A Journal for
a New Christianity
James L. Foster & John Lackey, co-editors
Download this En Christo (requires
data: En Christo©
is published by Institutes for the Study of Christian
Spirituality (ISCS), 204 Busbee Road, Knoxville, TN 37920.
ISCS is an institute of the
Peacebuilding Institute, a voluntary association
dedicated to the
promotion and practice of Christian spirituality through this
and a variety of kindred institutes. Subscriptions to En
Christo are free and are available by email. Print editions
are not available from the publisher. The material is
copyrighted as of the date of publication, and may not be copied
for commercial purposes. However, subscribers herewith have
permission to make copies for personal or educational use or for
sharing free of charge with others, as long as the source of the
copies is fully acknowledged to the recipients.
Submissions to En Christo may be made by email
attachment only and will be reviewed by its editor promptly
for potential use in the publication. Acceptance of articles
submitted is solely the responsibility of the Editors.
Detailed attribution is required for all quoted material. If
non-English material is used a competent translation in
English must be provided.
Book and Article Reviews
must include title, full name of author(s), publisher name and
address, and date of publication. Reviews may be of any length,
and must include detailed attribution for any quotes included.
should be written in English, relevant to the need or process of
change in Christianity consistent with the focus of the journal
and may be edited for length and grammar. Acceptance of
articles submitted is solely the responsibility of the Editor.
Detailed attribution is required for all quoted material. If
non-English material is used a competent translation in English
must be provided.
is published quarterly and is
emailed free of charge to any who request it. If at any time a
subscriber wishes to be removed from the email list he or she
may unsubscribe by notifying the Publisher at the following
(Click Title to go directly to
#1, Following Jesus,
by James L.
Reducing World Poverty,
on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
New Slant on Angry God Atonement Theory,
Michael L. Sherer
Loving with the Love of Jesus
Love Is Something We Are,
by James L.
The Power Paradox, by Dacher
Goodbye Old World, Hello New,
by James L.
(Click Title to go directly to
Kevin. American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of
Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century.
A review by Gerald W. Bone
Marshall B., Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life
Peace in a World of Conflict: What You Say Next Will Change
A review by James L. Foster
The Contagion of Jesus, Doing Theology as
if it Mattered. A review by Anthony W. Bartlett
James. JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It
Matters. A review by John K. Stoner
Shane. The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary
Radical. (Zondervan, 2006). A review by Edward T. Sullivan
is the fifth edition of En Christo published by the Institute
for the Study of Christian Spirituality (ISCS), 204 Busbee Road,
Knoxville, TN 37920. James L. (Jim) Foster and John Lackey,
both retired pastors, are co-editors. Jim is also the Founder
and President of the Institute. John is co-director with Bob
Rundle of The Institute for Spirituality and Global Economics.
Our intent is to create an ongoing dialogue about the changes in
Christianity that have become increasingly obvious since we
entered the new millennium as well as the changes that still
need to happen. You may respond to any of the writers of this
issue of En Christo by using the contact form included in
this issue. It should also be noted that the ideas expressed by
each editor and by other contributors are their own. The
editors do not censor each other’s writings.
articles and reviews and reader responses may only be sent by
email attachment to
Since we do not know all of you personally, please include “En
Christo” on the subject line, as otherwise we may delete your
email without opening it. By like token, if you wish to be
removed from our “En Christo” email list please let us know.
We do not wish to hassle you with unwanted mail.
is a transliteration of the koine Greek for “In Christ.”
The focus of the journal is the experience of Christian
discipleship interpreted in contemporary and non-theistic
categories. The journal is ecumenical, even interfaith, in its
outlook and seeks common ground with lovers of God of a variety
of faith traditions.
Reviews of the books pertinent
to the re-visioning of the Christian faith are solicited. All
books reviews received will be given consideration based on
their relevance to the focus of En Christo. We are
seeking reviews of books that open up new vistas in the way we
typically think about Jesus. All of the books listed are
available from Amazon.com or
Alibris.com in either new or
As En Christo is not
endowed with funds that enable it to pay for submissions (or for
editors, for that matter), there is no remuneration offered for
submissions of any kind. Expenses incurred by contributors in
the production of their submissions are solely their
responsibility, including the purchase of books reviewed.
is a space given to readers to converse about the issues raised
by the editors and various other contributors to En Christo.
Readers are encouraged to email their responses to the
writings of other readers and authors of various articles and
reviews. The editors will include your responses in the next
issue. The responses must be civil in tone and display serious
intent to wrestle with the presented issues if they are to be
considered for inclusion. The editors reserve the right to edit
accepted responses for length, grammar and civility.
By James L.
title of this publication it seems to me appropriate for us to
consider how we are doing in following the one whom many of us
claim as our leader. In the records of his ministry and
teaching given us by the writers of our gospels, Jesus has laid
down some pretty clear markers of what it means to be en
Christo, “in Christ.” I think it is safe to say that none
of us have followed him perfectly. Indeed, if we look back over
the last two millennia of the Christian Church, it would appear
that on a number of issues we have not followed him at all.
It is no
secret that the Christian Church through the centuries has been
wrong on many occasions and in many ways: We were wrong morally
by perverting the grace of God, as in the crusades (by which we
set out under the banner of Christ to either convert the Muslims
or to kill them), as in the inquisition (in which we tortured
or killed those who dared to disagree with the church), and as
in indulgences (by which, for a price, we offered to wipe the
slate clean of the believer’s sins), as in papal infallibility
(including our present Pope’s suppression of Nag Hammadi scrolls
for 40 years), and as in character assassinations, Mary
Magdalene, for example. We have also been wrong intellectually,
believing, for example, that the earth is the center of the
universe, and that the world is flat, having four corners
(Revelation 7:1). We were wrong in our understanding of
biology, believing and building our theology on the assumption
that only the male contributed anything of substance to the
character and identity of the new born child (the mother only
contributed a safe haven for the fetus to develop). Therefore
the birth accounts of the child Jesus, composed almost a century
later, only needed to replace the human father, presumably
Joseph, in order to eliminate inherited sin. In later years, we
have been wrong again in supporting slavery, shunning, and
segregation; wrong in our participation in wars and genocide
(for example Rwanda, Burundi, and Bosnia), and wrong in our
support of consumerism, and neglect of the poor – to name a
few. Injustice has been our credo, and it still is. We have a
sorry legacy when it comes to following the teachings and
example of Jesus.
parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37), the gospel writer
has Jesus tell the story of a man journeying from Jerusalem to
Jericho who fell among thieves who left him battered, bleeding
and perhaps unconscious on the side of the road. The Torah, the
Law of God by which the Jews pledged themselves to live,
demanded that human need must take priority over every other
concern. Yet, in this story, says Jesus, a Levite, a recognized
leader in temple worship, who was surely aware of the Law’s
command to show compassion to those in need, passes by on the
other side of the road, ignoring the wounded man. Next comes a
priest, a holy man of Israel, ordained after becoming proficient
in the study of the Torah. He, too, sees the victim. Perhaps
justifying his behavior in typical ordained practice by
countering the text calling for compassion with another text
prohibiting one from touching the flesh of a dead man, he
refuses to stop long enough even to investigate and passes by on
the other side of the road. *
Jesus, a half-breed, a Samaritan, journeys along that way. He
is not schooled in the Law and so may have been ignorant of the
Torah’s demands. But he sees a human being in need, and he
responds without hesitating. Going up to the wounded man, he
pours oil in his wounds and binds them up. He then gives the
victim wine and water to drink and takes him on his own donkey
to an inn, where he arranges to pay for his continued care and
lodging until the healing process is complete.
says to the lawyer who prompted the story, “Go and do likewise.
was a challenge to the defining prejudice in 1st
century Judaism and it invited people to step beyond their
prejudices, whatever they were, into a new definition of
humanity, a humanity that emerges beyond the boundaries of our
story and others, like the Prodigal Son and the Rich man and
Lazarus, Jesus is shown to be a God-presence that calls those of
us who would be his followers to become more fully human by
opening up the dark places in our souls where our prejudices
hide, the place to which we have assigned the Samaritans of our
day. For some of us the Samaritans may be persons of a
different skin color. For others they may be people who
worship God in ways different from our way. For still others
the Samaritans may be those whose sexual orientation is not like
our own. To be followers of Jesus we are forced to heed his
call to surrender all our killing stereotypes and to walk beyond
all our fears into a new prejudice-free humanity, a humanity
free of those barriers that divide us one from another.
The call of
Jesus through his example and teaching to those who would be his
followers is to put aside all gender and sexual distinctions.
The Apostle Paul apparently understood this when he said that
for those who have clothed themselves with Christ, “There is no
longer Jew or Greek…slave or free, male and female, for all of
you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) These become
only categories into which humanity is divided. They are not
divisions that indicate sin, as past rhetoric had suggested.
of Jesus drawn by the biblical writers shows him violating the
sexual boundaries of his day, not just once but many times.
John’s gospel, for example, says that Jesus engaged the woman at
the well (John 4:1-42) in a lengthy theological discussion, even
though Jewish males did not converse with women in a public
place. No wonder his disciples were astonished when they
returned to find the two of them in conversation, and though
none of them said, “Why are you talking with her?” you can be
sure all of them were thinking it.
had women disciples, among whom Mary Magdalene was prominent.
She was obviously a key person in the Jesus movement, despite
the early church male leaders’ attempts at character
assassination by turning her into a prostitute without a shred
of evidence to support their accusations. Apart from one
unexplained comment in Luke 8:2 where Jesus is reported to have
cast out demons in Mary Magdalene, she is described in very
positive terms in every other reference. She also went on to
write one of the early gospels about Jesus, though it was never
acknowledged by the Church Fathers. But they do not reflect
either the example or the teaching of Jesus.
As for those
with a different sexual orientation, Jesus never says a word in
any gospel about homosexuality. Indeed, the word homosexuality
does not appear in Scripture at all, nor does sexual
perversion. Jesus did mention adultery and fornication, both
heterosexual sins. And in the story in Genesis of Sodom and
Gomorrah, though the inhabitants of Sodom were apparently
homosexuals, their sin was in their attempted rape of Lot’s
guests. James is quoted in Acts 15:20 as advising the Gentiles
to abstain from fornication, and Paul in Galatians 5:19-21 lists
fornication as one of several works of the flesh, but makes no
mention of homosexuality. I know a few homosexuals and all of
them with but one exception are people of integrity, struggling
with the burden of rejection, placed upon them for the most part
is in and it is conclusive. Sexual orientation, both
heterosexuality and homosexuality, are natural, genetically
imposed orientations with which we are born. Just because
homosexuality is not natural for those of us that have a
heterosexual orientation, that does not mean that it is not
natural for those born with a homosexual orientation. The only
thing that really divides us is the fear we have of an
experience we do not understand, and for that we misquote
Scripture to justify not following the teaching of Jesus.
Homosexuals are clearly the pre-eminent Samaritans of our day,
and the call of Jesus is to reach across the divide with
compassion and acceptance.
teaching of Jesus about which I suggest we should be very
concerned is that reported by Matthew in the opening verses of
chapter 7 of his gospel. “Do not judge, so that you may not be
judged, for with the judgment you make you will be judged, and
the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you
see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log
in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me
take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own
eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and
then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your
Christian friends, are my brothers and sisters. But we also
have other brothers and sisters who are not a part of our faith
traditions and who are different from us in one way or another.
As we have opportunity, we need to embrace them, too, without
judgment and without fear. May there be for us no more
Samaritans but only human beings who share the wonder of what it
means to be a child of God.
* Much of the interpretation of
this parable is roughly quoted from the book New
Christianity for a New World by John Shelby Spong, pp.
Readers: The author, Bob Rundle is Co-Director with John Lackey
Institute for Spirituality and Global Economics (SAGE).
Following is his revision of a paper with the same title
published in an earlier issue of En Christo. It was
written to influence the thinking of those large foundations
that attempt to improve the lives of people, particularly the
poor. He is particularly interested in ideas about the best ways
to generate such influence. Your thoughts, criticism and
questions about the paper are welcome. Responses may be sent to
the author by way of email to Bob Rundle,
firstname.lastname@example.org. Please copy your response to En
Christo, James Foster, Editor, at
ON REDUCING WORLD POVERTY
(Revised May 2008)
By Robert Rundle
provides the background and a model for creating a more just and
moral global economy. It proposes that a moral perspective is
essential for creating such economic change. It also proposes
that a more just and moral economy is essential to reducing
world poverty. It challenges leaders in foundations, religion,
business, and government along with all people of faith to
review their part in world poverty. Part of this challenge
involves reviewing how much funding is aimed at justice in
addition to charity. Another part involves the role of spiritual
development in creating change.
Justice and Charity
years ago my wife and I began attending the local United Church
of Christ services at the Church of the Savior. We joined the
adult discussion group that had just started studying Ross and
Gloria Kinsler’s book, The Biblical Jubilee and the Struggle
for Life (1). After completing the book the group accepted
the Kinslers’ challenge to continue studying the relationships
between faith, global economics and world peace. This study
still continues today, partly within this group. We also
developed an interdenominational group to study these issues
of, and modeled, love as the central guide for our lives.
Christians today carry this out at the national and global level
primarily by charitable efforts rather than efforts to achieve
justice. Charity and Justice are at opposite ends of a
continuum. At one end justice deals mainly with our systems,
such as economy, government, education and health. On the other
end, charity deals largely with the symptoms generated by the
imperfections of these systems, such as poverty, poor education
and poor health. The creation of justice is obviously more
complex and controversial than charitable practices.
justice eliminates much of the need for charity. Continued
funding of charitable efforts is vital, since we are a long way
from achieving justice. But the effects of charity are often
diminished by injustice. It is essential that we feed the
hungry. But there will always be hunger until we deal with its
causes. We must address injustice to both maximize charity and
challenge to governmental, religious, and private funders
attempting to make this a better world is to determine an
appropriate balance between funding justice, aimed at curing
social ills and charity, aimed at alleviating symptoms. This is
difficult enough in medical funding, where choices have to be
made about how much to support basic research versus treatment
of the sick. It may be more difficult for funders supporting a
broader range of activities. During the Cold War, Dom Helder
Camara, Archbishop of Recife, Brazil, said, “When I feed the
poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no
food, they call me a communist.” If funders really want to
improve the world they must be prepared for the criticism that
efforts to create more justice are likely to bring. But it
appears that most of these funders are unable to resist
corporations have grown beyond their level of competence. They
have achieved great size and power, both commercial and
political. But their success is leading toward their
destruction. It is natural that corporate and financial leaders
try to influence public policy to favor their activities. But
their success doing this in recent decades has greatly
influenced the distribution of the world’s resources. We are
now at a stage of unsustainable “maldistribution” of global
income and resources. The job of a business or financial leader
never included making decisions about the appropriate
distribution of the world’s resources to people. Yet their
normal business practices have led to their having the greatest
power in these crucial distribution decisions.
story about two people alone on a deserted island with only one
having food seems appropriate for our times. Without sharing,
the owner of the food will not sleep well. We are faced with the
same choice: sharing or conflict. The United States and other
“advanced” economies have the money. But in their search for
continually expanding profits and market share, they are
increasing poverty, accelerating the gap in incomes and
resources in the world, inviting terrorism and destroying the
earth at an unsustainable rate.
essential that we change our current global economic practices
if we hope to increase equity of income and resources among the
world’s population. Susan George’s article, “A Short History of
Neo-Liberalism” (2) outlines these practices very well. They
have allowed a few to accumulate tremendous wealth but also have
largely created the intolerable income gaps and inequalities we
see in our world today. World poverty will continue to increase
concluded that we have all helped create our present economic
system. Consequently, we have the responsibility to work for a
more just and moral one. A quick overview of these conclusions
is in such sources as, a) the last twenty pages of David
Korten’s The Post-Corporate World (3), b) pp.249-277 of
John Perkins’ Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (4), c)
the Introduction and first two chapters of Jim Wallis’ God’s
Politics (5), d) the Introduction to M. Douglas Meeks’
God the Economist (6).
world poverty calls as much for spiritual changes as economic
We are in a
struggle for the hearts of the world’s peoples. The United
States now primarily relies on military and economic means to
reach its objectives. This is not winning hearts but helping
terrorists sell their ideology.
One key to
attaining a more just and moral economy is to clearly articulate
the values that will frame such an effort. Our study group
became convinced that it is important to introduce moral values
into economic policy development. This is why faith-based
institutions and people with a strong spiritual sense must be
part of such an effort. But few religious organizations, even
socially active ones like our United Church of Christ, appear to
have much activity in the area of economic system change.
Religious groups need help to get fully engaged. If we truly
believe that all humans have equal value that flows from God, we
need to start building an economy based on this belief.
The Search for Solutions
I had become
increasingly frustrated in seeking religious or secular
organizations that seem to be effectively dealing with the big
elephant in the room, our global economic system. Most appear to
work around the edges of economic justice. Many focus their
efforts on the symptoms of economic injustice through charitable
works. Some use largely negative approaches in attacking current
business practices. Others like World Vision, Oxfam, Bread for
the World, and Call to Renewal seem to be doing commendable
work. But they also appear to spend a sizeable part of their
resources on attempts to influence governments without doing
much to counteract strong corporate influence. This corporate
influence often undermines the changes these organizations are
trying to enact. Many organizations also seem to lack a strong
moral rationale for their programs. The International Forum on
Globalization provides a rich source of ideas about alternatives
but leaves it to many relatively small organizations (such as
those represented at the World Social Forums) to enact change.
Such grassroots efforts at change are vital but they need
support from large organizations with major financial resources
to have more impact. These factors have slowed much positive
social and economic change.
group asked how a major reduction in world poverty might occur:
present way of doing business in the world increases world
can’t or won’t effectively regulate itself?
largely controls the governmental bodies that could provide such
It all came
together for me recently when our discussion group started
reading Jim Wallis’ God’s Politics (7). His review of
faith-based social movements in the United States like achieving
civil rights, abolishing slavery and creating child labor laws
suddenly seemed to provide a key. The model I was searching for
(but didn’t recognize) is a global, faith-based movement. This
could add to the pressure from activist groups on national and
international governmental organizations to humanize our present
economic system. Part of the answer lies in the heart as well as
in economic behavior.
educational programs about better alternatives to our present
economic practices and the moral malaise that supports them are
essential to humanize our economy. The work of the International
Forum on Globalization provides a secular model for this. Its
publication, Alternatives to Economic Globalization
(2004)(8), lays out principals for sustainable societies and
just economic systems. It summarizes alternative economic
systems and provides ways that they may be achieved. Tying these
excellent ideas to the compassionate teachings of the world’s
religions will enhance them.
have not found organizations that appear to have the capacity to
create large positive changes in our economy, I pulled together
the following thoughts on how this might happen. These are based
on our group study and my own readings.
A MODEL FOR
more just and moral global economic system that reduces poverty
and terrorism through a global, nonviolent social movement
guided by a moral framework and extensive educational programs.
1. Poverty is a
moral and religious issue. What would Jesus think of us U.S.
Christians? We live in the wealthiest nation in history. We have
helped to create and then tolerate a world where 30,000 children
die every day of starvation or preventable diseases in the
Global business practices are a major cause of poverty and
preventable deaths. An immense secret behind all
the positive reports about these practices is the central
question they raise. Susan George (“A Short History of
Neo-Liberalism”)(9) puts it this way: “Who has a right to live
and who does not”. John Kenneth Galbraith in The Economics
of Innocent Fraud (10) suggests this may be secret from many
business leaders as well as the public.
breeds terrorism (even if it does not cause it) and terrorism is
winning. (See the National Intelligence Assessment released
in July 2007 (11).) While Al-Qaeda has regained much of its
strength, particularly since the Iraq war started, support
around the world for the U.S. way of dealing with terrorism is
shrinking. Poverty also breeds poor health, starvation and
hopelessness that diminish the effects of charitable efforts.
force is an ineffective way to deal with terrorism. Violence
only creates more violence. This adds to world poverty.
Providing charity does little to change the system that creates
the need for charity. But charity, not justice, gets most
private funding. As Jim Wallis puts it in God’s Politics,
we believe in a God of Charity but not a God of Justice.
business leaders include social and human concerns in their
business practices in spite of the strong pressures to ignore
these concerns. Both the legal charter of the corporation and
the business culture provide stiff opposition. But these
admirable efforts are only a small start toward the necessary
shifts in business practices required to reduce world poverty.
Such shifts will need to come from inside the corporation as
well as from national and international regulatory bodies.
Corporate and financial leaders have a hugely disproportionate
influence on governmental policies (and could also have a major
role in creating positive changes in these).
Oppressive government policies strongly supported by the
establishment, such as economic regulations, change little
without a movement that creates pressures for reform. People
need to see these policies in a different way. (An example in
the United States is the civil rights movement.)
9. All the
world’s religions stress compassion as an important element of
their beliefs. There is a huge reservoir of potential support
for a movement that can tap this moral sense.
10. Using a
moral-based approach can help to reduce the clash of ideologies
that invariably arises while attempting fundamental shifts in
culture. This clash usually leads to a lot of steam but little
change. Poverty rates in the United States in recent years are a
good example. Using moral frames can lead to more effective
efforts. In God’s Politics (12), Jim Wallis presents a
picture of how this has worked in our nation. Movements to
change our policies about slavery, child labor, and civil rights
for example were strongly tied to a moral-based approach. As he
notes, God is neither a Republican nor a Democrat.
Korten in The Post-Corporate World (13) notes our present
global economic system is on a suicidal course. It has created
great misery for many at the same time as it has produced
immense wealth for a few. This invites conflict and is
destroying our earth, a major basis for wealth, at an alarming
rate. Positive changes in this system will increase the
responsiveness of governments to citizen’s needs and the chances
for peace. If we want peace, we must take much of the profit out
commendable major efforts to create positive economic changes in
recent decades appear to lack:
combination of business and faith leaders with a shared
vision of a just and moral economy, and the courage to
work toward this.
strategy to loosen the grip of corporations on
governments so that lobbying efforts of groups trying to
create more justice can be more successful.
major educational campaign teaching what a just, moral
economic system looks like, changes essential to bring
this about, how our present economic practices fail to
meet this standard and why it matters.
To Achieve This Mission
funding from sources that are willing to divert some of
their charitable contributions or from new sources. This
would initially cover start-up costs and activities in steps
2 and 3 below. Increased funding would be required to carry
out the subsequent steps.
planning group to lead the steps below. It needs to be a
world body comprised of individuals selected for their
commitment to the mission and their skills and knowledge in
each of the sectors necessary to carry out the mission.
These sectors include government (including the UN),
business, religious organizations, social movements, unions,
think tanks and organizations trying to humanize our
economy. Clergy, journalists/writers, business leaders,
educational/media experts, economists and other academics
will need to be among the professions represented.
a vision of what a just and moral global economic system
looks like. (This should be a developing picture that
changes with new knowledge and new world events.) Then
complete a picture of the changes that would need to be made
in our present business and governmental policies to achieve
this vision. (Alternatives to Economic Globalization
(14) is an excellent source for this.) These changes then
need to first be set within a moral frame and then
prioritized. Step 3 will provide the architecture for the
a new organization to carry out the steps below if
negotiations are not feasible or successful with existing
ones. Over 130 different organizations are listed in “Alternatives
to Economic Globalization”(15) that are working toward
alternatives. Even eliminating those that do not have a
global focus leaves many potential candidates to assume this
a global campaign to change people’s thinking about our
current global economic practices based on step 3 above.
Basic tenets of such an effort must be that ideas have
consequences and that moral values are critical in creating
an economy. This campaign may well be the most valuable
contribution of the movement to reduce poverty. The economic
ideology developed with great corporate support over the
past 60 years has convinced much of the public that our
current economic policies are virtuous and inevitable. A
similar size effort may be necessary to put this ideology in
a moral frame that shows the public its full effects and the
advantages of alternative policies.
variety of educational programs and materials will need to
be used since the public knows so little about economics.
(This of course is one reason the business community has had
such success in Washington and other capitals.) There seems
to be a wide range of these already available about
alternative economic policies, but few we found tied them to
areas of our current global economic policies need particular
myths underlying them (such as the market is the most
effective way to allocate resources)
ways that this system helps to create poverty (such as
through trade agreements and the policies of the World
Bank) and destroys the environment
many are immoral
Such a major
campaign will assist greatly in the difficult task of creating a
better world economy. For example, I think that many business
and financial leaders have either not connected the potential
dots between their usual practices and those 30,000 kids noted
above, or resist thinking about it. They and rest of us need
help to face up to this reality and find how we can change this.
organizations can play a key role in this educational campaign.
In addition to helping to develop this campaign, they can
provide a major means of reaching the public through a variety
ways. These can include their worship services, study groups,
community activities, denominational publications and other
list developed in step 3 above, the organization will select
specific national or international policy changes on which
to start actions. These actions may involve becoming part of
a coalition already working on changes. For example, in the
United States this could mean joining Public Citizen and
other groups working on real campaign finance reform to
reduce corporate influence. This movement could also join
World Vision, Oxfam and others trying to change policies of
the World Bank and the IMF. Or it might select an issue or
policy that other organizations are not working on and
invite them to join it. In a coalition effort, its most
significant contributions may be in adding educational
campaigns around these actions and in providing financial
these actions needs to be tied to the movement’s vision and
moral frame. Preparatory education would usually precede the
action. The myths behind the policies involved in the
selected action and how they help create poverty may also be
included. Suppose the action is attempting to humanize trade
policy such as CAFTA. Its tie to creating more poverty in
Central America, the real beneficiaries of this trade policy
and the morality of enriching the rich further could receive
wide spread publicity. Such specific educational programs
will need to be coordinated with the general educational
campaign noted above.
particularly on the U.S. public for two reasons. We have the
greatest influence and power in our current global economic
system (and hence the greatest power to change it). People
in our nation also have the least awareness about the
negative effects of this system.
public awareness through such vehicles as the media, think
tanks, conferences, legislative work and non-violent
protests that help illustrate both the problem and point
the results of funded activities and reduce or eliminate
those that show few results.
organizations working for economic justice do commendable work
and can bring expertise in specific areas. They may lack the
range to lead a movement such as described here. This effort
obviously will require a long-range commitment in funding. But
it should require considerably less than the available assets
for charitable endeavors. Funding for charity rather than
justice would need to continue to be much larger for some time.
This effort to reduce poverty is aimed not only at saving the
world’s peoples but also the sacred globe we call home. It can
also provide many opportunities for spiritual growth. We hope to
provide further information in future papers about some of the
issues discussed in this essay and the resources used by our
1. Ross and Gloria Kinsler, The Biblical
Jubilee and the Struggle for Life, Orbis Books, 2001
2. Susan George, “A Short History of
Neo-Liberalism”, address to the Conference On Economic
Sovereignty In A Globalising World, Bangkok, 3-24/26-1999
3. David Korten, The Post-Corporate
World, Kumarian Press Inc. and Berrett-Koehler Publishers,
4. John Perkins, Confessions of an
Economic Hit Man, Plume, 2004
5. Jim Wallis, God’s Politics,
Harper, San Franisco, 2005
6. M. Douglas Meeks, God the Economist,
Fortress Press, 1989
7. Wallis, God’s Politics
8. The International Forum on
Globalization, Alternatives to Economic Globalization,
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2004 pp. 77-104
9. George, “A Short History of
10. John Kenneth Galbraith, The
Economics of Innocent Fraud, Houghton Mifflin Co., pp. 1-2
11.U.S. Office of the Director of National
Intelligence, National Intelligence Assessment, July
12. Wallis, God’s Politics,
13. Korten, The Post-Corporate World,
14. The International Forum,
Alternatives to Economic Globalization,
15. Ibid, pp.347-365
and Global Economics (SAGE)
1318 N. Briscoe Circle
Knoxville, TN 37912
email@example.com ; 865-687-9060
Editors note: The author of
the following reflection is a regular contributor to En
publication, Peace Memo.
REFLECTION ON DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
What is it
about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that causes me to admire him so
much? It was not only that he spoke out against discrimination,
violence and war. Many have done this in the past. It was not
only that he marched, demonstrated and was arrested for doing
nonviolent civil disobedience. Many have done this and still do
it. It was not only that he was an eloquent and powerful
speaker. There have been and still are many who are very
powerful and eloquent speakers. The reason Dr. King is admired
as a hero and a man of courage is because he returned good for
evil. Instead of retaliating against those who discriminated
against others he refused to practice discrimination. Instead
of retaliating against the police and National Guard who tried
to stop the marches and demonstrations by using dogs, water
hoses, smoke bombs, guns, etc. and locked him up in jail, he
offered them his friendship and gave them a gift far more
precious than gold and money. He taught them to forgive
everyone who offended them, even those who would never ask for
forgiveness. He taught that peace cannot be brought about with
swords and guns but rather with the dove and olive branch. To
constantly forgive your enemies, and do good to those who do bad
to you is a revolutionary way of thinking and acting. Many
people then as now mistakenly believe this way is wrong, foolish
and would bring about the demise of America. Those of us who
believe in his message choose to refuse to cooperate with
violence and war and instead practice forgiveness and
generosity. We refuse to pay for war and fighting, and choose
instead to aid the millions in the world who lack the basics of
life. May the lesson of Dr. King live on forever!
Editors Note: The author of the following
article, Michael Sherer, is editor of the Metro Lutheran, a
regional Lutheran newspaper serving Minnesota Lutherans..
Slant on Angry God Atonement Theory
Michael L. Sherer
theologians committed to nonviolent Christianity brought a
message of hope and peace to participants in a “nonviolent
atonement” conference in Burnsville, Minnesota, October 26. The
four spoke at Open Circle Church of the Brethren, where a
significant portion of the audience was Lutheran. While the
presenters drew on the nonviolent tradition prevalent among
Anabaptists, two of the four had roots in Roman Catholicism.
(There were no Lutherans on the program.) Former Jesuit priest
Tony Bartlett told the group, “We are engaged in a battle for
the Christian soul.” Violence as a problem-solving tactic, he
said, is an agency with its own character. “By using violence to
overcome evil, one becomes evil. We become what we say we hate
when we use violence to deter violence.”
the Genesis story of Cain, who murders his brother, Abel,
Bartlett said, “Violence is relational. It’s about conflicting
desires. I want what you have.” When a culture engages in war,”
he maintained, “there is always backflow. Violent solutions to
problems in culture become normal and acceptable.”
he maintained, is that “we are rivals with God because we want
to be God ourselves. In the process, we are also rivals with
everyone else.” That, he said, leads to conflict and violence
retired professor from Bluffton University, a Mennonite school
in Ohio, discussed what he called the misguided notion that God
uses violence to keep human beings in line.
Denny Weaver, there is a long tradition in the human family of
attributing bad things to God’s anger and resulting punishing
wrath. “Lots of people used Hurricane Katrina to explain why
evil people were being punished. The assumption behind all these
arguments is that God operates violently.”
Jerry Falwell,” Weaver reminded his audience, “once said that
God is pro-war.” Like others, he argued, Falwell got that idea
from the Old Testament, where it appears that God kills people
as a matter of policy and procedure. While there is a violent
tradition in the Old Testament, he explained, there is another
there, one which says, “You cannot kill anything created in the
image of God.”
traced the American tradition of associating evil and tragedy
with God’s punishing anger to Puritan New England. “When
disasters broke out, the clergy proclaimed God was punishing the
ungodly — among other things, for not going to church and for
ignoring ‘family values.’”
of a St. Paul, Minnesota, congregation in the free church
tradition said Christians have unfinished work to do with the
Christian doctrine of the atonement (which seeks to explain why
Jesus was crucified and what was accomplished by his death)
Gregory Boyd said, “Since the Middle Ages, Christians in the
West (Roman Catholics and their spiritual offspring) have
embraced a theory popularized by the theologian Anselm. He said
Jesus’ death was a payment to God for our sins, offered to
satisfy God’s judgment and sense of righteous wrath.”
to pay, Boyd explained, so Jesus paid for us. But, he said, that
theory leaves a lot of questions unanswered. He revealed, “As a
teen-ager I wondered, ‘Does God really love me — or does Jesus
really love justice but I got lucky?’ I wondered, ‘Does God have
a split personality — God the Father, who is angry, and God the
Son, who is loving?”
Martin Luther asked the same questions. The clergyman continued,
“I began to think God the Father was a ‘rage-o-holic.’ Anselm
implies God the Father is addicted to his own honor. It’s been
violated and has to be restored. Anselm sees God much like a
atonement theories, he argued, “suggest God needs permission to
love — and Jesus’ death provides this.” The theory, he said,
suggests that Jesus pays God the debt we should have paid. “But
if God gets paid, doesn’t salvation cease being a gift?”
maintained that, for the first 1,000 years atonement theories in
the Christian Church argued that love overcomes evil. “But
starting with Anselm, the theories focused on a penal / honor
system / legal approach. It was a reflection of the times,
because in the Middle Ages that was what those-in-power really
his audience that, unlike most other doctrines, there has never
been a single “official” theory of the atonement — except among
modern fundamentalist Christians, who believe the “satisfaction
theory” is the only possible one.
on Boyd’s concerns about “satisfaction” themes in atonement
theory, Weaver argued, “There is no evidence for ‘satisfaction’
in the actual New Testament passion story (concerning Jesus’
suffering and death).”
argued a better way to explain what happened when Jesus died
would be with the term “Christus Victor” (which means that Jesus
overcame the power of death, not by opposing it violently but by
submitting willingly to it). There is, he said, “a conversation
in the Old Testament between violence and nonviolent behavior.
You can find both strands.” He argued Jesus’ call is to embrace
the nonviolent strand, since that is clearly what he lived and
return visit to the podium, Bartlett lifted up an approach to
theology he believes holds great promise for nonviolent living.
He championed “mimetic anthropology” — a view of human behavior
that recognizes how people connect with each other by imitating
each other, sometimes even unconsciously.
“We are each
other,” he suggested. “You do something I see as important and I
imitate that action mentally.” Significant to this understanding
of human behavior, he said, is the fact that when everybody
fights with everybody else, somebody will finally resist and try
to stop the conflict. Usually the group turns on the resister.
“He or she will be killed and then the violence suddenly stops.”
This phenomenon, he suggested, gives meaning to the line of
reasoning in Scripture used to rationalize the crucifixion of
Jesus: “It is better for one person to die than for [the rest
of] the people to perish.”
Hardin, who directs an organization called “Preaching Peace,”
returned to a consideration of mimetic theory by arguing “it has
been tested across several disciplines and has now found its way
into the natural sciences.”
not isolated, he said. “We are our relationships. This redefines
sin and salvation. We are members of one body — the body of
believes the first Christians understood interdependence and
connectedness but that, by the second century, theologians were
already moving away from it. “Christian culture began to become
enculturated (to adapt to outside influences). It began to
accommodate to culture.” He argued that sin is godless desire.
“All objects of desire are limited, so there will be violence,”
he argued. “But God as the object of [our] desire is unlimited.”
focused on a famous theological formula in which Christians
agreed that Jesus and his Father were “of one substance.” Said
Justin, “So, since Jesus was nonviolent, so is God.”
article is reprinted with permission from the Metro Lutheran,
December 19, 2007, Michael L. Sherer, ed..
Loving with the Love of Jesus
SOMETHING WE ARE
By James L.
As I sit at my desk contemplating the proposition that Love is
something we are, I am listening to Beethoven’s “Sonata No. 23,”
popularly called “Appassionata.” An intense dramatic work, it
reveals the incredible depth of feeling of its composer. In him
was a passion that demanded the full and eloquent expression
such as could only be given by a master. Even in the restrained
second movement, there is something approaching a sublime
ecstasy crying to be freed from its bondage to form and
convention. Beethoven never departs from the classical form;
rather, he fills it full to overflowing with a passion that
gives itself wholly within the limitations imposed by its
In agape’ we never depart from our identity in Christ—our “form”
in him, as it were, but we are rather filled full to overflowing
with a passion that gives itself wholly within the limitations
imposed by our Christ identity. In Christ we are transformed
into instruments for expressing passionate, selfless,
unconditional Love. So fully encompassing and indwelling is
this Love, when it is created by the master in us, we may
legitimately be said to be Love. We embody Love. We are the
Love of God to those we are given to love. We incarnate Love.
When we love, it is God loving, and others experience our Love,
in all its expressions, as God’s Love. Just as in Beethoven’s
“Apassionata” we encounter the master composer himself, and
others meet God in the passionate expression of his Love in and
I have found few of us as Christians who have owned our true
identity in Christ. Few of us have emptied ourselves so that
God can fill our emptiness with his divine Love. In our freedom
we have chosen the way of ease and selfishness, and have
foregone the privilege that is ours by right of our
Christ-identity to be divine Lovers. How tragic for us and our
world is our choice!
We are called by Christ into union with himself: “For God so
loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever
believes into him…” (John 3:16) (emphasis mine). So
begins this well-known biblical passage in the language in which
it was first written. In his “bread of life” discourse recorded
in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus speaks of
eating his body and drinking his blood. What happens, for
example, when we eat a slice of bread? First we chew it. Then
we swallow it. And then we digest it. It enters into our blood
stream and flows with the blood into every part of our bodies.
It becomes so identified with us that in no way will we ever
again be able to tell where that slice of bread leaves off and
we begin. We and the bread are one. In much the same way, when
we “believe into” Jesus, our oneness with him becomes so
complete that in no way can we tell where he leaves off and we
begin. Nowhere is this more the case than when we are
transformed into divine Lovers.
The Apostle Paul prays that we may “know the Love of Christ
which surpasses knowledge” that “we may be filled with all the
fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). The Apostle John says, “God
is Love,” and immediately goes on to assert that “as he is, so
are we in this world”
(I John 3:16-17). To know the Love of God
and to be filled with him is to be so filled with his Love that
we embody it. For all intents and purposes we become the Love of
God in all its earthy passion and expression.
Jesus loved as we love. When we visualize the content of this
statement, what we see is Jesus following in our way rather than
we in his. Inasmuch as we are in union with him, sons and
daughters of God—and that truly, not just figuratively—our Love
has the same dignity, the same significance and the same divine
imperative that we see in his Love. Only when we take up the
mantle of divine lovers can we understand first-hand the Love
with which we have been loved. It is said that we cannot know
another person until we have walked in his or her shoes.
Neither can we fully appreciate the Love of Jesus until we have
walked in that same Love. Then we know with a depth of knowing
that defies description that the Love we have received is the
same as that which we are giving.
What does it mean that we have been loved unconditionally? What
does it mean that Love is a way of life? How is Love a shared
identity? Or how is Love a reality in its most exquisite
expression? The answers to these and other questions will be
explored in subsequent reflections. But we can really know the
answers experientially only from the standpoint of being the
Love itself. It is the crucial difference between knowing about
something—a second-hand knowledge—and knowing something
empirically—a first-hand experiential knowing. What did divine
Love cost Jesus? We only know when we have shared in his
death. He loved as we love. He died as we die. Only when we
have embodied his Love and death in our own bodies, do we “know
the Love of Christ which surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19).
Then, and only then, do we really know what agape’ Love cost
Jesus. We know what it costs us.
We are not called simply to love according to our own meager
strength. As divine lovers we do not stop with charity
expressed through Thanksgiving baskets and missionary support.
As divine lovers we give ourselves totally to others because of
who we are. We are called to actualize Love. We cannot do
otherwise and remain true to our identity. We do not count the
costs or weigh the advantages for ourselves because our only
satisfaction is the good that accrues to those who receive our
Love. As divine lovers we are vulnerable, accepting willingly
the pain of the beloved, and we are often “crucified” by those
we seek to love. It’s not that we seek to be martyrs, but
rather that our very identity as divine lovers opens us to that
To be divine Love—that is our calling, our identity. To act out
of that being with Love that defies reason or explanation is our
vocation. Whatever else we do, it is all permeated, submerged,
subordinated to Love when we are Love.
“God is Love, and whoever lives in Love lives in God, and God in
him” (I John 4:16). In our union with the divine we take on his
nature, and that nature is agape’ Love. This is our calling in
Christ, to incarnate the Love of God in our time, no less
passionately than did Jesus of Nazareth in his day. Then said
I, “Here am I. Send me.”
True power requires modesty and empathy, not force and coercion,
argues the author, Dacher Keltner,
co-editor of Greater Good and a professor of psychology
at the University of California, Berkeley.
The Power Paradox
It is much safer to be feared than loved, writes Niccolò
Machiavelli in The Prince, his classic 16th-century treatise
advocating manipulation and occasional cruelty as the best means
Almost 500 years later, Robert Greene's national bestseller, The
48 Laws of Power, would have made Machiavelli's chest swell with
pride. Greene's book, bedside reading of foreign policy analysts
and hip-hop stars alike, is pure Machiavelli.
Here are a
few of his 48 laws:
Law 3, Conceal Your Intentions.
Law 6, Court
Attention at All Costs.
Law 12, Use
Selective Honesty and Generosity to Disarm Your Victims.
Crush Your Enemy Totally.
Law 18, Keep
Others in Suspended Terror.
You get the picture.
centuries of advice like Machiavelli's and Greene's, we tend to
believe that attaining power requires force, deception,
manipulation, and coercion. Indeed, we might even assume that
positions of power demand this kind of conduct—that to run
smoothly, society needs leaders who are willing and able to use
power this way.
as these notions are, they are dead wrong. Instead, a new
science of power has revealed that power is wielded most
effectively when it's used responsibly, by people who are
attuned to and engaged with the needs and interests of others.
Years of research suggests that empathy and social intelligence
are vastly more important to acquiring and exercising power than
are force, deception, or terror.
research debunks longstanding myths about what constitutes true
power, how people obtain it, and how they should use it. But
studies also show that once people assume positions of power,
they're likely to act more selfishly, impulsively, and
aggressively, and they have a harder time seeing the world from
other people's points of view. This presents us with the paradox
of power: The skills most important to obtaining power and
leading effectively are the very skills that deteriorate once we
paradox requires that we be ever vigilant against the corruptive
influences of power and its ability to distort the way we see
ourselves and treat others. But this paradox also makes clear
how important it is to challenge myths about power, which
persuade us to choose the wrong kinds of leaders and to tolerate
gross abuses of power. Instead of succumbing to the
Machiavellian worldview—which unfortunately leads us to select
Machiavellian leaders—we must promote a different model of
power, one rooted in social intelligence, responsibility, and
Myth number one: Power equals cash, votes, and muscle
power often evokes images of force and coercion. Many people
assume that power is most evident on the floor of the United
States Congress or in corporate boardrooms. Treatments of power
in the social sciences have followed suit, zeroing in on clashes
over cash (financial wealth), votes (participation in the
political decision making process), and muscle (military might).
are innumerable exceptions to this definition of power: a
penniless two year old pleading for (and getting) candy in the
check-out line at the grocery store, one spouse manipulating
another for sex, or the success of nonviolent political
movements in places like India or South Africa. Viewing power as
cash, votes, and muscle blinds us to the ways power pervades our
psychological research has redefined power, and this definition
makes clear just how prevalent and integral power is in all of
our lives. In psychological science, power is defined as one's
capacity to alter another person's condition or state of mind by
providing or withholding resources—such as food, money,
knowledge, and affection—or administering punishments, such as
physical harm, job termination, or social ostracism. This
definition de-emphasizes how a person actually acts, and instead
stresses the individual's capacity to affect others. Perhaps
most importantly, this definition applies across relationships,
contexts, and cultures. It helps us understand how children can
wield power over their parents from the time they're born, or
how someone—say, a religious leader—can be powerful in one
context (on the pulpit during a Sunday sermon) but not another
(on a mind numbingly slow line at the DMV come Monday morning).
By this definition, one can be powerful without needing to try
to control, coerce, or dominate. Indeed, when people resort to
trying to control others, it's often a sign that their power is
definition complicates our understanding of power. Power is not
something limited to power-hungry individuals or organizations;
it is part of every social interaction where people have the
capacity to influence one another's states, which is really
every moment of life. Claims that power is simply a product of
male biology miss the degree to which women have obtained and
wielded power in many social situations. In fact, studies I've
conducted find that people grant power to women as readily as
men, and in informal social hierarchies, women achieve similar
levels of power as men.
So power is
not something we should (or can) avoid, nor is it something that
necessarily involves domination and submission. We are
negotiating power every waking instant of our social lives (and
in our dreams as well, Freud argued). When we seek equality, we
are seeking an effective balance of power, not the absence of
power. We use it to win consent and social cohesion, not just
compliance. To be human is to be immersed in power dynamics.
Myth number two: Machiavellians win in the game of power
One of the central questions concerning power is who gets it.
Researchers have confronted this question for years, and their
results offer a sharp rebuke to the Machiavellian view of power.
It is not the manipulative, strategic Machiavellian who rises in
power. Instead, social science reveals that one's ability to get
or maintain power, even in small group situations, depends on
one's ability to understand and advance the goals of other group
members. When it comes to power, social intelligence—reconciling
conflicts, negotiating, smoothing over group tensions—prevails
over social Darwinism.
instance, highly detailed studies of "chimpanzee politics" have
found that social power among nonhuman primates is based less on
sheer strength, coercion, and the unbridled assertion of
self-interest, and more on the ability to negotiate conflicts,
to enforce group norms, and to allocate resources fairly. More
often than not, this research shows, primates who try to wield
their power by dominating others and prioritizing their own
interests will find themselves challenged and, in time, deposed
by subordinates. (Christopher Boehm describes this research in
greater length in his essay in this issue of
In my own
research on human social hierarchies, I have consistently found
that it is the more dynamic, playful, engaging members of the
group who quickly garner and maintain the respect of their
peers. Such outgoing, energetic, socially engaged individuals
quickly rise through the ranks of emerging hierarchies.
intelligence? Because of our ultrasociability. We accomplish
most tasks related to survival and reproduction socially, from
caring for our children to producing food and shelter. We give
power to those who can best serve the interests of the group.
Time and time again, empirical studies find that leaders who
treat their subordinates with respect, share power, and generate
a sense of camaraderie and trust are considered more just and
intelligence is essential not only to rising to power, but to
keeping it. My colleague Cameron Anderson and I have studied the
structure of social hierarchies within college dormitories over
the course of a year, examining who is at the top and remains
there, who falls in status, and who is less well-respected by
their peers. We've consistently found that it is the socially
engaged individuals who keep their power over time. In more
recent work, Cameron has made the remarkable discovery that
modesty may be critical to maintaining power. Individuals who
are modest about their own power actually rise in hierarchies
and maintain the status and respect of their peers, while
individuals with an inflated, grandiose sense of power quickly
fall to the bottom rungs.
So what is
the fate of Machiavellian group members, avid practitioners of
Greene's 48 laws, who are willing to deceive, backstab,
intimidate, and undermine others in their pursuit of power?
We've found that these individuals do not actually rise to
positions of power. Instead, their peers quickly recognize that
they will harm others in the pursuit of their own self-interest,
and tag them with a reputation of being harmful to the group and
not worthy of leadership.
and modesty aren't just ethical ways to use power, and they
don't only serve the interests of a group; they're also valuable
skills for people who seek positions of power and want to hold
Myth number three: Power is strategically acquired, not given
A major reason why Machiavellians fail is that they fall victim
to a third myth about power. They mistakenly believe that power
is acquired strategically in deceptive gamesmanship and by
pitting others against one another. Here Machiavelli failed to
appreciate an important fact in the evolution of human
hierarchies: that with increasing social intelligence,
subordinates can form powerful alliances and constrain the
actions of those in power. Power increasingly has come to rest
on the actions and judgments of other group members. A person's
power is only as strong as the status given to that person by
sociologist Erving Goffman wrote with brilliant insight about
deference—the manner in which we afford power to others with
honorifics, formal prose, indirectness, and modest nonverbal
displays of embarrassment. We can give power to others simply by
being respectfully polite.
research has found that people instinctively identify
individuals who might undermine the interests of the group, and
prevent those people from rising in power, through what we call
"reputational discourse". In our research on different groups,
we have asked group members to talk openly about other members
reputations and to engage in gossip. We've found that
Machiavellians quickly acquire reputations as individuals who
act in ways that are inimical to the interests of others, and
these reputations act like a glass ceiling, preventing their
rise in power. In fact, this aspect of their behavior affected
their reputations even more than their sexual morality,
recreational habits, or their willingness to abide by group
Prince, Machiavelli observes, "Any man who tries to be good all
the time is bound to come to ruin among the great number who are
not good. Hence a prince who wants to keep his authority must
learn how not to be good, and use that knowledge, or refrain
from using it, as necessity requires."
He adds, "A
prince ought, above all things, always to endeavor in every
action to gain for himself the reputation of being a great and
remarkable man." By contrast, several Eastern traditions, such
as Taoism and Confucianism, exalt the modest leader, one who
engages with the followers and practices social intelligence. In
the words of the Taoist philosopher Lao-tzu, "To lead the
people, walk behind them". Compare this advice to Machiavelli's,
and judge them both against years of scientific research.
Science gives the nod to Lao-tzu.
The power paradox
to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely", said the
British historian Lord Acton. Unfortunately, this is not
entirely a myth, as the actions of Europe's monarchs, Enron's
executives, and out-of-control pop stars reveal. A great deal of
research—especially from social psychology—lends support to
Acton's claim, albeit with a twist: Power leads people to act in
impulsive fashion, both good and bad, and to fail to understand
other people's feelings and desires.
instance, studies have found that people given power in
experiments are more likely to rely on stereotypes when judging
others, and they pay less attention to the characteristics that
define those other people as individuals. Predisposed to
stereotype, they also judge others' attitudes, interests, and
needs less accurately. One survey found that high-power
professors made less accurate judgments about the attitudes of
low-power professors than those low-power professors made about
the attitudes of their more powerful colleagues. Power
imbalances may even help explain the finding that older siblings
don't perform as well as their younger siblings on
theory-of-mind tasks, which assess one's ability to construe the
intentions and beliefs of others.
prompts less complex legal reasoning in Supreme Court justices.
A study led by Stanford psychologist Deborah Gruenfeld compared
the decisions of U.S. Supreme Court justices when they wrote
opinions endorsing either the position of a majority of justices
on the bench—a position of power—or the position of the
vanquished, less powerful minority. Sure enough, when Gruenfeld
analyzed the complexity of justices' opinions on a vast array of
cases, she found that justices writing from a position of power
crafted less complex arguments than those writing from a
A great deal
of research has also found that power encourages individuals to
act on their own whims, desires, and impulses. When researchers
give people power in scientific experiments, those people are
more likely to physically touch others in potentially
inappropriate ways, to flirt in more direct fashion, to make
risky choices and gambles, to make first offers in negotiations,
to speak their mind, and to eat cookies like the Cookie Monster,
with crumbs all over their chins and chests.
unsettling is the wealth of evidence that having power makes
people more likely to act like sociopaths. High-power
individuals are more likely to interrupt others, to speak out of
turn, and to fail to look at others who are speaking. They are
also more likely to tease friends and colleagues in hostile,
humiliating fashion. Surveys of organizations find that most
rude behaviors—shouting, profanities, bald critiques—emanate
from the offices and cubicles of individuals in positions of
power. My own research has found that people with power tend to
behave like patients who have damaged their brain's
orbitofrontal lobes (the region of the frontal lobes right
behind the eye sockets), a condition that seems to cause overly
impulsive and insensitive behavior. Thus the experience of power
might be thought of as having someone open up your skull and
take out that part of your brain so critical to empathy and
induce more harmful forms of aggression as well. In the famed
Stanford Prison Experiment, psychologist Philip Zimbardo
randomly assigned Stanford undergraduates to act as prison
guards or prisoners—an extreme kind of power relation. The
prison guards quickly descended into the purest forms of power
abuse, psychologically torturing their peers, the prisoners.
Similarly, anthropologists have found that cultures where rape
is prevalent and accepted tend to be cultures with deeply
entrenched beliefs in the supremacy of men over women.
us with a power paradox. Power is given to those individuals,
groups, or nations who advance the interests of the greater good
in socially-intelligent fashion. Yet unfortunately, having power
renders many individuals as impulsive and poorly attuned to
others as your garden variety frontal lobe patient, making them
prone to act abusively and lose the esteem of their peers. What
people want from leaders—social intelligence—is what is damaged
by the experience of power.
recognize this paradox and all the destructive behaviors that
flow from it, we can appreciate the importance of promoting a
more socially-intelligent model of power. Social behaviors are
dictated by social expectations. As we debunk longstanding myths
and misconceptions about power, we can better identify the
qualities powerful people should have, and better understand how
they should wield their power. As a result, we'll have much less
tolerance for people who lead by deception, coercion, or undue
force. No longer will we expect these kinds of antisocial
behaviors from our leaders and silently accept them when they
come to pass.
start to demand something more from our colleagues, our
neighbors, and ourselves. When we appreciate the distinctions
between responsible and irresponsible uses of power—and the
importance of practicing the responsible, socially-intelligent
form of it—we take a vital step toward promoting healthy
marriages, peaceful playgrounds, and societies built on
cooperation and trust.
Regents. Reprinted with permission from
Greater Good magazine, Volume 4, Issue 3 (Winter
2007-08). For more information, please visit
OLD WORLD, HELLO NEW
by James L.
four revolutionary movements currently underway, any one of
which has the potential for changing the world as we have known
it. All four happening simultaneously virtually guarantees that
a new world order will be born in the lifetime of most of the
readers of this article. What I am talking about here is not
technological (though communications technology may well be an
enabler of the revolutions) and it is not political (though
politics will certainly be greatly impacted.) No, what is
happening is much more basic, addressing the world views and the
deep issues of faith and reason held by most of the human
inhabitants of this planet. What is happening is a fundamental
revolutionary movements embody and promote some aspect of a way
of being in the world that has been experienced for decades by a
few exemplary individuals. The thing that has changed is that
this way of being is becoming a mass movement propelled in part
by these related but separate revolutions:
The first revolution is within the Christian Church.
Because Christianity comprises such a large number of people
throughout the world, a major shift in its understanding of
itself in relation to other major faiths will have significant
effects on every other religion. These changes have to do with
insights into the very roots of its origin in the 1st
and 2nd centuries of the Common Era. Because of the work of
numerous Christian and Jewish scholars on the comparatively
recent availability of both the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag
Hamadi texts, Christianity is wrestling with significant
challenges to its exclusivist teachings and the identity of it
founder, Jesus of Nazareth. It turns out that these texts,
originally suppressed by the Church Fathers, seriously undercut
Christianity’s exclusivist claims of superiority and
immediate effect of the deciphering of these ancient texts is
the discovery that we have new grounds for relationship with
other religions, since major Christian doctrines that have
purportedly been inspired by God to the exclusion of all other
religious doctrines, may have origins that are far more human
than divine. For the centuries-old barriers between religions
to come tumbling down, has a potential for peaceful
relationships—even appreciative relationships—that has never
before existed on such a massive scale. One significant example
of how these non-biblical writings are changing our
understanding of the Christian faith has to do with the identity
of Jesus Christ—born of a virgin? No; Killed for our redemption?
No; Son of God? No, unless we are prepared to accept that we
all, like him, are sons and daughters of God; Non-political and
sinless? Hardly. Exemplary, yes, but as human and divine as
the rest of us.
major example of this change is in the discrediting of the
historical doctrine of the Trinity (one God in three persons,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit). This doctrine alone has been an
impediment to interfaith relationships in as much as the
Christian Church has characteristically taught anyone who thinks
otherwise is destined for eternal separation from God—or, in a
word, Hell. As it turns out, contemporary historical research
shows that it was not until 325 AD that this decision was made
by a Church council that was badly divided. Its conclusions
were made not on the basis of reasoned theological debate but
rather on the basis of political power and brute, sometimes
kinds of changes in the teaching of the Christian Church will
come the opportunity for genuine dialog, particularly with Islam
and Judaism. If these three major religious faiths can come to
the place of mutual respect and appreciation, the world we live
in will be all the better for it. Let the new dialog begin!
Nonviolent atonement is yet another challenge to a
cherished doctrine of the Christian Church, this time on the
basis of biblical exegesis. Challenged are two theories of the
atonement (the saving work of Jesus Christ by atoning for our
sin), the Penal Substitution Theory authored by St. Augustine (4th
and 5th centuries) and the Satisfaction Theory
(authored by Anselm in the 12th century). These
theories have been bedrock theology in the Christian Church.
Augustine, says the sin offended God’s honor and caused
inconceivable debt and that the debt must be satisfied or
punished to satisfy God’s honor. Since the payment of the debt
is so far beyond what humans could do, only God could pay it.
There fore Christ (who must be God) paid the debt by his death
on the cross.
Anselm, speaks of retributive justice. God has to “get even.”
Sin incurred a debt and has to be punished (payback).
Therefore, since humans cannot possibly pay the debt, God
punishes Jesus instead.
these theories make of God a vengeful, violent ruler and
compromise Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness. If sin is paid for
(i.e. the debt is paid and the account is balanced) there is
nothing to forgive. If God is truly forgiving, it means the
debt is written off and there is no need for either repayment or
atonement says that God is neither vengeful nor violent (the
violence attributed to God, especially in the Jewish Scriptures,
notwithstanding). Therefore God cannot be blamed for Jesus’
death. Jesus suffered the fate of many of his
contemporaries—death at the hands of the Roman occupiers, with
the probable collusion of Jewish antagonists. It was man’s
violence, not God’s that killed Jesus.
distinction is important because it deprives us humans of a
major rationale for engaging in violence, i.e., “God, our
Father, did it, therefore, so can we.” If, as God’s children,
we wish to emulate God’s relationship to us in our relationship
with others, we can no longer justify violence.
Nonviolent communication is a discipline taught by
Marshall Rosenberg. Though many of the principles he teaches
have been taught before by the likes of Jesus and Gandhi,
Marshall is a gifted in formulating a clear and doable way to
put the principles into practice. Nonviolence is broken down
into many tiny and tangible steps, that when learned and put
into practice can transform formerly confrontive and hostile
relationships--whether these relationships are between
individuals, groups, or nations—and whether or not both sides
practice it. These nonviolent “techniques” can be practiced, as
it were, unilaterally by anybody, anywhere, in any circumstance.
books and seminars are proliferating as others take up the work
of spreading his teaching. What was originally one man’s
crusade, is becoming a movement which will grow exponentially as
others both practice and teach the disciplines he has so neatly
packaged. (See the review of two of Rosenberg’s books,
Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. and Speak Peace in
a World of Conflict: What You Say Next Will Change Your World
in this issue of En Christo.)
A fourth movement gaining momentum in our day is the result of
the writings of the French philosopher Rene’ Girard.
Rene’s writings have the effect of holding up a mirror in which
we see ourselves for who we really are. The starting point for
Girard’s theory is “acquisitive mimesis”. Girard proposes that
much of human behavior is based on “mimesis”, an
all-encompassing expression of imitation, but focuses on
acquisition and appropriation as the object of mimesis, contrary
to most of the extant literature on imitative behavior (Girard
1979, 9). Girard describes a situation where two individuals
desire the same object; as they both attempt to obtain this
object, their behavior becomes conflictual, since there is only
one object, but two people. “Violence is generated by this
process; or rather, violence is the process itself when two or
more partners try to prevent one another from appropriating the
object they all desire through physical or other means” (Girard
1979, 9). In his mimetic theory, Rene’ argues
imitation is an “ability that is fundamentally linked to
characteristically human forms of intelligence, in particular to
language, culture, and the ability to understand other minds.
This burgeoning body of work has important implications for our
understanding of ourselves, both individually and socially.
Imitation is not just an important factor in human development,
it also has a pervasive influence throughout adulthood in ways
we are just beginning to understand.”
Hurley & Nick Chater)
area of Rene’s A thought is scapegoating. “This scapegoat is,
according to Girard, an arbitrary victim: For Girard, there are
several conditions for the choosing of the scapegoat. First,
the scapegoat is, by definition, an arbitrary victim, at least
to the degree that the victim has, in reality, no direct bearing
on the problems that are causing the community disturbance.
However, the victim is not arbitrary to the extent that most
scapegoats tend to have similar cultural traits that allow
Girard to classify them as a group. Normally they are an
outsider, but on the border of the community, not fully alien to
the community. This victim belongs to the community, but has
traits that separate him/her from the community. Several common
victims are elucidated by Shea, summarizing Girard's list in
The Scapegoat (1986): children, old people, those with
physical abnormalities, women, members of ethnic or racial
minorities, the poor, and '`those whose natural endowments
(beauty, intelligence, charm) or status (wealth, position) mark
them as exceptional" (Wallace 1994, 253).
Paradoxically, this victim is often deified. Not only was the
victim the cause of the violence, but, since this victim was
sacrificed, s/he also becomes the salvation of the community,
since sacrificing the victim becomes the method of ending the
violence. So the victim is surrogate because s/he was
sacrificed instead of the entire community being sacrificed.
Once this process is established, it becomes mythologized. The
immediate memory reconfiguration becomes woven into the oral
history of the people. This figure that was sacrificed was the
deity who saved the community from destruction. Since the
pattern started with the cessation of violence by the original
human sacrifice, the continuation of that pattern is
understandable. But as culture progressed, and specifically
with the introduction of the Jewish religion into the world's
culture, symbols--animal sacrifices and sacred rituals--were
used in place of human sacrifices. Thus Girard claims the
origin of religion is rooted in violence. (Jeramy Townsley)
If any of this sounds familiar, we have only to look at our own
religion and consider its origin. And if it makes us
uncomfortable, it may be that when we look in this mirror, we do
not like what we see. (For more on this, see
the review of the book by Suzanne Ross, The Wicked Truth:
When Good People Do Bad Things, an application of Girard’s
theories to that wonderful children’s classic, The Wizard of
Oz, in this issue of En Christo.)
these revolutionary movements, as I have called them, qualifies
for such a designation. According to Webster a movement is “a)
a series of organized activities by people working concertedly
toward some goal” and “b) the organization consisting of those
active in this way.”
The first of
the above listed revolutionary movements is represented by
several organizations, the most notable of which would be the
Jesus Seminar that includes such notable members as
theologians John Dominic Crossan, Robert Funk and Marcus Borg.
Institutes for Christian Spirituality, the publisher of
this journal, En Christo: A Journal for a New Christianity
is another such organization. The number of books that are
being written to address the multiple changes that are already
taking place continue to proliferate. Change is hard,
particularly when it is in areas in which we have a lifetime
investment, but it is also necessary if we are to mature in our
faith and vision of what God is doing in the world. Teilhard de
Chardin’s vision of the future of humankind was of a final stage
of development during which we would mature spiritually to our
fullest potential. I have always hoped that he was right and
that I may be one of the fortunate members of our species to
participate in that process. I dare to hope that the dramatic
changes happening now in Christianity are an indication that it
movement listed above, nonviolent atonement, is smaller but is
quickly gaining momentum. It, too, has just initiated in May of
2008 the formation of an organization called Theology and
Peace to promote research and publications supporting fresh
biblical understandings of the nonviolent, compassionate Father
of us all. Michael Hardin of Preaching Peace along with
Catholic theologian Anthony Bartlett, Mennonite theologian
Sharon Baker and approximately 40 other biblical scholars are
among the charter members of the organization.
Rosenberg’s organization, Center for Nonviolent Communication,
though new, is already spawning others devoted to spreading his
program for teaching nonviolent communication in a wide variety
of secular and religious contexts around the world. It is
already providing resources for the rapid dissemination of the
principles he espouses.
movement built on the teachings of Rene’ Girard, has fostered
Colloquium on Violence & Religion (COV&R), a
well-established organization with a world-wide constituency.
Other organizations, too, are involved in promoting Rene’s
teachings on violence and religion, notably Preaching Peace,
founded by Michael and Lori Hardin; The Raven
Foundation, founded by Suzanne Ross, author of The Wicked
Truth: When Good People Do Bad Things; and Institutes for
will it take for these and other initiatives I have not covered
to have a visible impact on our world? My guess is years, not
decades. The impact is already considerable, but the world is a
big place. We will know that it is happening when these
concepts become the fodder for conversations of the people in
the pews. The internet is providing the means for rapid
dissemination of information, a phenomenon which Teilhard did
not envision but would confirm his anticipation that each phase
of human development would be significantly shorter than the one
before. God willing, this journal will have at least a small
part in bringing about the revolution.
Kevin. American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of
Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century.
Penguin Books, 2006, 2007. 394 pages. A review by Gerald W.
Theocracy has been widely reviewed. It has also been another
step in Kevin Phillips’ epic journey from 1968 Nixon strategist
to PBS and a seat next to Bill Moyers, arguably the most
consistently liberal political analyst in media. The book is
not always easy to read, but it is well worth reading. As
Phillips writes in his introduction, the “mainsprings of this
volume lie in politics, not religion.” That may be true, but
this reader found his discussion of the rise of the religious
right, and its emergence as a prime player in America’s bloody
games, to be the most interesting of the three acts of this
us begin with oil. This substance has, more than anything else,
powered the American Empire—from the manufacturing capacity that
was once the wonder of the modern world to our gas-hog,
consumption-driven economy and the sprawl which it engendered.
We need our cars. We need to secure more fuel to power them.
Recall that Hummer ad which came out just about the time the
invasion of Iraq occurred. Here was the Hummer, circling the
globe, telling the world what it already knew—that America was
the big dog and all the little dogs better just get out of the
way. There was oil out there somewhere, and we meant to get
it. No longer were we in those bad old days of Jimmy Carter,
and gas shortages, and hand-wringing naysayers like E. F.
Schumacher. We had real men leading us now—men like Cheney and
Bush, captains of industry, barons of oil—and men like Donald
Rumsfeld, who knows a little something about getting us into
war. As Phillips writes, “oil abundance has always been part of
what America fights for, as well as with.” So, away we went to
war—for oil. Not weapons of mass destruction. Not to restrain
a brutal dictator. Not to bring democracy to a benighted land.
Part I of
American Theocracy is titled “Oil and American Supremacy.” In
it, Phillips traces the history of oil and how it emerged as
such an important resource for keeping the engines of the
American economy running. He also explores the beginnings of
the decline of the American energy infrastructure. Oil is no
longer just about corporations, plants and pipelines (and most
certainly not about larger-than-life oil barons like Rockefeller
or fictional anti-heroes like the one played by James Dean in
the movie Giant). Phillips counts as part of the oil equation
in the 21st Century the “government subsidies and preferences,
entrenched bureaucracies and interest groups, foreign
relationships, political party coalitions, and recurring Middle
East patterns.” It is well worth remembering this as we explore
the connections between the war and various stakeholders in it,
which includes the U. S. congress and the current crop of
contenders now vying for the dubious honor of snatching the
reins from “the decider.”
skillfully traces the historical steps which led to the decline
and fall of past imperial powers in chapter 7, titled “Church,
State and National Decline.” Admitting the categories are his
own, he lists the following symptoms of declining imperial
concern over cultural and economic decay.
religious fervor, church-state relationship, or crusading
commitment to faith as opposed to reason, the corollary being
the downplaying of science.
popular anticipation of a millennial time frame: an epochal
battle, emergence of the antichrist or belief in an imminent
second coming or Armageddon.
Hubris-driven national strategic and military overreach.
imperial powers Phillips chooses to examine are Rome, the
Hapsburg Empire centered in Spain, the Netherlands, and Great
Britain. All were, at one time, the leading world economic
power and the principal naval or military power. All declined
while displaying the symptoms of decay noted above—and all
“believed in their own exceptionalism.” This belief in
exceptionalism seems to be the point of no return in the decline
and fall of great powers, but it doesn’t happen by accident.
How many of us children of “the greatest generation” have heard
the words “History is bunk”, as attributed to Henry Ford? Why
would we not believe that history does not pertain to us? How
many of us were raised with the notion that we can get what we
pray for from an ever-present God? Why would some of us not
then believe that what comes from this God’s lips instantly
reaches the ears of President George W. Bush and that,
duty-bound and rightly instructed, Mr. Bush orders the invasion
here-and-now God, totally involved in the affairs of His most
favored nation, comes to life in the pages of Chapter 4,
Radicalized Religion: As American as Apple Pie. Citing polling
data, Kevin Phillips shows that 83% of evangelical Protestants
believe that the bible is literally accurate. The figure is 47%
for non-evangelical Protestants and 45% for Catholics. What’s
more, 77% of born-again, fundamentalist and evangelical
Christians believe that events in the Book of Revelation will
occur sometime in the future. Fully 71% of evangelical
Protestants believe that the world will end in a battle between
Jesus Christ and the Antichrist. So, that’s what the religious
right believes. No sudden annihilation in a nuclear holocaust.
No slow, excruciating demise due to global warming. No bang,
no whimper. Just a hell of a good battle and all the people die
or disappear into the heavens. (Too bad. It would make a great
movie if there were just someone around to film it.)
system which permits such a view of the future is buttressed by
a series of books called the Left Behind series, written by
fundamentalist preacher Tim LaHaye. The series, an apocalyptic
saga which locates the antichrist in the center of Iraq, sold
sixty million copies in book and tape form. Phillips thinks
that, after 9/11, the series “provided an extraordinary context
for a president with a religious mission.” Other holy warriors
in the rush to Armageddon were the Reverends Jerry Falwell and
Pat Robertson, both of whom charged that the 9/11 attacks
occurred because God was displeased with the United States’
players shout from pulpits in the mountains, across the
plantation south and into the prairies. Increasingly, as
Phillips notes, the message is reaching deeper and deeper into
the North and East, and to the “left” coast. The secular right
is also politically astute enough to reach out, whenever
possible, to the faithful. For example, it is useful to note
what Phillips tells us about economic conservatives and how they
“warm to sects in which a preoccupation with personal salvation
turns lower-income persons away from distracting visions of
economic and social reform.” (More “pie in the sky when you
die” for the Wal-Mart workers and shoppers who go in for the old
time religion.) In massaging its hot-button issues, the right
is also alert to nuances. Again, from the chapter The United
States in a Dixie Cup, Phillips writes about how black support
for Bush went from eight percent in 2000 to eleven percent in
2004, and was greatest (22 percent) among frequent church
attendees. Much of this gain was tied to “the gay marriage
issue, which was emphasized by many black pastors.”
It is with
reluctance that I leave this part of the review, for the section
on the religious right was truly illuminating and it held my
attention throughout. I commend it to the reader’s attention.
Let us now move on to Borrowed Money.
Borrowed Prosperity begins with a chapter titled Soaring Debt,
Uncertain Politics, and the Financialization of the United
States. The chapter itself begins with a description of the
reversal of fortunes in American financial services and in
manufacturing. As Phillips points out, “the finance, insurance,
and real estate (FIRE) sector of the U. S. economy swelled to 20
percent of the gross domestic product in 2000, jumping ahead of
manufacturing, which slipped to 14.5 percent.” The reversal
continued to deepen in 2003, as manufacturing sank to 12.7
percent and FIRE rose to 20.4 percent. While American jobs were
disappearing and while much of what we used to manufacture was
being made elsewhere, the financial sector thrived, in part,
from profits gained by “providing American households with
artificial purchasing power.” Enticed by teaser rates and
promises of instant gratification, cash-strapped Americans
bought in and the rates grew as high as 19 to 25 percent—what we
would call loan-sharking in the old days.
cause for alarm, as far as Phillips is concerned. We have now
reached a point in our decline as a major power that is marked
by “excessive debt, great disparity between rich and poor, and
unfolding economic decline.” Phillips calls this stage
“financialization.” The thesis of Part 3, he writes, is simple:
“this debt and credit revolution constitutes the third major
peril hanging over the future of the United States.”
Phillips shows us how things are beginning to come unglued. It
is at this point that a reader needs to really pay attention.
Up to the time roughly defined in this narrative, the victims of
this financialized economy were relatively hidden and easy to
avoid. Homeless? You know where the shelter is. Take a left
one block down and you can avoid seeing it. Health care? Maybe
your co-pay went up a little, but when was the last time you had
to go to an emergency room? In some gut-wrenching expository
writing, Phillips pricks our middle-class bubble and awakens us
from our pipe dream of invulnerability. My favorite paragraph
was this one:
the burden on the elderly was the trend reported in a February
2005 study for the medical policy journal Health Affairs.
Between 1981 and 2001 medical-related bankruptcies increased by
2,200 percent, a spike that far exceeded the 360 percent growth
in overall personal bankruptcies during the same time period.
Medical-related debt had become the second leading cause of
personal bankruptcy, partly because of the widening lack of
health insurance (with the number of uninsured rising to
forty-five million). One of the study’s authors, Harvard Law
School professor Elizabeth Warren, observed that “the people we
found to be profoundly affected are not some distant
underclass. They’re the very heart of the middle class. These
are educated Americans with decent jobs, homes and families.
But one stumble, and they end up in complete financial collapse,
wiped out by medical bills.
A couple of
paragraphs down, Phillips then sheds some light on what we are
now seeing with the stock market and the housing market.
Writing about a 2003 IMF study of previous property slumps in
the US and thirteen other industrialized countries, he notes
that “a real-estate bust less than half as large as a decline in
stock prices had typically proved twice as dangerous to national
economies, with effects lasting twice as long.” He then asks
if, in these circumstances, it is wise to leave bubble popping
to a central bank blinded “by fealty to finance.” Well, we seem
to be in a housing crisis now. Is anyone asking this question
much more in the third section of the book which sheds light on
the situation we find ourselves in today. We learn, for
example, that in 2005 “nearly 40 percent of the profits of the
typical (credit) issuer came from penalty fees” and that in the
same year “homes, not stocks, were the principal base of U.S.
net worth.” Let’s just wrap this part up with a quote from
Phillips’ chapter on Debt. He writes “Crippling indebtedness is
like the ghost of leading world economic powers past, a familiar
Shakespearean villain come to stalk the current hegemon.”
chapter in the book is called The Erring Republican Majority.
A quote from Garry Wills, cited at the beginning of the chapter,
pretty much says it all about how the Republicans have been
governing under Bush and Cheney. Wills wrote “If religious
extremism is only one set of bodies in this fringe constellation
(of Republican interest groups), it is a powerful one. That is
why federal agencies reject scientific reports on ecological,
stem cell, contraceptive, and abortion issues. They sponsor not
only faith-based social relief, but faith-based war, faith-based
science, faith-based education, and faith-based medicine.”
Republicans in control of Congress and the White House have,
Phillips writes, “conducted both fiscal and energy policy in a
state of denial—denial, at least, of any potential crisis.” He
then cites the 2005 energy legislation which failed to impress
global energy markets and resulted in the elevation of oil
prices to a new high. He also chided conservatives in the White
House for continuing to insist on making the 2001-2003 tax cuts
permanent, a project that would cost over 75 years a whopping
$11 trillion--nearly three times the $4 trillion in would take
to fully fund Social Security benefits.
goes on to present startling graphs depicting “The Hocking of
America: Massive U.S. International Debt as the Price of
Domestic Overconsumption” and “The Rise in Net U.S. Assets Held
by Foreigners, 1982-2004.” While viewing the latter, one’s jaw
tends to drop at the realization that the percentage of such
assets was – 8 % in 1982 and was about + 22 % in 2005.
Republican hawks seem to have suffered a setback in the 2006
elections, but they quickly recovered--with some help from
establishment Democrats. As Phillips notes, evangelicals remain
the “mainstay of minority backing for the occupation and for the
larger doctrine of preemptive invasions.” Is it any wonder that
John McCain, currently running for savior of the Republican
Party, can safely predict another hundred years of war without
fearing a loss of his base?
about wraps up my summation. Before I begin my critical
comments, let’s let Phillips have another word, about as
encouraging a word as you’re likely to find in this book.
Writing about the political picture which emerged in 2006,
Phillips summed it up this way: “Difficult politics thus lies
ahead. Unfortunately, the history of past leading world
economic powers is that they have not been able to throw up the
sort of leadership needed to reverse the tides involved. In
consequence, the nations in the process of being dethroned as
the world’s economic leader have faced a difficult period of
twenty to forty years, at very least, in making the transition
from yesterday’s hegemony to a lesser but eventually comfortable
role in a differently shaped world.” Whether the United States
and its people are willing to accept an “eventually comfortable”
role in this future world remains to be seen.
with American Theocracy have little to do with content or
political analysis. I guess that what I’m sensing is an
alternative perspective. Phillips and I were born about a year
apart, in the two years preceding America’s entry into WWII. In
1957, he graduated from the Bronx High School of Science. At
about the same time, I was graduating from Cairo Central School
in a tiny town in the northern Catskill Mountains. While he was
growing up in the city, I was walking the streets of Ossining, a
few miles up river. It was here that, at the age of ten, I
witnessed the battered buses and wounded people coming back from
the Peekskill riots. In 1957, Phillips went to college, I’m
guessing. I went into the Marines.
legs—radical religion, oil, and borrowed money—work beautifully
schematically, but seem to lack the complexity necessary for
adequate analysis. (Here, I’m assuming that this journal’s
audience is mostly liberal/progressive religious folks and a
smattering of rationalists.) Let’s suppose we picture this
schematic as three rivers converging to flow into the looming
disaster. Let’s assume that we could travel up one of these
rivers and discover the streams which have fed these rivers—and
carried us inexorably to the present dilemma.
One of these
streams is the racism with which the party of Lincoln built its
“southern strategy.” Deny it they might, but the GOP must know
that the bulk of its winning constituency has been the white
folks who fear the growing numbers and political power of the
dark masses. Another stream is the American frontier culture
and the mythology of benevolent intentions it engenders. The
brutal, systematic slaughter of Native Americans and the virtual
destruction of their culture might seem a fair exchange for the
prosperity we have enjoyed as a nation, but I’m not sure that
plays so well in Iraq, currently left to the tender mercies of
America’s military. We could follow plenty of streams upriver,
but we would eventually reach a dark, forbidding place where the
trees are hung with long strands of dark moss--and skulls and
bones. We can sense that, the more we travel this stream, the
darker and more mysterious it gets, and the more we feel
helpless against its secret, quietly brutal currents.
mass of the bureaucracy which holds America’s pernicious
consensus in place is awesome, by any standards. To trace the
roots of this military/industrial bureaucracy, we need to
revisit the years just after WWII. Writing in the introduction
to Scoundrel Time, Lillian Hellman’s best-selling memoir of the
McCarthy era, Gary Wills paints this picture:
The OSS was
loath to go out of existence. The FBI, expanded to new kinds of
power against espionage at home and throughout South America,
did not want to give up its new powers. Atomic research
continued at full speed and in secret, keeping the issue of
security checks alive into peacetime. Crusaders slow to take
their armor off get itchy, and start to look ridiculous. What
could put the moral shine back on that armor but the discovery,
off on the horizon, of another Total Enemy? The reluctance of
our demobilization in late 1945 explains the rush of glee at our
remobilization in early 1947. The liberal second lieutenants
and intelligence officers were back in business, and business
looked liberal again. We had a world still to save, with just
those plans—from NATO to the Korean War—that Professor Commager
called “so wise and so enlightened.” A thousand wartime ties,
relaxed slightly in 1946 to moans of economic and psychic
discontent, twanged back tight again and gave America its tonic.
Incompleteness of the scope of an analysis is really a small
complaint. How much can you do in 394 pages anyway? Besides,
much has been said about the other currents this analysis might
explore in other volumes, most of which I have not read. My
other small complaint is that Mr. Phillips seems to offer very
little of the “and what you can do about it” suggestions which
might enable us to avert the impending disaster. Other than
collaboration with George Lakoff, I’m not sure what I could
I guess that
leaves it up to the liberal/progressive church folks and
rationalists I mentioned earlier. Whatever we need to do, we’d
better get started. I strongly suggest the reader start by
getting a copy of American Theocracy—and reading it. The war
for oil, the attack on science and reason, and the ongoing
economic crises are all grave threats to our freedoms, our lives
and the future of our children and grandchildren. We’d better
begin to counterattack against these three evils or we, our
nation and the world could all be Left Behind.
Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life.
(Encinitas, CA: Puddle Dancer Press, 2nd edition,
2003) 207 pages, including bibliography and index.
Rosenberg, Speak Peace in a World of Conflict: What You Say
Next Will Change Your World. (Encinitas, CA: Puddle Dancer
Press, 2005), 185 pages, including bibliography and index. Both
books reviewed by James L. Foster
Observation, feeling, needs, request – observation, feeling,
needs, request. Imprint these four words indelibly in your
consciousness. For Dr. Rosenberg, a clinical psychologist (who
found his chosen discipline wanting) and the director of the
Center for Nonviolent Communication (CNVC), they are four words
that revolutionized his life and set him on a new career path.
Oddly enough, most of what he teaches in these two books is not
new. The concepts behind the words have been taught for
millennia in one form or another by various religious
traditions. But they are concepts which have most often been
ignored by the followers of these traditions, perhaps because
they are so counter-intuitive, or otherworldly, or seemingly
impractical in our modern societies. To be sure they are easy
enough to understand, but with generations of contrary practice
behind us they are not so easy to apply. The two concepts most
in evidence in Dr. Rosenberg’s teaching are compassion and
yes. Easy, no.
By observation, Dr. Rosenberg means our awareness of the
“concrete actions we are observing that are affecting our
By feeling he is referring to “How we feel in relation to
what we are observing.”
By needs he means our awareness of our “needs, values,
desires, etc. that are creating our feelings.”
And by request he is referring to the “concrete actions we
request in order to enrich our lives.”
“When we use this process, we may begin either by expressing
ourselves or by empathically receiving the four pieces of
information from others.” It is a process by which we both
express honesty through the above components and receive
empathically through the four components.
It is a process which can be used, he believes, in any situation
with any person. The testimonials quoted freely throughout both
books underscore his belief, for with attribution to this
process many, many people report broken relationships being
restored and objectives being met through cooperative action
rather than through competition or coercion. It is a process
that has been successfully applied by teachers in the classroom
and by warring parties in cross cultural contexts, by parents
with their children and in international diplomacy.
Dr. Rosenberg calls nonviolent communication a “giving from the
heart” as opposed to a head trip. It is not intended to be a
way to manipulate others, but rather an expression of genuine
caring for the other person. It eschews moralistic judgments
and comparisons of any kind and does not allow for the denial of
personal responsibility for our relationships.
He devotes chapters to “Observing Without Evaluating” (“When we
combine observation with evaluation, people are apt to hear
criticism.”), and “Identifying and Expressing Feelings”
(distinguishing between what we feel and what we think), and
“Taking Responsibility for Our Feelings” (“What others do may be
the stimulus of our feelings, but not the cause.”)
Rosenberg devotes chapters to making requests, differentiating
between “requests” and “demands,” and on giving and receiving
empathy. Chapters on expressing anger and appreciation round
out the first of these two books, “Nonviolent Communication.”
In the second book, “Speak Peace,” Rosenberg enlarges on the
techniques of nonviolent communication and applies them in a
wide variety of contexts including domination structures (as in
gangs), creating change in our institutions, mediation between
warring factions, terrorism, and creating social change.
For some years, this reviewer, who devotes his energies
virtually full time to building peace on many levels, has
acknowledged that peace has to begin on an individual level, but
concrete handles for accomplishing this have been elusive. Dr.
Rosenberg, in these two books, has shown a practical way to
bring about peace – peace within ourselves, our families, our
communities, and our world. He is, perhaps, the second Jew to
show us the way. I think Jesus was the first.
Sebastian. The Contagion of Jesus, Doing Theology as
if it Mattered, Edited by Stephen McCarthy. London: Darton,
Longman, and Todd, 2007; Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2008. pp.
xiii, 208. Reviewed by Anthony Bartlett,
theologian on the faculty of
Episcopal Seminary, Rochester New York
of Cross Purposes: The Violent Grammar of the New
Off and on I
have tried my hand at a book with the title Divine Virus
so when I picked up Sebastian Moore’s The Contagion of Jesus
(Orbis, 2008) it was with a mixture of pleasure and
dread. Moore and I have the thought of René Girard in common so
this was no casual coincidence. Contagion would certainly
be swimming in the same vein as Virus. Would his book do
the topic justice as I had grasped it, so I would feel the whole
idea given good energy, or would I feel doubly deprived: the
idea taken but treated, for example, insipidly?
nothing to fear, and my pleasure was more than fulfilled as I
read this latest from the celebrated Benedictine author. As a
researcher in the field of gospel virology Sebastian Moore is at
the top of his game. His work contributes urgently both to our
intellectual understanding of the human shift brought by the
person of Jesus and to its practical happening in our world.
More than once I felt I was in the presence of a quiet classic,
containing so much authentic spirituality at the cutting edge of
anthropology that it will remain important for decades to come.
The form of
the book is a collection of essays, sermons and poems written
through more than a dozen years and assembled by a friend,
Stephen McCarthy. Most of the sections, and also the book
overall, end with poems of the author, frequently directly
linked to the content of previous discussion. The effect is to
bring us the story of a life, in which the primary history of
Jesus-infection is the author’s. On the way he produces thoughts
which are consistently responsive to the deep changes in
humanity prompted by the God of the Bible. Strange, or perhaps
not so strange to say, nowhere are these changes playing out
with more stress and difficulty than in the church.
In a keynote
introductory essay, itself worth the price of admission,
Sebastian celebrates monotheism not as the necessity and
authority of the single metaphysical God. Rather it is a
profound shift in the human landscape. In his own words it is
the “the withdrawal of God into all-enclosing mystery” while
human beings are thrown beyond cultural divisions into the work
of love. It is a revolution in human consciousness, coming from
the loss of the gods of tribe and marketplace and a plunge into
the void where something new is being formed. He shapes the
movement in one of his poems:
to sink into the deep
where I can always hear you when you
me out of me as once again I leap
of the void, of nothing, and the plunge into it, is the hinge of
a new Christianity. It is where the very emptiness that causes
us to dispute and kill becomes the pathway of surrender, to and
for the other, which is the new creation of love. Once this
astonishing revelation is grasped we realize that much of
“Christian doctrine as we receive it with all its imperial
baggage is a travesty, recognizable as such.”
the thought of the void with other traditions of mysticism and
he has been particularly affected by the writing of Eckhart
Tolle. But what gives it a unique twist is where Moore makes it
converge with the work of Girard who sees the biblical pathway
bringing about a progressive disclosure of human violence.
Taking Girard as a starting point Moore sees Christ is the
“willing scapegoat,” the one who endured the endless human
capacity to offload on others our chaotic violence. He did so
both in order to shine an unblinking light on it and to set free
those who relate to him at the heart of the violent human
process. Jesus went to this deep place in his own relationship
with his Father, one without fear or violence, one ready for the
void. This revolutionary relationship with God is the reason why
religion crucified him, and the whole experience of being with
Jesus, through the depths of his story and out the other side,
is what precipitated a total psychological transformation in his
followers. It is this transformation that then becomes
contagious (i.e. the divine virus…), and of course it is a
transformation in the meaning of God too.
This fear of nothing is God in reverse
I’ve got to go there, and there Jesus
The idea of
a new humanity sits well with the prominence given to the figure
of Jesus’ mother in the Roman Catholic tradition, but the
accretion of doctrine around Mary is not easy. Moore worries at
it the way my Dalmatian goes after one of those tightly woven
chewing balls. The tangle of history, the feminine and high
Marian doctrine drives him crazy. Moore is attempting to unravel
the ball in terms of the new anthropology released by Jesus.
Earlier he has said a new humanity has been born of “our great
murder” which is the killing of Jesus, and as such it becomes
the perpetuation of “a dangerous memory” which can overturn
everything in our world. In his discussion of virginal
conception Moore prefers finally to take the memory as a
transcendent rupture in normal biological arrangements, but
surely it is also possible that there is something parallel to
the crucifixion here. That the dangerous memory of “the thing
conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” is not incompatible with
one of the worst things that could happen to a young woman. That
this is how deep the abyss of redemption goes… In one of his
antiphonal poems Moore in fact says: “I don’t know how you let
in the sublime / to Nazareth on a dull afternoon.”
Be that as
it may, Moore sees Mary as both symbol and subject, constructing
the Christian role of woman as the leading edge of the human.
(Mary was called) to represent woman as she frees herself from
culture-assigned roles for culture’s subversion and
transformation. But the lens for the recovery of a Marian
understanding of life as a flourishing rather than a conquest is
woman’s quest for her own subjectivity…
For me it is the acceptance of the woman in myself. For
all men it is this.
another Catholic dogma comes into play, the idea that Mary was
born “without original sin.” Mary “had to be free of our vast
and endless human karma in order to represent our humanity at
its forgotten best.” This makes anthropological sense when we
say it was Mary who was the first point of teaching for Jesus’
radical nonviolence, and it makes ecclesial sense if we say Mary
speaks of nonviolence, peace, and a ministerial leadership to go
with it. It also makes theological sense if we lose the
bio-legal concept of original sin and see it much more in terms
of generative violence, the ancient way of being human which
aspects of the Jewish Wisdom tradition were already rejecting
for nonviolence by the first century BCE. Along this road Moore
quotes Karl Barth as saying that Mary represents the (heretical)
essence of the Roman church in the idea of human co-operation in
redemption. He also relates the wonderful counterpoint of
Barth’s four page footnote in his Church Dogmatics, on
Mozart and his music as free of the distorted attitude to
creation due to original sin. So apparently there is a space in
the human somehow free of the violence of sin! Moore goes on to
tell the story of Barth’s dream in which he asked the great
Viennese composer how he could have been a member of the
Catholic church with all its superstition and corruption. Mozart
remained silent. Was this the rising up of the repressed human
against the relentless onslaught of dialectical theology? For
Moore it certainly is.
The book is
divided into two parts, and it is in the second part that it
hits its own wall, a wall almost visibly stretched across the
book’s pathway. It’s here that the contagion both works and
doesn’t work, and it seems inevitable that it get to this point,
the cutting edge of research. Here is the place where the
ferment caused by the contagion meets the actuality of sex: sex
as the acute point in physical existence where desire is
promised fulfillment: sex which is excluded in the monastic
community to which Moore has belonged for so much of his life,
and yet which also provides the opportunity for same-sex
attraction. The community, therefore, in Moore’s account, is the
place which gives rise to the
it’s-alright-to-feel-it-but-not-do-it response to homosexuality.
However, according to Moore, this as the only place where this
injunction is valid, precisely for the reason of common
brotherhood! Elsewhere he turns it on its head, seeing it as a
profound category error caused by this celibate clerical
viewpoint. Elsewhere indeed there is every reason to do it, for
the sake of human enjoyment and fulfillment between committed
partners. His basic argument is out of natural law: sex is
intended by God for personal human flourishing and it doesn’t
matter in which gender relations this finds its completion.
But I think
at this point it is Moore’s categories which are inadequate. He
reposes confidence in the Roman Catholic authorities that they
can change their stance, based on the argument he makes. He
believes that it’s a simple matter of logic. What he doesn’t see
is the power of the Jesus contagion to reshape the very meaning
of human nature, sweeping away past constructions and reducing
us simply to our desire. The Roman church does not, I feel sure,
think this way. Moore omits from his account the natural law
arguments from Aquinas which go in completely the opposite
direction, against homosexuality, and even though I am sure
these can be parsed more liberally by creative minds this is not
the way the Vatican understands them. Thus the only place to
assert what he asserts is in completely new philosophical and
moral space created under the very effect he invokes as his
title, the contagion of Jesus. And there is no way an
institution as historically self-identifying and identified as
the Roman church is going to put itself in this new place.
contagion of Jesus reveals desire as the mainspring of human
existence, and hand-in-hand the violence that can so quickly
result from desire. At the same time, as Moore says and posits
all along, desire that becomes love is the invention of Jesus,
by means of his entering into the void to remove violence from
desire. It is on this ground that a profound argument for
Christian gay and lesbian sexuality can be made, not on the
shaky preferences of how we see “nature.” Jesus has made
possible gay sexuality from a specifically Christian
perspective, from the place where desire can be transformed into
love. And so it is, I believe, that Moore has in fact outgrown
the straightjacket of his ecclesial and philosophical
conditioning. What he is looking for is a liberated practice of
the gospel, a joyful humanized Christianity and a liberated
church. My suspicion is he won’t get it this side of some
enormous upheaval, some deeper spreading of the virus, some real
breaking free of the bureaucratic forms against which he rails.
I hear and feel this in every line he writes, especially in the
second more fraught section, and that is why his book is a
Indeed if it
takes a Benedictine monk who has a spent a lifetime serving God
so much spiritual and intellectual effort to reach this
breakthrough, what about the rest of the rude multitude? Thus it
is here, paradoxically, I would posit something much wider,
deeper and more dynamic, in any account of the contagion. It
would be the way Jesus has affected popular and secular culture
more profoundly than we recognize, so that the themes of
nonviolence and desire-become-love rise to the surface more and
more, regardless of church practice and ethics. It could be that
the divine contagion has galloped through the world completely
out of control, and the church may be in fact one of the last
best places to limit its effects because of the inoculation dose
the church has taken…
James. JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It
Matters. (Orbis Books, 2008). A review by John K. Stoner,
Akron, PA, founder of Every Church A Peace Church and
member of Akron Mennonite Church.
This book is
an examination of the Cold War through the eyes of a prophet,
Thomas Merton. Actually, it is through the eyes of two
prophets--Thomas Merton and James Douglass.
difference would it make to see world events through the eyes of
people whose purpose and gift it is to reflect the glory of God
rather than through the eyes of news media? This book confirms
that it makes a big difference.
one Thomas Merton is quoted (from his “The Cold War Letters”,
in January 1963) on the state of the American public at that
time. Can you recognize our time in it?
fact it would seem that during the Cold War, if not during
World War II, this county has become frankly a warfare state
built on affluence , a power structure in which the interests of
big business, the obsessions of the military, and the phobias of
political extremists both dominate and dictate our national
policy. It also seems that the people of the country are by
and large reduced to passivity, confusion, resentment,
frustration, thoughtlessness and ignorance, so that they blindly
follow any line that is unraveled for them by the mass media.”
Douglass writes, “In our Cold War history, the Unspeakable was
the void in our government’s covert-action doctrine of plausible
deniability,” sanctioned by the June 18, 1948, National Security
Council directive NSC, 10/2. Under the direction of Allen
Dulles, the CIA interpreted “plausible deniability” as a green
light to assassinate national leaders, overthrow governments,
and lie to cover up any trace of accountability--all for the
sake of promoting U.S. Interests and maintaining our
nuclear-backed dominance over the Soviet Union and other
I was slow
to see the Unspeakable in the assassination of John Kennedy.
... That void of accountability for the CIA and our other
security agencies, seen as necessary for covert crimes to
protect our nuclear weapons primacy, made possible the JFK
assassination and cover-up. While I wrote and acted in
resistance to nuclear weapons that could kill millions, I
remained oblivious of the fact that their existence at the heart
of our national security state underlay the assassination of a
president turning toward disarmament.
turning toward disarmament...” Read the book to see how much
history is packed into that phrase, and begin to measure its
implications for where this country has gone since JFK. Read
about the secret correspondence, an exchange of 21 letters from
1961-63, between Kennedy and Nikita Khruschev. Read about the
role of Norman Cousins, carrying communications between Kennedy,
Khruschev and Pope John XXIII. Read about Kennedy’s willingness
to talk with his “enemies,” including Fidel Castro, and how the
CIA felt about that.
Douglass says “I remained oblivious...” Thomas Merton says
“the people of the country are by and large reduced to
passivity, confusion, resentment, frustration...” We do not
have to remain oblivious, passive, and unspeaking because of The
Unspeakable. Knowing and speaking truth is the most powerful
thing a citizen can do. If voting, for example, in a
presidential election, seems weak, do something stronger. Read
this book, fortify yourself with truth, and engage the
principalities and powers with power that is greater than their
powers of nuclear weapons and death.
Shane. The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary
Radical. (Zondervan, 2006).Reviewed by Edward T. Sullivan,
member of the United Church of Christ.
engaging spiritual memoir, Claiborne eschews the labels liberal
and conservative in favor of "radical Christian," explaining
radical means returning to the roots. This young founding member
of the Simple Way Christian community in an impoverished,
crime-ridden Philadelphia neighborhood describes the path he
took from his Tennessee Methodist upbringing to his commitment
to live as an "authentic Christian" ministering to the homeless
dissatisfied with living in the world of "safe Christianity,"
Claiborne's path to becoming a radical began while he was a
student at Eastern University where he first organized and
engaged in actions to help the homeless. Feeling the need to
find a real world example of a "fully devoted Christian,"
Claiborne went to work for Mother Teresa in Calcutta. In
Calcutta, Claiborne witnessed "Christianity lived out." Working
with the outcasts of society, "the poorest of the poor," was a
transforming experience. Claiborne returned to the United States
to find his own Calcutta. Eventually he finds it in inner city
Philadelphia where he founded Simple Way, which Claiborne
describes as a new culture that relies on radical
interdependence and consists of grassroots organizations,
intentional communities, and hospitality houses. This community
attempts to live like Christ and the earliest converts to
Christianity, ignoring social status and unencumbered by
able to skewer the insulation of suburban living and "safe
Christianity," and the hypocrisy of wealthy churches without
sounding self-righteous. Readers may find Claiborne's chatty,
conversational style annoying at times, but his deep commitment
to the social gospel is genuinely inspiring. The Irresistible
Revolution will challenge readers to rethink what it means to
truly live out their Christian faith.
following books have been reviewed in this or previous issues of
En Christo and are archived on our website,
Scott. God’s Debris: A Thought Experiment. (Kansas
City: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2001). Reviewed in EC
Vol. 1, #3.
Michael. The Asian Jesus. (Orbis Books, 2006). Reviewed
EC Vol. 1,
James. St. John of the Cross and Dr. C. G. Jung: Christian
Mysticism in the Light of Jungian Psychology. (Inner
Growth Books, 1988). Reviewed in EC Vol. 1, #3.
Michael. The Jesus Papers: Exposing the Greatest Cover-Up in
History. (Harper Collins Publishers, 2006) Reviewed in
EC Vol. 1, #4.
Leonardo. Passion of Christ, Passion of the World.
English translation by Robert R. Barr. (Orbis Books, 1987).
Reviewed in EC Vol. 1, #2.
J. and John Dominic Crossan.
The Last Week: the Day-By-Day Account of Jesus’ Final Week
(Harper, San Francisco, 2006), Reviewed in EC Vol. 1, #3.
Robert McAfee. Spirituality and Liberation: Overcoming the
Great Fallacy (Westminster Press, 1988). Reviewed in
EC Vol. 1, #4
Anthony. The Power Delusion. (Wheaton, IL: Victor
Books Division of S P Publications, Inc., 1983).
Reviewed in EC Vol. 1, #1.
Shane. The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary
Radical. (Zondervan, 2006). Reviewed in EC Vol. 2,
Collins, Chuck and Mary Wright. The Moral Measure of the
Economy. (Orbis Books, 2007), Reviewed in EC Vol. 1,
Spirituality and Justice. New York: (Orbis Books,
1985). Reviewed in EC Vol. 1, #2.
James. JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It
Matters. (Orbis Books, 2008). Reviewed in EC Vol. 1,
Marcia S. and Deborah Koff Chapin. At the Pool of Wonder:
Dreams and Visions of an Awakening Humanity.
(Bear & Company, 1989). Reviewed in EC Vol. 1, #3.
Sebastian. The Contagion of Jesus, Doing Theology as
if it Mattered, Edited by Stephen McCarthy. London: Darton,
Longman, and Todd, 2007; (Orbis Books, 2008).
Reviewed in EC Vol. 2, #1
Henri. The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey.
(Doubleday, 1988). Reviewed in EC Vol. 1, #1.
Kevin. American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of
Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the
21st Century. (Penguin Books, 2006, 2007). Reviewed
in EC Vol. 2, #1.
Marshall B., Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life
(Puddle Dancer Press, 2nd edition, 2003).
Reviewed in EC Vol. 2, #1.
Marshall B., Speak Peace in a World of Conflict: What You
Say Next Will Change Your World, (Puddle Dancer
Press, 2005). Reviewed in EC Vol. 2, #1.
Richard E. When Jesus Became God: The Epic Fight over
Christ’s Divinity in the Last Days of Rome
(Harcourt Brace & Company,1999), Reviewed in EC Vol. 1,
Shelby. A New Christianity for a New World: Why Traditional
Faith Is Dying and How a New Faith Is Being Born.
(Harper, San Francisco, 2000). Reviewed in EC Vol. 1, #2.
Daniel. The Myth of Certainty: The Reflective Christian and
the Risk of Commitment. (Word Books, 1987).
Reviewed in EC Vol. 1, #1.
Kevin. American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of
Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st
Century. Penguin Books, 2006, 2007. A review by Gerald
following books slated for review in future issues of En
William and Paul M. Pearson. Signs of Peace: The Interfaith
(Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2006)
Brian. The End of Christianity and the Beginning of Faith:
Religion and Science for the 21st Century.
(Smyth & Helwys, 2000)
Bartlett, Anthony W., Cross
Purposes: The Violent Grammar of Christian Atonement. (Trinity Press International, 2001).
Darrell L. The Missing Gospels: Unearthing the Truth Behind
Alternative Christianities. (Nelson Books, 2006)
J. The God We Never Knew. (Harper, San Francisco,
J. The Heart of Christianity: Recovering a Life of Faith. (Harper, San Francisco, 2004)
J. Jesus, A New Vision: Spirit, Culture, and the Life of
Discipleship. (Harper, San Francisco, 1991)
J. Jesus: Uncovering the Life, Teachings, and Relevance of
a Religious Revolutionary. (Harper, San Francisco, 2007)
J. Living the Heart of Christianity: A Guide to Putting Your
Faith Into Action. (Harper, San Francisco,
J. Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical
Jesus & the Heart of Contemporary Faith. (Harper,
San Francisco, 1994).
J. Reading the Bible Again for the First Time: Taking the
Bible Seriously but Not Literally. (Harper,
San Francisco, 2002).
J. and N. T Wright. The Meaning of Jesus. (Harper, San
Gregg. The God Code: The Secret of Our Past, the Promise of
Our Future. (Hay House, Inc., 2004).
Deborah A., ed. Christianity in the 21st Century.
(The Crossroad Publishing Co., 2000).
Robert McAfee. Kairos: Three Prophetic Challenges to the
Church. (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990).
Andrew C. Myths We Live By: From the Times of Jesus and
Gary. Soul in Society: The Making and Renewal of Social
Christianity. (Fortress Press, 1995).
Jacques. Jesus: An Unconventional Biography. (Liguori
D. Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and
Faiths We Never Knew. (Oxford University Press, 2003).
D. Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make It
into the New Testament. (Oxford
University Press, 2003).
D. Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible
and Why. (Harper, San Francisco, 2007).
Craig. Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the
Gospels. (Intervarsity Press, 2006).
Robert. The Secret Initiation of Jesus at Qumran: The
Essene Mysteries of John the Baptist. (Bear
& Company, 2005)
Thomas A. Soulsong: Seeking Holiness, Coming Home.
(Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2006).
Matthew. One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from
Global Faiths. (Tarcher/Penguin,
Richard Elliott. The Disappearance of God: A Divine Mystery.
(Little, Brown & Company, 1995).
W. Honest to Jesus: Jesus for a New Millennium.
(Harper, San Francisco, 1996).
Gallagher, Vincent A.
Cost of Low Prices: The Violence of Globalization. (Orbis
Griffith-Jones, Robin. The Four Witnesses: The Rebel, the
Rabbi, the Chronicler, and the Mystic. (Harper, San
William. A Quest for the Post-Historical Jesus.
The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light. (Thomas
Allen Publishers, 2004).
Obery M., Jr. The Politics of Jesus: Rediscovering
the True Revolutionary Nature of Jesus’ Teachings and How They
Have Been Corrupted. (Doubleday, 2006).
Richard A. Jesus and Empire: The Kingdom of God and the New
World Disorder. (Fortress Press, 2002).
Philip. The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global
University Press, 2002).
& Michael Hardin. Stricken by God?: NonViolent
Identification & the Victory of Christ. (Fresh Wind Press,
Anthony J. The Resurrection Effect: Transforming Christian
Life and Thought.
(Orbis Books, 2008).
David. Why the Jews Rejected Jesus: The Turning Point in
Western History. (Three Leaves Press, 2005).
Herbert and Bart D. Ehrman. The Lost Gospel: The Quest for
the Gospel of Judas Iscariot. (National
Kyriacos C. Riding with the Lion: In Search of Mystical
Christianity. (Viking Penguin, 1994)
Brian D. The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth
that Could Change Everything. (W Publishing Group, 2006).
Nelson-Pallmeyer, Jack. Jesus Against Christianity:
Reclaiming the Missing Jesus.
(Trinity Press International, 2001).
Albert. Jesus Today: A Spirituality of Radical Freedom.
(Orbis Books, 2006).
Elaine. The Gnostic Paul: Gnostic Exegesis of the Pauline
Letters. (Trinity Press
Uta. Putting Away Childish Things: The Virgin Birth,
the Empty Tomb, and Other Fairy Tales You Don’t Need to
Believe to Have a Living Faith.
(Harper, San Francisco, 1994).
Gregory J. One Jesus, Many Christs: How Jesus
Inspired Not One True Christianity, but Many.
(Harper Collins Publishers, Inc, 1997).
Gregory J. The River of God: A New History of Christian
Origins. (Harper, San Francisco, 2001).
Suzanne. The Wicked Truth: When Good People Do Bad Things.
(The Raven Foundation, 2007).
Hugh. The Essene Odyssey: The Mystery of the True Teacher &
the Essene Impact on the Shaping of Human Destiny.
(Rockport, MA: Element, Inc., 1993).
Shelby. Jesus for the Non-Religious. (Harper, San
Shelby. Liberating the Gospels: Reading the Bible with
Jewish Eyes. (Harper, San Francisco, 1996).
Shelby. Why Christianity Must Change or Die. (Harper,
San Francisco, 1999).
Carsten Peter & Matthew d’Ancona. The Quest for the True
Cross. (Palgrave, 2001).
Barbara. Jesus of the Apocalypse: The Life of Jesus After
the Crucifixion. (Doubleday, 1993).
Barbara. Jesus the Man: Decoding the Real Story of Jesus
and Mary Magdalene. (Atria Books, 2006).
Thomas L. The Messiah Myth: The Near Eastern Roots of Jesus
and David. (Basic Books, 1995).
Geza. The Authentic Gospel of Jesus. (Penguin Books,
Geza. The Changing Faces of Jesus. (Penguin Compass,
Marvin. Jesus the Wicked Priest: How Christianity Was Born
of an Essene Schism. (Bear and Company, 2008)
Jim. The Soul of Politics: Beyond “Religious Right” and
“Secular Left”. (Harvest Book, 1995)
Jim. The Soul of Politics: A Practical and Prophetic Vision
for Change. (Orbis Books, 1994).
Re-thinking Christianity. (Oneworld Press, 2007
A. The Jesus Myth. (Open Court, 1999).
Michael. From Jesus to Christianity: How Four Generations
of Visionaries & Storytellers Created the New
Testament and Christian Faith. (Harper, San Francisco,
Dallas. The Divine Conspiracy: Discovering Our Hidden Life
in God. (Harper, San Francisco, 1998)
Garry. What Jesus Meant. (Penguin Viking, 2006).
Walter. When the Powers Fall: Reconciliation in the Healing
of Nations. (Fortress Press, 1998)
Walter. Jesus and Non-Violence: A Third Way. (Fortress
Tom. The Original Jesus: The Life and Vision of a
Revolutionary (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990).
As a citizen
of the world...
I BELIEVE in
the dignity of all humanity, that each person is a being of
I BELIEVE in
the wholeness of the human race, undivided by economic,
cultural, racial, sexual or national differences.
in the stewardship of life and resources to the end that all may
mutually benefit from the earth's bounty and that no person may
have to go without food or shelter.
I BELIEVE in
the primacy of human relationships as a person committed and
responsible to other persons, regardless of their economic
status, race, creed or nationality.
I BELIEVE in
the global community, interdependent and mutually responsible
for our physical and social environments.
that we are One World and affirm that I am a citizen of this
world. My allegiance to it and its people, my brothers and
sisters, is primary over all other political entities.
therefore, committed to the promotion and care of the whole of
humanity without partiality or prejudice and with such resources
as I have at my command, both within and without.
AFFIRM that I wish, as much as I possibly can, to base my
actions on my beliefs and thus contribute to a world where
justice and compassion rule and where greed and hatred are
©This text is copyrighted. The
specific electronic form, and any notes and questions are
copyrighted. Permission is granted herewith to copy the text,
and to print out copies for personal and educational use. No
permission is granted for commercial use.
If any copyright has been
infringed, this was unintentional. The possibility of a site
such as this, as with other collections of electronic texts,
depends on the large availability of public domain material from
texts translated before 1923. [In the US, all texts issued
before 1923 are now in the public domain. Texts published before
1964 may be in the public domain if copyright was not renewed
after 28 years. This site seeks to abide by US copyright law:
the copyright status of texts here outside the US may be
different.] Efforts have been made to ascertain the copyright
status of all texts here, although, occasionally, this has not
been possible where older or non-US publishers seem to have
ceased existence. Some of the recently translated texts here are
copyright to the translators indicated in each document. These
translators have in every case given permission for
non-commercial reproduction. No representation is made about the
copyright status of offsite links. This site is intended for
educational use. Notification of copyright infringement will
result in the immediate removal of a text until its status is
Back to Top
Copyright 2007-2016 Peacebuilding Institute,
a voluntary association
in Knoxville, Tennessee