Fast with Theresa Spence

Today I am fasting in solidarity with Theresa Spence.
I am a settler and the descendent of settlers who first came to Turtle Island from Europe in the early and mid-twentieth century but I know that my liberation is tied to the liberation of the First Nations people.  As such, Spence’s hunger strike holds out the possibility of life and freedom to me and other settlers even though the explicit focus of her strike is the life and freedom of First Nations people.
How can this be?
In the context of colonialism and oppression, all parties are dehumanized.  The colonizer (the oppressor) is dehumanized because he or she lives a life stained with the blood of others, benefits from goods stolen from others, and experiences privileges that are premised upon the denial of the rights of others.  Consequently, to live as a colonizer is, in my opinion, to live a less-than-fully-human-life.  This is the case, even if a person is kind or sensitive or knowledgeable – even if a colonizer (like me) claims to care about all people equally regardless of their race or origin, that colonizer still participates within and benefits from racist systems and structures.  That, as far as I can tell, is the reality of the world into which I was born.  As a settler living within a nation that is premised upon theft, colonialism, and genocide, the reality of my situation is one of bondage.  I am bound by a nation, a culture, a law, that are all structured in such a way as to refuse me the ability to be just or nonviolent.
Consequently, the actions of Spence and others who are proclaiming that they will be idle no more are actually actions that hold the potential to liberate me from this context which dehumanizes me.
And yet I wish to pause here – once again I discover a situation where settlers are exploiting the First Nations people.  My people are those who have created this situation – my people are those who have stolen the land, resources, health, children, cultures, languages, and lives of many Onkwehonwe – yet now it is the Onkwehonwe who are acting to rectify the situation.  I am a member of those who created this context of oppression and genocide and now I stand to benefit from the sacrifices made by those like Spence?  Once again, it will be First Nations people who struggle and suffer and I, as a settler, will benefit from their struggle if it is successful.
How, then, can I begin to engage more directly and appropriately in a process that pursues the transformation of our context by means of a mutually liberating solidarity?  It does not seem right to me that First Nations people should be the ones choosing to starve themselves to death (if need be) when they have already had so much violence imposed upon their bodies by settler society.  Shouldn’t it be settlers who are now offering to starve themselves to death in solidarity with the Onkwehonwe?  Isn’t it time that settlers began to pay, with their bodies, something of the price for liberation and for creating a more just way of sharing life together?
These are the questions I ask myself and I share them with you because I do not know the answers and I do not know the way forward.  I have been grasping and fumbling and trying and failing to find my way.
However, today I will fast in solidarity with Spence because this request has been made and I wish to honour those who are asking it.  Yet having said that, I also want to be conscious that true solidarity requires much more than symbolic actions performed sporadically.  I know that my hands are not washed clean of the blood of others by engaging in this fast.  Just as attending an anti-war protest does not make me a peaceful person (for I still pay taxes that are used to fund war in Afghanistan and elsewhere), so I know that this symbolic action does not decolonize me or make me less implicated in the violence of settler society.  I know that much more needs to be done.  I cannot forget the words of Che Guevara:
Solidarity is not a matter of wishing success to the victim of aggression, but of sharing her fate; one must accompany her to her death or to victory.
Hard words, indeed, but true.  There is a long road to walk to freedom, and I cannot see well to find my way… but today I will fast and bring the name of Theresa Spence to the Creator.
I will also ask the Creator for patience when dealing with my own people.  I have tried to heed the words of Taiaiake Alfred who, echoing Malcolm X, has encouraged well-meaning white folks to go back to their own people to confront the racism and violence that exists there.  I have tried to do this and have had little success – I think perhaps I get angry too easily and I am unable to sway those with whom I speak.  I will confess my inability to act or speak well and I will ask the Creator for guidance on this road.
Thank you for reading.  Creator, may this day be good.

The Cabin in the Woods: All War is Class War

[Warning: this post contains spoilers.  I hate to ruin a good movie for others, so I suggest you watch this movie first before reading what follows after the cut.  Seriously.  The movie was tons of fun.  I pretty much never laugh out loud when I watch movies but I did on multiple occasions with this one.  Also, while a lot of clever things happened in this movie in relation to other horror films, and common tropes from the genre, I won’t be touching on that  in this commentary.  Plenty of other folks have done that already.  However, I haven’t found this particular political reading of the film elsewhere — which is not to say that it isn’t already out there! — so that’s going to be my focus.]

You see where this is going, right?

You see where this is going, right?

1. Overview
I’m going to start by giving everything away.  This is your last chance to walk away and watch the movie.  Take it.  Okay, now that you’ve done that, here we go:
Continue reading

London Shelter Residents Advocacy Group

Well, much of my time during the last three or four months has been dedicated to engaging in community organization and mobilization amongst marginalized people where I now live — London, Ontario.  The outcome of that, so far, is the “London Shelter Residents Advocacy Group” (LSRAG).  We have started a blog and, if you want to follow along or engage in the conversation (and everybody is invited and welcome to participate) you can join the conversation there.  To learn more about the LSRAG you can click here.
Currently, we are asking for public feedback on a Shelter Residents Bill of Rights that we are intending to bring forward to the City.  At this stage, however, we are asking for feedback, suggestions, or criticisms regarding the proposed Bill.  Any interested parties are welcome to contribute although we are particularly interested in hearing from those who have lived experiences with homelessness and as shelter residents, and from those who are rooted within anti-colonial and anti-oppression models.
Finally, we also have a Facebook page.  If you have a Facebook account and take the time to click that link and then “like” our page, you can follow along that way as well (and we would appreciate the support).
All power to the people.

On Che

Lately I’ve found myself thinking a fair bit about Che Guevara and, for the first time in years, went back and revisited some of his writings (there were a few quotes that had come to my mind and I was thinking about them a lot, so I wanted to read them in context).
He is a pretty fascinating character…. yet I’ve noticed that many of those currently involved in “activism” or “counter-cultural activities” desire to avoid any mention of Che. This isn’t simply because Che espoused violence, whereas all the poseur radicals are some of the most morally righteous and thoughtful pacifists you’ll ever meet.  No, this is because of the way in which the image and memory of Che has been successfully branded and marketed so that, while Che came to be a symbol of genuine revolution back in the day, the image of Che today represents those who pretend to be revolutionary but, in fact, are nothing more than poseurs whose pseudo-activism actually contributes to the smooth functioning and expansion of global capitalism (the sort of thing explored in Heath and Potter’s great little book, The Rebel Sell: Why the Culture Can’t be Jammed — appropriately, the cover of that back, in the edition I have, features a picture of a mug bearing the image of Che).
So, in a way I suppose that it’s appropriate that most of the “activists” avoid Che’s image.  They don’t want to appear to be poseurs and so, instead of acting in genuinely revolutionary ways (as Che did), they simply pose like non-poseurs by avoiding the images associated with poseurs.  This is as it should be — such people should not be associated with Che (and maybe they know that, and hate being confronted with their own hypocrisy, so that may be another reason why they avoid the t-shirts… altogether too uncomfortable).
The solution, however, is not to allow those who brand and market the image of Che to control his legacy.  The solution is not to bear the image of Che but to act like Che (and thereby end up bearing the brandmarks of Che upon one’s body, as Paul says about another state-executed terrorist in Galatians 6:17).  Here are the two quotes I have been meditating upon.  Both are from his message to the tricontinental:

[Solidarity] is not a matter of wishing success to the victim of aggression, but of sharing his fate; one must accompany him to his death or to victory.

And this:

Hatred as an element of the struggle; a relentless hatred of the enemy, impelling us over and beyond the natural limitations that man is heir to and transforming him into an effective, violent, selective and cold killing machine.  Our soldiers must be thus; a people without hatred cannot vanquish a brutal enemy.

Che, again like Paul, was an apostle of love (remember the motorcycle diaries?).  This hatred is a symptom of his love and his solidarity with “the victim of aggression.”  Let us meditate upon these things.

Censorship and Anarchism

[My last post sparked a somewhat polemical exchange over on the “Jesus Radicals” website between myself and Andy Alexis-Baker.  Today I discovered that Andy,  a blog administrator of that site, deleted the comments and so I posted another comment to try and make peace while also addressing some further issues of concern.  That comment is what is duplicated here along with the email I received from Andy in reply to it.  I want to post it here because I think it is important for us to consider this issues publicly — how does censoring our comrades fit within an anarchist or a Christian tradition?  How do polemics fit into the ways in which we relate to one another?  What happens when we share common goals and dreams but have trouble communicating with one another?  Below is my comment.]
It is worth observing that a comment thread mostly between myself and Andy Alexis-Baker was deleted from this post (with no notice or explanation given to me). It was deleted shortly after a third party remarked how s/he had appreciated both of our blogs but hated the way that we were talking so snarkily to each other and pointed out how at least some Conservative Christians can get along with each other whereas we so-called radical Christians seem to have a hard time of doing that (my paraphrase). That was the last comment I saw in the thread before it disappeared. A few things are worth noting here:
First of all, this kind of censoring out of disagreeable disagreements is in direct opposition to anarchist approaches to speech and dialogue and, therefore, seems odd on a blog that claims to espouse that way of thinking. This approach, of course, if why General Assemblies at some Occupy locations have appeared to be drawn out and tedious to some but necessary to others (including the anarchists who helped to bring those GAs to North America). Anarchists generally believe in avoiding censorship, even when that means they get presented in a less glowing light ((it’s hard to be anti-authoritarian yet approve of censoring your comrades simply because you don’t like their tone).
Secondly, erasing the comment thread after the comment made by the third party mentioned above is a way of hiding the very real differences that exist between people who share common beliefs, commitments and struggles. Just because two people identify in different ways with anarchism, postcolonialism, Christianity, etc., doesn’t mean they are going to agree on all the details and it doesn’t mean they are always going to voice their disagreement with one another in a cordial manner. There is no point in whitewashing the public record in order to try and hide this… otherwise, if or when people actually choose to get involved with people like this in “real life” they could very quickly end up becoming disillusioned. People are people. Sometimes we talk to one another like lovers and sometimes we talk to one another like petulant children, and sometimes we even do that with those who share a lot of things in common with us. That’s how it goes, and I don’t see the sense of hiding it.
At the end of the day I believe that Andy and I are struggling to achieve similar goals and are dreaming similar dreams. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re involved in similar actions. Of course, I don’t really know him in any way (apart from the persona he employs on this blog) but I see no reason why I should not wish and pray and hope the first for him. I am being completely sincere when I say that I hope the road will rise up to meet him. Which gets to the third point I want to make: even when we do disagree with each other, and use words that are intended to provoke the other person, it should be this recognition of what we have in common — these goals and dreams and maybe even actions — that both permits us to have the space to go at each other a little and permits us to come together and wish one another the best when all is said and done. That is to say, we need to learn to negotiate conflict amongst ourselves and, once again, simply erasing words from the record is not the way to do this. It is, instead, a habit we have inherited from the authorities whom we are trying to resist.
So, hey, I’m not sure which blog administrator chose to take that course of action, but I hope you will permit this comment to stand. Blessing to you all, and Andy most especially. Keep fighting the good fight.
[Postscript: here is the email I received from Andy after he deleted this comment:]
If you wish to continue that line of comments form the Jesus Radicals site
you can do so via email. It is not going to remain on the JR site, nor
will any further comments along those lines. Call it what you want, but it
is not relevant to the post at hand, you can be rude to me over email.
Maybe I’ll read it, maybe I won’t.

While You're Talking About Revolution, I'll Be Over Here Having a Bud

[This post is a self-critical response to a poem posted over at “Jesus Radicals” entitled: “The Revolution Will Not Serve Budweiser“.  I wrote it before I read their latest posting, another poem, entitlted: “Revolutionaries” but I imagine the line of thought is just as applicable to that post as to the previous poem.]

While You’re Talking About Revolution, I’ll be Over Here Having a Bud

Give strong drink to one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; let them drink and forget their poverty, and remember their misery no more. ~Proverbs 31.6-7

  • The eco-conscious-anti-capitalist-postcolonial-intentionally-communal-Christian-anarchist-poets are talking about revolutions.
  • They’re talking to us about opting out of drinking on posts available courtesy of Apple and PC and transnational telecommunications companies.
    • Hardware made by child slaves who live in dorms with mesh over the windows in order to create lower suicide rates.
    • Companies that take revenue gained from North American Christian anarchists in order to murder anyone who actually engages in genuine revolutionary activities elsewhere in the world.
      • (Has nobody read Les Justes? “Il dit que la poésie est révolutionnaire.” “La bombe seule est révolutionnaire.” Can I get an Amen?)
      • (Or the lament Psalms?  “How can we sing the LORD’s song in this land?”)
      • (Or Adorno? “Nach Auschwitz ein Gedicht zu schreiben ist barbarisch.”  If that is the case, what of poetry written during Auschwitz… written not by the inmates but by the guards and the surrounding civilian population?  Because, really, whose side do you think we’re on?)
  • And they pile burden upon burden upon the backs of others, while never once coming close to following their own standards
    • But they look righteous.
    • And they sound righteous.
    • And I think I saw a picture of them all at a protest.
    • Or an Occupy assembly.
    • Maybe even on an Ignatian retreat.
    • Or on a sustainable farm.
      • (All photos taken from their iPhones.)
    • And they include Romero
    • And the Berrigans
    • And Kropotkin
    • And Malatesta
      • Amongst their interests on Facebook.
    • And their blog even has a banner that says “I Support the Occupy Movement”.
      • (Does anybody remember half a dozen years ago when everybody was putting a “Make Poverty History” banner on their blogs? How did that turn out?)
  • In doing so, they also pile burden upon burden upon the back of people who are poor.
    • People who are oppressed.
    • People who don’t have the money for eco-farming.
    • People who don’t have the money to shop anywhere but Wal-Mart in order to try and make their kids feel happy at Christmas time when all the other kids in their class are coming to school with shiny new presents.
      • (And with shiny happy pictures taken on the iPhones they got from their parents.)
    • People who don’t get invited on Ignatian retreats because they don’t sit still.
      • And they talk too much.
      • And they’ve been disagnosed with a personality disorder.
      • And they just make you feel awkward.
      • And bored.
      • And drained.
      • And pretty soon you just want to avoid them.
      • Because despite your valiant six hours of investment they aren’t getting any easier to “deal with.”
      • Plus they stink.
      • And they might be contagious.
      • Or have bedbugs in their clothes.
      • And you don’t want them to steal your laptop or smartphone.
  • And, shoot, this also piles burdens onto the back of people who drink.
    • And bang herion.
    • And smoke crack.
    • And sell themselves on the street.
      • Or in hotels.
      • Or online.
      • Or in alleyways
    • Or sell other people.
  • So, listen, man, I’ll tell you why we drink.
    • Mike drinks because his wife committed suicide.
      • Where were the eco-conscious-anti-capitalist-postcolonial-intentionally-communal-Christian anarchist-poets? Checking their Twitter feeds?
    • Molly drinks because her kids were killed in a car accident.
      • Where were the eco-conscious-anti-capitalist-postcolonial-intentionally-communal-Christian-anarchist-poets? Seeing if anybody commented on their latest blog post?
    • Taylor drinks because she was roofied and raped at a party.
      • Where were the eco-conscious-anti-capitalist-postcolonial-intentionally-communal-Christian-anarchist-poets? In the other room telling some poor overly polite sucker trapped as a captive audience why they don’t drink?
    • Dale drinks because he can’t get opiates for his chronic pain because the doctors think he’s an addict.
      • Where were the eco-conscious-anti-capitalist-postcolonial-intentionally-communal-Christian-anarchist-poets? Off building the Christian Anarchists World of Tomorrow Today Theme Park?
    • Pat drinks because his parents kicked him out when he came out to them.
      • Where were the eco-conscious-anti-capitalist-postcolonial-intentionally-communal-Christian anarchist-poets? Working on signs for a march?
    • Sarah drinks because her uncle got her pregnant and she had to give birth to a dead child in the backroom of the family home so that nobody would know what had happened.
      • Where were the eco-conscious-anti-capitalist-postcolonial-intentionally-communal-Christian-anarchist-poets? Discussing the latest from Naomi Klein in their reading group?
    • Dave drinks because he was torn away from his parents, placed in a residential school, abused by the priests, and taught that he was, oddly enough, extinct yet still alive.
      • Where were the eco-conscious-anti-capitalist-postcolonial-intentionally-communal-Christian-anarchist-poets? Sorting their recycling into the proper bins?
    • Laurie drinks because it’s the only thing that enables her to fall asleep at night, after everything she has seen and done.
      • Where were the eco-conscious-anti-capitalist-postcolonial-intentionally-communal-Christian-anarchist-poets? Heatedly debating if organic, gluten-free, microbrews could be accepted as donations to the community?
  • I’ll tell you something else. I’ll tell you why I drink.
    • I drink because I’m friends with Mike and Molly and Taylor and Dale and Pat and Sarah and Dave and Laurie and a multitude of others.
  • But most of all, more than anything else, you want to know why I drink?
    • I drink because of you.
      • I drink because you talk and you read and you analyze and you blog… “Revolution! Ya Basta! Enough is enough!”… and you talk and you read and you analyze… and you talk and you read… and you talk… and you talk… and you talk.
  • But I don’t see no revolution. And I don’t see you doing anything revolutionary either. Nothing close to it. You and all the eco-conscious-anti-capitalist-postcolonial-intentionally-communal-Christian-anarchist-poets.
    • (Debord taught us about the society of the spectacle and, look, at lot of what you say looks and sounds pretty spectacular.)
      • (Beyond Debord, Baudrillard argued that even the spectacle has now faded and been replaced with the simulacrum and, I gotta say, a lot of the revolution you talk about sure looks and sounds like a copy without an original.)
  • It makes a person wonder sometimes:
    • Maybe this isn’t really about revolution.
    • Maybe it’s about trying to create a pretty little guilt-free space for you and your friends.
    • Maybe it’s about having your cake and eating it, too.
      • Gaining all the benefits of middle-class, white, male, Western, Christian, privilege
        • (I’ve mentioned smartphones already, right?)
      • Without paying any price.
        • (Apart from conference and retreat fees which a lot of us cannot afford.)
      • Without making any real sacrifices.
  • But maybe you’re not succeeding.
    • Maybe you’re still filled with guilt.
      • So maybe you go to parties and talk to girls about why you don’t drink beer.
        • Maybe that makes them feel like shit for drinking beer.
        • Maybe that makes you feel righteous.
        • Maybe you transfer some of your guilt onto them.
        • Or maybe that just gets them to make-out with you and you can forget about things for awhile.
          • Because, boy, for a middle-class White Christian male, you sure sound like an enlightened postcolonial feminist radical and that’s kinda hot!
            • (Lord knows, we’ve seen enough men playing that card in activist circles.)
  • Maybe you know you’re not making a difference.
  • Maybe you know the revolution you speak of and dream of ain’t gonna happen.
    • At least not on your watch.
      • (At least not if you can help it?)
  • Because maybe you don’t want it to happen.
    • Maybe you like your smartphone too much.
    • Maybe you like living life out of prison without a criminal record.
      • Still haven’t gotten around to the eco-friendly backpacking tour in Costa Rica and a criminal record could really intefere with that, ya know?
      • And how am I going to get to that “Religion and Radicalism” conference in Germany next year?
      • Plus, the job market is hard enough these days, forget about it if you’re an ex-con.
  • Because, hey, how many eco-conscious-anti-capitalist-postcolonial-intentionally-communal-Christian-anarchist-poets are being tortured in Bagram?
    • How many have been picked-up by the Department of Homeland Security?
    • How many are on a watch list as potential terrorist threats?
  • Because I’ll tell you something else:
    • Jesus died as a State-executed terrorist.
    • So did Paul.
    • So did a host of other early members of that movement.
    • And other members who identified with that movement throughout history.
  • When you all start going to prison, when you all start getting disappeared, when you all start surfacing in torture centres, well, then I’ll know you are serious.
    • When that happens, I’ll sober up.
    • I wouldn’t even be interested in drinking then.
  • Until then, however, I’ll make you a deal. I won’t begrudge you your eco-conscious-anti-capitalist-postcolonial-intentionally-communal-Christian-anarchist poems, communities, conferences, and blog posts, if you won’t begrudge me my booze.
  • We’re all getting by one way or another. And it’s hard to tell if your addiction is more helpful or harmful than mine.
  • But look, man, I know it’s hard getting by. It ain’t fucking easy (if you’ll pardon a little more French in this post). So, do your thing, and I’ll do mine and we’ll all live and die and help and harm and often not know when were doing one or the other until we are all enfolded in the embrace of God.
  • I’ll drink to that.
    • And the next time I’m in the park with the fellas and the gals who gather there to drink Listerine or Colt 45 or whatever else people have gathered together, I’ll try to remember to pour a little out for you and the revolution you loved and lost.
      • Cheers.

Going to Die: On Staging Losing Conflicts with the Powers (A Sermon)

[The following is a Palm Sunday sermon that I preached today at “The Story” in Sarnia, Ontario.]
Introduction: Jesus Predicts his Own Death
Since today is “Palm Sunday,” we are stepping back from Acts and will be looking at Jesus and his arrival in Jerusalem during the Passover. We all know what happens next in the story: the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus which will be the focus next week. However, it’s safe to say that many of the actors involved in the story – from the disciples, to the crowds, to the Sanhedrin, to the Roman governor – didn’t know what was going to happen.
But Jesus did. Three times, in Luke’s account, we see Jesus predicting his own death. Twice in Lk 9 (vv21-27 and again in vv43-45), and then once more when he is on his way to Jerusalem he says this:

See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be handed over to the nations; and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and so on the third day he will rise again” (Lk 18.31-33).

Jesus knows that he is going to Jerusalem to die. Stop and ask: how does Jesus know this? Don’t give yourself an easy way out and go with the Sarah Silverman answer that Joe mentioned a few weeks ago: “Jesus is magic.” Think harder. “How does Jesus know he is going to die?”
Another question that might help you answer that one is this: “Why did Jesus die?” Want to know what the wrong answer is? “For the sins of the world.” Nobody who was involved in killing Jesus had that on their minds. It’s not like the Sanhedrin, Pilate, and the soldiers who nailed Jesus to the cross all thought: “Well, gotta kill this guy to save the world from its sin – thanks ever so much for agreeing to do this. Sorry about the nails and all that.” So, why did they kill Jesus?
The answers to these questions can be seen especially clearly in the material we are looking at today: Lk 19.28-48. This passage can be broken into three episodes: the first is when Jesus proceeds from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem and the so-called “triumphal entry” takes place. The second is the short observation that Jesus weeps for Jerusalem and its coming destruction, and the third is the so-called “cleansing of the temple.” I think all of these stories are pretty well known to anybody who grew up going to church, but I think we are mostly taught how to misunderstand them. We tend to read the “triumphal entry” as the story of Jesus coming as a king to Jerusalem, we read Jesus weeping over Jerusalem as an anti-Semitic judgment on the Jews for not being Christians, and we read the “cleansing of the temple” as some sort of religious ritual, which Jesus has exclusive permission to perform because, you know, he’s God. Jesus is magic!
However, when we read these stories in context, very different things come to our attention and after we look at them in more detail, we’ll already be able to know what is going to happen to Jesus – even if we had never read the rest of the story – these verses let us know that Jesus is going to die and why he is going to die.
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The Poverty Industry and the Early Assemblies of Jesus-Followers: Seven Provocative Contrasts

[What follows is a transcript of a lecture I presented at a course a friend of mine is teaching to Christian Social Service workers in Toronto’s Yonge Street Mission (YSM) — one of the most respected and oldest Christian charities engaging homeless and street-involved folks in that city (and also a former employer of mine).  It was interesting that, immediately prior to me delivering this lecture, the President of GM Canada spoke in the room next door to a group of homeless and street-involved teens.  He presented a tale of how he worked his way up from nothing and spoke about North America as the land of the free.  In such a free space, all that limits what a person can be (according to this fellow’s talk) is how hard a person is willing to work and what choices they make.  He spoke about how he chose to be a businessman because he knew they were important people who could do a lot of good things.  Basically, what he presented was the ideology of freedom, choice, and capitalism-with-a-human-face… thereby providing a perfect illustration of the sort of things I criticize in my own presentation.  I would love feedback from any who take the time to read this (sadly, I didn’t find the time to make this as tight, polished and as well-argued at points, as I wanted it to be), as I will be revising this lecture for a course I’m helping to teach next summer.]

The Poverty Industry and the Early Assemblies of Jesus-Followers: Seven Provocative Contrasts

Introduction: Questioning the Relationship of “Charity” to “Justice”
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I was talking with Gallio the other day about some of the latest rumours that are spreading throughout the Empire. Strangely enough, there seems to be some sort of “movement” establishing occupations in various central cities in the Eastern provinces. However, it seems that some of the members of the movement are objecting to the language of “occupation” – they seem to think that the land is already undergoing an occupation by us, the Roman people, which is pretty laughable left-wing nutbar material if you ask me – we are the agents of peace and security, salvation, civilization, prosperity and the Golden Age, how can we be viewed as some sort of negative occupation?
Anyway, as far as I can tell, this “movment” started in the Middle East in the Spring with #OccupyJerusalem, and then spread to all sorts of other places – #OccupyAntioch, #OccupyTessalonika, #OccupyGalatia (although people are uncertain if that is happening in the North or South of the province) and so on. There are even rumours that one of the more active members of this movement is hoping to set up an occupation (or perhaps help develop an occupation that has already taken place unbeknownst to us?) in Rome itself before moving on to the Western provinces.
Anyway, my curiosity got the better of me and so I thought I would go and check out the occupation that is taking place here in Corinth. After all, the rumours suggest that these people want some sort of “revolution” and they seem to be claiming that some fellow who died as a state-executed terrorist is actually the agent of peace and security and salvation—they seem to want to refer to this person in the same way as we refer to our Lord, Caesar (blessed be) and they seem to think this fellow established some sort of economy that runs counter to our own. How mad… and maddening, really. Don’t these people know what a gift we have given them with our law and order? For, as the divine Augustus once said: the slave-based economy of Roman imperialism is the worst of all the possible options… except for all the other ones! Besides, our economists know that slavery is a necessary growing pain of any recently developed economy and, really, its a far better option than a good many of the choices available to those barbarians. Ungrateful bastards—when the tide rises, all boats rise (and the divine Caesars are, of course, lords of the sea, ever since Pompey liberated the world from pirates).
So, perhaps there would be some money in it for me if I went to visit #OccupyCorinth. If there really was anything seditious going on there, I might make some money by being the first to turn them over to the authorities.
You can’t imagine my disappointment when I got there. What a joke of a “movement.” I couldn’t even make out what their objectives are. They are incoherent and divided. Various factions have arisen. I could identify those of Paul, of Apollos, of Cephas, and of someone called Christ, and, as far as I can tell, they all have different models by which they seek to pursue some sort of change.
This is all pretty humourous for a movement that claims to be leaderless – or, rather, claims that their leader is some immaterial Spirit and some poor dead, uneducated Jew who they think underwent an apotheosis (more like an apocolocyntosis… I should tell Seneca about that play on words, he would appreciate it, I think). Of course, even these supposed “leaders” of “the leaderless” appear to be the dregs of all things. I saw one of them speaking at their General Assembly (they meet weekly for this and so for the civic administration has turned a blind eye to this, even though it is illegal for them to assemble in this way). He was poorly clothed, apparently homeless, seemed to have marks from beatings, coarse hands from hard work (how shameful!) and appeared to be hungry, foolish, weak, disreputable and altogether rubbish. I mean, who can take people who look like this seriously?
They make their own clothes (if you even want to call those eclectic rags “clothes”)? Egad. What do they have to tell us about anything?
Not only that, but they appear to be a profoundly immoral group. While visiting the occupation, I learned that one fellow is having sex with his father’s wife! Can you imagine! Even the most licentious of us Romans would never consider such a thing. Of course, the supporters of #OccupyCorinth have tried to tell me that such a person is a rare exception to the rule – and that we should not judge a whole movement based upon one bad apple – but I think we all know that they are just trying to hide the fact that they are all probably incestuous.
Not only incestuous, but also atheists. They reject our gods – the very same gods who gave us our economic values, who raised the standard of living of all throughout the empire, and provided us with the family values we admire and protect (the divine Augustus worked harder than any other to restore the dignity of the family, did he not?). So, while they claim to talk in some sort of religious language, we should not be fooled: these are atheists and, literally, motherfuckers.
Things only became even more of a joke, when I learned that some of the occupiers were using our legal and judicial system in order to resolve conflicts that occurred within the occupation. These people claim to be embodying some sort of alternative kingdom, centred around the Spirit of new life and the revaluation of values but as soon as the going gets tough, they appeal right back to systems that any true revolutionary would see as opposed to their goals. What a bunch of poseurs and hypocrites.
I could go on and on, but I’ll just mention three more things. First, the occupation can’t even figure out their eating arrangements. Some are meat-eaters, some are vegans, some only eat “free range” meat or something like that (is that what “kosher” means?), and they can’t sort out how to address everybody’s needs without getting into fights with each other. How pathetic. Not only that, but for all their talk about being a new society of brothers and sisters, when they do get together to eat, it seems like those who have higher status (which, let’s be honest, is only relatively higher status, since they are all a bunch of beggars and inbreds) appear to be taking the better portions of food and eating more than others. So much for loving one another in new ways. This isn’t the sort of concrete and material mutualism that we Romans practice with our siblings.
Second, they seem to be permitting women to run around acting in roles that should only be reserved for men. I would feel entirely emasculated if a woman told me what to do, yet there are some women who seem to be acting as “leaders” (in a “leaderless” movement). Now, obviously we Romans value women, but everybody knows that they are to play a different role in society. I would never follow a leader I could beat in a fight (something Senator Marcus Driscolius once said about those barbarians who were revolting up north under the authority of a woman). Women, obviously, are made to bear children and care for the home. This does not mean they are any less human than men, but it means their role is different.
Third, a good portion of those at #OccupyCorinth appear to be either high or in psychosis. Some are walking around speaking in tongues that nobody can recognize, some claim to be able to heal the sick with alternative medicine (or simply by touching them while speaking certain words!), some claim to be able to prophesy the future, and some even claim to be able perform vaguely defined “works of power.” What a bunch of crazies. Seriously, I would expect this sort of madness from the Gauls and other barbarians (damn tribal people, they would probably have drum circles… yuck!) but I expect more from Greeks.
That said, despite their obvious beggarly nature, despite their juvenile behaviour, despite their immorality, incompetence, and incoherence, there still were some very troubling and destructive messages being proclaimed. If anybody started taking them seriously, we could be in trouble – indeed, given the way this Occupy Together thing is spreading, the Empire itself could be in trouble. Not because something better is coming along, but because these people seem to proponents of chaos and anarchy and ways of structuring life together that are proven failures.
For example, one of their leaders-but-not-really-leaders, is trying to encourage them to share their resources and money with one another in some sort of “Collection,” and is trying to network the occupations throughout the Empire so that, even though they are all poor, there will always be enough for everybody. This sort of utopian economic theory is the sort of thing we might expect from the barbarians in East Germania and beyond, but it has obviously proven false and was thoroughly refuted at the fall of wall of Alesia (and the defeat of Vercingetorix). Not only is it wrong from an economic angle, it is wrong from a moral angle. It refuses to respect the divine laws of private property and disregards the fact that people have earned what they have and deserve to keep it (whether that be a little or a lot). Yet, these atheists refer to these divine laws as idolatry. Perhaps we have spoiled our colonies a little too much and now some are responding by acting like ungrateful children. Spare the fasces, spoil the child.
Not only that but, as an aside, we should note that it probably isn’t good for the Empire to have various members of vanquished nations interacting with each other in this way, apart from some sort of Roman intermediary. Given that this movement likes to imitate our political ways of structuring life together – both by forming local assemblies (“occupations”), establishing its own law courts (and claiming that they are beyond or above the law because of grace and love – a fuller expression of anarchy has never been heard before!), and using political metaphors (referring to their groups as a single body, when really we know that the political community is the true body) – we should note how this might end up creating a transnational alternative to what we offer… that is, if these incompetent, immoral fools can get their act together.
There are other heretical and seditious views proclaimed by some members of this “movement.” Thus, perhaps in a moment of megalomania, I heard one of them proclaim that: “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are.” I might be tempted to respond: “Okay, buddy. Keep telling yourself that and living in your fantasy land,” but this is a dangerous fantasy. I heard the same person say, that the “rulers of this age are doomed to perish,” in part, I think, because they are said to have “crucified the Lord of glory.” This same Lord will, supposedly, hand our empire over to his God who will “destroy every ruler and every authority and every power” and will put “all his enemies [including us, I suppose, since we crucified their “Lord”] under his feet.”
This is rebellious talk and should not be tolerated. We all know that crucifixion is a form of death reserved only for the worst members of society. Thus, to say that some crucified person is Lord, while proclaiming doom upon the rulers, is an offense that should not go unpunished… and should be punished severely. Of course, this same fellow who said those words, also described our judicial system as “unrighteous” and “unjust” so there may be no hope of reforming him (given the scars on his body, he may not have been hyperbolic when he described himself as “sentenced to death” and being “in danger every hour”).
I went back to Gallio and told him about these things but he said I’m getting a little worked up over nothing. Obviously, we are dealing with a bunch of juvenile, immoral (probably high), ignorant, and hypocritical wannabes who like to throw around some provocative rhetoric but who won’t make it through the first winter. Gallio assured me that, while they are monitoring the situation, the main thing to do is to present a benevolent face to the public. Lord Caesar knows, it wasn’t that long ago that we completely destroyed Corinth so, even though these people are beyond ungrateful for the grace we have shown them since then, violence might not be the answer yet. These people will implode upon themselves or fall apart before they can offer anything serious to the city. In a year, I reckon that this “movement” will be completely dead and gone.
A Roman Citizen and friend of Liberty, Property, and the Rule of Law

A Response to Craig Carter

[Craig Carter wrote a response to the recent events at Tyndale that ended up resulting in the apparent cancellation of a fund-raiser involving George W. Bush.  It’s pretty much on par with every other post on his blog (check it out and draw your own conclusions about that).  In the past, I have found Craig to be impossible to engage in dialogue because of his refusal to engage with the substance of what people say and his preference for simply repeating what was already said or writing in response to something that was not said.  However, I decided to write a comment in reply to him and thought I would cross-post it here, in case he decided to delete what I said.  I did not include links to our website on his post because he said that he did not want to link to our site but I have added them here.]
For the sake of others who read this post, it may be worth correcting a few of the more blatant errors in Craig’s post.
(1) You state that we hate “George Bush because he is not a socialist. That is the fundamental reason they attack him.” First, of all, I don’t “hate” Bush, nor do I know others involved in this campaign who “hate” him (more on that later). Secondly, this is an absurd statement. I am not a socialist, nor do I know anybody else involved in this process who is. Why, then, would we want Bush to be a socialist?
In actuality, the reasons why we oppose Bush are very clearly stated on our website (cf. the post on the practices of Bush vs. the values of Tyndale). You ignore this altogether.
(2) Nobody on our website has said anything to praise Obama. In fact, in a note in one of my posts, I suggest that he is just as bad or worse than Bush. However, Obama is not discussed because he was not the one invited to speak. Had he been, I would have opposed him coming just as strongly (would you still be talking about “the noble Western tradition of free speech and open debate” if that were the case?)
(3) There has been no forgetting that Bush is a human being and a human being who should be loved. However, as I address in my post about love, this does not mean we refuse to hold Bush accountable. Instead of just trotting out lines that contradict the evidence on our website, you could try writing a substantial refutation of my argument about why what we are doing is a way of loving Bush. As my post makes clear, I am very NOT turning Bush into “the devil incarnate.”
Ya know, Craig, you say “let’s have a debate” but I posted more than one substantial post (take the one on Bush’s practices vs. Tyndale’s values or the one on love within the context of oppression) and you are pretending they don’t exist.
(4) As for your remarks about Bush’s assistance in relation to AIDS in Africa, well, you may want to balance the picture:
Refusing to provide funding for condoms or those who distributed condoms actually made the crisis worse.
(5) You write that “[y]ou can believe the president of Tyndale did not handle this well but we all should remember that we lack knowledge that might put his actions in a different light” but it is worth remembering that the only reason why we lack this knowledge is because the President, or any other official representative or authority, have steadfastly refused to respond to any queries or questions about this matter (as you state earlier in your post).
Anyway, Craig, you’re been around the academy for awhile. If you want to debate (as you say you do) then engage the substance of what was written. Don’t just make things up or pretend nothing was said. That other faculty members, Masson and Davis — folks who also should be able to engage things in an academic manner — have affirmed this post makes me wonder what in the world passes as academic endeavours at Tyndale these days.