LIBERATION THEOLOGY

Understanding
Jesus gave "Love thy neighbor as thyself" and
"Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, all thy
might and all thy soul" as the two most important
laws.

Hillel, accepting a challenge to teach the entire
Torah while standing on one foot, said "`Do not do
unto others that which you would hate done unto
yourself, and all the rest is commentary."

If the New Testament is the continuation, yea the
fulfillment of the Old Testament, then it must be
read in light of, together as ONE with, the Old
Testament. The Old Testament is a revelation of
God working through -- manifesting herself -- in
concrete historical situations. Similarly, when
reading, interpreting and learning from the New
Testament, we must not shear it of its concrete
political, social, economic, cultural and historical
setting -- in other words, what happens in its
flesh and blood world.
The Bible says the Children of Israel didn't believe
in God until the Egyptian soldiers were killed at
the Red Sea, in other words, until the Israelites
saw that their political liberation and freedom was
guaranteed.
God didn't give Pharaoh foreign aid in order to
ease the suffering of the enslaved Hebrews.
Rather, God effected, through divine intervention,
a bloody, total revolution, which completely freed
the slaves politically and took them out of their
captive country; at the same time, God physically
destroyed Pharaoh and his army, as well as a
significant portion of his population (i.e., all the
first born. So Exodus isn't about liberalism,
foreign aid and supporting the "development of
democracy;" it's about total, bloody revolution.
Biblical justice isn't liberalism, and doesn't end at
liberal "solutions."
Jesus said turn the other cheek, not let them kill
you, let alone take the food out of the mouths of
your wife and children.
J'enfin compris. Le purpose de la traditionne
Judea-Christienne est pour preparer, de
permettre, to allow zazen to occur. (translation
from the French: I finally understand. The purpose
of the Judeo-Christian tradition is to prepare for,
to permit, to allow zazen to occur.)

Put another way:  You can't feed the soul through
an empty stomach -- and that's why I'm doing
solidarity work.

Justice is love writ large.
A friend said, after I gave my Matthew 25:32 rap,
that maybe we create our own hell on earth when
we don't clothe the naked, etc; and we also so
create a hell on earth for others. Conversely,
when we do do those good things, we create
heaven on earth for ourselves and for others.

Also: just as people use the Tibetan Book of the
Dead
(read backwards?) as a guide for how to
live and develop, so similarly, treat Matthew 25:32
eschatologically as a way to live life, and as a way
to create heaven on earth.

Heaven is having the veil lifted: seeing really
clearly all the injustice, oppression, and
exploitation; having the desire to fight with all
your soul against that injustice, oppression and
exploitation; and then actually doing so, in a
community of love with other like-minded
brothers and sisters.
[cf. The Gospel in Solentiname, vol. 3, p. 25]
N.B.: It's nations, perhaps not (just) individuals,
that are judged in Matthew 25:32-46.
The comment of a Third World base Christian
community organizer
-- "War is when we stop
buying what they want to sell us" -- is so, so right.
They tell me what I'm saying is too black and
white.

It's no less black and white because of any
reasons they have ever given.
 

It's still black and white:

There's an oppressor and one who is oppressed,
a master and a slave, a Pharaoh and a Moses,
a Herod and a Jesus, a U.S. and a Nicaragua...

In a capitalistic society, the more poor and
downtrodden a person is, the closer that person
is to God, the way God would act if God were a
person (in other words, Jesus Christ!)
Matthew 25:32-46: If we do it to Jesus, we do it to
God.
Jesus has returned as one of the homeless. Will
we find out which one he or she is before it's too
late?
If everyone on Earth had what they needed to be
quite comfortable in all ways, there would be
nothing extra. That's Tao. So any time each one of
us who has far more than he or she needs,
transfers that excess to one of us who has far
less than he or she needs, it's not "charity," but
justice and righteousness -- acknowledgement
of God's dominion -- because it's simply returning
to the oppressed what is rightfully theirs.
If God is love, righteousness, compassion and
justice, then to the extent your every thought,
word, action and movement -- your entire being--
is not these things, you are far, and yet farther
away from God. And to the extent these four
attributes guide your thoughts, your words, your
every action and movement -- permeate your very
being -- you are close, and yet closer to God.
When you are love, righteousness, compassion
and justice, you are One with God. For what else
is it worth striving?
Anything, especially a religious practice, that
leads you away from, or takes time from, Tikkun
(healing the world) or from solidarity (stopping
torture, rape, mutilation, murder, oppressive
imposition of suffering, unjust and premature
death) -- anything that does so, is of the Devil, not
of God.
Blood runs thicker than water, and Spirit
swallows up the blood.
Only if we do God's work here on earth, will He
allow us to partake of his Heavenly Realm when
we depart this earth.
I am God, and your humble servant, at the same
time.
Critical Analysis
Do we pick and choose which Bible passages are
literal (e.g., rituals, salvation only through the Son)
and which are only figurative (e.g., Jubilee year
social justice, Matthew 25:32-46), based on which
would affect our lifestyle least, cause us the least
difficulty in our American lives?
                    Religions of Complacency

Virtually all rabbis, priests, pastors and other
"official" Men of God are shameful frauds. They
emasculate the Bible: first they strip it of -- or
at best ignore -- all that is God-like; then they
extract and present from it only those shreds
that allow them to tell their flocks: "You are
good. All is okay. We and our society are
wonderful."

Yet what is the Bible, if not a chronicle of the
dissolution, destruction and God-sanctioned
rebirth of countless civilizations and peoples?

Compare:

        True Religion                vs.          False Religion

humbly universalistic          vs.   proudly ethnocentric

emphasize the spiritual/              emphasis on legalistic/
mystical core of the             vs.   ritualistic compliance
religion and the need for 
growth in those areas

prophetic in seeing our       vs.    the self-congratula-
own real selves and                     tions of the Bible's
society                                            false prophets

above all, it would be a                 the God of "In God
religion of the God of           vs.    We Trust" and self-
peace and social justice               aggrandizement
for men, and seek to 
activate the Biblical 
mandate for us all to 
emulate God in working
with all our might for 
those goals

Our passing by the homeless in the street and not
insuring they have someplace to stay is exactly
the same as the priest and the Levite passing by
the robbed, beaten traveler on the road; none of
us are Samaritans.
We celebrate Christmas by the most anti-Christ
message possible: the kingdom of heaven isn't
within you; you're not whole and complete; but
rather, what will get you the kingdom and make
you whole and complete, is out there, for
purchase.
It's not Christianity, but feel-good paganism.
Action
A Christian isn't so much someone who professes
a certain belief (and usually acts directly contrary
thereto), as it is someone who acts in a way that
shows their knowledge of, and guidance by,
Christ.
Jesus didn't say "I was hungry and you gave me a
quarter."
  Jesus said the needy one was satisfied.
And if as we do it to the "least" of us is as we do
it to Jesus... think of it! If it was Jesus, wouldn't
we take him out to the best dinner in town, and
then ask, even beg him to stay in our home?
"crippled heal"     = do something, e.g., call up a
                                   Senator to stop contra aid
"lame out of bed" = the poor get out of their bed
                                   of self-pity, self-hatred and
                                   hopelessness
                                = the complacent get out of
                                   their bed of selfishness, fear
                                   and un-One-ness
 "blind see"           = the rich see what they're
                                   doing to themselves, the poor
                                   and the planet
Do you measure a man's worth, do you determine
whether he's gainfully employed in the business
of life, solely by whether this society gives him
money for doing what he does? In a society that is
fundamentally corrupt, and that is foundationed
upon the exploitation, enslavement, torture,
mutilation and murder of billions of human beings
and tens hundreds of billions of other living
creatures (namely, non-human animals), do you
really want to be told "Hey, you're doing a great
job, here's your reward"? Or, would you rather be
told "Listen buddy, what you're doing we won't
pay you for, and in fact we want you to stop doing
it, and we're going to throw you in jail -- beat --
torture -- KILL you for it"? (cf. every prophet and
Jesus)  Aren't these the words you need to hear,
your reward, as it were?
For the thirsty, thou must milk a cow;
For the hungry, grow wheat;
For the sick, heal;
For the lonely, visit;
For the unknowing, bring knowledge.
Jesus said "As you did it to one of the least of..."
Lets stop crucifying Jesus a billion times a day.
I feel a comforting spirit in the room. These are
the children of God.
[written while listening to activist Walden Bello]
Relationship to Rituals
The Bible doesn't continually proclaim the Lord's
greatness "for the rituals he  gave us," but for
kindness, righteousness and justice.
The Old Testament isn't replete with 
condemnations of people for working on the
Sabbath, or for cutting their payes, or for not
fasting on Yom Kippur. No, it's full of
condemnations of people for violating the positive
and negative ethical injunctions contained
therein.
The morality/social justice component of a
religious practice is inversely proportional to the
ritualistic component.

I don't really care what group of rituals someone
chooses to perform. I care about what spiritual
knowledge that person takes away from those
rituals, and what that person -- when not
performing rituals -- thinks, feels and does in the
physical world with the rest of my children. 

You should spend all your time loving your
neighbor,  feeding the hungry, clothing the naked,
healing the sick, housing the homeless, and
freeing the oppressed. Then, if there's any time
left over when that's all done, perform some
rituals. Not spend all your time performing rituals,
and if there's any time left over after that, then
love your neighbor and help the hungry, naked,
sick, homeless and oppressed. Using rituals to
avoid spending time helping your fellow humans
is the worst sin of all, because it implies God
cares more for rituals than for humankind.
Liberation Theology and Buddhism
Liberation theology is the Oneness of
meditation -- the Big Mind of Zen -- concretized,
enfleshed and writ large upon the physical world.
Liberation theology/solidarity work is the
meditational/contemplative realization of the One,
concretized and enfleshed.
Whatever you do, you do to yourself. ("As ye do
unto the least of them, so shall ye do unto me."
)
Zen'ers spend too much time sitting on their
cushions. There should be a way to get the same
benefit while fighting oppression, torture, murder
and injustice.
There's no need to get up (from the cushion)
unless you're going to do something proper when
you do.
According to Wilber, you can't really get people to
stop grabbing for excess Eros, or to stop
oppressing and killing to get rid of Thanatos, until
level eight is achieved. You can, however, offer
"benign substitutes" more "humanely and
synergistically arranged." (Is this what liberation
theology does?)
[Up from Eden, p. 335]
Liberation Theology and Judaism
The fundamental difference between Orthodox
Judaism and liberation theology (or at least my
liberation theology) is that Orthodox Judaism puts
the most emphasis on obeying ritual laws, with
only surface attention to human socio-political
interaction; liberation theology, on the other hand,
puts its main emphasis on human socio-political
interaction, and requires a deep and meaningful
investigation into that area to reveal the reality
thereof.
Orthodox Judaism is perhaps a proper religious
practice in the ghetto, when they were persecuted
and couldn't do any social justice work (and
weren't responsible for the social justice
conditions being bad?)
The Jews' rejection of Jesus was a rejection of
egalitarian fairness and giving up privileges. The 
Jews who turned to Communism and Socialism
embraced Jesus in a secular form.
Real Judaism (the ethical injunctive part)
survived for the last 2000 years not in Judaism as
practiced, but in the ethical injunctive part of
Christianity.
The real Jews today call themselves Christians
(and I don't mean theologically Christ-wise).
Tribal self-protection is not charity, let alone
social justice or righteousness, and is certainly
not God action.
Query
Perhaps all these non-political but nice spiritual
places (e.g., the Zen Center of Los Angeles) are
training people to be able to be political later on
(maybe in another life). In other words, some
activists I know, who don't now seem to have a
spiritual practice, already did their heavy Zen
phase? As opposed to me, doing it and political
activism at the same time?
 

Home ] Back ]

  1984-2001