Where do you stand on liberation theology? Good counter-points regarding my anti-Pope diatribe by the way. Beautiful, in fact. Of course, as you say, Christianity is a Middle-Eastern religion with a historical presence all over that region! I was using a rhetorical device involving the ‘assumption’ that Christianity is ‘White’ – as if it developed in Europe! This has mileage because many White Europeans inherently assume this! You saw through this with ease!
I understand why Liberation Theology happened, but I dislike how it seemed to massacre the cosmic geometry of ritual and prayer, the poor deserve something more beautiful than the liberation theologians were prepared to give them because they reflect Christ more than the rich. Besides, the Three Holy Hierarchs (Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, and Gregory the Theologian) had said much the same in the very early Church and the problem with Christianity is that it has failed to live up to this. Here is an exert from an Anglican sermon on the subject.
Chrysostom in particular insisted that wealth was evil, because God, who is the ultimate owner of everything, had created all material goods to be held in common. To claim sole possession of such goods, therefore, was to be guilty of theft, both against God and against other human beings. ‘Thus emerges a line of teaching’, Heslam concludes, ‘which may be considered an antecedent to Proudhon’s famous dictum that property is theft’. As we see from both of today’s readings, the poor were often regarded in the Early Christian tradition as more favoured by God than the rich, and were to be identified with Christ. This stood in marked contrast to traditional Graeco-Roman thought as expressed by members of the elite, in which the poor, and especially the destitute, were regarded either with disgust, or as objects of ridicule, to be mocked. It is in such terms, for example, that they are treated in the Latin poems of Martial.
Charity in the Roman world was something which the wealthy targeted almost entirely at the wealthy, in a manner vaguely reminiscent of the attitude of some donors to the wealthier American universities today. At the same time, however, the Fathers in general, and Chrysostom in particular, taught that the private ownership of property could be legitimized if such property were put to proper use. As Heslam has again noted, for example, in the same sermon in which Chrysostom declares the root of all wealth to lie in injustice, he also declares that wealth may be redeemed, ‘so long as the rich do not hoard it for themselves, but share it with the poor’.
Crucially, from the concept that all material possessions were meant to be commonly owned, ‘and that the possession of private wealth by the few is therefore theft against the poor, [there] emerged [in Patristic thought] the idea that when the rich give to the poor this is a matter of just redistribution rather than of charity. It is simply rendering the poor their due, a matter of obligation rather than of bounty.’ The redistribution of wealth from rich to poor was simply restorative justice.
I am reading the biography of Assata Shakur – the Aunt of 2Pac Shakur. She was a member of the ‘Black Liberation Army’ (BLA) in the 1960s and 1970s. The car she was driving in with two fellow BLA members was ambushed by armed police on the Jersey Turn-Pike in 1973. She was shot and severely wounded by the police who opened fire for no reason. One of her comrades returned fire in self-defence and killed one of the officers – and was immediately killed by returned fire a moment later.
Anyway, the US government wanted to pin all this on Assata Shakur and treated her with a terrible racist and misogynistic terrorism. She was even held in the worst cells of a male-only prison. She even had her baby handcuffed to the bed. As soon as the baby was taken away from her – the prison guards dragged her onto the floor and beat and kicked her for 15 minutes to make-up for last 10 months of having to ‘watch the health of the baby’ still in her womb!
In trial after trial her lawyers proved her innocent but the US government would not release her. She was placed in a high security women’s prison in 1979 and saw the followers of Charles Manson participating in the ‘Aryan Sisterhood’! Assata Shakur met an extraordinary woman named Lolita Lebron – the Puerto Rican freedom fighter (and devout Catholic). Lolita Lebron had led a small armed squad in an attack against Congress in 1954. They got into the chamber, said the Lord’s Prayer, unfurled the Puerto Rican flag and demanded freedom for Puerto Rica! They fired their guns in the air but some bullets ricocheted and wounded fire five Americans!
For this action, all five freedom fighters received a 50-year minimum sentence with no parole. Lolita Lebron taught Assata Shakur about Liberation Theology – as she drew her inspiration from the South American struggle. She explained how many of the Revolutionary movements in South America are led by Catholic priests, monks and nuns, etc. irrespective of Vatican dictates to the contrary. Both women influenced the other with Lolita learning more about Marxist-Leninist (Maoism) and Assata learning about the Revolutionary life of Jesus Christ and many of his disciples.
In that year (1979), an out-going President Carter commuted the sentences of the Puerto Rican freedom fighters to ‘time served’, and had them released. They had all served around 24-years by this time. Also in this year, the BLA and its non-Black supporters conspired to hatch a plan to break Assata out of prison and smuggle her to Socialist Cuba. This they did. Fidel Castro granted Assata Shakur political asylum from the US fascist system – and awarded Lolita Lebron the highest bravery award Socialist Cuba could give!
If it is good, then it will bear fruit, if not it will wither and die.What irritates me about a lot of it (though not in the example you give) is the complete absence of true liberation. Often the poor are patronised into accepting a watered down version of the faith because ‘that is all they will understand’.
Well, you are my expert in these matters. I am trained as an old-style political commissar. I have the People’s well-being at the centre of everything I think, say and do – and yet we must continue to ‘evolve’! I have a function in the Communist Party of China (CPC)l but I am viewed as something of an oddity in the Communist Party of Britain (CPB)! The Western Parties are still suffering a trauma about the 1991 collapse of the USSR – but not in China – where it simply doesn’t matter. Their view is the USSR collapsed in 1956 with Khrushchev’s betrayal of Joseph Stalin! Yes – Lenin did agitate against politicised religion whilst granting complete religious freedom at the individual level. Religious are enemies of the people if they behave like a social class and oppose Socialist Reform.
My job today, is to bring religious thinking and Socialist ideology together. That is, Marxist-Leninism (Maoism) – which includes Stalinism – with theology and philosophy. I am set to study ‘Liberation Theology’ as it might be useful for diplomatic purposes. I have Spanish friends who have never looked to the atheist USSR or ‘foreign’ Chinese (their words) – but only toward Cuba due to its mixture of Marxist-Leninism and Roman Catholicism. Every so often I have to travel to China for various courses – including battle formation for political commissars. I am a flag-bearer and am allowed a pistol – but I refuse it as I believe the course of Socialism is greater than physical death! I am with a ‘stout’ piece of wood and a very strong nylon Red Flag! I don’t know many fascist regimes that can equal the utter coolness of that image!