Wednesday, July 27, 2005

What I am contemplating

(aside from the untimely death of Otter) is the concept of power and resistance; the very fact that there is no power without resistance. Which means, of course, that there is no resistance without power.

So it seems the two need each other. If we are going to stand in resistance, don't we have to create a power to stand against? Isn't this precisely what the right wing in America has done, from the stereotype of "liberals" (political correctness, college professors, bomb-throwing radicals, Hilary Clinton, what have you) to right wing Christians, apparently convinced despite the domination of Christianity in Western culture since the time of Constantine, that they are a persecuted minority?

But if we do not resist evil, don't we in fact abet evil? Well, perhaps it depends on your definition of evil.

Now, I will admit that, like the Mad Farmer, I am inclined to: "Be like the fox/who makes more tracks than necessary,/some in the wrong direction," but I do it all in service of the goal, which is to: "Practice resurrection." But I have begun reading the sayings of the Desert Fathers (not just the ones I had from Merton's selection, which I've mentioned before), and I stumble over statements like this, from the introduction:

There was no gentleness about the conduct of their own lifestyle [i.e., of the Desert Fathers] but their approach to others was different. They believed always in the sincerity of the commitment of each one and therefore behaved to each other in ways that would help and encourage them in the life they had chosen. If there was failure or weakness in anyone, it was at once understood that this was not what that person really desired, and therefore the weak were not blamed but encouraged to start over again." The Desert Father: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks, tr. Benedicta Ward (New York: Penguin 2003, p. xiii)

Or, as Abba Poeman puts it:

"A brother asked Poeman, 'What am I to do, for I become weak just by sitting in my cell?' He said, 'Despise no one, condemn no one, revile no one: and God will give you quietness, and you will sit at peace in your cell.' "

Now, of course, that seems centered solely on members of the community. What of evil, from outside the community?

When Macarius was living in Egypt, one day he came across a man who had brought a donkey to his cell and was stealing his possessions. As though he was a passer-by who did not live there, he went up to the thief and helped him to load the beast, and sent him peaceably on his way, saying to himself, 'We brought nothing into this world (I Tim. 6:7) but the Lord gave; He willed, so it is done: blessed be the Lord in all things.'

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