How do we maintain hope in the face of a seemingly unending time of strife, violence, and conflict? Seek out beauty, depend upon hope…and dance, even in the face of unending war. Hope does not ignore the struggle, nor does it free us from the scars resulting from our struggles. The people of Israel will always carry the scars of their trauma with them; yet, scars also signify survival.
While the Judahites were the recipients of physical violence, they only had the power to return rhetorical, fantasized violence. They were forced to entrust actual retribution to other powers: to God, and perhaps to the Persians (envisioned as God’s agents).
That structural violence is always also relational, proximate, and personal is, perhaps, one of the core insights that the concept of mourning brings to the fore for political theology.
The idea of opposition then is not about establishing a negative position for its own sake. Instead, to embody opposition here is to draw a line, and this line constitutes a limit-experience. It as if to say, ‘enough is enough.’ So, this opposition is an ending and a beginning.
It is not always clear what we mean by violence or nonviolence, though, like pornography, we assume, we’ll know (non)violence when we see it.
We are shocked. Morally outraged. How could a US president tout “law and order” to incite a blatant attack on “American democracy” and “the rule of law,” encouraging his supporters to storm the US capitol? Commentators decry such hypocrisy, stating the obvious contradiction between US constitutional law and violent coups. My contention in this essay is that no such contradiction exists.
Life after violence and profound loss requires that we find ways to hold and contain that pain. Relics help us do this. As we wrap them in our words, craft beautiful containers, or place them in vitrines, we keep these memories alive. We acknowledge and respect their ongoing presence in our lives.
To become part of an institution as a member of a group which has historically been excluded from the university or from the discipline of theology is to be extremely conscious of the fragility of our survival within that institution, to feel the necessity of struggling against the forces of reproduction which conspire towards our ongoing exclusion.
When placed in the tradition of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., civil disobedience is premised on nonviolent resistance. But Thoreau understood that, under certain conditions, the protestor’s nonviolent resistance may lead to violence by the state.
If we read carefully, we discover that no psalm is off limits for the early church. They needed them. And so do we.
What connections may we draw between attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the Christchurch mosque shooting, African-American church arsons in Louisiana, the Easter Sunday bombing in Sri Lanka, and the synagogue shooting in San Diego?