Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Donald Trump: A Paen

Given the insanity and whirling of the 2016 election, I hear a lot of noise everywhere and by everyone on the candidates and what's at stake in the upcoming election. I have no intention of voting, primarily because I think democracy is dead in America, and that it's a generally worthless system given an Empire of such magnitude (in terms of wealth, size, influence). The whole crop of candidates had to buy and whore their way into the spotlight. Occasionally, a rogue agent gets through. Someone like a Ron Paul or a Bernie Sanders. As for the former, he had no real chance, as for the latter, his popularity surprises me. But of course, I have to wonder whether his officially signing up with the Democrats means he made a couple deals. Why would Democrats take on an avowed socialist, when they spent 8+ years denying Obama was one (which he's not)?

Anyway, none of this matters. What really impresses me is the success of Donald Trump. The man is a hard-talking, no-nonsense New Yorker who just tells it as it is. At least, that's the act he puts on. Donald Trump is a real estate-mogul, but there was no reason for him to ever emerge from the shadows of the boardroom. He made himself into a celebrity. The persona he constructed for The Apprentice was brilliantly done. Shows copy-catting the basic premise continue to this day. This is his first presidential run, but not really. The race for the American presidency is more reality-show and carnival than any serious, white-knuckled, deliberation over politics. Our voting is akin to American Idol. I wouldn't be surprised if voting will eventually be done by texting it in, especially given the plummeting numbers of people who actually vote.

Donald Trump knows how to work this. He knows how to put on a show. He knows how to say the right things. In fact, he knows when the wrong things are actually the right things. Look at our pop-culture. Our favorite superhero is  Batman who must appear the "bad guy" in order to promote and protect the good. The most popular shows host anti-villains who we love to hate and secretly are enamored with (i.e. Walter White in Breaking Bad, Don Draper in Mad Men, Tony Soprano in The Sopranos). Not only that, look at shows like Game of Thrones, where politics is revealed to be a mad power-lunge. Most Millenials will look with horror and disgust on the political process, while maintaining a comfortable apathy.

Donald Trump senses this. Honestly, I think he is probably the most cunning and in-touch candidate of the whole lot. People like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are ideologues who only preach to the choir. Jeb Bush is the perfect bureaucrat, which in ages gone by would've been a suitable choice for the Presidency. Ben Carson is merely a celebrity, who rises and pops before the day is through. At first, this is what people assumed about Trump. But he's a media mogul, not a delusional dark-horse candidate who really believes he/she is popular because of their message and their purity of heart.

In fact, it may not be possible now, but Donald Trump sets the stage for the future candidate who can do the unthinkable: create a united, unanimous country-wide sweep. This sort of thing only happened with people like Reagan and FDR. Both of them knew how to run the media perfectly. They were able to play all parts for all people. Reagan could be the tough foreign policy cowboy, he was the soft-spoken man of God, he was the common-sensical average-joe candidate. FDR was the sophisticate of the New York establishment, he was a traditionalist to the Dixiecrats, he tried to appear pro-business and pro-labor simultaneously. Both appeared at a National Crisis giving solutions for a new dawn.

These are the legacies that Donald Trump is trying to draw upon. He may have played his hand too strongly. Hillary Clinton is the only other candidate who could have done that, but her affiliation with the Obama administration has only tainted her further (i.e. namely the Benghazi scandal). Instead of letting the tensions and agony of the Clinton eras pass into the myth that those were happy days, she has kept the animus alive. In her quest for power, she has cut herself off at the legs. She will never become the unanimous candidate, though she still might win.

Donald Trump might have done the same thing to himself, making himself into the bully and the hated-one. But if Trump and Clinton both clinch the nominations, it will become a vote off over which one is hated the least. It might drive voter-levels even further down, as Hillary will be searching after all those disaffected Bernie fans. If she chooses Sanders as her running mate, she will only destroy herself and eradicate Sanders' credibility. It might be very tempting, but securing her numbers through Sanders will only open her up to the charge she (beginning with her husband) has been running from her whole life: she is a pinko-commie. Trump would benefit hugely from this, and I'm sure he's hoping for it. As for Trump, I'm sure he'll pick a running mate that is out of the blue, leading to a huge media-spike. Even though Palin was a dud, think about all the excitement McCain generated. He was the middle-of-the-road candidate from the party everyone hated. The fact that he got as close to Obama as he did is in part due to the Palin surge.

But let's continue down this track a little more. Even though Palin was lambasted as a naive idiot, she remained exceptionally popular. Why? Because she channeled her hatred into a celebrity cause. Even when it was patently apparent that she was a dope, there was still a segment who wanted her as president. Trump, unlike Palin, is not an idiot. He knows how the system works. He is the manipulator, not the manipulated. Every insensitive remark, every hamfisted proposal, it's all a calculated risk to build his reputation. As per a line in Pirates of the Caribbean: "You're the worst pirate I've ever heard of"; "But you have heard of me..."

I think Nietzsche would be both disgusted and proud of Donald Trump. He would find the American social state as deplorable and disgusting. He would be horrified at the whoring Donald Trump is doing to make it to the top. But he would be in awe at how Donald Trump rewrites the rules. He would be in awe of how his presence commands people. He breaks people in verbal sparring. He knows how to play his role, and out play everyone else.

America politics are at a turning point. Both Liberals and Conservatives are at certain breaking points. The former are more and more willing to accept war and bloodshed, the latter more and more willing to accept more progressive social mores. Donald Trump, if he does it just right, might fuse the two together in his person. He could support bombing campaigns against ISIS and affirm gay-marriage, with the caveat that "it's gross, but whatever". In a Hegelian sense, he could ride the new synthesis and personify it.

A President Donald Trump could represent the creating of a new American era. But, as far as empires go, this era might result in the shattering of American dominance. Caesars can only push so far on social and geopolitical ethics before the whole tower comes crashing down. Creation can only bear so much wear and tear before it falls apart. God judges Empires at the right time. So who knows what could happen. Maybe the day hasn't come. Even if Donald Trump loses, he will return.

No matter what happens, the American Imperium will continue to rumble on. The goal is an American Century, one that is agreed upon by all Establishment apparatchniks. Whether its a snake like Hillary, a dragon like Trump, or one of the many other reptiles that lust after power, it will make little real difference in the quest for empire. Christians by and large remain blind to this, and continue down the same patterns. The love of power can blind even the most wise.

If this the twilight of the gods, that nihilism is true, Donald Trump is the most successful and most laudable. He really understands the game, a game where there are no ethics, no truth, only the will to power. But if God reigns in Jesus Christ, who is at the Right-Hand of the Father, then we really need to rethink our paradigms and reconsider our place in the world. We ought to stop trusting in princes, and bend the knee to the Prince of Peace. Not only in this era, but for all times everywhere, unto ages of ages. Amen.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Test the Spirits

This is a repost of an article I wrote. It contains many underdeveloped ideas. Contributions and commentaries are welcome.

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I was dumbstruck by an insight that came through Slavoj Zizek’s Pervert’s Guide to Cinema (it’s not what it sounds like). He gives a scenario (and forgive me the crassness): there are times where someone, in the midst of sex, will be disenchanted and be perplexed. Why am I doing this? Why am I engaged in these repetitive motions, acting almost machine like? There a sense of stupidity pervades, as we become aware of what we’re doing and its emptiness.

Out of my own sexual insanity, I can testify to this feeling and experience. It’s also the same pervading sense that drove me away from my pornographic addiction in High School. There is an overwhelming sense of emptiness and foolishness. As I put it above, the enchantment is gone and we’re left with barebones physicality.

Zizek has an explanation for this. What drives sex, for both a man and a woman, is what he calls the ‘phantasmal’ element. There’s a fantasy at work that colors the context of everything that’s happening. There’s a dream or idea that motivates the on-going story. There’s a psychological projection that maintains the romantic relation.

It’s perhaps why lingerie and the ‘act’ of disrobing is more attractive than sheer nudity. The former leave a mystery to be explored, a lacuna to be filled in with the imagination. These objects and acts encourage desire. They excite the imagination, Mankind’s creative reason, to compose and make sense of things. More on that another time.

Now for Zizek, these are abstractions and artificial constructions. Humans create these feelings, moods, stories, and symbologies. It’s what they need to give meaning. But Zizek is a materialist and an atheist. What if, instead, these are not mere Human projections but part of the outworking of another dimension of reality? What if the spiritual dimension is indeed present, the folded fabric of the world we already indwell?

Now I’ve always had to take, at some value, the Biblical reality of spirits, demons, angels, and pervading darkness. In our modern world, it’s a bizarre and alien conception. Some have banished it to the text, a world away from us where, for some reason, these kinds of things no longer occur. Perhaps it’s on account of a new dispensation. Or perhaps it’s a part of a mythologizing that we no longer believe in or need. Whether you take a more biblicist approach or a liberal one, both are attempts to disconnect.

But I’m convicted otherwise. We are not in a world come of age. We live in an age that is as superstitious as the days of the Apostles. We live in a world full of religious rites, sacred symbolism, and cultic celebration. Our age of science is a new highly religious age, full of the demoniac and spiritual. I still believe in the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit to combat the Darkness, and give His people weapons to topple strongholds. Of course part of that work is to see Scripture rightly, which is cannon. But I digress.

In the Trinity, the role of the Spirit is the purveyance of love between the Lover (Father) and the Beloved (Son). Whether this is a helpful description of the Unity of the Godhead, there’s something there perhaps to glean. What if we do not have or participate in relationships or groupings without the presence of a spirit? This is present in off-hand sayings like esprit d’corps , but what if this means that all of relations are mediated through the presence of a ‘third’?

What I’m offering is something distinctly Human, distinctly 3rd dimensional, that is a part of relationships. Unlike mere animals, Mankind possesses a breath from On High. We are an enspirited creature, which does not mean we are mere hybrids between beast and angel. However, this touches on something that we may otherwise miss. C.S. Lewis believed mankind was amphibian, able to indwell both a world of water and land, a foot on both Earth and Heaven. This may be too much as well.

Paul commands us to keep in step with the Spirit, to be ‘in the Spirit’, which is equivalent, but not merely collapsed, with being ‘in Christ’. Being in the Spirit is the means for producing life-giving fruit (c.f. Galatians 5) and being in the Light. All of these fruit are not mere individual traits, but have consequence for group harmony and as group dynamics. Church communities are to be kind, self-disciplined, patient, loving, etc. To obey the Law of the Christ means to be indwelled by the Holy Spirit.

Now I don’t want to make much of it, but even the titular name ‘Angel’ has connotations of messenger, a medium, a go-between two parties. If our actions, like Zizek’s example, become merely mechanical and meaningless, perhaps this is a moment of absence. Perhaps our relationships are not uninhabited. Whether good or bad relationships, there’s a spirit at work and one that needs to be discerned.

In the life of the Church, we can see the difference in either the presence of a ‘Candlestick’ (the angel of the Church), or what the Christ refers to as a ‘synagogue of Satan’. That is, a community that has betrayed the brethren and now turned against the grace of God. A Church Community that is laden in gossip, in abuse, in manipulation, in deep seated and commended conflict (I could go on), perhaps is one that is under spiritual attack. Then, of course, there is the possibility is has ceased to be a Church of Christ, and now belongs to the demonic.

We can all think of examples of this. Mega-Church pastors that act as dictators. Legalistic enclaves practice shunning and shaming and are hostile to the outside. Quiet communities exist, where abuse, sexual immorality, viciousness, goes on unabated and unspoken. There are Communities that have openly sold their soul (candlestick?) for a particular set of cultural mores, national allegiance, or practice. This includes everything from churches bedecked in American flags and full of patriotic fervor, open-and-affirming bedecked in rainbow flags.

Perhaps 1 Corinthians 10, about headship and head-covering, needs re-examining. Maybe Paul’s argument ‘because of the angels’ has more punch. But this is for another time.
Then maybe there are spirits working in personal relations. Perhaps abusive, fear-driven, controlling, cold relationships are the haunt of the demonic and under another influence than the stubbornness or cruelty of one of the two parties. Maybe loving and thriving relationships have an angel over them.

Relationships are not mere anything, we are never just with another person. There is a third-dimension to it, and perhaps this is where we are called to ‘test the spirits’. This is for both communities and for individual relationships. This is the charisma of discernment, reading whether the voice of a community is preaching the Lamb or speaking like the Dragon. This is where we see if a particular relationship is health or unhealthy.

This topic needs further investigation and thought. But we need not fear. The Holy Spirit is the Lord of the Spirits, and it is He who raised the Christ from the dead. He indwells us, protects us, and teaches us. He will continue to do so.
 

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Benedict Option: A Thought

Here's a post at Mocking Bird on the Benedict Option: Exploring Our Options

Here's the Comment I wrote in response:

The more I hear about the Benedict Option, the more I am suspicious. Particularly, the heuristic value for recapitulating a history. Benedict going out in the woods, and forming a community, on account of the Fall of Rome and invasion of “barbarians equals losing the culture wars and moral degeneracy?
Consider the fact that during the lifetime of the Apostles is considered one of the high-water marks of Roman cultural immorality. It was the age of the Julio-Claudians (i.e. Caligula and Nero), Ovid, Great Mother and Dionysiac cults. Augustus had to pretend to be a family man and passed many of his family-laws and moral regulations because of the mores of the era. Yet where were the Apostles hiding?
It’s also funny to note that the barbarians who conquered Rome were Arian Germans, not the “Lavender Mafia”, the “Feminazis”, or the Kardashians. Dreher sounds like Jerome when he wept for the fall of Rome. He had no idea how the gospel would survive without the Empire.
I am all for a call to discipleship, distance, and spiritual growth, but that’s not because of the times but because that is what the Church is about. As you pointed out, William Temple said it well. Dreher still sounds a lot like a Neuhaus kind of Roman Catholic, despite jumping ship.
The Church in America has lived through eras of chattel slavery, wage-slavery, American Indian extermination, Jim Crow, robber barons, global empire building, red panics, the 60’s, etc etc. I think the Church can survive this too.

CS Lewis: The Spy

Here's Christianity Today's article on C.S. Lewis as British Intelligence Operative

If you don't want to read through the whole article, here is the summary:

C.S. Lewis during World War 2 was asked by some anonymous agent in MI6 to assist in the war effort against Nazi Germany. Lewis had a reputation as a stirring public speaker and lecturer at Oxford. Lewis proceeded to record a message for Iceland, arguing for a shared kindred spirit between the English and the island-dwelling Norse. He argued that they must stand together, as allies, against the Nazis. This was crucial. With Denmark and Norway already fallen, it was not unlikely Iceland would follow suit. If this happened, this island would be a potential staging ground for Nazi invasion of both the British Isles, but also westward towards Canada. However, if friendly to England, it would act as an air-base to launch seeker missions against Nazi submarines attacking England's merchant fleet.

Now, honestly, this is a cool story. This is one reason why I study history, it's stranger than any fiction. Who would have thought that an Oxford don/popular Christian apologist was actually apart of an intelligence service.

However, this is what disturbs me. Lewis never mentioned this anywhere else. The author of the article stumbled into this truth by buying what he thought was a hoax on Ebay. In fact, the message that he delivers, about the importance of Nordic culture among the English, was never a serious topic Lewis ever spoke about. He dedicated no books, lectures, or public recordings to it. So how can he speak of it leaving an irremovable impression on him?

Yes, we can say it was World War 2, the good war. We can say it was for king and country, honor and duty, kith and kin. Dulce et Decorum Est.

I love a good spy story. But that is not the same thing as trusting or listening to a spy. Spies are liars, tricks, spinsters, deceivers, and manipulators. And yet the great radio personality, the man who defended Christianity on the air-waves was an active pawn in the great geo-political battle over the fate of Europe.

Now I understand that the times were serious. Britain had a real threat of invasion. The Nazis were ideological and ruthless. I am not equivocating here, between England and the Reich. But while the Nazi part channeled the spirit of Satan, the Nazis were misguided and lost souls. They were Human too, bearing the image of God, despite the atrocities of many. And England was not guiltless. The Dresden bombing campaign, of laying hellfire down upon a civilian center, is an Allies brutality that most conveniently forget. There was mass killings on both sides. This is the nature of Total War, the modern military doctrine.

So as I read the article, my heart dropped a bit. If C.S. Lewis can stretch the truth and employ it for country, what else did he do? What was the point of his apologetics? Yes, the Truth remains despite the deeds of men. But, it ought to give one pause. Is all the 'Mere Christianity' a load of bullshit, a unifying force around Western culture to resist the Soviet bloc? The Soviets used Peace, the People, Equality and the West used God, Freedom, Democracy. These were all ideological props. How can I trust a single word from Lewis' mouth?

This kind of thing can be dizzying. It's like the recent spate of Bond movies or the film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. At the end of the day, what does any of it matter? It's all kind of a Nietzschean farce, a will to Power. It's who gets to run out the clock the longest. It's sheer nihilism dressed up in poetic and epic excitement.

I get the impression that the author of the article is proud of Lewis. It's fitting, he is the Chair of Chuck Colson at some no-name university. In the spirit of Colson, he would be proud that C.S. Lewis invested in real power, put his talking to some real use. For me, it is sick.

If Christianity is a load of symbols, a Western project for protecting the globe ala. Niebuhr, then I want no part of it. I'd rather just move on to something else; the 21st century US already seems to be doing that. But if Christianity is true, then I hope Lewis repented.

There are two kinds of Christianity: the one of the patriarchs, the prophets, and the apostles, and the other of the empire-builders. The latter is the Christianity of the Grand Inquisitor. A Christianity that, out of supposed love of man, hates God and must keep man bound. It's the Christianity of the imperial Roman Popes, it's the Christianity of Corporate backers, it's the Christianity of the Niebuhrs, Colsons, Richelieus. It is a Christianity of calculated pragmatism, not obedient fidelity. It's a Christianity who promotes Christ as a 'Beautiful Soul', and uses this to plan, build, and conquer. It doesn't matter if it is eloquent preaching, this Christianity has utilized a Schliermacher and a Billy Graham, whether willingly or not, I do not know.

God have mercy on the soul of C.S. Lewis. May God have mercy on us all.

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Present State of Things

Nevertheless the age was essentially constructive. The theoretical scepticism of the Academy, the bold unbelief of Julius Caesar, and the practical atheism of Nero, had given place to a revival of belief in the Unseen. This often took the form of superstition, which is the Nemesis of outraged faith. Magic was widely practised[sic] by its pretenders and widely believed in by its dupes. People regulated their lives by omens. While the venerable oracles of Delphi and other ancient shrines were comparatively neglected, augury from the flight of birds or the inspection of entrails was more widely prevalent than ever. Nor was this all...
The heart of mankind "abhors a vacuum." If it has not spirituality [That is, the Holy Spirit--CP] it will welcome sorcery, accepting demonology in place of theology, and giving the conjurer the seat from which the prophet has been ejected...
Men were making frantic efforts to save themselves from drowning in a black ocean of spiritual corruption by catching at the floating wreckage of derelict cults.

This comes from Walter Adeney describing the state of the Roman Empire in the first-century. It doesn't take much of a stretch to see how this applies to our present state and age. Replace Julius Caesar with a host of modern politicians not nearly as dashing and cunning as Dictator Perpetua. Replace Delphi with national shrines like Mt. Vernon or Monticello. Replace augury, entrails-reading and omen-watching with horoscopes, opinion-polls, and popular-statistics.

And as for derelict cults people use to save themselves from? Of course we have old-timers like Voodoo and Freemasonry, but now the pervasiveness of Wicca, Goddess worship, and Age-of-Aquarius/Aliens New Age cults. There are also the many more secular-cults like CrossFit or some of the new dieting trends, which call Humanity to save itself by transformation.

For as much as people thing this is the Modern world, we seem to go in bizarre cycles. This is the same world that Christ entered to save. This is the same world that is beheld to the "god of this age".

Christ save us.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Walking Dead & Peacemaking

Though I am constantly irritated by the show, I have been a pretty avid fan of The Walking Dead. The show has become overbearing with its cliches, its rote dramatic performances, its almost cyclical developments, its inability to have a firm direction. And besides that, the show's pervasive darkness is a little grating. All TV now has taken up the theme of darkness. We see mankind revealed as utterly debased. Twenty years ago, the mask was just being ripped off. We saw feel good-shows begin to disappear. Paranoia, anxiety, despair, cruelty, malice, cold-calculations, and raw power became the domain of TV. These plot twists were to shock and awe. Now its getting a little hackneyed.

Anyway, The Walking Dead embraces this in some ways. It's a standard zombie-apocalypse trope, the living-dead show that we, the Humans, are the living-dead. Fictional monsters hold a mirror back up to our face. We are the ones who feed on each others indiscriminately; we are the ones who mindlessly congregate to get our fill. It's great stuff. But the other-side of that is that behind the mask of civilization, there is nothing but raw survival. The only ones who can make it are the ones who do what it takes. You see the moral-conscience of the group mauled to death, those people can't survive.

However, the one character that remains fascinating in this standard world of zombies is Morgan Jones.

Morgan underwent a conversion experience. Insane from the loss of wife and son, he becomes an animal, killing everyone and everything. His initial sensibilities about dignity and life are trashed. But through the patience and kindness of a stranger, Morgan slowly reconsiders the bestial existence he has subjected himself to. The kill-or-be-killed is challenged. It takes the death of his master for his repentance to become complete. Morgan begins to wrestle with his demons, his demeanor changes, his philosophy is radically transformed.

His new motto: All Life is Precious

This comes from a Zen book in Akido. It's a Buddhistic kind of thinking. And strangely, when explained and played out, is the most Christian thing in the show. Morgan has given up the right to judge in such a way. For him, life maintains a sense of possibility and change. Death is final and absolute. To take someone's life is to judge them unfit or incapable to live. Morgan resists this temptation tooth-and-nail. As one commenter said, Morgan is like a duck on water: calm on top, legs kicking on the bottom.

The last episode, the mid-season finale for season six, was a really good display.

*spoiler alerts*

Carol, a rather pragmatic, ruthless and survivalist member of the group, discovers Morgan has hidden a member of the Wolves in the basement of a house and has been talking with him. The Wolves are a mysterious group of near-insane survivalists who, for no rational reason, attacked the group in their community in Alexandria. Despite his protests that he will kill again, Morgan refuses to give up on his captive. Carol has other plans. In the midst of chaos, she escapes from Morgan's attention, and goes to kill the captive. Morgan catches up and protects him. In the ensuing fight, the Wolf gets free, takes a gun and knife, and leaves with a hostage. His survival is to be determined.

The significance of the scene will be determined with how the show judges the actions of Morgan. But it looks good from my point of view. It is Carol, who is truly no different than the Wolves in ruthless violence, who instigates this process. She takes it upon herself that she is the judge to declare, absolutely, that this member of the Wolves is not fit to live.

Morgan stands as a Peacemaker, one who is not constrained by liberality and utilitarian notions. Morgan is quite a proficient fighter. Peacemaking requires this. It requires the strength to stand your ground, to actually fight. But unlike other fictions where killing is outlawed for crude or simplistic reasons (i.e. non-identity with the evil that does kill, outright refusal, some traumatic experience), Morgan gives a basis, as stated above. Life comes with possibilities. If Morgan can turn around, and be different, then why should he be so quick to judge?

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. I hope Morgan's character remains and offers a principled challenge to the dominant philosophy of the rest of the group. Most characters so-far that have resisted the main-course have died. They are the ones who cannot live in this world anymore. They not only have died, but they must have died. They are slowly dying epidermis of the old world of niceties, civilized infrastructure, and diplomacy. But Morgan doesn't need that. He is no longer bound to an old-world, nor is he trapped in the paradigm of kill-or-die that most others function from.

Morgan represents a fictional character that has rejected the course of things, but remains. He is in the world, but not of the world. He does not stand idly by, not willing to get his hands dirty. He does not recourse to some vague notion of democracy. He does not cower or refuse to bear arms. But he bears arms in defense of life. He wants to live. It's not his time to die, not yet.

I am pessimistic about a show like this to maintain such a brilliant character without marking him as expendable and just one more warning against trying to remain different. I still have hopes though. For viewers, Morgan represents the possibility of difference in a world of blood and death. He shows that real change, real justice, doesn't come through death. Instead, real change, and the chance for real justice, can come through repentance. I guess that's a different kind of death.

All life is precious.

Power Resurrected

First read this article by my friend Proto: http://proto-protestantism.blogspot.com/2015/12/a-most-wanted-man-myth-of-principled.html


If you don't have to look it over, you should make the time! Otherwise, be content with this truncated summary so I can respond, elaborate, rejoin, and dialog:

In essence, power has buried in it a pursuit of the absolute. Power comes with it the temptation and lure to acquire more of it and to protect it. Since we are living in a Fallen world, our feeble sin-sick persons cannot resist, in this age, the pull towards corruption. Our principles and ethics become Consequentialist. The perceived ends, the necessity of our person or office, the anxiety of loss, all of these will drive one who has power. In the end, those who seek power will become utterly corrupt, and even more so when such is justified for higher reasons, particularly theological reasons.

Much of this is true, but in a defined sense. What exactly is power? What exactly is the nature of authority? Does the manner, mode, disposition, and reception make any difference?

I don't think Proto is a Voluntarist. That is, I don't think God's Power is therefore just because God wills it to be. Our sense of justice may be warped, but in the fabric of creation, there are marks, both shining and vestigial, that testify to God's character. The Triune radiance comes to be reflected in just, right, fitting, and good.

So, in the same way, power reflects an attribute of His Character that we see revealed in Christ Jesus. Now, I think Christ Jesus represents power rightly. However this will take some detoxing and qualifying. I believe when one reads the Gospels properly, one does not see the limp-wristed "beautiful soul" of German Pietism, Victorian Sentimentalism, or all the other garbage that effaces the Gospel in truly vomitous works of art. Christmas music, by and large (though not all), stands under this condemnation. Many Christian-made movies of Christ are truly horrendous. It's sad that Scorsese's "Last Temptation of Christ", based not on the Gospels but a work of fiction utilizing Gnostic themes, is a more accurate portrayal.

Instead, we see a Jesus who stands a Judge to relieve the oppressed. We see a Jesus who destroys the tables of the money-changers. We see a Jesus who casts out demons, who argues with the Pharisees. Jesus' procession to the cross is a time of deep suffering, but it is a suffering endured by the Conqueror of Death. I understand some modern theologies that emphasize Jesus as Victim for pastoral reasons. But truly, the Gospels spend little time on the Passion in terms of violent details and more on the spiritual-work being accomplished. The Gospels do not read like a Medieval Passion play (such as Gibson's "Passion of the Christ").

There is no dichotomy in Christ in terms of His saving and judging. Christ as Prince of Peace is not in His First Coming. His being Prince of Peace is in the same vein as His bearing the wrath of the Lamb, His wearing His self-blooded robe with sword protruding from His mouth. Yes, Jesus stands as sacrifice, but the sacrifice who lays down His life only to reclaim it. He is God's Anointed King, bearing the Holy Spirit, who bears up the sins of the world.

Now, consider all of this in light of the discussion of power. As Christians, we ought to see the world differently. We understand the spiritual depths differently. All to often, American Christians have abandoned Christ's Kingdom and begin to work for earthly dominions. This is the case for both messianic Neo-Cons and Quaker pacifists. Both look for God in communities made of earth, whether in a blood-orgy called "making the world safe for democracy", which becomes a kind of neo-Pagan theology, or in Quakers thinking kingdoms made of mud can be given a Christian engine to run on.

The reality is that most of what we do falls under the qualifier 'power'. As I move my hand to type, I exercise power. As I use words to convince you of my position, I exercise power. There are a lot of types of power. The problem with Proto's article is that it conflates without elaboration. Alright, bureaucrats become corrupt and maniacal in their pursuit to climb the ladder. What of fathers? I know plenty of fathers who've had their fatherly prerogative go to their head and abuse their children. I've seen husbands berate their wives. I've seen teachers abuse authority. I had a teacher who abused his power and had sex with a 16 year-old girl (which, by a few months, evaded a charge of statutory rape).

The problem is the context and form of power. This is why Proto is right. The context of the Nation-State, enveloped in Empire, racial/cultural superiority, and a certain, less extreme, kind of ideological lebensraum is a wicked endeavor. Even if you can convince yourself of the good, think of the cost.

The monastics of the Desert were one group of Christians who understood this very deeply. The problem is not the presence of power, it's the call towards eternal vigilance. We are born in sin and iniquity, and yet the work of the Holy Spirit is refashioning us into that ancient beauty God always intended. We will not reach perfection in our lives, but in a sense, we are perfect if we are turned towards disarming ourselves, breaking down barriers, loving indiscriminate of friend/foe. That is what Jesus means when He says "Be perfect as My Father in Heaven is perfect". This is to bear God's likeness, to be conformed to the image of Christ.

We are too quick to be like the Quakers, idealistically making Jesus into the model of a middling government employee. Jesus becomes mushy and serene. It's perhaps for that reason that Quaker policies in Indian reservations turned to bloodlust in the end. It's why the Social Gospelites of the 19th century, quite easily transitioned into war-fiends driven by bloodlust in World War One. It's the process of the happy liberal being mugged by reality (to quote Irving Kristol). It's Colonel Jessup's speech at the end of "A Few Good Men": the Marines stand on the wall so everyone else can play make-pretend. He goes to jail at the end of the movie, the "good guys" win, but do they? I'm left harrowed.

But Christ Jesus calls us to a different kingdom. The world may be crafted by Imperial paradigms, that build the mazes that many run through like rats. The Church is to offer an alternative social-imagination, one that can envision the world differently. May out of the tombs of our failed projects and schemes, however many we've attempted, may Christ emerged alive and victorious. It's for this reason St. Anthony rejected his middle-class prospect to enter the Desert and face his demons. It's for this reason that St. Polycarp stood victorious as soldiers and the mob laughed at him, conquering the devil in his martyrdom.

In Lord of the Rings, the One Ring is destroyed, and yet Isildor's heir is crowned. Tolkein may not agree with my conceptualization, but Aragon as consummated king stands as power found in Godly form. God ordains all powers that be, using and purposing them for a time, but God still comes to reign in the Word and Spirit.

In Christ, Human power, in all its weakness, dies and is resurrected.