Friday, September 08, 2006

Quotidian Mysteries

Interesting conclusions from In Search of Paul, and a starting point for discussion:

In The Unconquerable World, Jonathan Schell's book about violence and nonviolence, he quotes Ghandi's statement about truth-force, or satyagraha....: "Satyagraha is not predominantly civil disobedience, but a quite and irresistable pursuit of truth. On the rarest occasions it becomes civil disobedience." Opposition to the British Raj was necessary, but not primary. "Why worry one's head," said Ghandi, over a demise "that is inevitable?....That is why I can take the keenest interest in discussing vitamins and leafy vegetables and unpolished rice..." Opposition to the Raj was negative and secondary, even if necessary, but when the British were gone, India's fundamental problems would still be there. What were his primary and positive goals? "For Ghandi," concludes Schell, "ending untouchability, cleaning latrines, improving the diet of Indian villagers, improving the lot of Indian women, making peace between Muslims and Hindus--through all of which he believed he would find God--were such goals." That is why Ghandi was assassinated not by a British imperialist, but by a Hindu fundamentalist.
Schell, Crossan and Reed point out, moves on to Vaclav Havel.

First, Havel insists on the ordinary needs of life in the localized here and now. Activist struggle "must pose the questions, as it were, ad hoc, out of a concrete consideration of the authentic needs of life." It consists of "a real, everyday struggle for a better life 'here and now'. Because of its emphasis on the negative, he keeps the word dissident in quotation marks, but "an essential part of the 'dissident' attitude is that it comes out of the reality of the human 'here and now.' It places more importance on often repeated and consistent concrete action--even though it may be inadequate and though it may ease only insignificantly the suffering of a single insignificant citizen--than it does in some abstract 'fundamental solution' in an uncertain future."
Third, Havel concludes that the "responsibility is ours, that we must accept it and grasp it here, now, in this place and space where the Lord has set us a point of departure for me here and now--but only because anyone, anywhere, at any time, may avail themselves of it."
Crossan and Reed go on to clarify the seeming exclusiveness of that statement with Havel's words, which are well summed up in Crossan and Reed's words:

Christianity is, therefore, and only at its theoretical and practical best, but one manifestation of that far more fundamental grounding of the world in that which we ignore at our peril. Paul described that world grounding as the justice and righteousness of God offered to us as a free gift. He, like Jesus before him, had a divinely mandated program that secondarily and negatively resisted imperial Rome, but that primarily and positively incarnated global justice on the local, ordinary, and everyday level. Here and now.
In Search of Paul, by John Dominic Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed (New York: HarperSanFrancisco 2004), p. 409-412

No comments:

Post a Comment