the exit. On the contrary, their desire is to drag the rest of us into their domes as well.
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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 03:32 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. I see it rather differently.
I don't think the focus should be on changing the minds of the fundies at all! That's not the point. The point is to take the Christian *BRAND* away from them by doing a better job of "marketing" the progressive Christian alternative.

What's happening right now is that when the right-wingers make noise and claim that THEY are Christians, those whom I would consider to be the "real" Christians -- people who actually follow the New Testament God of Love, instead of the Old Testament God of Judgement -- aren't firing back with the Beatitudes and other Gospel quotes that clearly show how illegitimate the right-wingers' claim to being "Christian" truly is.

You don't have to convert those who are lost in delusion (though that might very well happen from time to time), you just have to call them out for the pharisees that they are.

I'm not a Christian, but I have alot of respect for the love-centered teachings of Jesus. I have found it very dismaying that the right-wingnuts have been allowed to co-opt the name of Christianity for their distorted Old Testament cults over all these years, with nary a demurral out of the mainstream churches.

I wish the true followers of the New Covenant would stand up and make some noise.

sw
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mmonk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 03:31 PM
Response to Original message
8. Ridiculous on these grounds,
Fundamentalists and Evangeligical protestants are driving the US imperical train.
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oldlady Donating Member (513 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 03:43 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. riding not driving
crazy, compromised leaders like Falwell, Robertson, Dobson, etc. are driving.. I agree with scarletwoman, however, the followers are buying into the brand of this marketplace religion
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grasswire Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 03:38 PM
Response to Original message
10. thanks
Any utterings by Professor West are always welcome.

The genius of the Jesus model for how we should live and how we should live with others is that a new dynamic between individuals elicits a whole new kind of behavior -- a world-changing interpersonal dynamic. The principles of grace, mercy, forgiveness, charity, humility and other tenets have been largely set aside, which has broken the "contract" between Christ and the church forged in Jesus' sacrifice.

I wonder if there ever will be an awakening.
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checks-n-balances Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 04:46 PM
Response to Original message
12. Brilliant analysis - I hadn't thought about the "Constantinian Christian"
comparison.

Thanks for posting this! He has a profound understanding of the problem.

I had forgotten about his book, but now I'll just have to read it!

By the way, everyone, mainline church leadership has been TRYING to pull some of its people out of the Constantinian mode, but you never hear about it and the preachers who do that get a LOT of resistance from their conservative members. The only clergy that the media seems interested in are the ones with the most dramatic flair and offensiveness.

I remember back in the '60's or early '70's a book called "The Babylonian Captivity of the Suburban Church" or thereabouts, and another one called "The Gospel According to Wall Street". But especially since 9/11, it's been hard to get adult who attend to stop regressing back into their fears.

Most mainline Christianity has been operating under the radar ever since the rise of the "Christian" Right.
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