by: Sharon Delgado on February 13th, 2013 | Comments Off
An Ash Wednesday Reflection
"Spirit of the River," Yuba River near Nevada City, California
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. In Christian tradition, on this day ashes are used to symbolize two things: repentance and mortality.
As we consider the destruction of the earth and the suffering of our fellow creatures, both human and nonhuman, repentance and humble acceptance of our own mortality seem appropriate. In Ash Wednesday services the imposition of ashes is a way to show our repentance, our intention to turn away from harmful actions and to turn back toward God. As we consider harm to the earth we are called to repent of our own violence, greed, and over-consumption, our participation in ecological destruction and human misery, our complicity in the harm caused by the institutions and systems of which we are a part.
The "Golden Bull" at Occupy Wall Street
As a new Tikkun Daily author, this is an introduction to the themes I will cover in my postings to this blog. Many of these themes are covered in detail in my book, Shaking the Gates of Hell: Faith-Led Resistance to Corporate Globalization, which makes the case that today’s dominant global economic system, based on unrestrained free market capitalism, is damaging the human family and destroying the earth. The book is a call to action and a call to spiritual renewal. It proposes a way for people of faith and conscience to join together to resist corporate domination and to work for a peaceful, just, and sustainable world. My blog postings to Tikkun Daily will touch on these themes and will relate to the following three aspects of globalization:
1) Corporate Globalization: This is the current system of global economic integration, dominated by transnational corporations and based upon the ideology of Market Fundamentalism. The U.S. military/industrial complex enforces this interlocking network of political, economic, military, and ideological institutions, which Walter Wink calls the “Domination System.”
A friend recently introduced me to the poem, Hieroglyphic Stairway, by Drew Dellinger. The beginning of the poem grabbed me, because it speaks to my experience:
it’s 3:23 in the morning
and I’m awake
because my great great grandchildren
won’t let me sleep
my great great grandchildren
ask me in dreams
what did you do while the planet was plundered?
what did you do when the earth was unraveling?
Around the country, people are polarized about whether gun control or widespread ownership of guns would make us safer. I have written earlier about the U.S. culture of violence and the growing economic inequity, which is violent in itself and is linked to increasing violence. Today’s post addresses the violent “myth” that underlies our culture:
In his work on the Powers [the institutions that rule our world], Walter Wink claims that the primary myth of our time is the “Myth of Redemptive Violence.” This myth, which is so pervasive in contemporary U.S. culture, has its roots in the ancientEnuma Elish,a Babylonian creation story about the struggle between cosmic order and chaos. The idea is that force must be used to bring order out of chaos and that the only way to conquer evil is through domination and violence. This story has been played out around the world for generations, and continues to be played out today.
There are many ways to celebrate the coming of the light in this dark season of the year, including the Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanza, and Christmas. Christmas is supposedly a Christian holiday, but the orgy of consumption that accompanies this holiday in the United States makes that questionable. How ironic it is that people celebrate the birth of a poor baby born in a stable (as the story goes) by spending billions on “stuff” that will ultimately end up in overflowing landfills. However, Christian or not, many are swept along by the dominant media message: “Buy gifts for your loved ones to show them how much they are loved and how precious they are.” The pressure can be hard to resist.
This may not present a problem for those who practice a Christianity that is conformed to consumer culture, but for those who seek to follow Jesus it challenges us with one of his core teachings: “You cannot serve both God and mammon.” Mammon: wealth, riches, money, stuff.