Posted by: Dan | May 9, 2012

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.
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Responses

  1. As an aside: I find the proverb I quoted at the opening of this post to be particularly ambiguous. On the one hand, I have used it when conversing with those who like to employ categories like “deserving” and “undeserving” when the talk about people who are experiencing poverty. On the other hand, it should be noted that this proverb is a part of the more pro-imperial part of the Bible, and is written as advice to a despot — i.e. helping people who experience poverty to have easy access to alcohol is a good way to try and prevent any kind of uprising or change.

    [FWIW, I intentionally deployed this ambiguity in the opening of my post in order to try and problematize the more polemical tone that pervades what follows.]

  2. Ouch DanO, this criticism hits me pretty hard, as it should (I’d write more but I got pyramids to build). Obliged.

    p.s. I’m posting something tonight on Julia Kristeva’s book on depression, “Black Sun.” I don’t think it will make anyone feel better, probably only make things worse, still, she has a few insights worth attending. In Black Sun Kristeva argues that creativity emerges from a refusal to negate the closure of pain/suffering with false and inadequate reconciliations offered by language, or by the social–historical, the ‘already there.’ She says “The depressed person is a radical, sullen atheist…signs are arbitrary because language starts with a negation of loss, along with the depression occasioned by mourning. The depressed disavow this negation, cancel it out, suspend it, and nostalgically fall back on the real object (the Thing) of their loss, which is just what they do not manage to lose, to which they remain painfully riveted.” (BS 43-44). Those freaking Lacanians always know just where to probe my painful wounds, but they are like maggots, and are best at finding/feeding on dead flesh but leave any actual healing up to other forces. I forget who said, ‘we kill the guide and think we have destroyed the city he described.‘ Well DanO, I reckon I’m going to miss the revolution after all. Like the “eco-conscious-anti-capitalist-postcolonial-intentionally-communal-Christian-anarchist-poets” you write about, I been yaking about stuff like this most of my life. But I really don’t want to end up like one of those lonely old drunk depressed Russian Bolsheviks pining away for Lenin and Stalin, shuffling slowly down broken frozen streets with their hands in their pockets, heads bowed and the cold stinging their weepy blood shot eyes–protesting the end of state subsidized vodka and dreaming of bloodbaths and praying for killer angels. Then again, I don’t think Jesus ever actually said anything about a “revolution” did he? Wasn’t that the other guys? Reckon I aught to give them gospels another read when I get a chance. God bless you brother and keep in touch, daniel.

    • Hi Daniel,

      Did you notice that I quoted you in the post — you, of course, are the one who first used the term “Christian Anarchist World of Tomorrow Today Theme Park” in my all-time favourite blog comment ever! Wanted to note that somewhere so, readers take note, Daniel comes up with the best lines!

      A few further things to note:

      First, given that I’m kinda trying to write something sort of poetry-ish here, it should be observed that the “you” I criticize, the “you” who causes me to drink is, first and foremost, me.

      Second, yeah, Jesus never talked about “revolution” but he did far more that was “revolutionary” than most people who like to talk about their lives or actions as “revolutionary.” Actually, come to think of it, that word is a trigger for me. I hate it being used so flippantly… strikes me as really just a way of trying to brand one’s self as super-cool or something like that. Part of what prompted me to write this post is my gut reaction to that language.

      Anyway, I’m working on that ideology lecture (about halfway through) so I hope I’ll have a draft ready to send to you within a week. Much love to you and yours.

  3. I am against the ideal of revolution. As a student of history, my impression of revolutions is that everyone loses in the end. (And often it is their heads that get lost). That is not to say that there wasn’t something worth revolting against in the first place.

    Having said that, I worked very hard for a long time to be an eco-conscious-anti-capitalist-postcolonial-intentionally-communal-Christian and it didn’t work and I stopped and now I am not eco-conscious, postcolonial, or intentionally communal, and possibly not Christian (although probably still anti-capitalist – old habits die hard).

    I stopped because I figured out that really following Jesus might mean I might die, painfully… and I didn’t want to invite that. So now I just feel really really guilty about the fact that other people die painfully because of the way I live (see smartphone and apple references). Yay.

    Long comment just to say the view of the inside of this sandhill is just peachy, thank you very much.

    • Hi Christina,

      I really appreciate this comment. I would probably disagree with you about the historical value of revolution — it seems to me that many of the good and life-giving things we experience are the outcome of revolutionary struggle. What I am very much against is deploying the rhetoric of “revolution” for (what strike me as) non-revolutionary endeavours (and, just as often, endeavours that actually support the status quo — you know, like when Time Magazine made George W. Bush the person of the year and referred to him as the “American Revolutionary”… that sort of thing… which really doesn’t seem too too far from the way in which a lot of self-described radicals use that language).

      I like what you say about what really following Jesus might mean… I have been coming to conclusions very similar to your own and am increasingly puzzled as to how pretty much any of the expressions of the contemporary North American Christianity can be related to what was occurring in the early days of that movement. I would be interested in hearing more about how you arrived at the conclusion you mention and if you would care to share a little more of your story, I would be happy to hear it.

      • Hi Dan, it’s kind of you to say so. I shall try and sort out how I came to said conclusion and see if I can relate it in less than 500 words :P

        I hear what you’re saying about ‘revolutionary’ rhetoric. People are weird. We seem to like to misuse words until they mean the opposite of what they used to mean.

      • Soundtrack: Gangster’s Paradise

        I tried very hard and very earnestly (although admittedly perhaps sometimes misguidedly) to do what I thought I should as a Christian in the West. Spiritually, it always felt like I was running hard on a slippery slope and only just managing to not lose ground.

        And I suppose things just added up. There are two particular events that stand out. Firstly, I knew of a family who lost a young child to a preventable disease while doing aid/community work somewhere in Asia. Conclusion: I might be setting my son a bad example, but at least my son is still here to set an example to. Secondly, reflecting on conflict and the people from CPT who were kidnapped and held hostage in Iraq. Conclusion: CPT has what I would consider within Religion to be one of the most Christ-like responses to conflict, but I am not willing to be kidnapped and/or tortured and/or killed to participate in that Christ-like response – I’m not even willing to go and be uncomfortable in a war-zone. It seems logical that following Jesus would end up being painful. I’m not lining up for pain.

        Also, I was living very frugally. And after a while it became clear to me that not only was my frugal living not reducing harm to anyone else, it wasn’t helping me either. Conclusion: I may as well enjoy my life, if other people were going to die and suffer regardless of how I live it.

        So I don’t think I can be a Christian because a) I continue to live in a way which harms and/or contributes to the harm of others (although I don’t think I have many realistic, long-term alternatives) and, b) I am not willing to put myself or my loved ones in more-that-the-usual physical danger in order to try to help or to reduce harm to others.

        There are other bits and pieces, but I think that’s the crux of it.

        Pro – It is much more relaxing not having an agenda all the time.
        Con – I might spend some or the rest of my life in hell.

        About North American Christianity – I was amused and heartened to see recently that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious was reprimanded by the Vatican for focusing ‘too much’ on alleviating poverty and ‘not enough’ on persecuting those seeking same-sex marriages or abortion.

        It was nice of you to offer to hear – it has been useful for me to tease it out. If you’re up for further discussion I’d be interested.

      • Hi Christina,

        Thanks a lot for sharing. And I read your reference to hell differently than Daniel Imburgia. I thought you were talking about life here-and-now, not some state of things after death. If that’s what you were saying, I agree.

        I very much agree with your analysis of Christianity our situation and find myself in a spot comparable to your own. I was thinking the other day that all of us “Jesus follower” types (you know, us folks who call ourselves that, instead of using the label “Christian”) should really give that up. As far as I can tell, nobody is really following Jesus — myself first and foremost — so maybe I gotta get back to calling myself a “Christian” as that would seem to be a more accurate description. I’m not rushing off to get myself disappeared… I got a wife and two kids to look after (and the thought of not being there for my wee ones, who sure do bring a lot of wonder and joy into my life, just rips me apart inside). So I’ll just do a little of this and a little of that (all equally spectacular and impotent non-actions) and try to find a way to sleep at night. But, yeah, if that’s what I’m choosing to do (and I am the one making the choices for myself… at this point of my life anyway) then I should probably stop saying I’m trying to follow Jesus and settle for calling myself a Christian.

        Thanks again.

      • Hey Dan, can you please tell me a little more of what you mean by hell in the here-and-now? I wasn’t referring specifically to before or after death. And, it’s nice to feel like I’m not the only one pulling this yoke. My husband doesn’t mind me talking to him about it, but all he’ll say is, so what did you expect? (Note I met this lovely man while we both lived in an intentional Christian community!) But maybe you’re right and I could just keep putting ‘christian’ on the census and let it rest there.

        Please also give me heads up if you’d rather this conversation continued elsewhere. I don’t want you to feel like I’m taking over your blog.

        Thank you, for your thoughts and your thoughtful posts.

      • I don’t mind continuing here, unless you prefer to move the conversation elsewhere for your own reasons. When conversations begin publicly, I generally like continuing them that way as I reckon others are following along (or so my blog stats would suggest).

        Before I get into the “hell” question, I should add that I don’t mean to pressure you to identify yourself in one way or another (“Christian/not Christian,” whatever). I was speaking more about myself there — saying that I should stop lying and calling myself a “Jesus follower” and feeling that calling myself a “Christian” may be more honest.

        As for hell… I understand “hell” to be a way of referring to a place of godforsakenness — a place where one has been abandoned by God and left to one’s self (or left to be ruled over by other Powers — like Death and all those entities and structures that serve Death), and left to the consequences of one’s own actions and the actions of others.

        With this definition in mind, I don’t believe in “hell” as any kind of final destination or some sort of place awaiting some people after death. My hope (and that’s an important word choice, since I don’t think we can really know anything about anything that may or may not happen to us after we die) is that, in the end, God will welcome and embrace us all. This seems to be a hope that best accords with the biblical narrative, as I understand it. Although I will be the first to admit that the bible offers competing and contradictory views on this matter, it seems to me that this hope is the one the best fits with the character of God as that is revealed in Jesus and what transpired with Jesus (if one accepts the view that Jesus is somehow related to the character of God). This, by the way, is why I like the way in which the creeds add the idea that Jesus “descended into hell” to be with and liberate those who were found there.

        However, I don’t see this as a physical descent into some sort of netherworld — I see this as the trajectory that Jesus lived out in his life, which culminated in his death on the cross — behold, the wondrous solidarity of God with the godforsaken! After this, there can be no “hell” beyond death. There can only be resurrection and the call: “Welcome, my beloved child.”

        So, then, I see hell as a part of our experience of the world today. Today we experience the absence of God, we experience our subjection to Death and all the Powers (including corporate, political, and economic structures), and we experience our abandonment to the consequences of our own actions and the actions of others. Those who follow Jesus, then, should actually be trying to move into the heart of hell to offer the same solidarity and liberation offered by Jesus (if I understand things aright… which gets back to the other remarks we’ve made in our discussion…).

        Does this help? I also posted another entry on this topic some years back. Sorry to keep providing links to elsewhere, but it’s pretty short:

        http://poserorprophet.livejournal.com/90376.html

        Oh and, yes, it has also been refreshing for me to find another person who seems to be at a comparable spot in life, in terms of thinking through these things. That was a big (and pleasant) surprise.

      • Thank you, Dan, and I didn’t feel that there was pressure. (Maybe I’ll skip that question in the next census altogether!)

        What you’re saying about hell and godforsakenness was helpful, and in fact the main reason why I follow your blog, I guess, that you consistently engage with the idea of being godforsaken. I also struggle with ‘churchforsakenness’ – when people suffer in ways they wouldn’t if the church, which has all the resources it needs, was acting as the body of Christ. I don’t know how realistic that is. Maybe it is simply the other side of the same coin.

        Having said that, my (small) experience of being or feeling godforsaken certainly lines up with your interpretation.

  4. Thanks for the shout out DanO. And really, you should consider writing more poetry, it’s like vitamins, it’s good for you. And yeah, let’s hear more of Christina’s story, hearing how people lost their faith is usually much more interesting than how they found it (except if your a country western songwriter like Hank, June, Willy, Patsy, or Johnny Cash, then finding and losing and finding Jesus over and again is better than anything Shakespeare ever wrote! btw, I’m reading some June Carter Cash biographies “Anchored IN Love” etc., as we speak, what an amazing women! She once said, ”If you always follow your heart, that old heart will get you in trouble. If you have boundaries that hem and haw and fly up in the air, you might as well give up. ‘Cause that heart will go boogety, boogety, boogety, and you’ll get messed up.” damn good advice). Obliged.

    • Aw, shucks, Daniel… sorry it didn’t turn out to be very interesting :P

  5. Dear Christina, thanks so much, your story is indeed very interesting (but hard to write a song about). I don’t think I ever heard such an honest, reasonable, rational argument for not following Jesus. I gotta tell ya, I’m a bit tempted to chuck the whole over myself LOL. Then again, considering your points “a” and “b,” it’s questionable how much of a christian I really am in the first place (if it can even be figured up that way). Actually, I experience a lot of self-inflicted suffering already without even going off to try and witness to cannibals in the jungles of Africa or acting as a human shield in Iraq. Just the ordinary ole ‘loving my neighbor‘ etc. seems almost impossible, heck, just loving the ones I actually do love is more of a challenge than I can handle some of the time. And to be honest here, I’d as soon be cooked up by some honest-to-god cannibals then hang about a lot of church folks who tend to just eat each other alive.

    Seems to me like your main point is avoiding suffering, have you checked out Buddhism? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism There’s a lot of stuff about self-denial etc. there too, and most of the Buddhists I know are just as compromising and dickish as the christians, still, it’s got a lot more teachings with fuzzy edges, one hand clapping sort of stuff, that may suit you better. Of course, you could just try to be a mediocre, or even a ‘bad’ christian, like most of the rest of us and just don’t take the whole thing so seriously. Focus on the parts about how Jesus loves you and has a plan for your life and wants you to be happy, etc., it shouldn’t be hard to find lots of churches that will reinforce those aspects of the gospel. Sure it takes a bit of self-delusion and collective dishonesty, and maybe you have more integrity than that, more understanding of what Jesus really preached; but if that’s the case then I’m not sure that just submitting your hypothetical resignation into the ethernet is really going to work for you in the long run anyway. From what you’ve written, you may be too infected already. Sometimes this jesus stuff is like malaria or Lime’s disease. I’v seen it lay dormant in one’s soul for years, even decades then break out of nowhere with a vengeance! In any event, I wish you and your son every happiness possible in this world (though loving anyone or anything in this world is very risky if your trying to avoid suffering, just ask God about that). Blessings, daniel.

    p.s. I wouldn’t worry about hell too much, no one who knew anything about Jesus, believer or not, would believe in something like that. I heard this joke on a blog somewhere, ‘In a dream I asked Jesus, “Will anyone go to hell?”  And the Lord replied, “Over my dead body.”’ obliged.

    • Daniel – thank you, I really appreciated your comments. I’m glad I’m not the only one who suffers self-inflicted suffering! And I certainly agree with you that just going along and trying to be loving in ordinary life is sometimes more of a challenge than I can handle. It’s not that I’m for avoiding suffering completely – things aren’t worthwhile unless they hurt, right – but I place very little store in the idea that suffering can be a transcendant experience. Of course there are some obvious and stand-out examples to the contrary (I got through the whole first book of The Gulag Archipelago), but my experiences of suffering have just been that it is terrible and that it is really, really terrible. I don’t become a better person when I suffer, I become a non-(functioning )person. I only want to go there when it is the only, only, only way.

      Submitting my resignation to the ethernet hasn’t been particularly satisfying… perhaps there’s something wrong with my immune system and I can’t produce the right antibodies. I really love your comparison of Christianity to malaria or Lyme’s disease and I’ll definitely be using that! And lastly, although I don’t feel like I can follow him properly, I’d risk Jesus over karma any day. She sounds like a mean bitch.

  6. Hi Dan and Daniel,

    I thought of Jonah. “That is why I fled to [ordinary suburban consumerism] at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. And now, Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” Because that doesn’t make sense – you’re a good God, so kill me – but it is extremely evocative of my confusion about how God could be a good God and still let me get away with being a shitty person, or (shall I be honest), let other people get away with it.

    I really like the points you both made and will continue to consider them. Thank you for telling me what you think.

  7. I appreciated your response here, Dan, perhaps mostly because I’m also tired of critiques like in that JR poem. The self-critical conversation here seems much more meaningful and to the point than angry rants about buying beer. (I wish I could offer that guy a home brew; it seems like a drink could do him much good.)

    Maybe I shouldn’t intrude in this conversation, and if you all are sure that you have a problem following Jesus because you are unwilling to suffer, then I don’t want to interfere with the discomfort of that.

    But after your next post you wrote this, Dan, and it seems like some kind of invitation: “I mean that as much of me (of me most of all) and so I try to ask others how they come to different conclusions — Lord knows, I’m not a huge fan of the conclusions I have come to but I haven’t found reason to think otherwise — but I sure wish others could convince me. Mostly, however, it seems as though people don’t want to engage these criticisms.”

    It strikes me that the disillusionment or frustration expressed by the three of you here could be (as you seem to be saying) a matter of unwillingness to follow Jesus as you know you should, but it could also be something else, I think. Maybe the experience of trying to live certain beliefs showing the holes in those beliefs?

    I say that because, while I agree that following Jesus will involve suffering for that, I don’t think that’s the main experience. I don’t think we should desire that suffering. Jesus’ invitation seem to me to be an invitation into a life of liberation and power, like we see in most of his life (and his disciples’ life). It wasn’t all crucifixion, was it? The life of the kingdom of God is what I want, not suffering or death. That’s why I’m a follower of Jesus, because I believe he can deliver that, here and now. And I’ve seen enough of that to keep on following.

    One of my favorite Jesus sayings is in Mark 10: “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” There’s persecutions in there, sure. And leaving house and brothers, etc. But there’s also the receiving a hundredfold “now in this time.”

    I also question the ideology that we should be living frugally, etc, primarily in order to “make a difference” in the world or reduce suffering for others. As Christina said, it often doesn’t make much difference in the world. But it may make a little. And there are plenty of other good reasons for simple living (even voluntary poverty) that have more to do with living more freely and trusting God and showing others a better way of life. In a way that’s not ascetic or spartan. I mean, Jesus was poor yet was criticized for being a glutton and wine-bibber! There’s a beautiful poverty that’s not about some theory of economics but about living free and vulnerable and trusting God like Jesus did.

    Maybe I should stop here. I’m willing to engage your criticisms and conclusions more, if any of you are interested in that. But if I’m on the wrong track, feel free to let it drop.

    peace,
    Paul

    • Hi Paul,

      Thanks a lot for taking the time to comment here. You are more than welcome to do so — this is a public place and, yeah, even though I can come across like a ding-dong, I really am looking to try and learn from others.

      I agree with you that suffering is not (and probably should not be) desirable, but I have trouble following you all the way through on your here-and-now experiences of abundant life… well… that is and is not true… this might take awhile to explain…

      Yes, Jesus does promise us abundant life, but how does that play out? Well, let’s look at the Mk 10 passage you reference. Jesus talks about people leaving their families but receiving even more in return (more brothers, sisters, mothers, and children — fathers are notably absent… an important observation given that they lived in a patriarchal culture). And, in the community of people who gathered with Jesus, this was very true. Jesus himself was cast out by his family and they even tried to condemn him to death as a rebellious son (cf. the relevant section in Jesus, Paul, and Power by Rick Talbott). It seems that many others who gathered around Jesus would have had similar experiences with their own kinship units — prostitutes, the sick, sinners, tax collectors — these are all people who would tend to be cut of from their families. Therefore, the fictive kinship that gathered with and around Jesus — wherein everyone related to one another as siblings (hence, sibling-based language is the most common term Paul deploys when speaking to other Jesus-followers) — became the new and very real family for those who followed Jesus. They cared for one another as brothers and sisters in all the economic, social, spiritual, and political ways that this entailed. They really were a new and larger family and there experiences there really were more life-giving than the experiences that a lot of Jesus followers would have had in their biological family units.

      So, when Jesus promises this sort of thing, it’s not meant in a metaphorical or magical kind of way… it was playing out on the ground in a very concrete way. Is this how things are playing out now amongst the followers of Jesus? Mostly, no.

      Even where I have seen people caring for one another in a manner that could compare to the fictive kinship that developed around Jesus, it seems that this has mostly been done by little cliques and in-groups who are just trying to create a safe and life-giving place for themselves and their friends (whereas those who gathered around Jesus were prioritizing the marginalized, abandoned, and godforsaken).

      I’m not sure Jesus’ promise was timeless… maybe he was just describing what was going on in his time and place.

      Of course, there is not reason for it not to be timeless… but we’ve got to be the ones who see that it is made into a reality in or time and place. I’m not convinced that God or whomever else is going to take care of all that for us just because we claim to follow Jesus.

      So, sure, I love the idea of abundant life here and now… I badly, badly want that… but I don’t just want it for me. I want it especially for those who have had their lives and the lives of their loved ones stolen from them. I’m not sure how to feel comfortable with journeying into much abundance for myself when so many others are having such a polar opposite experience.

      So, in terms of the suffering, I’m not trying to make any claims or boast but it has been very much a part of my walk thus far. I’m okay with that — because for a long time I thought it was redemptive or life-giving for others. Now, I think, my problem with suffering is that the kind of suffering that I think we may be called to as followers of Jesus is different than I first imagined. And, in that context (in light of remarks I made in this post) the passage from Mk 10 gains a very new and haunting resonance. I’m not ready to really give up my family (as people really did in Jesus’ day) to follow a state-executed terrorist on the via crucis.

      Thanks again. Please continue the conversation, if that is what you desire to do.

      • Thanks for the welcome, Dan. I agree that the “family” Jesus promised was not meant to be metaphorical but real. And I hear you about “little cliques and in-groups who are just trying to create a safe and life-giving place for themselves and their friends.” I have quite a bit of experience in intentional Christian communities (the Dominicans, Catholic Worker, and both urban and rural Mennonite common-purse communities) and, while I have appreciated and learned much, feel they fall quite short of what Jesus promised. Not just in practice but in vision. I’ve pretty much rejected the intentional community model as just slightly better than other human institutions. Jesus was certainly offering something far better.

        I think such communities are right in their insistence on real human interaction and support (physical, emotional, economic, etc). But they try to make it happen through some kind of established structure or static, defined membership. I was just reading this morning how Jesus said “my mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” I don’t see that as static or well-defined or structured. None of us hear and do God’s word always for one another. But many of us do it at times, thus being real mothers and brothers for one another. And I believe there’s always *someone* doing it, for us and others, in real ways.

        I had some pretty vivid and influential experiences of that while taking long walks around the country. Many people supporting me as mothers and brothers in real ways, feeling like real family. But I never knew where it was going to come from and it wasn’t static or organized by me or any other person. Is this “magical”? It seemed miraculous anyway. And that passage about receiving a hundredfold houses and mothers now in this time came back to me again and again.

        I’m experiencing something similar now, though I’m not walking but living with my wife and trying to start a family (living a sort of voluntary poverty and giving our work for free, trying to prioritize the poor and outcast). We’re in an intentional community, but the community is in really bad shape, not at all like the promised “mothers and brothers.” It’s definitely not the kingdom of God, if you look at the structure or bounded membership. But we have experienced many moments where people here have acted as real mothers and brothers. And also many moments when people outside the community have been much better mothers and brothers. So we find the promise fulfilled in many ways. I’d say the “Christian community” is definitely a failure, but that doesn’t make Jesus’ promises a failure, because his “family” is not defined by this group’s bylaws and membership, and not limited by their inadequacies.

        Let me know if this distinction is making any sense or not. I’m just saying I agree that what we see in “Christian community,” even the “radical” kind, is completely inadequate and not what Jesus promised, but that the promises can and are being fulfilled anyway. Wherever anyone hears the word of God and does it. And I believe there is a lot of that happening, though none of us does it consistently. Thus none of us (or our “communities”) can claim much credit, only God who inspires love and motivates action where and when it is needed. And, yes, prioritizes the marginalized and oppressed and abandoned.

        I should stop. But just to touch on another important point you made: not wanting to journey towards abundance when others are not. Fulfilling Jesus’ promises is not something we can do for others (not even for ourselves). Even Jesus couldn’t heal others unilaterally, but sought to inspire the faith that put people in touch with God’s healing. I think our following of Jesus can only be a desperate reaching out for liberation and healing, believing his promises because we have no other hope. In that we are no better off than anyone else. We stand in the same dark, helpless place as anyone. It just seems to me that our following in faith and finding real liberation and help can become a sign and encouragement for others that Jesus’ promises are real and accessible to them also. The best we can offer is the grace that God offers. We don’t give it, but can help point people to the source, the same source by which we are being released and sustained.

        I see Jesus doing that himself, though really no one actually followed him then, not all the way to the end. He had to leave even his disciples behind at the end. They fled when they saw what he was up against. But he continued forward and had faith and eventually many of those he left behind were inspired by what they saw and were able to follow the same path. What Jesus (and they) ended up with was not death, but the ultimate abundant life promised us. Jesus also lived pretty abundantly (though poor) for over thirty years. An amazing life that makes me want that also.

        I hope I’m not sounding ridiculous by this point. And I haven’t answered all you said. But this is too long already. Hope there’s something in there worth engaging.

      • Hi Paul,

        Hi Paul,

        There is much that is worth considering and engaging in what you wrote. I was nodding along with everything you were saying up until I got to the paragraph that begins with “I should stop”. Then I starting thinking, “yeah, but…”

        My problems with abundance are as follows: it would be totally solipsistic for me to suggest that I am not already experiencing a lot of abundance in life. I have so many things — good food, good housing, healthy and safe kids, a nice collection of books, my own health, a wife who cares about me, a good job, an income that makes me wealthier than most people in the world (and in history), and on and on it goes. BUT so much of my abundance is premised upon exploitation and violence that takes place out of my view. My wealth is possible because others are made poor. The price for the safety and privilege my kids experience is the exploitation and abuse of kids elsewhere. All my toys — books, this computer — they are related to the destruction of our world and other people therein.

        Now, I know that you are not arguing that moving into the abundance Jesus described means just getting more toys, money, or whatever else. However, I would like to hear you speak more about how you understand abundance and where that is to be found (I mean, I’ve been looking around for kind of fictive kinship Jesus described — that seems really abundant to me — but I can’t seem to find it, so I’m looking for anything you want to throw my way).

      • To try to summarize in a blog comment may not be too helpful, but just to give you the general idea… yeah, I see the abundance Jesus spoke of coming along with following the other parts of Jesus example and teaching, which is perhaps a tall order. So in the economic aspect of life, the path seems to me to be giving away our wealth, and also giving away our labor (to those who need it most). Which, by any economic theory, leads directly to miserable poverty. I can see why that wouldn’t seem like a hopeful path to follow.

        But it didn’t lead to miserable poverty for Jesus and his disciples. So that gave me hope, because their life looked pretty great to me (at least the economic/work aspect, and they didn’t get killed right away). That led me to try it. It was easier in that I could experiment as a single person with little to lose. But now I’m married and still trying it, and thinking of having a kid. My good experiences so far have encouraged me that it wouldn’t be impossible with a family. I live among a community on a communal farm (I don’t own it, and am not a communal member). We live on income less than half the poverty line, but are very comfortable. Our income is a bit uncertain, but comes from several sources and is stable enough that having a kid doesn’t seem irresponsible. No car, but we can often ride along or borrow one. No insurance, but we’re finding ways to have medical needs met. Our work is all volunteer, and the retreats we offer are given free (to the poor–I liked your comments about the outcasts not being invited on ignatian retreats; we do invite them to our retreats). I think it’s a pretty beautiful and abundant life. But, yeah, the path here involved abandoning wealth and a salary; I just don’t think it was a bad trade at all. Hope that makes it a little clearer.

        The “kinship” part is a little more elusive. I mean, we’ve experienced so much generosity from people in meeting our needs, and they didn’t have to help us that way. So it has been like family being there for us. And I’ve met plenty of good people on my journey who have been a friend when I needed one. But there are also times of loneliness, even amidst a community (*especially* amidst a community). We’re all sometimes with Jesus and sometimes against. So no person is *always* “mother and sister and brother” to us. Jesus seems to me to have been pretty lonely, lots of times, lonely amidst his closest followers. I have experienced God providing kinship for me when I really needed it, but it’s not always the same people, not static or assured from any person or group. No defined human group can be called “the kingdom of God” or God’s “family.” Those who hear and do God’s word are our mother and sister and brother, when they hear and do God’s word. I believe we can count on God to provide for us real people loving us when we need it. But we always have to rely on God for that, not any human group or organization or community. As Jesus said, the kingdom of God cannot be pointed to, “there it is,” but it is among us.

        I don’t know if that’s helpful, but maybe clearer? I do think the abundant life of Jesus is real, but not something that can be bought with money or arranged by us. But in that, it also is not “at the expense of others” or oppressive like the “abundance” that capitalism offers.

    • Can I put my oar in again? I’m interested in this idea, Paul, and open to new perspectives. And maybe you’re right, that there’s a fundamental fault in my approach. But…

      I agree that it would seem that Jesus invited us into a life of liberation and power… my problem is that, as far as I can tell, that freedom and empowerment would lead me to stand against the status quo to support the poor and the outcast, and, well, I see that as a career with a pretty short average-life-expectancy.

      I also have come to struggle with the idea of a life of liberty and power as a result of following Christ. Just because, what does that mean for Christians in (for example) the Congo? I grew up in a culture of thanking God for how he has blessed us, but (while thanking is good all around) what about those other Christians who are just as deserving, or possibly more so, and yet without access to education, or healthcare, or safety, or enough food, or clean water?

      I’m not against people having lives of abundance (a balanced and jubilee-style abundance that is both spiritual and physical), liberty, and power, and I think God must be all for it too. But if I can only have such a life at the expense of others, then either God isn’t good, or it isn’t really that.

      I do suspect that people’s experiences of and reactions to suffering very strongly influence their perspective on these questions. Maybe we’ve had such different life experiences that we are heading towards the same thing but from different directions. I don’t know. I’d certainly be interested to hear your further thoughts.

      Dan, I said sort of the same thing as you… you were probably more eloquent :P but it helps me to say it myself.

      • Hi Christina. Yes, I agree “that freedom and empowerment would lead me to stand against the status quo to support the poor and the outcast.” It seems to me, though, that there are lots of ways to do this, and most of us have a long growth curve before we’re at a place to be risking our life. Jesus himself wasn’t risking his life until at least thirty years in, and he’s way ahead of most of us. So, yes, I think we should expect resistance and a price to be paid, but I don’t think we need to deal with the prospect of imminent death from the outset. If we do get to that point, we’ll be a lot further along the path of understanding and wisdom and faith. So the fact that we’re not able to die now shouldn’t keep us from beginning to stand against the status quo to support the poor and the outcast.

        I think you’re right about much of the Christian talk about abundance and “blessing.” Most of it seems to me to be a justification for keeping our wealth and material security and thinking we must be so favored by God. A total snow job. I guess we need a lot of smoke to obscure Jesus’ “Woe to you who are rich!” You’re right, we’re certainly no better than the Christians in the Congo, but probably much further from the kingdom of God.

        It seems to me that such twisting of Jesus’ promises of abundant life makes the whole thing seem empty. But the promises are there, and in the depths of our hearts (in mine anyway) we still long for it. In my experience there is a big difference between the “blessings” we take and hoard for ourselves and the abundance God gives as he gives to the birds and lilies. Such gifts aren’t “at the expense of others” in my opinion. When it is really a gift, not controlled by me or bartered or charged by me, then it is a spiritual good for both giver and receiver (as well as the material good). I’ve tried to change all my interactions with people to become more like this. Living by giving and receiving gifts, as Jesus taught and showed us. It means I can’t control when and how I might receive abundantly (or be able to share abundantly with my wife), but I’ve been surprised again and again.

        A story comes to mind, too. When the woman broke the flask and poured expensive perfume over Jesus. The disciples said it should have been sold and given to the poor. But Jesus didn’t see it as something he received at the expense of the poor, but as a beautiful gift. An extravagant, generous moment in his abundant life. What do you make of that story?

      • Hi Paul, forgive the short response – I’m not completely well but I will get back to you when I am better.

        Regarding the story of the Woman with the Perfume, what I make of it is another thing I can’t live up to. I realise that says more about me than it does about anything else. But yes. Like I said, moving away from the things I can’t live up to and thusly trying not to have an agenda has made life a lot more relaxing.

      • Well that’s intriguing. I don’t see any sort of challenge in that story and I didn’t mean it that way, but I’m interested to hear what you see there. Hope you feel better soon.

      • Re: the woman with the perfume, it’s worth noting that Jesus himself was poor. I wrote more on that here:

        https://poserorprophet.wordpress.com/2008/09/06/john-128-what-does-it-mean-to-always-have-the-poor-with-us/

      • Yes, I agree Dan. I was responding to Christine’s concern: “if I can only have such a life at the expense of others….” I guess I saw that story saying that we can accept gifts as Jesus did, perhaps at times lavish gifts, without it necessarily being “at the expense” of others who are needy. Part of Jesus’ example of a poor man experiencing a moment of abundance.

        But you’re right, it’s not a justification for not giving to others in need because “the poor will always be with you.”

      • I hear you, Paul… and I agree that generosity, crazy, extravagant generosity, is kind of Jesus’ whole point.

        What I’m struggling with is that I have moved from the idea I grew up with – God has blessed us, remember those less fortunate and be thankful – to well, actually, all that privilege and opportunity I have and have had access to was and is available because the comfortable or reasonably well-to-do, have plundered, pillaged, coerced, tricked, forced, and wheedled away far more than our fair share of resources, or inherited resources acquired in this manner. Therefore, to live as an ordinary middle-class white person (which I do) is to not necessarily to receive generosity from God but is often rather to live on stolen property, with stolen goods. [Caveat – as I noted earlier, I don’t actually see a lot of realistic, long-term alternatives for me… I hope that God may extend his mercy to me in this extravagantly generous way despite the fact that I live on stolen land and with stolen resources.]

        Let me belabour the point – You know how God makes the sun rise on the good and the evil? Well that’s too bad if you work a fourteen hour day in a windowless factory in a city where the sun barely pierces the smog anyway. And so while this apple computer I’m typing on is a hand-me-down, that doesn’t stop me benefiting from the low wages and long hours of the people who made it. And you know how God sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous? Well that’s ok for me (I get hot and cold treated water any hour, any day, as much as I want) but too bad if you happen to live in a place where the water rights are all owned by the mining companies who mine the aluminium in my alfoil and the coal that powers my electricity and you have to make do with contaminated aquifers. God can give it to you but humans can take it away. And we do. So yes – God is wonderfully and gloriously generous – but is everything I have all for me? I don’t think it can possibly be.

        So were I to fully pursue a redistribution of wealth (in manner of the Jubilee or the Magnificat, and so enabling more people to access the generosity God provided for us all to share) I do think that would lead to the end of my life. Not necessarily physical death, true, but with a criminal record and probably no husband and very limited custody I’d have not much of a life pretty quickly. And I wonder if this is what Jesus was talking about – ‘those who lose their life for my sake will find it’ – but it certainly is what I’m not willing to do.

        I don’t know, and that’s why I said that maybe it’s partly down to how we have experienced suffering and/or responded to it.

      • I liked that Dan’s original post laid out the situation so fully, followed the economic reasoning to the end, and we’re left with just wanting to have a drink. That line of thinking seems to necessarily end up there, with no way out, and lots of guilt. I wish more people recognized that.

        Then maybe we’d recognize that that wasn’t the way Jesus saw things. He presented it quite a bit differently; lots more hope and lots less guilt (and where there was real guilt, there was an offer of a real way out).

        I’ve found the best way to subvert an oppressive economic system is simply to give gifts. And receive gifts. The more, the better. That’s how you can break economic “laws” and not (necessarily) end up in jail.

  8. […] number of blogs that I follow push back (most recently here) pretty hard against a type of personal activism that ends up creating a structure a moral […]

  9. I was reading reviews of James Douglass’ latest book “JFK and the Unspeakable,” and I remembered an incident back in the early eighties when my family used to go and stay with Jim and Shelly at their community at “Ground Zero.” We usually went to witness/protest the “White Trains” that hauled nuclear warheads to the sub base at Bangor (Jim and Shelly are interesting folks, check them out here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_W._Douglass). And I remembered that one time a guy sort of flipped out and tried to throw himself on the tracks right in front of the “death train.” He was sobbing and screaming and wanted to martyr himself. Without thinking, me and a couple of other guys grabbed him in the nick of time and held him down on the ground until the train went by. Now I’m wondering if I really should have stopped the guy (I also wonder what ever happened to him?). What do y’all think, was the Holy Spirit compelling this guy to martyrdom and the devil in me thwarted God’s plan? (If ‘plan’ even applies to God). Well, we never did stop a single train, bomb, sub, nothing, near as I can tell we didn’t make a damn bit of difference, but then who really knows? Then again, maybe if a few of us had started throwing ourselves in front of them trains….. Reflecting back perhaps we were a bit like the student Nazi resistance group, the “White Rose,” who were young, naive, idealistic and complete failures (well, along with Bishop von Galen they did manage to shut down Hitler’s euthanasia policy) but when it came to ending the war and holocaust they were completely ineffectual, though the Nazi’s cut off all their heads just the same.

    This kinda reminds me of that Schweitzer quote from way back DanO, ‘Jesus lays hold of the wheel of the world to set it moving on that last revolution which is to bring all ordinary history to a close. It refuses to turn, and He throws Himself upon it. Then it does turn; and crushes Him. Instead of bringing in the eschatological conditions, He has destroyed them. The wheel rolls onward, and the mangled body of the one immeasurably great Man, who was strong enough to think of Himself as the spiritual ruler of mankind and to bend history to His purpose, is hanging upon it still. That is His victory and His reign.‘

    Hmmm, I don’t reckon any of this is going to be too helpful to Christina (then again she hasn’t really asked for any ‘help,’ has she?). I feel a bit like someone sort of caught between two people breaking up, ‘really Jesus, it’s not you it’s me, I’m just not ready for that kind of commitment right now.‘ But then my own ‘relationship‘ with Jesus has got it’s own set of problems (the honeymoon is definitely over! and it’s for sure me, and not Him), and yet, divorce is just not an option for me, but neither is throwing myself under the ‘wheel of history‘ or in front of the trains heading for the apocalypse. I think it was McCabe who said: “If you don’t love your dead, and if you do they’ll kill you.” I usually read the “they” as the great enemies of God, or justice, or what not, but maybe the “they” can just as well be the very ones we love the most (like our children) that make us so vulnerable and cause us the most pain? So what really are our choices here? Obliged.

  10. You’re right, Daniel it does feel like that: It’s not you, it’s me – I just need to go and find my hedonistic self. I’m sorry about that, because that sort of thing is excruciating to watch.

  11. I really enjoyed this post.

    • Hi Jonny,

      Thanks for the comment. Sorry it did not appear earlier — it got picked up by my Spam filter and I only just noticed it. Hope you are well.

  12. I hate bud. I love a good craft beer. I think his post and your post read way too much into drinking beer :) – I shall miss our beers.

  13. Wow. Love teh bragging about relationships w/ poor friend and quotes from Debord and Adorno, in German no less, while criticizing over educated white do-gooders. A toast to those who drink to drown their misery and to those who don’t because they’re trying like hell to beat back demons. (And I’ll sign in w/ twitter – mocked here too – because, well, that’s one of the options given for contributing to the rant fest).

    • Hi Doug,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Since I first heard about your move to Toronto and the things you were getting involved with there, I had wanted to get in touch with you. Still, you know how it goes, I’m not much in Toronto these days and when I’m there I end up distracted by other things. Regardless, from what I’ve heard there are some good things going on around you so my respect goes out to you for your involvement there.

      Mostly, I’m not bothered by your remark — I have no problem admitting to my own bourgeois status, my own failings, and my own poserishness (wait, there might be a better word for that…). In fact, I wrote a follow-up post to this post, going into that in a bit more detail and you can find it here:

      https://poserorprophet.wordpress.com/2012/05/26/the-revolution-will-not-come-because-of-me-this-is-not-a-rebel-song/

      The only thing I object to in what you wrote is the accusation that I am “bragging about relationships w/ poor friend[s]”. It is not my intention at all to brag about that. I’m simply talking about some of the folks near and dear to me (although I have changed names and some details out of respect for them). That’s not bragging… that’s my life (and saying this is also not bragging). There should be a way in which we can talk about this sort of thing — especially in the context of discussions about faux radicalism, that doesn’t end up simply being brushed aside with a charge about “bragging.”

      So, anyway, hope you continue the struggle and all that. Yours in solidarity,

      Dan

      • Fair enough on the “bragging” bit, which I am prone to do similarly as well. I did enjoy the follow up and appreciate the respect and solidarity. It’s mutual. And that even if I have a few bees in my (not always recovering Puritan) bonnet. And I’m not sure which twitter acct will sign in here. Perhaps my occupy one, which is fine, because one of those bees is the snide asides about occupy. They didn’t exactly arrest 7k people for wearing those white rubber bracelets, if you’ll recall.

      • Oop, yup, it’s occupy, which in this instance is also Doug Johnson Hatlem (and mostly now that’s true … used to be a thriving group acct)

      • Hey Doug,

        I actually think quite highly of a lot of what happened with the Occupy Movement (and what is still happening in some places). It was really site-specific in terms of the quality of what was produced and the nature of the group (no surprise there, right?). I think the Toronto group suffered from a few things but, notably, the absence of the people who were facing charges due to the G20 stuff (people like Alex H.) and the fact that OCAP was made to feel unwelcome. Anyway, I spent some time camped out with the Occupy people in Toronto and blogged about that here:

        https://poserorprophet.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/occupycorinth/

        You will notice that I don’t bash Occupy as such in this post, but do question the ways in which people use Occupy in order to boost their online brand status (whether that’s by posting a slogan on the blog, or by posting pictures of themselves online in relation to Occupy).

  14. Just had to say it: THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR WRITING THIS!!!!
    I am a survivor of a catholic worker which was rife (at the time I was around) with all manner of unreal hypocrisy – so much so that it stripped me of my health, my sanity, my joy, my creativity, and ironically – my faith.
    Almost.
    (I did gain some dear friends though – by some miracle!)
    Anyway, I could seriously write an epistle of a post here, but Ill spare the gory details for the time being. I will just say that 7 years later it still leaves a bitter bitter taste in my mouth.
    Which is why it was truly amazing to read this as you have literally laid out EVERYTHING I was so very angry about. Oh so angry. And no one wanted to hear it at the time. And I can see why – when ones whole identity, person and sense of worth is dependant upon and entirely wrapped up in the bubble world which you have so perfectly laid out.
    Hurray for you for being able to put into words what I so wish I could have at the time it was most needed.

    The messiah complex can be such a horrible and damaging thing.

    Thanks again,
    -Julia


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