After Ferguson: America Must Abandon “Sick Christianity” at Ease With Violence

afterearth

The most important movie to watch at this moment in America, especially for Christians, is After Earth, starring Will Smith and his son Jaden. The 2013 science-fiction movie was panned by critics and spent just a few weeks in the public eye, but it captures perfectly our current situation.

It is the story of a father and son stranded together on an extremely dangerous planet, Earth. Long ago abandoned by humanity, this future Earth is now overrun with outsized predators, toxic plants, and wildly unstable weather. The ship that carried them has crash landed and the elder Smith’s character lies in the ship’s shattered hull with broken bones unable to move. From that captive position he charges his son with an almost impossible task: to traverse miles of the most dangerous terrain imaginable and activate the beacon that will call for help. There is one complicating factor, however. The son will not be alone on his journey. He will be hunted by a creature skilled at killing.

The father knows this predator. Indeed the father became a famous general precisely because of his ability to defeat the creature, which is blind but hunts by smelling fear. The father’s unique ability is to silence his fear, but the imperiled son has only his father’s voice to guide him as he journeys toward the beacon. There are two memorable pieces of wisdom he gives to his son: “Root yourself in this present moment!” and “Danger is real, but fear is a choice.”

After Earth is not about race, but it is. After Earth is not about America, but it is. It’s a movie about Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and an almost endless host of others (from Jordan Davis to Renisha McBride to Amadou Diallo). It’s about a real place we as Americans inhabit that is permeated with violence and fear, and unfortunately we Christians have yet to reckon seriously with this place and our own culpability in its creation. Our present moment demands we face the horror of the social world we help to sustain.

Root yourself in this present moment!

Our present moment is not about the occasional killing of black men, or about poor training of police officers, or even about better relationships between law enforcement and black and Hispanic communities. It is about violence. We have been bathed in it, and nurtured in it. It flows through our veins and covers our skin like a thick layer of sweat. From our seduction by guns to our formation as a people within gun cultures, Americans have made weapons part of our national confession, “….the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” We Christians have rarely resisted that seduction or that formation. In fact we helped create it on both the frontier and the plantation, and bound to this seduction and formation has been our blind commitment to abstract ideas of law and order.

Law and order have always been hallowed words on the American landscape filled with two abiding realities: our racial animus and our obsession with property. We repeat the mistake continuously in this country of trying to address our racial animus as though it is a virus that occasionally attacks our social body, rather than seeing that racial animus is a constituting reality of our social body. The ideas of law and order have always encoded the work of white bodies controlling dark bodies for the sake of controlling the land, organizing spaces of commerce, and monitoring the movements of racial others. We live always in the midst of geographic struggles with deep racial underpinnings, where policing presence tasked with controlling space moves unremittingly toward confrontation with black bodies, whether in malls, parks, neighborhoods, or stores.

We live also in the midst of a horrible calculus, the weighing of human life against private property and commerce. Only in a distorted world turned completely into commodity, could a life be weighed against private property. Yet we hear constantly the comparison between loss of life and the destruction of property as though these things are on the same plane of moral existence. Black life has always lost out in that calculus, because the ideas of law and order have overwhelmingly been orientated toward the protection of property and not black bodies. Christianity in America has much too often served as the high priest of this sick reality of law and order, too quickly aligning our biblical visions of sin and punishment to ideas of crime and punishment, and lending our support to forms of policing that are betrothed to the control of space and married to violence.

Danger is real, but fear is a choice.

Violence has won in America, and we live always in the break, in the silence, like that of a musical break between movements where violence is being prepared to answer back to violence, and where someone is about to be seduced into believing that peace and stability will be established through violence. Black life is always in the break, and we have heard the before and after for so long that we have grown accustomed to it, like white noise. Black Death in America has reached a sanctioned ubiquity rooted in the normalization of fear.

From its Christian and colonial beginnings, America has always trafficked in the fear of black people, its political and social potency too tempting a resource to leave untapped. The continuous use of racialized fear has damaged our collective psyche by entangling in us violence, danger, and fear, woven so tightly together now that to think the one conjures the others. This is why the idea of placing cameras on the bodies of the police to record their actions will never be enough. It takes vision to see, and until the prevailing vision of black bodies is altered from dangerous to fully human, what will be seen with almost every violent incident will be a police officer in danger protecting themselves and us. A camera on a police officer is always poised to become a reality television video game, complete with weapon and target.

There is danger in this world, and police officers live near harm and death. Such proximity demands not only our concern for officers but more helpfully our efforts to draw policing away from the entanglement of race, fear, violence, and the control of space for the sake of property values. Too often, Christians in America have given sanctuary to the spirit of fear, commending a form of policing that makes violence a surgeon’s scalpel, imagining our safety in the illusion of its measured use. Violence knows no measure.

We Christians should remember this, because violence was turned against the body of our God in the crucifixion of Jesus. We need, at this mournful moment, a Christianity that rejects its colonial legacy of binding danger to nonwhite bodies, and refuses to blindly defend the ideas of law and order, and finally, fully renounces violence aimed at black folks. Most importantly, we need Christians willing to live out such Christianity.

After Earth is not a perfect film for moral instruction. The son must kill the predator creature in order not to be killed. Such is the case in a world formed in the wake of violence and death. Yet the son’s final words to his father express his desire to leave his father’s world of predator creatures, to which his father says, “me too.”

While it’s not possible to leave our world of predator creatures, what can be left behind is the fear that draws the predator creature out of us and sends it marauding through black and Hispanic communities. What must be left behind is a form of policing resourced in part by a sick Christianity at ease with violence as necessary to maintaining law and order.

  • Frank6548

    This goes to show you no matter how high your education and position in this life you still can have very little idea about what you talk about.

  • NavyBlues05

    I take it you cannot relate to anything that was so well laid out here.

  • joeyj1220

    So Frank, you’ve moved on from homophobia to racism. Way to go

  • antihipestemic

    same but replace “education and position in life” with “the number after my username”

  • Jim Reed

    That makes sense, Christianity has been kind of at ease with violence. When you get into it, it seems Christianity has also been at ease with human caused global warming, and torture and war, and at ease with downplaying women’s health issues or any national health issues or anything science related or anything progressive. Doesn’t it seem a little hopeless? If you fix one of Christianities sick at eases, it might be only a drop in the bucket.

  • Frank6548

    Cute but irrelevant.

  • Frank6548

    Poor guy. Hallucinating again.

  • Frank6548

    Yes the myopic and unsupported ideas were laid out very well.

  • Judith Maxfield

    No, its not Christianity but people who use it (as well as other religions) to do harm, actually evil if you get right down to it. I like what Richard Rohr (Christian monk) writes when he describes people who never grow up and still act like children. Uncontrolled ego in a child is understandable, but not in an adult. Take Christianity out of America and I’m sure you would still have the same old violence. Face it, our culture is one of violence, even to the earth.

  • Jim Reed

    If you take Christianity out of America and everything would still be the same then we might as well ditch the religion.

  • cranefly

    Name one of them.

  • Frank6548

    “The ideas of law and order have always encoded the work of white bodies controlling dark bodies for the sake of controlling the land, organizing spaces of commerce, and monitoring the movements of racial others.”

    Ridiculous.

  • NavyBlues05

    Nope, you just can’t relate at all.

  • Frank6548

    Yes I can’t relate to lies and ignorance, so true.

  • cranefly

    No, that’s literally a historical fact. Laws such as Jim Crowe, segregation, and laws that upheld legal slavery did exactly that, unapologetically. They allowed white people to profit from the exploitation of black people. This is actually NOT a controversial point. Any literate conservative will eagerly agree.

    Maybe you can explain why it’s ridiculous to state historical facts.

  • Frank6548

    No doubt there were racist laws. It’s the hyperbole and generalization that exposes this writers ignorance and inability to see reality.

    “Always encoded” is the height of ignorance and bias.

  • NavyBlues05

    Frank is being willfully obtuse here.

  • NavyBlues05

    Quite easily for you to determine that it’s ridiculous when you cannot relate. Just a bystander or another arm chair quarterback.

  • Frank6548

    It’s just true. How could I relate to this obvious falsehood by someone who clearly doesn’t want to take responsibility. Rightly ignored.

  • Frank6548

    Oh the irony.

  • NavyBlues05

    Still proving to can’t relate because you’re coming from a predetermined falsehood angle.

  • NavyBlues05

    You’re proving your ignorance… or failure to remember US History.

  • Frank6548

    Try to keep up so its not so embarrassing for you.

  • cranefly

    Since the day America had laws, it has had racist laws. That’s a fact. “Has always encoded” is literally, factually accurate.

  • pennyjane

    frank….of all those who visit here….you are in the greatest need of divine intervention. no religion would have you.

  • fiona64
  • fiona64

    Crankie Frankie is a white male, and privilege-blind with it.

  • Frank6548

    Clearly reading comprehension is a problem for you. My statements stand.

  • Frank6548

    That’s good because I am not in need of religion just Jesus and faith.

  • Frank6548

    Not.

  • pennyjane

    if that were true, we would know you were His by your works. you demonstrate only those qualities He despises….you know nothing of what He teaches. if you loved Him, you would love the least among you, instead, you hate, defile and try to do all the harm you can. you are a mean, hateful person, not His, not even close!

  • Judith Maxfield

    Then ditch all those who made a difference; among whom would be MLK, the Barrigan brothers, and more. As I said, its not the religion, its those who wrap themselves in it to hide their know-it-all attitude and self-serving. They do the same with the flag. How about the song “Hard Rain” and what its saying with “know your song well before you start singing it”. I ‘m no expert on sciences and would never dream of pontificating about it. Why do you spend time here fighting on something you obviously no nothing about?

  • cranefly

    Please explain how “has always encoded” is “not” accurate, when it’s a literal non-controversial fact that the first edition of the American constitution gave black people no rights and counted a black male as 3/5 of a person.

  • fiona64

    It’s not much of a move …

  • fiona64

    Jesus wouldn’t recognize his teachings in Crankie Frankie’s hate-speaking mouth.

  • Jim Reed

    If Christianity was real, it would be a very valuable religion because Christians would have God and Jesus in their hearts guiding them, and they would be in a position to lead the rest of us into a better way of life. Personally I think Christianity is not real, partly because I don’t see evidence of Christians being a Godly people far above the rest of us who don’t have God and Jesus. Under that condition, Christianity is a drag because it is all about people dedicating their lives to believing 100% in the illusion, and trying to convince everyone else to believe too so they won’t burn in hell. I think it is really more about Christians will be more sure they are right if everyone or most everyone else agrees with them. That just seems like a bad thing to base your life’s beliefs on, especially considering all the contradictions that the religion leads to.

  • Frank6548

    Please read more carefully and think.

  • Frank6548

    Clearly you don’t understand love. What a shame.

  • Judith Maxfield

    Jim: Whats hard for me is that you cast Christians into one category – the U.S. evangelicals ? I appreciated what you wrote above and wish you were willing to investigate more the good as well as the wrongs done in the name of Christianity.
    There was a time I would agree with you.

    Christianity as practiced by the apparent majority in the U.S. was not relevant to my life. I value eduction and believed the God people worshiped was not real and there was a lot of “magic tricks” placed in the teaching. The one thing I knew was that this was a religion full of nonsense. Going to a far off Heaven made no sense and I still laugh at that along with other stupid theology that supports terrible stuff in America. I don’t want that religion and will not go near it.
    So what is there? I’m told I’m a academic, love philosophy, history, and want answers to why I’m here, and does it matter. Suffering and pain got me to ask these things. I’m a painter exploring existential questions and found that the Episcopal Church holds back on dogma, and does not see the world in black and white with silly answers. Stand up for the down and out, speak against war, and be ready for the pushback of hate from those who sanction violence and power of the few.
    I believe there is enough evidence that Jesus did live and teach a gentle Gospel (good news). More info is available as to why the canons of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are written as poetry, not prose. I also believe the American style of evangelicalism is mostly off the mark and have mostly supported our naive idea of America’s manifest destiny.
    So when one sees Christian religion through some forms of evangelicalism, yes, I can agree. That cup of tea is not for me. Some people like simple quick answers and will willingly give up having a brain. I’ve met people who have not a clue where and how this religion began and why. But can’t you agree its a mistake to make vast generalizations of people? ( I was careful here not throw every evangelical under the bus.) This can be a continued conversation if you would like.

  • cranefly

    That’s what people say when they can’t answer a question.

  • Jim Reed

    There is a wide range of good through bad in American Christianity. I am sure there are a lot of details that it would be worth our while getting into, but for now I would say the poetic form of the gospels (or novel form) is not as big a problem for Christianity as the fact that decades earlier Paul wrote a lot about the religion, and he didn’t know anything about any of those gospel stories. In the time of Paul Christianity was reading the old testament scriptures to find references to their messiah, or saviour. They were also having visions of Jesus and other spirits back then. That was Christianity in the time of Paul, the earliest written record we have. Later the gospels were written to turn this messiah from an earlier generation into a human Jesus. That is the story that is told by the Bible, and the rest is apologetics. The variation of good and bad in the different churches does not make some of the Christianities more true even if it does make those churches less dangerous.

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    Jim is correct. Roman Catholic/Christian clergy has never balked at violence as a tool of governance. There is so much violence and atrocity committed by Christians that it is hard to select which one is the most horrible. And these atrocities continue from these ancient examples regularly into modern times.

    It was Catholic Abbott Amalric who coined the phrase “Kill them all. God will sort them out.” at the massacre of the Albigensians.

    Sir Thomas More burned folks to death for daring to own a Bible in English.

    Christian Emperor Theodosius (408-450) even had children executed, because they had been playing with remains of pagan statues. [DA469]
    According to Christian chroniclers he “followed meticulously all Christian teachings…”

  • Eponymous1

    What a complete, crazed load of rubbish. Where’d you copy and past this from?

    Hey, did you see THIS? http://www.jpost.com/Christian-News/In-face-of-beheading-Iraqi-children-proclaim-love-for-Jesus-383538

    It somehow didn’t make the news around here…

  • Eponymous1

    Christianity, mother of all EEEEEEEvils!!
    Pretty balanced view…
    LOL!!

  • Jim Reed

    It’s not really a very balanced view because it only considers the facts, and ignores the apologetics.

  • Guest

    Pro tip: normal people aren’t going to care what an anti-American thug like you thinks.

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    “What a complete, crazed load of rubbish.”
    …………………………………………….
    I stopped reading right there. I wonder what you wrote? Ho hum.

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    Love is not sneering.

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    Racist and sexist.

  • Eponymous1

    I’ll grant you the “unbalanced” part.

  • Jim Reed

    It is going to be a long process helping Christianity work through these things.

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    What point are you trying to make by linking me to murderporn?

  • Eponymous1

    That the only time Christianity doesn’t condemn violence, it’s to STOP things like this. Ivory tower pacifism sitting in judgement over a 2000 year history of self-defense is merely sanctimonious self-flattery.

    Not that that is what your copy-paste represents. THAT was fiction.

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    Refute me. Start with Amalric or Thomas More.

  • clardye

    And these laws were supported by democrats who usually don’t hold much regard to actually helping people instead likes to make them victims and keep them their so they can pretend to help them and then maintain their power.

  • Eponymous1

    Thomas More was beheaded. I can’t “refute” an unsourced fairy tale — where you get that craziness?

  • cranefly

    That is certainly not limited to Democrats.

  • Frank6548

    Clearly you don’t know enough history to know non Christians have accomplished more murders and atrocities.

  • Frank6548

    That’s what people say when faced with a lack of reading comprehension and logic.

  • cranefly

    Please help me. I’m so bad at reading comprehension. I just want you to explain.

  • fiona64

    I hope Andre links Frankie’s personal ad again; 53-year-old Frankie is looking for an 18-35 year-old woman. (I think he wants a beard who is less than half his age …)

  • Frank6548

    If you were serious I’d help you.

  • cranefly

    I am serious. I can not understand this unless you explain. It seems perfectly clear to me that “has always encoded […]” is a true statement of historical fact. Unless you help me, I must conclude that you are only here to insult people, and that your mind is as empty as your words (as empty as they come). But I legitimately want to understand the truth of the world. If you have a point to make, and if you are smarter than the author above, then of course you have the ability to use words to express your point intelligently. I trust in you. Help us understand.

  • Frank6548

    I correctly pointed out that it’s hyperbole and untrue. That’s a fact. If you mistakenly believe it is true not much I can do to disavow you of your error.

  • cranefly

    No… the word hyperbole means exaggeration. It’s not exaggeration. Unless you disagree with the fact that America legally enslaved black people from the moment of its founding.

  • Frank6548

    There’s that lack of reading comprehension again. My issue is with the fallacious statement the author makes that’s racism is encoded into our legal and justice system in order to protect commerce and borders. It an ignorant, racist, biased and unsupported remark.

    I don’t deny racism exists, all kinds as we see in this article.

  • cranefly

    We have states with legal racial profiling against Mexican-looking people, and laws and policies that criminalize impoverished undocumented workers instead of the companies that exploit them. This is a protection of commerce and borders. Slavery itself was obviously a protection of commerce. Those are facts again.

    But if that’s your problem, why didn’t you start with that? Why didn’t you bring up questions about the specific laws in your very first post? Why did you start with insults?

  • Frank6548

    I spoke the truth. I guess I am frustrated at all the ignorance spouted out in the name of Justice. I expect more from educated individuals. My mistake.

    As far as immigration we have laws. Those that break laws are criminals. Finding criminals is a good thing. Change the laws if they are not what we as a country want but unti then follow the law.

  • cranefly

    Exactly, we have laws. We have racist laws, and we have legally-encoded protections for exploitative people of privilege. As Christians, we shouldn’t uphold laws over the interests of human dignity. That’s what the article is saying, and it doesn’t sound like you actually disagree.

  • phatkhat

    If you cannot see the truth in that statement, then you are either so entrenched in the mindset the author points out, or your mind is unable to process evidence.

  • phatkhat

    Good idea!

  • Frank6548

    As written there is no truth in that statement. Doesn’t matter how you look at it.

  • Frank6548

    What laws are racist? Immigration laws?

  • cranefly

    Certainly.

  • Frank6548

    Aside from immigration laws that are racist in definition but not malice.

    Since you believe our who system law in encoded with racism what other laws do you claim to be racist?

  • Mark 13 Fs

    Rev. Jennings, Thank you for this insightful and illuminating blog. This movie was under-rated and your analysis is excellent eco-critical thinking.

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    Frankie makes my skin crawl.

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    It does not matter what non Christians did or do.
    It matters to this Christian what Christians did and do – we revere The Prince of Peace, we say.
    You sound like a child = “But Mom, Johnny did it too-oo.”

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    Thomas More beheaded and tortured folks for reading and/or possessing a Bible in English. English History and well known too.

    Rumours circulated during and after More’s lifetime regarding ill-treatment of heretics during his time as Lord Chancellor. The popular anti-Catholic polemicist John Foxe, who “placed Protestant sufferings against the background of… the Antichrist”[24] was instrumental in publicising accusations of torture in his famous Book of Martyrs, claiming that More had often personally used violence or torture while interrogating heretics. Later authors, such as Brian Moynahan and Michael Farris, cite Foxe when repeating these allegations.[25] More himself denied these allegations:

    Stories of a similar nature were current even in More’s lifetime and he denied them forcefully. He admitted that he did imprison heretics in his house – ‘theyr sure kepynge’ – he called it – but he utterly rejected claims of torture and whipping… ‘so helpe me God.'[10]:298

    In total there were six burned at the stake for heresy during More’s chancellorship: Thomas Hitton, Thomas Bilney, Richard Bayfield, John Tewkesbery, Thomas Dusgate, and James Bainham.[10]:299–306 More’s influential role in the burning of Tyndale is reported by Moynahan.[26] Burning at the stake had long been a standard punishment for heresy—about thirty burnings had taken place in the century before More’s elevation to Chancellor, and burning continued to be used by both Catholics and Protestants during the religious upheaval of the following decades.[27] Ackroyd notes that More explicitly “approved of Burning”[10]:298 After the case of John Tewkesbury, a London leather-seller found guilty by the Bishop of London, John Stokesley,[28] of harbouring banned books and sentenced to burning for refusing to recant, More declared: he “burned as there was neuer wretche I wene better worthy.”[29]
    Moynahan, Brian, God’s Bestseller: William Tyndale, Thomas More, and the Writing of the English Bible – A Story of Martyrdom and Betrayal, St Martin’s Press; 1st ed. (23 August 2003).

    Jump up ^ Diarmaid MacCulloch, 277.
    Jump up ^ Farris, Michael (2007). “From Tyndale to Madison”..
    Jump up ^ Moynahan, B., William Tyndale: If God Spare My Life, Abacus, London, 2003.
    Jump up ^ Guy, John A. Tudor England Oxford, 1988. p 26
    Jump up ^ “John Tewkesbury (1531)”. UK Wells]. Retrieved 10 December 2014. Having failed in this the Bishop of London, Stokesley, tried him and sentenced him to be burned.
    Jump up ^ More, Thomas (1973). Schuster, LA; Marius, RC; Lusardi, JP; Schoeck, RJ, eds. The Confutation of Tyndale’s Answer. Complete Works 8. Yale. p. 20..
    Jump up ^ Marius (1999), p. 307, 437.
    Jump up ^ More, St. Thomas, “To foresee and consider the everlasting fire of Hell”, A Prayer, Apostles.
    Jump up ^ John D. Cox (2000). The Devil and the Sacred in English Drama, 1350–1642. Cambridge University Press. p. 100. ISBN 9781139426954. Retrieved 10 December 2014. Catholic oppression … by a persecuting church
    Jump up ^ Ives, Eric W (2004), The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, p. 47, [More wrote on the subject of the Boleyn marriage that] [I] neither murmur at it nor dispute upon it, nor never did nor will. …I faithfully pray to God for his Grace and hers both long to live and well, and their noble issue too…
    Jump up ^ Elton, Geoffrey Rudolph (1982). “The Crown”. The Tudor constitution: documents and commentary (2nd ed.). Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: Cambridge University Press. p. 7. ISBN 0-521-24506-0. OCLC 7876927. Retrieved 24 July 2009.
    Jump up ^ “Annotated original text”.
    Jump up ^ “Account of trial”. Retrieved 27 July 2007.
    Jump up ^ Hume, David (1813), The History of England, p. 632.
    Jump up ^ Guy, John, A Daughter’s Love: Thomas & Margaret More, London: Fourth Estate, 2008, ISBN 978-0-00-719231-1, p. 266.
    Jump up ^ “St. Thomas More”. Catholic Encyclopaedia..
    Jump up ^ Markham, Clements (1906). Richard III: His Life and Character. p. 168.
    Jump up ^ Daniel J. Boorstin (1999). The Seekers: The Story of Man’s Continuing Quest to Understand His World. Random House Digital, Inc. p. 154. ISBN 9780375704758.
    Jump up ^ Quoted in Britannica – The Online Encyclopedia, article: Sir Thomas More
    Jump up ^ Chesterton, G. K. (1929). The Fame of Blessed Thomas More. London: Sheed & Ward. p. 63.
    ^ Jump up to: a b Cited in Marvin O’Connell, “A Man for all Seasons: an Historian’s Demur,” Catholic Dossier 8 no. 2 (March–April 2002): 16–19 online
    Jump up ^ Writings on Religion and the Church, Chapter 14 “Concerning that Universal Hatred which prevails against the Clergy” by Jonathan Swift, 1736
    Jump up ^ Jonathan Swift, Prose Works of Jonathan Swift v. 13, Oxford UP, 1959, p. 123)
    Jump up ^ “Reputation”. Thomas More Studies..
    Jump up ^ Kenny, Jack (2011). “A Man of Enduring Conscience”. Resource Center. Catholic Culture via Trinity Communications.
    ^ Jump up to: a b Chambers, R. W. (1929). Sir Thomas More’s Fame Among His Countrymen. London: Sheed & Ward. p. 13.
    Jump up ^ Colclough, “Donne, John (1572–1631)”, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press
    Jump up ^ Thomas More and his Utopia (1888)
    Jump up ^ Gary O’Connor (2002), Paul Scofield: An Actor for All Seasons, Applause Books. Page 150.
    Jump up ^ Online Text Version of Fish’s Supplycacion for the Beggar
    Jump up ^ see Fish, Simon. “Supplycacion for the Beggar.” 1529 in Carroll, Gerald L. and Joseph B. Murray. The Yale Edition of the Complete Works of St. Thomas More. Vol. 7. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990, pp. 1–10. See also Pineas, Rainer. “Thomas More’s Controversy with Simon Fish.” Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900, Vol. 7, No. 1, The

  • Eponymous1

    Still unsourced. Still tendentious. Yes, while he was chancellor of England under Henry, six people were burned at the stake — which was a common punishment for crimes against the state at the time. More’s direct culpability for that is a matter of some contention — he neither devised the method of execution, nor the laws he was operating under. You naturally take the worst spin on it.

    ” It’s another thing altogether to make the slanderous claim that More was “unnaturally fond of torturing heretics,” for the scholarly consensus is that there is no historical evidence that More engaged in torture. As summarized by John Guy in The Public Career of Sir Thomas More (Yale, 1980), “Serious analysis precludes the repetition of protestant stories that Sir Thomas flogged heretics against a tree in his garden at Chelsea. It must exclude, too, the accusations of illegal imprisonment made against More by John Field and Thomas Phillips. Much vaunted by J.A. Froude, such charges are unsupported by independent proof. More indeed answered them in hisApology with emphatic denial. None has ever been substantiated, and we may hope that they were all untrue” (165-66). See also G.R. Elton, Studies in Tudor and Stuart Politics and Government, Papers and Reviews 1946-1972, Volume 1, 158 (“It is necessary to be very clear about More’s reaction to the changes in religion which he saw all around him. No doubt, the more scurrilous stories of his personal ill-treatment of accused heretics have been properly buried, but that is not to make him into a tolerant liberal.”).

    More was not, of course, a tolerant liberal and was an eager persecutor of heretics while Lord Chancellor from 1529 to 1532. The number of heretics burned at the stake under More’s chancellorship is generally agreed to have been six, with three cases in which More was himself involved directly. See Richard Rex, “Thomas More and the Heretics: Statesman or Fanatic?,” in The Cambridge Companion to Thomas More, ed. George M. Logan (Cambridge, 2011), 93-115. Obviously, we rightly regard that today as a gross injustice, but it’s hard to see how that constitutes “unnatural fondness” for persecuting heretics, particularly in light of the many hundreds put to death under Mary I or Elizabeth I over the next few generations. Nor was More’s involvement out of the ordinary for his time. As Elton writes (161-62), “There is every reason to think that among the purposes [More] hoped to fulfil when he accepted office he put high the protection of the Church against heretical enemies. In this, however, he was not at all out of step with the official policy of those years. At the time, in fact, both king and Commons repeatedly demonstrated their orthodoxy in order to rebut the charge that their actions against clergy and pope were equal to heresy. More was more zealous and almost certainly more sincere than most, but as an enemy of heresy he had, during his years as chancellor, nothing to apprehend from king or Council.”

  • Frank6548

    Clearly you have little understanding of God or humanity.

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    I provided the historic sources. You are a dishonest interlocutor.

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    Zzzz…

  • Eponymous1

    Not dishonest, just not unbalanced.

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    Dishonest. Not worthy of further consideration or conversation.

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    Insult is poor argument.

  • Frank6548

    No insult. Your ignorance can be fixed.

  • Eponymous1

    Wrong. Simply restating a disputed assertion doesn’t make it so.

    There was a great deal of nasty propaganda on both sides of the religious disputes in England at that time. You take the word of one side and use it as gospel, but it ain’t my gospel.

    Same is true of all your other examples — you throw a lot of disputable attack crap out there, pick the version you like as “fact,” then poo-pooh contrary views or evidence.

    Great propaganda tactic, not so good for getting at any real truth.

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    You are not my teacher. You do not possess what you profess.

  • Eponymous1

    Hurts, don’t it?

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    This used to be such a nice quiet board. Now we have sneerers (2). Worra worra. What to do?

  • fiona64

    That’s because you’re a normal human being.

  • Frank6548

    Sad.

  • Judith Maxfield

    I’ve yet to read a novel in a poetry style and thus would not include the novel per se.
    I’ve been waiting to discuss Paul, but felt to stick on what seemed to be the bigger discussion about religion. Let me say here that in looking up the meaning of that word, it originally meant to “bind back” oneself; wish I knew latin better- though the “re” usually means some sort of return. BTW, I also learned that radical used to mean a return to the original. There are unhealthy communities and healthy ones. I do mean the healthy in the best positive sense, and there are religious ones that are agents of enlightenment in the classic sense. Using Jesus as a human example is fine with me. He was Jewish, spiritual, and very human. I think I’m in the mainstream of radical Christianity to say you can’t escape his words that worldly wealth is mostly a hinderance to human enlightenment, or in this case a change of heart. The message got warped when the European Plutonists got a hold of it.
    Paul did write to the early Christian communities about how he thought they should conduct themselves. He did not need to tell them who Jesus was. They already knew. I can agree with you partially around your context. I would add the era was still close to a chain of witnesses who either knew Jesus or the disciples ,and maybe the first church fathers. I have read online some of these documents and was amazed you could trace the link of memory back to Jesus. I think its possible that the Gospel is basically original and authentic, and has been re-interrupted through the ages as old and new
    human questions arise. I understand to do this is in keeping still within Judaism. After all, what good is any religion if it is a dusty system stuck in time? To me it lives an breathes upon the existential questions facing us. Paul began the theology, but we still mess it up. He did not foresee the church would have to leave its Jewish roots in the Roman world. For me, I prefer to see Christianity is a part of evolution of the better angels of humanity as we slowly evolve forward in a better and less violent world. Its been a source of my change of heart and has given me hope and a certain peace. So, its OK with me to not think Jesus was divine or never born. The message is still true.

  • Jim Reed

    I think the key to the evolution of Christianity is being OK with Jesus as divine or not or historical or myth. If Christianity can stay focused on the message, the exact nature of Jesus is less important, for now.

  • cranefly

    Racial profiling laws and policies against both Mexicans and Middle Easterners, and voter suppression laws that have time and again been designed to target minorities are two examples that come to mind that are still in practice today. There are many people alive today who remember Jim Crowe, legal segregation, legal discrimination, and bans on interracial marriage. That kind of thing still has a deep effect on the next generation. But almost worse than that is the racist way that laws are enforced without accountability. Studies have shown that white people smoke twice as much pot as minorities, but minorities are still twice as likely to be arrested for it – and that is a choice made by the criminal justice system. Studies also show that a white man with a criminal record is more likely to be offered a job than a black man without one.

  • Frank6548

    That’s not racism. Correlation is not causation.

  • cranefly

    That doesn’t make sense. What do you mean?

  • Frank6548

    It means that while your data may be correct it’s not because of race that people get arrested. It’s because they commit crimes and get caught. Yes, people are more likely to get caught in a high crime area where there are more police around.

  • cranefly

    The data says that white people commit the crime twice as often as minorities. If you’re right that these minorities are living in “high crime areas,” that is another symptom of racism. Pre-desegregation, black people could be excluded by policy from higher-income neighborhoods, and as a result, their families have grown up in lower-income neighborhoods. Also the other statistic – that employers are more likely to hire a white criminal than a black non-criminal, is racism at its purest, and lower rates of employment will trap minorities in those neighborhoods all the more.

    What other explanation is there? Do you believe that white people are better than black people, and that’s where their privilege comes from? Because that would be racism. But if you DON’T believe that, then you must be able to admit that racism has caused this gross inequality.

  • Frank6548

    It has more to do with class and behavior than race. Denying that is denying reality.

  • cranefly

    To say that it has to do with behavior is racist, and proven false by the evidence above. But in your mind, why do black people tend to be lower class?

    I’ll give you a hint: BECAUSE OF RACISM.

  • Judith Maxfield

    Yes, I agree with you. The message is about justice and true love for humankind. I have a Catholic friend who hopes I will in physical death see God and Jesus. I told her I already have deep experiences of God every day, – through my relational actions with friends and strangers as being enlightening and sacred. Rather than argue over things, I mentioned that no matter what our differences, its OK, but how we treat each other is the whole point. A spiritual change of heart and an openness for compassion saves us from total alienation and we can’t do it alone but in a healthy community. I’ve met people at the brink of psychic death who came back to the land of joyful and healthy living. I’ve told my grandaughter when asked about God, that God is another word for love and added God is in here, pointing to my heart. I learned from her that the young are gifted in a spiritual sense and healthy wonder for the world, but our culture will give her the message that she is not up to snuff, not “perfect”, etc. I will never fit in to American culture because I am by nature a critic of our meanness and greed. But, am I willing to help change things nonviolently? I do believe, as theologian Marcus Borg said, that there is a greening in America, it will take time, and the pushback will get worse before it gets better. Jesus did say that heaven is all around us but we choose not to see. I believe that no matter what. The god of violence is not nor ever will be the god of my heart. For me, its the best mental health fix it.

  • Vincent

    Thanks for the insight. I saw your interview today on PBS and now your book “The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race” is on my short list of books I must read soon. I will be following your blog.