Peripheral Vision

When push comes to shove, historically speaking, people will quote the bible to harness the power to govern and dominate even though their action is vile.

Why not start from the beginning. Blame it on the apple. Then the women. Then St. Paul for writing Romans 13.

Historically speaking, quoting Romans 13 has been misused and maligned by the Nazis in Germany, apartheid South Africa, slave owners and British Royals in America according to Chicago Sun-Times.

What I find interesting is the letter by Martin Luther King, Jr. he wrote from Birmingham Jail.

One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an “I it” relationship for an “I thou” relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man’s tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.

As religious as he was, he did not quote Romans 13 for he believes in non-violence.

So I have not said to my people: “Get rid of your discontent.” Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Was not Amos an extremist for justice: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.” Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Was not Martin Luther an extremist: “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.” And John Bunyan: “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.” And Abraham Lincoln: “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.” And Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . .” So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime–the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment.

The Center for Action and Contemplation is organizing a movement that will take place on June 23, 2018, for a massive rally converging to Washington, DC at 10 a.m. calling out leaders to compassionate and just actions.

I would rally with them, but, I live in Vancouver, British Columbia. Besides, I am fearful should I join, United States might deport me to the Philippines even though I am a Canadian citizen.

Reading the letter further, I am elated to learn the Mr. King quoted John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim’s Progress as an extremist as he is. In a good sense. Ever since I started this site, one of my pseudonyms is Pilgrim.

Be an extremist.

With love and prayers to my brothers and sisters in Christ in the United States of America.

8 thoughts on “Peripheral Vision

  1. The problem is not the law but its clarity. When the law is so often usurped by political influences then we know not its intent until it is applied as written. We now understand that. But rather than facing up to doing one’s job by legislating the proper adjustment in the law in question, legislators jockey for up-coming election position for power to enforce an ideology whose integrity is judged not on substance but by a number of partisan votes. Soon after the election is decided all the turmoil and fervor which in truth was the fodder for campaigning is forgotten. Until the next election cycle is upon us, some new poster issue will arise, with the hopes to again motivate the electorate pawns who keep them in power.
    But, the real issue here is the rear emergence of bibles. Biblical quotes to support either side of an issue are flung on the airways far and wide to gain moral leverage. But the objective cannot support the subjective. The divine makes fools of the relative. The only bible passage that holds weight here is: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

  2. Thank you for sharing the way the Bible is being misused here as it has been in the past. I am horrified by the present political evil in my country. Thank you for your support.

Please share your reflection. Thank you.

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