Thursday: Holy Week–A Dangerous Memory

Guest article by Fr Emmanuel McCarthy


The Eucharist, thanks to which, God’s absolute ‘no’ to violence, pronounced on the cross, is kept alive through the centuries. The Eucharist is the sacrament of non-violence! 

-Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap. (March 11, 2005)

 The narrative of Jesus’ Passion and death was the first part of the Gospel Tradition to acquire a fixed structure and, of all portions of the Gospels, was the first to be included as a recited liturgical remembrance. Note it is the narrative of Jesus’ Passion and death that was the central remembrance around which the Gospels took form and that was the primal remembrance of Christian liturgical recital. Note also, it was narrative, and only narrative, tethered intrinsically to the Gospels’ Passion narrative, which was primal and paramountnot theological, metaphysical or mystical expositions of the Passion of Jesus.

Probably a billion Christians participate in the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper, the Agape Meal, the Mass, the Divine Liturgy with some remembrance of Jesus’ Passion and death every week. Moreover, billions of other Christians over the last two thousand years have also participated in the Eucharist. Think what the Church and the world might be today, if today and yesterday, Christians continuously heard in the anamnesis/remembrance narrative of the Eucharist Prayer—instead of the verbal generalities “suffered” and “died” as the remembrance of Jesus Passion and death—a narrative of particulars drawn directly from the narratives of the Gospels. For example, suppose that instead of simply “suffered and died,” a billion Christians this week heard and billions of Christians going all the way back to the time of Constantinian continuously heard and pondered a liturgical recital of the Passion narrative along the lines of the following: what would be the state of the Church and humanity at this moment?

 On the night before He went forth to His eternally memorable and life-giving death, like a Lamb led to slaughter, rejecting violence, loving His enemies, and praying for His persecutors, He bestowed upon His disciples the gift of a New Commandment:

“Love one another. As I have loved you,
so you also should love one another.”

Then He took bread into His hands, and giving thanks, broke it, and gave it to His disciples saying:

“Take this, all of you, and eat of it,
for this is my body,
which will be given up for you.”

In a similar way, when the Supper was ended, He took the chalice. And once more giving thanks, He gave it to His disciples, saying:

“Take this, all of you, and drink from it,
for this is the cup of my blood,
 the blood of the new and eternal covenant,
 which will be poured out for you and for many,
for the forgiveness of sins,
“Do this in memory of me.”

Obedient, therefore, to this precept of salvation, we call to mind and reverence His passion where He lived to the fullest the precepts which He taught for our sanctification. We remember His suffering at the hands of a fallen humanity filled with the spirit of violence and enmity. But, we remember also that He endured this humiliation with a love free of retaliation, revenge, and retribution. We recall His execution on the cross. But, we recall also that He died loving enemies, praying for persecutors, forgiving, and being superabundantly merciful to those for whom justice would have demanded justice. Finally, we celebrate the memory of the fruits of His trustful obedience to thy will, O God: the resurrection on the third day, the ascension into heaven, the enthronement at the right hand, the second and glorious coming. Therefore we offer You your own, from what is your own, in all and for the sake of all…

Excerpt from The Nonviolent Eucharist (1991)

The intentional erasure or hiding or ignoring of a memory or of history always serves an end. It is not possible to envision any spiritual advantage or to find any good end that is served by truncating the Eucharistic Passion narrative down to “suffered and died.” Such an extremist shrinking of the narrative of Jesus’ Passion all but converts the Eucharistic anamnesis into a liturgical instrument of amnesia.

Holy Thursday of Holy Week is a dangerous memory because it is the memory of the institution of the Eucharistic with its two commands: “Do this in memory of me,” and the “new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you.”  If the memory of me is bowdlerized, then the content and meaning of the new commandment will be correspondingly bowdlerized. And, the consequence of this interconnected and interactive bowdlerization will be, in the Church and in humanity, what? Look out of the window or turn on the television!

The insertion by the Churches of Christianity of a narrative of Jesus’ Passion—as clear and as descriptive as the narrative of the Gospels—into the anamnesis/remembrance of their Eucharistic Prayer is a requirement of truth, a requirement of agape, a requirement of fidelity to the Word of God Incarnate. It is a gift all Christians need to receive from the leaders of their various Churches. It is a witness to the grace of the cross that all Christians and all humanity need to encounter in Christian practice.


Wednesday: Holy Week–A Dangerous Memory

Guest article by Fr Emmanuel McCarthy


A third reason that accurate remembrances of Holy Week and of Jesus’ Passion in the anamnesis of the Eucharist Prayer are potentially dangerous memories is that such memories do not look only to the past; they also look toward the future. Acute memories of acute human suffering have the power to motivate people to make life better in the future, especially if the particular suffering remembered is still unabatedly operative in the world. New memories of human suffering or new insight into well known memories of human suffering can reveal the tragic flaw in the taken-for-granted worldview of a group. Pondering the memory of a single suffering person has the power to undermine the prevailing myths by which a secular or a religious society and its rulers live and operate, e.g., the memory of one Third World mother in agony and out of her mind with horror holding her child who has just been decapitated by a First World drone or smart bomb. But, memory must be kept alive for it to have a future and not just a past.

The Church is supposed to be the bearer of the dangerous memory of Jesus, a victim of the violence of the powerful, and by compassionate extension the bearer of the dangerous memory of all the victims of the violence of the powerful across the ages down to this very day. The Church is supposed to be the bearer of the dangerous memory of Jesus’ torture and death that motivates witnessing to humanity by word and deed to overcome evil with good (Christlike agape).The Church is supposed to be the Body of Christ that responds to its own violent victimization in the Way it remembers Christ responded to His violent victimization—thereby breaking the perennial cycle of violent reciprocity, retaliation and revenge by returning good (agape) for evil.  The Church is suppose to be that group of people who hears and listens attentively to the anguished cries of intolerable pain of the victim of the violence of the powerful, Jesus of Nazareth, and by the grace of His cries hears, with compassion and urgency, the anguished cries of all the victims of the violence of the powerful. But is this what the institutional Church is?

Do the Churches of Christianity, in whatever nation they may be situated, proclaim the memory of Jesus in such a way that it draws Christians and others into strongly identifying with the victims of the violence of the powerful, beginning  with Jesus? Or, is the proclamation of the memory of the torture and murder of Jesus by the institutional Churches of Christianity made so metaphysically and mystically circuitous and innocuous that these Churches nurture their Christian people into strongly identifying with the powerful and their violent agents, who operate out of the same spirit and myth as their occupational predecessors, the torturers and murders of Jesus?

Tuesday; Holy Week a Dangerous Memory

Guest article by Fr Emmanuel McCarthy


A second reason that an accurate remembrance of Holy Week and of the Passion of Jesus in the anamnesis of the Eucharistic Prayer are potentially dangerous memories is that memory defines known history. If the only memory available is the memory of those who were the victors, who successfully prevailed, then the very identity of people is formed from the narration of these memories and from the values, attitudes and beliefs the victors and the successful embody and encourage. Generally there is hardly any remembrance in history of the losers, the oppressed, the forgotten, the broken, the victims—like Jesus of Nazareth.

When secular and religious memory is controlled by the 1%, it is assured that what they include and what they erase, what they emphasize and what they  downplay, what they glorify and what they ignore in memory, and therefore in history, has as its purpose creating an identity for human beings, which is thoroughly consistent with the interests and needs of the 1%. As Johannes Metz writes, “Selective memory that remembers only the triumph of the powerful and “screens out” the agony of their victims, creates a false consciousness of our past and an opiate for our present.”

Since grace works through nature and not independent of it, the primal experiential memory during Holy Week should be the primal natural phenomena of Holy Week, the agony of the victim Jesus at the hands of the powerful, and by empathic extension the agony of all victims of the “great ones.” But it is not. Such a memory is too dangerous to the 1% of this world, who have built their victories and success on an ongoing, en masse, agonizing crucifixion of human beings. But if memory is distorted, by commission or by omission, to that extent it will distort any spiritual, metaphysical or mystical experience and/or interpretation derived from it.

Martin Luther said of the princes of Germany who were protecting him from the violence of the Church of Rome but who were also being attacked by the peasants they had been brutally oppressing for generations, “It is easier today for a prince to get to heaven by killing a peasant than by prayer.” The memory reflected upon in sermons and homilies and pieties during Holy Week, like the memory presented during the Eucharist, is composed and mediated, since the time of Constantine, by the victorious 1% and their kept scribes. Think about that and the dearth of concern about the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies in all the Churches of Christianity today and for the last 1700 years.

Fast for Gospel Nonviolence 2014 – Seventeenth Helping

FAST FOOD (2014): Seventeenth Helping

“First of all we Christians are people who adore God. We adore God Who is love, Who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him!”

Pope Francis, 6/21/14

Reverend George B. Zabelka was the Catholic chaplain of the 509th composite group of the Army Air Force on Tinian Island in the South Pacific in the summer of 1945. The 509th composite group was the atomic bomb crews. Before that assignment, he was chaplain to another Air Group whose mission was to firebomb the cities of Japan. By his own testimony during this time, to use his words, “I said nothing.” When questioned as to why he said nothing, his usual answer was, “We were there to pay back the Japanese for Pearl Harbor.” He would then continue that nothing that he was ever taught or that any authorities in the Church or the State ever said or suggested that there was anything unchristian or immoral about what was happening from Tinian Island. Since he was a highly educated man and had received excellent recommendations for his pastoral care of souls in both his diocese and in the military, and since he read the Gospel every day at Mass, he had to know of Jesus’ command, “Love your enemies” and of his commission to the Church and the apostles and by extension to him as a priest of the Church to go forth and baptize “and to teach them to obey all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19). His response to such an inquiry would be, “I knew what Jesus said in the Gospels. But all my life, I and every other Catholic in the world was given an interpretation of what He said that permitted Catholics to engage in the acts that war required. There was never a question in my mind or in my conscience that I was doing anything evil or sinful by not raising the issue–with those who were placed in my spiritual care –of the possible immorality sinfulness of  burning men, women, and children to death from the air”

He said that when he led Catholics or Christians in prayer on Tinian Island and they said together the Our Father, no one but no one thought that “The Father” they were praying to included the Japanese as his beloved and infinitely valued sons and daughters. For Zabelka and his congrgarion ‘our’ meant we Americans and our allies, and did not include their enemies. This, of course, was a theological error according to the teachings of the Catholic Church and the Gospel. But operationally, on the ground in Tinian Island and in the Catholic Churches all over the United States, no one, regardless of their rank in the Church, thought or spoke about the fact that “The Father” that they were all praying to was also The Eternal Father of every Japanese man, woman, and child. He therefore felt no moral need – in fact, it never entered my mind – to bring up that truth of what ‘our Father’ meant to those Army Air Corps men in my spiritual care.

Zabelka, 37 years later in his life, publically said regarding his silence in the face of activities that were as far removed from Jesus’ teaching as hell is removed from heaven, “I was brainwashed.” This analysis of the moral situation he found himself in was correct, and the evidence to verify it as correct is Himalayan. For example, a few years ago in London, England, a statue was unveiled in honor of Charles Harris. In his time, he was known as ‘Bomber’ Harris. Harris was the leader of Bomber Command, the air group that conducted the fire bombings of German cities, killing and maiming millions of civilian men, women, and children. In later years, Harris was often referred to as “England’s Eichmann.” Despite this, a few years ago there in London stood the Queen Mother, surrounded by upper echelon ecclesiastics from all the major churches garbed in full canonicals, honoring Charles ‘Bomber’ Harris. They, like Zabelka, when confronted with Jesus’ teachings of “Love your enemies, Put up the sword, Love one another as I have loved you” would simply defend their position of engaging in mass human slaughter under the with the support of Jesus by saying that they interpret those passages in a way that allows the to do what they did and still be following Jesus.

A priest has recently come to my attention who was a military chaplain but who is now retired and doing parish work in his diocese. From the altar and in private conversations and at Church gatherings he is forever waxing eloquent about the goodness, greatness, and Christian faith of those American ‘heroes’ he was chaplain to during the American conquest and destruction of Fullajah. I would submit that he, like Zabelka, and like those ecclesiastics of distinction gathered around the statue to honor Charles ‘Bomber’ Harris, was brainwashed into believing evil was good, into believing that doing the opposite of what Jesus taught as the Way and Will of the Father was the same as doing what Jesus taught.

Further evidence to substantiate  Zabelka’s anaylsis of what he did – or rather didn’t do – can be found in the deadly and dead silence of the American Catholic bishops, individually and as an Episcopal conference, regarding the 10 years of American and British human slaughter and maiming in Iraq, largely executed by American and British Catholic Christians. Only one bishop out of the entire group of approximately 300 American bishops told the people of his diocese that such destruction of innocent human life, in utero and extra utero, was intrinsically evil and that they should not participate in it. He said to his people that this war utterly contradicts the teachings of Jesus and in no way could honestly be said to meet even the minimal standards of Catholic morality: namely, the norms of the Catholic Just War Theory. Other than this one bishop, every other bishop“said nothing” to the people of his diocese. During his time on Tinian Island the number of humans breings, mostly civilians, destroyed by those Catholics for whom Rev. George Zabelka had immediate spiritual and moral responsiblity ran into the tens of thousand. He said nothing to any of them and by his silence gave spiritual and moral consent in the name of Jesus to what they were doing when they were carpet bombing Japaneae cities. The American Catholic Bishops between 2003 and 2013 also said nothing concerning the participation of those  Catholics for whom they had immediate spirtitual and moral resposibility as they trapes off to a country seven thousand mile away to kill and maim millions of people. Their calculated and politically crafty and cunning strategy of silence imparted all the consent a catholic boy or girl needed to sign up 6to go to Iraq and kill ragheads.

All of the above Christians, with the exception of the one bishop I mentioned, are in possession of or possessed by an image of God that in no way can be found in the person, life, or teaching of Jesus. If for Christians Jesus is as Saint Paul says, “the invisible image of the invisible God,” then the image of God from which the bishops and priests above were deciding for themselves, and for others, right from wrong, good from evil, the will  and theway of God is an image of God that is nothing more than a figment of their imaginations. The image of God from which a Just War Theory is derived also owes nothing to Jesus’ person, words and deeds. It relies on an image of God that is the product of  philosophical spacualtions (Cicero, 65 BC) rooted in some very limited perception of self, of humanity and of the universe, whose only validation is some logically correct us of reason. But, what some logically correct use of reason can build up, some  other equyally logicasl use of reason can tear down. For the Christian, when he or she is confronted with a God image or :truth” garnered, from a reasoned philosophical reflections that contradicts the teaching of Jesus, his or her Lord, God, and Savior, then the Christian must part company with his or her philosophical sense of truth. regarding their rationally constructed image of God as a false image of God. Because, for the Christian Jesus is the truth and the true image of God because Jesus is God incarnate.

Jesus is not a philosoper. He is the Self-revelation of the true image of God and the true content of God’s Will and Way. It is this by the  fact that He is God in the flesh. The Church has no commission from Jesus to teach philosophy. Its commission from Jesus is “teach them to obey all that I have commanded you.”

Communicating to those Christians in one’s spiritual care, explicitly by word or implicitly by silence, that they here and now can go out and slaughter other human beings in war amounts to parting company with the image of God as revealed by, with, and in Jesus and to instead choose to be an agent and a propagandist for an image of God that has nothing behind it.. How else could the absolutely clear meaning of the “Our Father” image reveald by Jesus be interpreted as the Father of “We American” but not the Father of the “Japs” or “ragheads” whom “We” are lethally trashing by the millions? You can bet your bottom dollar that such a grotesquely contorted interpretation of “Our Father” has money and power as its major hermeneutic. As the eminent Catholic Biblical scholar, the late Rev John L. McKenzie articulates the issue: “If the Roman Catholic Church were to decide to join the Mennonites in refusing violence, I doubt whether our harmonious relations with the government would endure the day after the decision. I believe that both here and elsewhere the Church can avoid persecution by surviving as it has so far, that is by being the lackey of  the establishment of wealth and power, that is, by not being the Church. Pope and Bishops must proclaim the entire reality of Jesus Christ. They must proclaim that Western men and women will escape the ultimate horror only by attending to the person and words of Jesus. Like Paul, that is all they have to say; so for Christ’s sake, let us say it.

Both the Hebrew prophets and Jesus are clear, where more is morally demanded, silence is evil. Both are also equally clear that there is no more dangerous choice that an individual or a group can make than giving oneself over to and proclaiming as God that which is not God.


Fast for Gospel Nonviolence 2014 – Sixteenth Helping

FAST FOOD (2014): Sixteenth Helping

“We adore God Who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him!”

Pope Francis, 6/21/14

Since a person’s image of God is so intertwined with his or her self image, from where does a person acquire his or her image of God? It is not just the First Commandment; it is a fact of human existence that God is beyond imaging. God is imageless, beyond description, beyond understanding, invisible and incomprehensible. The best that reason alone can do is to say, “God is.” Whether God is love, as Pope Francis proclaims above, or loveless, whether God is a father or a terrorist, whether God supports homicidal violence or finds it an abomination, all this and everything else is beyond human capacity to know by reason. All that can possibly be known is God is–IAM. Other than this, what kind of God God is and what God expects of people is beyond human comprehension. People can pontificate with a passion that God is this or God hates that, but on the basis of reason alone it is all gossamer, 100% pure conjecture. That’s fact, not opinion.

So the images people have of God in paintings, films and literature are just the imaginary products of reason brought to bear on their dreams or nightmares, their loves or hates, their self interests or sufferings, etc. Such image, whether pictorial or propostional have no reasonable theological or moral validation even if a billion people accept them–because the quantity of people agreeing with a picture or proposition about God cannot validate the truth presented by that picture or proposition. When Noam Chomsky, a world renowned academic authority in the field of linguistic, is asked, as he often is, “Do you believe in God,”  his answer is always the same: “Tell me what you mean by “God” and I will tell you whether I believe in God or not.” I suppose if someone did tell him what he or she meant by God, Chomsky’s question to them would be, “By what method have you validated as the truth your description or definiton of God?” If they say “By reason,” the ball game is over. If they say, “By faith,” that is acceptable for them. But it is then a subjective understanding of God, which they experience as true but for which there are no means objectively available to others to validate its truth .

Of course, if God is incomprehensible beyond mere “isness”–IAM–and if people, because of the structure of the human brain long to know, “Where did I come from? Why am I here” and “Where am I going,” then we have the greatest market that ever existed in which to make a buck or a billion bucks–and it is wide open to every flimflam artist, every con-man, every huckster, every entrepreneur on the planet generation unto generation. At which point the word “religion” becomes synonymous with “a den of thieves.” No image of God, pictorial or propositional, is  beyond sale, if the need for that particular image exists in a person or a group for some reason. The amount of loot to be raked in for proclaiming, marketing and selling a particular image of God is in direct proportion to how desperate the need is in those who buy it or buy into it.

If a religion is receiving millions of dollars a year from the government or the military or the economic elites of a society, it better not be marketing, or start marketing, an image of God that undermines the moral validity of what the people in those institutions are about–even if it is mass murder.

In most institutional religions, and Christian institutions are no exception, money, its acquisition and its maintenance, is a major, if not the primary, hermeneutic for interpreting the meaning of “God” and of any Sacred Scriptures they may believe that they possesses. It is, for example, the hermeneutic by which Jesus’ teaching, “Love you enemies,” is interpreted as including moral permission to terrorize, torture and slaughter enemies. When Jesus states, “You cannot serve two masters, you cannot serve God and money” (Mt 6:24), did He ever hit the nail on the head! Did He ever put front and centre the temptation and the malignant, life destroying, spiritual cancer present within most religious institutions, including Christian institutions, down to this day.


Fast for Gospel Nonviolence 2014 – Fifteenth Helping

FAST FOOD (2014): Fifteenth Helping


“We adore God Who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him”

Pope Francis, 6/21/14

 In the mid-1970s the most popular weekly sitcom on U.S. TV was All in the Family. Its main character was Archie Bunker, a white, Christian, middle age, middle class, poorly educated, politically and religiously conservative father of the family. In one episode Archie is told that his daughter Gloria, and son in law, Mike, are getting a divorce. Instantly he begins reviling his son in law, a political liberal whom he never really liked, blaming the divorce on him and his liberal friends with their “Godless atheism” and their ideas. Hanging around with them is the cause of it, Archie lashes out and God will make Mike pay for this.

As the show progresses, however, it is revealed that his daughter’s adultery is the reason for the divorce. Archie, God fearing Christian man that he is, immediately turns on his daughter in fury and begins to castigate her, telling her that he wants nothing more to do with her and she is no better than her liberal atheist husband. As the show moves forward a bit further, it becomes apparent that Mike’s behaviour toward Gloria for a long time before the adultery was extremely destructive.

The conclusion of the show has Archie raging on towards both Mike and Gloria, getting more and more bewildered as he speaks about who is responsible. Finally he burst out in confusion, “Who is going to be punished here? Someone needs to be punished here! This is wrong!” His wife, Edith, a kind, serving and insightful woman responds, “Archie, why does anyone have to be punished? Hasn’t everyone been punished enough already?” On those words the show ends.

As noted in the prior FAST FOOD Helping,”The image of God that a person has is critical to what he or she becomes and what they do and don’t do. His or her God image is intimately tied into his or her self image. What flows from this is that people’s meaning system and their value system, their sense of purpose and their sense of right and wrong are organically related to their God image.” It make no difference whether the person is educated or uneducated, his or her God image and self image are inseparable. So, if the image of God that one has is that He was so infinitely offended by sin that He could not even be mollified by the expiatory destruction of, say, a billion human beings being handed to the tortures and murderers, because the sin was an infinite offense against Him and He required the bloody sacrifice of an infinite victim to re-open the gates of heaven, gates that He shut in punishment for the sin of Adam and Eve, then Archie Bunker is theologically, morally and pastorally on target. And, the terrible truth is that most Christians at all levels of most Churches over the last thousand years have been taught some version of this atonement theory of divine satisfaction and retribution.They then, in imitation of God and with God on their side, put it into practice in their lives and in the structures of their Churches and communities as the way to respond to evil and the person caught in sin.

I say the last thousand years, because it was not so from the beginning. This Satisfaction Atonement Theory, as it commonly called and exists today, was authored by St. Anselm about 1094-1098 in a work titled Cur Deus Homo? (Why the God-Man?). It may be important to note that in that writing Aselm makes no reference to the Way of Jesus as made visible in Jesus’ words and deeds in the Gospels. His only reference is to the Nicaea Creed (325), which as we saw in yesterday’s FAST FOOD Helping omits any mention of the Way of Jesus. “Born of the Virgin Mary, crucified under Pontius Pilate, suffered, died and was buried,” is all that Constantine and the bishops at the Council decided was needed for the spiritual health and welfare of the institutional Church and the Christians in it.

So, Archie Bunker and hundreds of millions of Christian like him, who never heard of St. Anselm but who have been nurtured, without their knowing it, are from infancy fed Anselm’s spiritual diet of a punishing God capable of great cruelty and violence, demanding the infliction of punishment and pain, even capital punishment, in order to make satisfaction to Him for what they had done.So, Archie and all those other Christians so nurtured that when they in their lives demand retribution, an eye for an eye, the beating down and shaming of another person or group of persons who have offended them are functioning in harmony with the God they were given to adore, imitate and love by their institutional Churches.

A more contemporary expression of God in the image of St. Anselm’s theory of atonement having its incarnational affect is what I personally heard a Catholic bishop say at a gathering regarding what was once called the Sacrament of Penance. His exact words were “We go to confession to protect ourselves against God.” He in his life was as much enslaved to Anselm’s theological image of a violent, punishing, retributive God, as Archie Bunke was in his.

In 1946 in my grammer school’s Baltimore Catechism, the question was asked on page one,”Why did God make us?” The answer given was, “God made us to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him in the next.” The answer still sound correct to me. But,attention must be paid to the order of the words. “Know” comes before “love” and “love” comes before “serve.” One cannot love whom he or she does not know. If God as revealed by Jesus is not brought before the consciousness of people as love, agape, as the God made visible in the Nonviolent Jesus, but instead as a God capable of justified violence and cruelty, in the name of a “just cause,” then people will not know the true God as revealed by Jesus and by that fact will be unable to love Him or serve Him.

When Jesus says that the very first commandment is ” Love the Lord your God with your whole soul, whole heart, whole mind and whole strength,” He means His Father and the Father of all as He makes Him visible to us. He knows quite well that if a person or a group loves whole heart, soul, mind and strength an idol, a god in an image contrary to the image of Jesus, such a commitment would be catastrophic for all concerned, and many more. Jesus makes the God known, who is to be wholeheartedly loved. When any Christians replaces the image of the invisible God made visible in Jesus with his or her own mental concoction of an image of God, they then create–because a person’s God image and self image are permanently intertwined–Archie Bunker Christians, maybe just one, or maybe millions, who if they think their cause is “just.” will be cruel and lethal, and believe they are doing God’s will and work.

The Church has never infallibly declare any one theory of atonement as dogma. Anselm’s theory did not exist in the first thousand years of the Church. At the time of its publication and for centuries after major Catholic and later Protestant theologians objected vigorously to it. Yet, it has become the theory of atonement which the Western Church has taught, fostered and propagated relentlessly for the last four hundred years through it institutional resources. The Church had and has other options, but it persist in this violent and cruel image of God. Go figure!


Fast for Gospel Nonviolence 2014 – Fourteenth Helping

FAST FOOD (2014): Fourteenth Helping


“We adore God Who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him!”

Pope Francis, 6/21/14

The image of God that a person has—and then accepts or rejects—is critical to what he or she becomes and does. His or her God image is intimately tied into their God image, as is their image of reality. What flows from this is their meaning system and their value system, their sense of purpose and their sense of right and wrong.

The image of God who is love (agapé), the Father of all, is not the same image nor will it validate the same understandings and beliefs as the image of God who is love (eros), a God who loves only us and will trample on all other human beings for our benefit. This means that God will support our trampling on other human beings for our own benefit.

Whoever controls the operational image of God in a society controls the people of that society—or at the least is a person or group to which the economic, political and military elites of that society must ingratiate themselves or in other ways get under their control. Constantine knew the importance of this which is why he began to put the violent, coercive power of the Roman Empire behind Christianity, even making bishops official holders of such power in their areas. It is one of the major reasons he called the Council of Nicaea in 325. He wanted one Empire, one God and one Emperor. The process was not completed until several decades later when Theodosius made Christianity the religion of the Empire.

However Constantine had to have the bishops at Nicaea ignore a piece of the public image of Jesus as God incarnate and the ultimate revealer of God in order to fit his needs. This is why the Nicaea Creed goes from the cradle to the crucifixion non-stop in presenting Jesus in its official public act of belief. The Way of Jesus is entirely kept out of the public Creed: “…born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, died and was buried.”

This was necessary because the Way of Jesus, the Way of God as revealed by Jesus was a Way that included the Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies. Try ruling Rome (or England, or the U.S. or Russia) with that as what God says is the Way to live and die.

And so by omission began the process to Jesus publicly supporting the local home team’s killer over the other team’s killers.

But in the beginning, in Jerusalem in AD 33, Jesus was tortured and murdered by the religious and political elites because they did not like what He was saying about God and God’s Way—the image of God He was giving people. Indeed, they felt radically threatened by it. God’s image as presented by Jesus did not match up with what the powers-that-be needed. So, they killed Him.

God the Father did not kill His Son or have His Son killed for any reason. There is no violence and cruelty in God. Jesus died because He did exactly what the Church leaders refused to do at the time of Constantine down to this very day. He spoke about God with authority and did not give them and the people under their control  a God that validated the violent, deceitful, cruel operation of the institutionalized religion and the state. In fact He gave them an understanding of God that stood in judgement of the modus operandi of both religion and the state.

But, God the Father punishing and killing His Son or having His Son punished and killed before God will reconcile with humanity does fit perfectly with the punishment world of the state and institutional religion. Pilate may have washed his hands of Jesus. But, since Constantine, the institutional Church and the state have “washed each other hands” in mutual support of a violence-justifying God who does not exist and a Jesus who divinely validates violence and enmity by His followers.