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Entries in Wes Howard-Brook (3)

Friday
Aug182017

The Dangerous Support by Some Churches of Empire and U.S. Bullying Instead of Following Jesus

Wes Howard-BrookWatching people do harm and deliver hate in the name of their faith can be incredibly painful! It hurts so many to see people standing in their faith while justifying the bullying of the current administration in Washington, D.C. I feel great pain too when I read U.S. history—churches and people of faith have been leaders in U.S. domination. This blog explains why this abuse happens. It also explains why it’s NOT the way of Jesus.

Jesus is universally admired as a spiritual, political, and economic genius. He rejects so much of what church people embrace. He lived irrevocably committed to the way of truth however it sorted out life, the way of love with the guts to approach “enemies,” and the way of interdependent relationships with all beings.

Today we also see some church leaders standing strong in resistance—standing up to white supremacy, standing with Native Americans, standing with “undocumented” immigrants, urging the removal of racists symbols such as monuments to the Confederate rebellion to the United States.

But alas! We also see too many who identify as Christians defending the bullying of U.S. empire now embodied in Trump and so many others in his administration and party. They give their blessing despite the moral barrenness in those they bless.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Aug202012

Imagine! D.C. and New York City Destroyed, Their Leaders Forced to Live in Bejing

Wes Howard-Brook explains how Genesis, as we read it today, came together in Babylon among Jews whom the Babylonian military had removed from Jerusalem, marched forcibly to Babylon, and put into settlements there designed for captives taken in war. The Jews were hurting badly and needed stories that gave meaning to their ugly situation.

Living as Jewish refugees in the capitol city of the empire that had conquered them and their beloved Jerusalem, Genesis was their answer to what is otherwise the oldest written book of origins that we know, Enuma Elish, the Babylonian book of origins. Enuma Elish told how Babylon had been established by the gods. With that kind of lofty sacred heritage and divine authority, Babylonian Multi Earthers justified their right to bring their “superior ways” to the world around them, using force as necessary.Their expansionist plans included the land to their west which was controlled by the monarchy of Judah, a weak monarchy that was in considerable disarray. By 587 B.C.E., the Babylonians completed the leveling of Jerusalem. Included in the destruction was Solomon’s great Temple.

This double destruction of the two anchors of their culture had been inconceivable to the Jews. They were in as great a disbelief at what had happened as we would be if Washington, D.C., and New York City were demolished along with all of their economic centers, national shrines, and houses of religious worship. Furthermore, imagine all of the ruling elite of these cities being taken captive to live in Beijing, China, or any other foreign city of power. 

The same Jews who had that unimaginably devastating trauma brought together the story of Eden and its immediate sequel Cain and Abel. More about how these stories vigorously protest empire will follow in subsequent blog posts.

What stories would we tell if two of our city-centers of power and wealth were destroyed and military reprisal was NOT an option?

Friday
Aug172012

Wes Howard-Brook Retells Eden for One Earth Living

My assertions about those who first told the stories of Cain, Abel, and Eden, come from scholars whose writings I have sought out to answer my own questions about why so many people feel more attracted to Multi Earth living rather than One Earth living. One such scholar, Wes Howard-Brook, distinguishes between empire religion and creation religion, rough equivalents of Multi Earth and One Earth worldviews.

One day, when I opened the Catholic Agitator, the newsletter of the Los Angeles Catholic Worker, I read a highly affirming review by Frank Cordero of Howard-Brook’s book, “Come Out, My People!” God’s Call Out of Empire in the Bible and Beyond. I recognized quickly that this book was important to my quest. 

Howard-Brook teaches theology and scripture at Seattle University. He gives a long, well-researched answer to the question, “Just who were these storytellers who told the tales of Eden, Cain, and Abel?” I wanted to know who, when, and why they were told. Were they living in the cities that adherents to Cain’s worldview built or were they back-to-the-land peasants?

The short answer is they were Jews living in the grand city of Babylon in the 6th century B.C.E. when Babylon was the center of the dominating Babylonian Empire. These stories were their protest stories, protesting what was for them the highly offensive stories they heard in Babylon to justify the Babylonian empire of conquest and domination.

I’ll unpack this short answer in blogs over the next days.