A Possible Gospel And New Testament

More Fun Than Fundamentalism.

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Gospel, Chapter Fifteen: Vengeance, Oppression, and Prophesy

Do not confuse the justice of equality with the justice of revenge. The first heals the world; the second tears it apart.

We keep, settle, and compare scores with one another; therefore many of us have imagined the existence of an Other-God who keeps and settles scores. Yet the kingdom will not come to heaven as it is done on earth, but to earth as it is done in heaven. Cf. Mat 6:10.

Do not judge, for there is one measure; and when meted out in full, there will be no distinctions. Abandon judgment; set aside reward and punishment. For you cannot punish some and reward others, but will punish all. Cf. Mat 7:1-5, Luke 6:37-38, Luke 9: 54-55, John 8:10-11.

Wield the sword of spiritual discernment unsparingly. Unsheathe the sword of violence only if other means have failed, and then wield it sparingly: not for punishment or conquest of those you may be tempted to label evildoers and less human than yourself, but to serve and defend the well-being of the greater good and larger whole. Cf. Mat 10:34.

What is a prophet?

A prophet does not predict the future but may help create it.

In our time we had a prophet named King who helped lead us in a direction away from bigotry. He did not predict civil rights law. He helped create it by way of his life because enough of us listened.

He had begun to speak against poverty but was murdered. It is written that the poor will always be with us (Mat 26:11); but their unsafe and threatened lives, in growing numbers, are a threat to everyone, and a disgrace to those living in luxury.

No prophecy is needed to see that unless we overcome poverty and injustice, it has the potential to overcome us all.


At 3:58 PM, Blogger Don Iannone said...

Lovely Darius. In some ways, one of your best. The definition of prophet is much how I see it too. Thanks for the reminders.

At 6:32 PM, Blogger samuru999 said...

I agree with Don... one of your very best!You are so very enlightening!
Thank you so much!

At 7:59 PM, Blogger chris said...

Very good!!

At 8:55 PM, Blogger Lady Wordsmith said...

"As things are now going the peace we make, what peace we seem to be making, will be a peace [piece] of oil, a peace [piece] of gold, a peace of shipping, a peace [piece] in brief, without moral purpose or human interest." ~Archibald MacLeish

Yeah. I took a few liberties and added my comments to Archie's words. But it's still the same sentiment.

It came to mind upon your opening words; 'the justice of revenge'. It really does tear equality, and all of us as well, apart. Torn into pieces.

This post is fine building on your last gospel, Darius. I am glad to be here today/tonight and reading your words.

You ask not who is a prohet but what. That's a fine point you carve out. I believe you are correct. It is not who fortells, but what causes ... or prevents.

What causes a justice of revenge?

Perhaps it is an unwavering belief that not only was a wrong committed, but the 'victim' is to be vindicated. And that wrong can and will be righted by returning a swift blow.

Or severing thieving hands. Or the castrated of a rapist. Or the crashing of a ___fill-in-the-blank___ nation's hijacked planes.

It's little wonder we as a human race haven't given up on the eye-for-an-eye rule. It works so well.

Well before Christ was given his thorny crown, others have been trying to get us to shake the sand out of our eyes and the wax from our ears.

Peace will not come if any we continue to believe that we 'are due our piece.'

Lao Tzu taught this:
"If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.

If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.

If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.

If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.

If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart."

Yes. We will be overcome if we do not overcome poverty and injustice. I have served food to the homeless and held the hands of refugees. I have seen many things in their faces.

Gratitude? Most certainly. Pain? Without question. Peace? ... You tell me what you see.

(BTW Darius. You had me howling with your Wordsworth ref. Truth be told, it was the name I wanted to give myself, but couldn't quite dare it...)

At 2:14 AM, Blogger crystal said...

A prophet does not predict the future but may help create it.

That reminds me of a line from an episode of the X-Files :-) ...

WELL-MANICURED MAN: We predict the future and the best way to predict the future is to invent it.

At 3:43 AM, Blogger Gangadhar said...

Dat's a lovely definition for prophet...
i believe,judgment is wholly the creation of man, and as such is one of the most pernicious behavioral management tools ever dreamt up by human cunning...

At 4:05 AM, Blogger ghee said...

The justice of equality..

yeah..I hate people who have those judgmental looks in their eyes...

Your blog really reminds me of the good learnings thru th eBible..pls keep it up!!

At 5:32 AM, Blogger grumblefish said...

Beautifully stated! We're not at a loss for opportunities to exercise the powers of demi-gods,
(by our own designs) but we are very routine in our failures to
do so with God-like understanding.
The system itself does not operate
on a "grade with a curve" basis,
despite our ceaseless attempts to
overlook, discard, or ignore the
byproducts of our attempts to run
it ourselves. It's a closed-loop system, meaning there are no exemptions from reality, and no distinction between the controllers or the controlled. The system continues to run (albeit not as well as we
might prefer), even if the controls
that we've contrived are discarded,
hot-wired, or replaced by others,
which says more about the robustness of the system than our understanding of controls. Small
wonder that, if the controls are
superfluous, then it follows that
operators are largely ceremonial.

At 6:09 AM, Blogger defiant goddess said...

I do believe that one of our biggest mistakes was humanizing God, and making Him just as small-minded as we are.

At 7:42 AM, Blogger Darius said...

DON I: Thanks, Don. That definition is the line I like most.

SAMURU999 and CHRIS: Thank you –

LADY WORDSMITH: “Dorothy Wordsworth” would work for me! Wordsworth is my favorite poet, if only they didn’t constantly put that thing he wrote about the waving daffodils in every anthology. To my mind, maybe the worst thing he ever wrote. I guess it’s short and accessible so anthologists like it…

As to what you say re. vengeance, it amazes me that people do persist, in the face of massive evidence to the contrary, in apparently believing that “returning a swift blow” vindicates – or even works. I mean, as one example, if you look at Israel and Palestine over the past half century… So to me, acting on vengeance – a desire that everybody experiences – is basically a feel-good measure, something like an impulse control problem. It demonstrably solves nothing and actually makes matters worse even though it provides a brief “fix” of emotional satisfaction.

Is that Lao Tzu quote from the “Book of Tao,” and was that written in the form of wise advice to a ruler? It seems to be ringing a bell. A long time ago I used to listen to a cassette that I think was from Taoism, and your quote seems familiar…

CRYSTAL: Maybe I’m channeling TV programming without knowing it! (“Channeling,” ha-ha - get it…?)

WELL-MANICURED MAN: It sounds like you're defining “prediction” as “invention?" Then that’s basically what it looks like to me too.

GANGADHAR: Yes, our judgments against other persons – which I’d say usually amount to convincing ourselves that others are somehow less fully real, less fully human, than members of our own ethnic or religious or national group – allows us to “manage their behavior” in some pretty horrific ways sometimes.

GHEE: I appreciate that – that this blog reminds you of the Bible’s good teachings, its wisdom – because that’s exactly what I’m trying to highlight and take direction from.

GRUMBLEFISH: Your saying that reality is a "closed-loop system", with "no exemptions from reality", reminds me of Thich Nhat Hahn, the Vietnamese Buddhist. I forget his exact words, but the interconnectedness of reality is a major theme for him from what I've read. So in the kind of one-world, single-place system that the earth has become through travel and technology, oppressing others and taking vengeance ends up having wider reverberations than ever.

RENEE: I see what you’re saying. Guess I’d have to think about that one. Certainly a lot of people with human-like images of God use those images to all-too-obviously human ends. But not all people who view God in such a manner abuse it that way. So I guess I’m not sure whether or not I see anthropomorphic conceptions of God as inherently carrying greater risk of abuse than impersonal views of God or the divine. Anyone else have any thoughts on this?

At 2:34 PM, Blogger Within Without said...


I think people look to prophets and seek out revenge for the same reason: because they're scared.

They look to prophets to foretell what's to come and to give them direction because they can't do it themselves.

But I agree with your tenet that prophets don't tell the future, but they may create it.

Prophets can't tell the future. They are those rare individuals who believe enough in what the future should be and then live their lives that way...others naturally follow.

Revenge too is a product of fear, past or present or the spectre of having something taken from them in the future.

It's evidenced in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, America and everywhere else every day as terrified people bomb, maim, rape or otherwise lash out at those they see as threats to them now or in the past or to come.

I think revenge and fear come to the fore when equality is a pipe dream. Then, chaos reigns.

Great post.

At 7:07 PM, Blogger Keshi said...

**No prophecy is needed to see that unless we overcome poverty and injustice, it has the potential to overcome us all.

Spot on!


At 4:54 AM, Blogger Ghost Particle said...

//A prophet does not predict the future but may help create it.//

if in the past we needed a guide, isnt the world today open for anyone and everyone. I dont understand why there must be a leader, when we do all the work. we rather need a good teacher to teach rather than lead.

At 5:32 AM, Blogger gautami tripathy said...

How I wish to overcome poverty and injustice in my own country.

The rich-poor divide is too much. There was a recent trial of a very powerful man who was free becos no eyewitness came foreward despite he shooting a female dead in front of hundreds of people.

There is a case of a poor man languishes in the jail for 43 years for stealing a handful of rice.

At 7:34 AM, Blogger Darius said...

WITHIN, WITHOUT: Me too. I think fear may be the most basic negative emotion. Of course there’s also reality-based fear, when it serves a positive purpose. So I’m referring to what might be termed ego-fear.

“I think revenge and fear come to the fore when equality is a pipe dream.”

Absolutely. One of the dumbest things, of all the dumb things about this administration, seems to me that they don’t connect terrorism with things like oppression, poverty, and desperation. Not that any of these things are “excuses” for terrorism. But if we could ever get beyond the judger/punisher mentality, and instead take an intelligent approach to reducing the risk of terrorism, it would have to include not only the special forces/intelligence aspect, but also looking at the social conditions that help encourage it - insead of dehumanizing and demonizing terrorists and all those around the world who actively or tacitly support terrorism, as mindless irrational “evildoer bad guys” who hate freedom and life and apple pie and ice-cream; and, for no particular reason, love death, darkness, and unfamiliar cuisine.

KESHI, thanks -

GHOST PARTICLE: Not that I know anything about political science, but I suppose there has to be leadership and not just teachership because finally decisions have to get made. So for me, the question is – and I sure don’t have the answer… How do we devise a system that will bring more leaders to the top that care about people?

GAUTAMI: There are similar things here. The US still has the death penalty. If that isn’t an institutionalization of vengeance, I don’t know what is. Now that we can use genetic evidence, there have been quite a number of cases where men spent decades in jail, even on death row, for rapes/murders it turns out they didn’t commit.

Our parallel to your handful of rice would be our “3 strikes” law – not quite as bad, but similar. 3 “felonies” of any kind and you go to jail for a long time, even if they’re non-violent and really relatively minor incidents.

At 10:16 AM, Blogger Homo Escapeons said...

Anybody here, seen my old friends Abraham, Martin and John?

Revenge feels natural because it is.
In prehistoric times criminal components in a tribe were exiled or executed to protect the group. They could not afford to lose precious DNA donors and the groups were mainly comprised of family members anyway.

We love revenge movies because we feel so helpless and scared. Let dirty Harry kill 'em all and let God sort them out.

It is hard to imagine the long term effects that children throughout history suffered when they were allowed to witness public executions?

You have such a fine spirit of temperence and rationalism.
You are a positive force for change.

I hereby sentence you to LIFE in the blogoshere!.

At 12:44 PM, Blogger kathy said...

Great post! We humans make our messes...we can also fix them too.

At 2:02 PM, Blogger Matthew said...

Darius said...
I suppose there has to be leadership and not just teachership because finally decisions have to get made.

I'm not sure I buy this argument, as I've seen it used many times to justify the "headship" of the man over the woman.

Compromise and consensus seem to be equally reliable decision-making tools.

At 3:51 PM, Blogger Darius said...

HOMOESCAPEONS: Yes, I think so too. Before we had the technical ability to put people behind bars and (at least in theory…) try to rehabilitate them, then killing murderers would have been important to do for the sake of everybody else.

That’s probably true about the temperance and rationalism, although I don’t feel like much of a force. And I have to admit: I love Clint Eastwood westerns. But I can’t take them seriously, and I wish we didn’t have a fearless leader who thought he was starring in one.

KATHY: I hope so. These days the human race seems inclined to set itself some major challenges.

MATTHEW: I would think of compromise and consensus as being involved in leadership. I can’t picture how a leaderless society would operate. Has one ever existed?

At 7:49 AM, Blogger FrenchExpat said...

This is a very inspiring post! I like the idea that creating our future is a divine prerogative we take upon ourselves. Somehow we are the hands of God. Some men and women truly are inspired and push the limits of close-mindedness and bigotry, to let us see better tomorrows, and the true colors of the one I believe is our creator.

Justice to me means mercy. To some others it means punishment. I guess I always have in mind the verse that goes something like: "God will reward and punish whoever pleases him. To you is commanded to forgive all individuals". Easier said than done, but the violence of the Bible belongs to God, to us belongs the duty to bring peace to our own soul and to our neighbors'

At 2:43 PM, Blogger Darius said...

FXPAT, belated thanks - I overlooked your comment. Yes, I think that however you look at it theologically, it's pretty clear that things in the here and now are in our own hands. Action and failure to act, when we could have, both have their consequences.


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