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James Cone’s Gospel of the Penniless, Jobless, Marginalized and Despised

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Posted on Jan 9, 2012
Mr. Fish

By Chris Hedges

“The Cross and the Lynching Tree are separated by nearly two thousand years,” James Cone writes in his new book, “The Cross and the Lynching Tree.” “One is the universal symbol of the Christian faith; the other is the quintessential symbol of black oppression in America. Though both are symbols of death, one represents a message of hope and salvation, while the other signifies the negation of that message by white supremacy. Despite the obvious similarities between Jesus’ death on the cross and the death of thousands of black men and women strung up to die on a lamppost or tree, relatively few people, apart from the black poets, novelists, and other reality-seeing artists, have explored the symbolic connections. Yet, I believe this is the challenge we must face. What is at stake is the credibility and the promise of the Christian gospel and the hope that we may heal the wounds of racial violence that continue to divide our churches and our society.”

To read a review by Mel White of “The Cross and the Lynching Tree” in Truthdig, click here.

So begins James Cone, perhaps the most important contemporary theologian in America, who has spent a lifetime pointing out the hypocrisy and mendacity of the white church and white-dominated society while lifting up and exalting the voices of the oppressed. He writes out of his experience as an African-American growing up in segregated Arkansas and his close association with the Black Power movement. But what is more important is that he writes out of a deep religious conviction, one I share, that the true power of the Christian gospel is its unambiguous call for liberation from forces of oppression and for a fierce and uncompromising condemnation of all who oppress.

Cone, who teaches at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, writes on behalf of all those whom the Salvadoran theologian and martyr Ignacio Ellacuría called “the crucified peoples of history.” He writes for the forgotten and abused, the marginalized and the despised. He writes for those who are penniless, jobless, landless and without political or social power. He writes for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and those who are transgender. He writes for undocumented farmworkers toiling in misery in the nation’s agricultural fields. He writes for Muslims who live under the terror of war and empire in Iraq and Afghanistan. And he writes for us. He understands that until white Americans can see the cross and the lynching tree together, “until we can identify Christ with a ‘recrucified’ black-body hanging from a lynching tree, there can be no genuine understanding of Christian identity in America, and no deliverance from the brutal legacy of slavery and white supremacy.”

“In the deepest sense, I’ve been writing this book all my life,” he said of “The Cross and the Lynching Tree” when we spoke recently. “I put my whole being into it. And did not hold anything back. I didn’t choose to write it. It chose me.

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“I started reading about lynching, and reading about the historical situation of the crosses in Rome in the time of Jesus, and then my question was how did African-Americans survive and resist the lynching terror. How did they do it? [Nearly 5,000 African-American men, women and children were lynched in the United States between 1880 and 1940.] To live every day under the terror of death. I grew up in Arkansas. I know something about that. I watched my mother and father deal with that. But the moment I read about it, historically, I had to ask, how did they survive, how did they keep their sanity in the midst of that terror? And I discovered it was the cross. It was their faith in that cross, that if God was with Jesus, God must be with us, because we’re up on the cross too. And then the other question was, how could white Christians, who say they believe that Jesus died on the cross to save them, how could they then turn around and put blacks on crosses and crucify them just like the Romans crucified Jesus? That was an amazing paradox to me. Here African-Americans used faith to survive and resist, and fight, while whites used faith in order to terrorize black people. Two communities. Both Christian. Living in the same faith. Whites did lynchings on church grounds. How could they do it? That’s where [my] passion came from. That’s where the paradox came from. That’s where the wrestling came from.

“Many Christians embrace the conviction that Jesus died on the cross to redeem humankind from sin,” he said. “Taking our place, they say, Jesus suffered on the cross and gave his life as a ransom for many. The cross is the great symbol of the Christian narrative of salvation. Unfortunately, during the course of 2,000 years of Christian history, the symbol of salvation has been detached from the ongoing suffering and oppression of human beings, the crucified people of history. The cross has been transformed into a harmless, non-offensive ornament that Christians wear around their necks. Rather than reminding us of the cost of discipleship, it has become a form of cheap grace, an easy way to salvation that doesn’t force us to confront the power of Christ’s message and mission.”


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By Chic, April 24, 2012 at 8:33 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hi.  Just found your website.  I want to sign up for your netselwter but I am confused as to what color Las Vegas Nevada would be.  We are getting warm weather now.  I have transplanted a lot of things outside.  Please let me know what color you would suggest.  Mitzi

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By elisalouisa, January 18, 2012 at 7:41 am Link to this comment

You don’t think the FBI keeps an eye on OWS protests and is in touch with all law enforcement?

Dream on.

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By Lumpenproletarier, January 18, 2012 at 6:49 am Link to this comment

By elisalouisa, January 17 at 8:33 am

“Would the FBI protect me against a militia or other
law enforcement were I protesting? No. In fact, the FBI
would have a big say in activating that militia.”

Imagined and/or Invented.

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Arabian Sinbad's avatar

By Arabian Sinbad, January 17, 2012 at 5:45 pm Link to this comment

Lumpenproletarier, January 17 at

elisalouisa,

So challenge them.

“Innocent until proven guilty” is the proper phrase, I
believe.”
=====================================================
But proven guilty criminals such as George Bush and gang who have been judged guilty by almost all the world, and yet he is enjoying a luxurious retirement at the expense of the tax-payers which he screwed up, killing and maiming thousands of them, not to mention untold thousands of Iraqi and Afghan children, women, and men of all ages!

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By prosefights, January 17, 2012 at 5:31 pm Link to this comment

1 Nature of interests in the proceeding are:

A Ensure that decision for rate increase is based on facts provided by natural gas engineers and scientists as opposed to liberal arts verbal and essay analysis.

B Determine if there is or is not a natural gas supply problem.

C Determine warrants efficiency measures are a substitute for limiting new construction which may account for a major portion of natural gas consumption increases.

D Determine why efficiency attention is placed on residential and commercial gas use [24.8%] as opposed to attention to natural gas producers and electric utilities [67.4%] consumption

Based upon all of the above, Mr. Payne’s request to intervene in this case, as an individual ratepayer, should be granted, subject to the legal standards that govern Commission proceedings. 

http://www.prosefights.org/nmgco/intervene/intervene.htm#granted

grin

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By elisalouisa, January 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm Link to this comment

What transgressions have I invented?

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By Lumpenproletarier, January 17, 2012 at 3:57 pm Link to this comment

elisalouisa,

So challenge them.

In the mean time, please avoid feeding the hysteria by
speculating about what the United States government, or
it’s agents, ‘might’ do. There are plenty of actual
transgressions to protest; we don’t need to invent any.

“Innocent until proven guilty” is the proper phrase, I
believe.

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By elisalouisa, January 17, 2012 at 2:50 pm Link to this comment

Laws can be challenged as can any perceived wrongdoing by government officials and other entities. Isn’t that included in the specs of what it means to be an American?

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By Lumpenproletarier, January 17, 2012 at 12:52 pm Link to this comment

elisalouisa,

Laws without law enforcement are meaningless.

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By elisalouisa, January 17, 2012 at 12:24 pm Link to this comment

One must weigh carefully where the greater threat is. Hard to believe but some do prefer a fascist type government. Such are those that revere the military in every guise.

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By Lumpenproletarier, January 17, 2012 at 9:53 am Link to this comment

elisalouisa,

Without the protections provided by law enforcement,
the judicial system, and the military, your ability
to protest would be the least of your worries. You
would be forced to protect yourself. Are you ready
and willing to do that?

I despise the invasion of privacy that the FBI is
known for, I despise the encroachment on my rights as
an individual, but I also recognize that it is the
cost of living under the protections that they
provide.

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By elisalouisa, January 17, 2012 at 9:33 am Link to this comment

Would the FBI protect me against a militia or other law enforcement were I protesting? No. In fact, the FBI would have a big say in activating that militia. They would most likely have my name, address and other pertinent facts about my life. This persona would be hidden in a social setting.

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By Lumpenproletarier, January 17, 2012 at 9:01 am Link to this comment

elisalouisa,

Do you know, personally, any FBI agents? Or is your
view culled from all of the negativity / hysteria
promoted by the Left? It’s important to look at the
whole picture, not just the part that is bad. If the
protections that they (and other law enforcement
agencies) provide you were suddenly removed, you would
not be able to walk out of your home without risking
your life.

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By elisalouisa, January 17, 2012 at 8:44 am Link to this comment

Can one say with certainty what the FBI would or would not do?

That was the spirit of my comment.

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By Lumpenproletarier, January 16, 2012 at 12:49 pm Link to this comment

elisalouisa,

Yes, really. There have been no murders of Amish by the FBI that I am aware of.

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By Night-Gaunt, January 15, 2012 at 4:46 pm Link to this comment

Their leaders murdered by FBI death squad is no view of mine but knowing how they were killed in the first place.

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By elisalouisa, January 15, 2012 at 9:08 am Link to this comment

Except that the FBI doesn’t infiltrate and murder Amish leaders.

Really?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkWZjTPlQhc&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzB3RVal_Iw&feature=related

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By treehugger, January 15, 2012 at 7:06 am Link to this comment

http://www.booktv.org/Watch/12969/The+John+Carlos+Story+The+Sports+Moment+That+Changed+the+World.aspx

His faith and conviction made him unafraid to stand up for justice.

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By Lumpenproletarier, January 15, 2012 at 5:20 am Link to this comment

Night-Gaunt,

Your description of the BPP makes them sound like the
Amish. Except that the FBI doesn’t infiltrate and
murder Amish leaders. I wonder why they did that to the
BPP, as you claim they did?

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By Night-Gaunt, January 13, 2012 at 2:29 pm Link to this comment

Apparently you, Lumpenproletarier aren’t familiar with the original Black Panther party either. The BPP fed children, started their own schools, found that since the system was against them they would create a parallel system they can use to benefit themselves. It was the FBI and moles they placed in the BPP that murdered the leaders.

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By Lumpenproletarier, January 13, 2012 at 9:31 am Link to this comment

“The paradox is, is that in spite of all that, African-Americans are the only people who’ve never organized to take down this nation.[United States]” - James Cone

Apparently, James is not familiar with the Black Panther Party

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By DHFabian, January 12, 2012 at 11:04 pm Link to this comment

Try being white, female, low-income and rural. To be this is to be poor AND invisible. Today, it also means having virtually no chance of improving your conditions.

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By Franks, January 12, 2012 at 11:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

James Cone hasn’t read Romans 1 in the bible. It’s a problem, when you try to
get Christians to come together concerning discrimination toward gays. The
bible says that a man laying with a man is an abomination to a God. That’s
pretty straightforward.

No matter how you slice it, that’s a major contradiction with the idea that
Christianity should support gays. Christians read the bible. And the bible itself
contradicts much of the things Cone and Hedges assert.

I’m just trying to be clear that, if you’re going to say a religion should do this or
that, you have to acknowledge the content of the literature that the religion is
based upon. I’m saying you have to be honest.

This is being avoided in the article. Hedges and Cone are cherry-picking to
form their argument.

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By treehugger, January 12, 2012 at 8:40 am Link to this comment

For a moment, consider taking race, religion, and political affiliation out of the picture. We’re then left with things such as socioeconomic status, sex, etc.

Most would agree that money and wealth are aligned with power. Throughout history, those in power got to oppress, or not oppress, as they saw fit. The unpleasant fact about all human nature is that when we identify with the group in power, we are susceptible to moral bankruptcy.

That’s the irony, the story is usually written that the marginalized and disenfranchised are the dregs of society; when it’s those with the power who are responsible.

Without getting into dangerous victim territory, identifying with the oppressed can provide fertile ground for understanding, self-assessment, and the positive exercise of free will.

Being able to get away with naughty behavior increases it’s occurence (in any group).

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By OzarkMichael, January 12, 2012 at 8:01 am Link to this comment

Last post was botched. please disregard it and allow me to try again.

Night Gaunt said:

As I recall Ozark Michael and I tussled over the fact that fundamentalism of any kind is dangerous. He maintained that it isn’t the right wingers but the left wingers that are the danger.
I told him that it is a human matter and anyone of any group can become an intolerant bigot that wants to get militant with all others who don’t agree.

That would work for me if you applied it evenly. You present yourself as the one who is taking a balanced approach, but I pointed out your hypocrisy at the time and i will so again, because as soon as you move from theory to practical application you blow your cover:

I never claimed that the Left can’t be dangerous but they aren’t that way right now.

Well, isnt that convenient.  For example, is the Occupy movement dangerous? You will say “no”. I say that you have a double standard, and i will not give my consent to your judgement.

He couldn’t get past the point that the right wing can be fundamentalist an that generic fundamentalism is bad. So it ended around that area.

Unfair and unacceptable as usual. As i have pointed out before, in the USA the term “Fundamentalism” as a name refers to one group only. And here we go:

It is the militant right and their dangerous Christian fundamentalism that is the problem today. So we disagreed and that mostly ended it

I refuse to be boxed in by your hypocritical double standard. That is what we disagree over.

Tell you what. Why dont we call “Fundamentalism” by a different name and see how it works for you? Lets call it “Radicalism” instead. Thats a fine idea!

Except the term “Radical” is not only a general term, but also a specific term for Anarchists, Communists, and Socialists. So if I call the bad trait that all humanity shares “Radicalism” instead of “Fundamentalism”, it doesnt matter how ‘fair’ I pretend to be, even as I proclaim that i am theoretically willing to apply the term “Radicalism” to both sides. It wont be fair. The deck is stacked against certain people, no matter how upright and non-violent they are, they will be automatically placed in the penalty box. I wouldnt blame Leftists if they would object to my using the term “Radicalism” as a general term to describe a terrible trait in humanity.

I would understand their objection. Why cant you understand my objection?

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By OzarkMichael, January 12, 2012 at 7:49 am Link to this comment

Night Gaunt said:

As I recall Ozark Michael and I tussled over the fact that fundamentalism of any kind is dangerous. He maintained that it isn’t the right wingers but the left wingers that are the danger.
I told him that it is a human matter and anyone of any group can become an intolerant bigot that wants to get militant with all others who don’t agree.

That would work for me if you applied it evenly. You present yourself as the one who is taking a balanced approach, but I pointed out your hypocrisy at the time and i will so again, because as soon as you move from theory to practical application you blow your cover:

I never claimed that the Left can’t be dangerous but they aren’t that way right now.

Well, isnt that convenient.  For example, is the Occupy movement dangerous? You will say “no”. I say that you have a double standard, and i will not give my consent to your judgement.

He couldn’t get past the point that the right wing can be fundamentalist an that generic fundamentalism is bad. So it ended around that area.

Unfair and unacceptable as usual. As i have pointed out before, in the USA the term “Fundamentalism” as a name refers to one group only. And here we go:

It is the militant right and their dangerous Christian fundamentalism that is the problem today. So we disagreed and that mostly ended it

I refuse to be boxed in by your hypocritical double standard. That is what we disagree over.

Tell you what. Why dont we call “Fundamentalism” by a different name and see how it works for you? Lets call it “Radicalism” instead. Thats a fine idea!

Except the term “Radical” is not only a general term, but also a specific term for Anarchists, Communists, and Socialists. So if I call the bad trait that all humanity shares “Radicalism” instead of “Fundamentalism”, it doesnt matter how ‘fair’ I pretend to be, even as I proclaim that i am theoretically willing to apply the term “Radicalism” to both sides. It wont be fair. The deck is stacked against certain people, no matter how upright and non-violent they are, they will be automatically placed in the penalty box. I wouldnt blame Leftists if they would object to my using the term “Radicalism” as a general term to describe a terrible trait in humanity.

I would understand their objection. Why cant you understand my objection?

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By colin2626262, January 12, 2012 at 12:31 am Link to this comment

“But what is more important is that he writes out of a deep religious conviction, one I share, that the true power of the Christian gospel is its unambiguous call for liberation from forces of oppression and for a fierce and uncompromising condemnation of all who oppress.”

That’s a powerful sentiment.  America needs a religious movement to defeat the godless forces in society and government that are destroying us.  Speaking out and protesting in America aren’t really that risky.  It’s not like some countries where being a dissident means being tortured and killed.  Mostly you’re just ignored if you’re protesting in America, though the protests this past fall were a welcome change.  I hope more people work on themselves first, however.  You have to be spiritual yourself before you expect anyone else to be.  Being spiritual means being loving, being compassionate and seeking justice, not just knowing what’s right but wanting to do what’s right.  You don’t have to read theology to understand God’s will.  All you have to do is try to follow that will in your own life, and then spread it, by example, to others.  There won’t be a social movement based on anything else.

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By 51st Stater, January 11, 2012 at 11:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Now, here’s the rub.

As beings,our first responsibility is to other beings
i.e. We do no exploit or EAT them.

As humans, our second responsibility is to other humans
i.e. We do not exploit or harm them.

As woman or man, our third responsibility is to love and/or respect the other sex.
i.e. Treat them as equals

As son or daughter, our fourth responsibility is to love and/or respect our parents.
i.e. They did what they could, with what they had.

Getting the drift?

It is the hierarchy of logic.It is the only hierarchy that does not self-destruct.

When the social pyramid has self-destructed those who remain must be logical, or they are doomed to repeat the ignorance of those who preceded them.

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By balkas, January 11, 2012 at 6:44 pm Link to this comment

who’s more useful in a den of thieves, a
goddologist or a dogologist? i’m voting for a
dogologist.

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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, January 11, 2012 at 5:58 pm Link to this comment

As I recall Ozark Michael and I tussled over the fact that fundamentalism of any kind is dangerous. He maintained that it isn’t the right wingers but the left wingers that are the danger. I told him that it is a human matter and anyone of any group can become an intolerant bigot that wants to get militant with all others who don’t agree. He couldn’t get past the point that the right wing can be fundamentalist an that generic fundamentalism is bad. So it ended around that area. No place else to go.

I never claimed that the Left can’t be dangerous but they aren’t that way right now. It is the militant right and their dangerous Christian fundamentalism that is the problem today. So we disagreed and that mostly ended it.

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By gerard, January 11, 2012 at 12:51 pm Link to this comment

“Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.”

      —W.H.Auden

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By balkas, January 11, 2012 at 10:54 am Link to this comment

51stater,
yes, that’s the natural and sane method of evaluation for personal survival.
by survivance, i mean being [to a point, given the environment in which we find selves] at an inner
peace, happy, noncompetitive, cooperative, interdependent; in enlightenment, shunning all
gambling/lotto, praising/blaming, etc., and not just merely surviving.

and i never ever forget to pigeonhole self first of all as human1; then husband1, father1, citizen1, civil
being1…..croatian1, goddogist1, socialist1.
one is amazed what such an evaluation brings you.
that’s right! you heard me right, i also sort myself as goddologist1, hitchens goddolgist2, benedict
theologian3, cone goddologist3 and we are almost in peace on earth. thank you

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By balkas, January 11, 2012 at 10:21 am Link to this comment

let’s be clear or much clearer about the crimes committed by stalin. we can do that only if we recognize the fact that it had
been communists and/or Red Army who had been killing or sending noncummunists [personal supremacists; the same ones
as the ones in USA; and, thus american revolt against them] to siberia or exile [solzhenitsin: fierce supremacist]

in addition, it hadn’t been just russian communists who were killing off asocialists or friends of america. all other
nationalities have been involved in the murder of their enemies; while the latter did and wanted to murder the would-be-
murderers.
condemners of communist crimes [ok, let’s call it “stalin crimes”, instead of saying latvian, estonian, byelorussian, uke,
khazak, et alia’s crimes] overlook the fact that also serb, croat’n, slovenian, macedonian [don’t know much about greek or
albanian to proffer any info] have slain anywhere from 100k to 200k fascists after the war ended.
nevertheless, one shld make a distinction between retaliatory murder of the partizani [socialists and nonsocialists] from
murder in cold blood committed against socialists and civilians by fascists. thanks

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By JDmysticDJ, January 11, 2012 at 9:25 am Link to this comment

RE: O[B]zerkMichael, January 10 at 6:19 pm

“JDMysticDJ said: “Hedges’ intolerant critics here have ignored his article “Fundamentalism Kills””

Thats a lie. Many of us dealt with that article.”

I share responsibility for your lack of comprehension. What I should have written is:

“Hedges’ intolerant ‘Atheist’ critics here have ignored his article ‘Fundamentalism Kills’ and his book,’ American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.’”

My error; I should have realized that it’s very important to be perfectly clear and concise when dimwits such as yourself might be reading. I should have realized such as you being intolerant critics of Hedges might misunderstand thinking I was referring to all intolerant critics and not specifically to “Intolerant Atheist Critics.” My intention was to point out that Atheists critical of Hedges are intolerant of all references to religious belief and have not given Hedges credit for pointing out the lunacy of right-wing fundamentalists, such as yourself.

Your contention that I lied illustrates that you have very limited comprehension skills and that you simply do not know what a lie is. If you were to say in reference to one of my statements, “That is not true” and then offer refuting evidence, (convoluted as that refuting evidence would surely be,) that would be more acceptable. If I state my reasoned belief, such could not be considered a lie; a lie is, “Deliberately saying something untrue.” Now, I might not be 100% perfect in my analysis but I abhor people who deliberately say something untrue in order to serve their dialectic; with the utmost in honesty I declare that I do not lie. I also abhor demagoguery, regardless of source. My working definition of demagoguery is, ” An appeal to popular prejudices and making false claims in order to influence thinking, gain power, or unwarranted credibility.  I frequently point out what I perceive to be demagoguery coming from a Left perspective, because, I do abhor demagoguery.  Demagoguery obfuscates truth and discredits the purveyor thereof.

Now, I do sometimes use humor, satire, and sarcasm as dialectic tools; perhaps I should not do so seeing as how morons such as you may not be able to recognize such.


You write:

“I stood straight up to that article for about two weeks. The documentation of my posts prove that I am telling the truth. “

As I recall, the debate that raged as a result of Hedges’ article, “Fundamentalism Kills” was between - Atheists who objected to Hedges pointing out their fundamentalist thinking and the rationales for killing provided by renowned Atheists such as Hitchens and Harris - and those who supported Hedges’ contention in that respect. In the context of that debate the comments of a dimwit such as yourself would be perceived as irrelevant and would be given short shrift by the more intelligent. As is apparent to most here you suffer from delusions of grandeur and place far too much importance on your mindless comments.

You write:

“Hedge’s Fundamentalism rticle was based on innuendo and outright lies,  so its no surprise that whenever you mention it you immediately resort to a lie.”

Innuendo and outright lies? Perhaps you would be willing to provide proof of such.

You conclude:


Many of us did NOT ignore that article, but faced it head on. If you want a rematch, just say so.

Defeated losers frequently cry for a rematch, “Fools rush in where wise men fear to tred” I am wise and have no fear of tredding on you. You are a fool and not in the least bit wise, if you wish to be trod upon then you are free to proceed, unfortunately for you, you appear to be totally oblivious to the tromping you always receive here.

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By Inherit The Wind, January 11, 2012 at 6:22 am Link to this comment

Lafayette, January 10 at 9:02 am Link to this comment

BLACK DEATHS DUE TO LYNCHINGS

  ITW: Uprisings by Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner were as brutally suppressed as anything by Stalin or Saddam Hussein. 

You’ve reached one metaphor too far on this one.

The death of blacks both in our American south is certainly murder, but not comparable to the widespread killing of either Stalin or Hussein.

From WikiP:

  The Tuskegee Institute has recorded 3,446 blacks and 1,297 whites were lynched between 1882 and 1968. (Yes, some whites were murdered as well but certainly not because of their colour.)

Hussein is attributed the deaths of anywhere between twenty and one hundred thousand Kurds. The scale is not nearly the same.

Which, most certainly, does not lessen the gravity of black lynchings.
****************

You missed the point.  The technology of the latter dictators allowed them to kill far more.  But the level of vicious brutality was the same.  ANY Black even VAGUELY considered to be connected to the uprisings was slaughtered. Nat Turner was actually skinned, like a game animal.  Shades of Auschwitz and human-skin lampshades!  As in the case of ANY dictatorship, any uprising must be brutally and totally suppressed, both cruelly and mercilessly.  White Christian Southerners were no different in their willingness to engage in these crimes against humanity than 20th and 21st century dictators.

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By Inherit The Wind, January 11, 2012 at 6:17 am Link to this comment

JDmysticDJ, January 10 at 3:18 pm Link to this comment

Inherit The Wind

I too noticed your absence and was a little concerned for your welfare. I was going to say a little prayer for your speedy recovery but God told me, “Oh, hell no! I don’t take no prayers for no honkey Jew Agnostics!” (God’s a little mean spirited sometimes.)

OzarkMichael, January 10 at 6:06 pm Link to this comment

A brief word to Inherit The Wind. A few months ago we were right in the middle of an argument and you just came to a halt. I was making a strong point at the time, but that never stopped you before, so i was at a loss to figure why you stopped writing. Now i know.

You probably want to attain closure on our argument? OK, i will graciously fill you in with the highlights: I ran up the score. You had nothing to say in response so i did it again in slow motion. The crowd went wild. It was glorious. You may never live it down so you are better off just forgetting the whole thing. Better luck next time.

Thanks for being a good sport and more seriously:

Glad to see you getting back where you belong!

Thanks for two good, solid belly-laughs, guys!  And no, it doesn’t hurt to laugh (at least not much…:) )

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By EmileZ, January 11, 2012 at 5:54 am Link to this comment

So many have been, if not lynched, totally crushed under the weight of oppression, spiritually and otherwise.

It is one thing to give tribute to the enduring spirit and forgiveness and such.

What I liked most about this article was the condemnation of the oppressors who claim to be christian and the churches give them sanction.

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By Outraged, January 11, 2012 at 5:13 am Link to this comment

Re: OzarkMichael

Your comment:Many of us did NOT ignore that
article, but faced it head on. If you want a rematch, just say so.”

I can go anywhere you want to go, as I was once a fundamentalist christian, now an atheist and everywhere in between (for the record). So your saber-rattling does little to MOVE any…...both sides. If I were you, I’d think the better of “talking” so foolishly. Certainly you must understand this, although sadly you appear to continue your unqualified attempt to prove the militant position of your supposed righteousness yet at the same time your supposed victimization, an undeniable conflict of suppositions. (To clarify, consider OM that it is improbable to be militantly op-positional and yet also a victim.)

Re: Everyone Else: (although a blast from the past), something we should reconsider….. as we are ALL African.

From Wiki:
“Genetic and fossil evidence is interpreted to show that archaic Homo sapiens evolved to anatomically modern humans solely in Africa, between 200,000 and 150,000 years ago, that members of one branch of Homo sapiens left Africa by between 125,000 and 60,000 years ago, and that over time these humans replaced earlier human populations such as Neanderthals and Homo erectus. The date of the earliest successful “out of Africa” migration (earliest migrants with living descendents) has generally been placed at 60,000 years ago as suggested by genetics, although attempts at migration out of the continent may have taken place as early as 125,000 years ago according to Arabian archaeology finds of tools in the region.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recent_African_origin_of_modern_humans

For this reason….this also seems fitting.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xy1gp3F5NhY

Most importantly, whatever our proclivities it is imperative we stand together (excepting stupidity of course).

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By EmileZ, January 11, 2012 at 4:56 am Link to this comment

A sort of formalized tribute to the music and the sentiments Mr. Cone spoke of regarding it was first recorded by Duke Ellington in 1944.

BLACK, BROWN, & BEIGE ...

Part 1: Work Song

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iiFIRdhb5M

Part 2: Come Sunday

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3gjw4jSxcY

Part 3: The Blues

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8Ipa—xeU4

Part 4: Three Dances

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTBH5PcMn_Q

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By OzarkMichael, January 10, 2012 at 11:45 pm Link to this comment

“Eric Berne; Transactional analysis.”

Wow, that did ring a bell from way back. I know I read “Born to Win” when I was 12 or 13 and got into Transactional Analysis from there. Except maybe I didnt Berne directly, so you will do better to keep explaining.

Then you mean literal parents and literal children? And these are rich people, or do you mean merely racially ‘privileged’(“overpriviledged”)?

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By Lafayette, January 10, 2012 at 11:39 pm Link to this comment

NEVER THE TWAIN SHOULD MEET

JDmys: Perhaps Obama, Hillary, et al. should read Niebuhr critically.

And what makes you think they haven’t?

There is nothing in the comportment of this nation under their tutelage as regards foreign policy that would make one think that the US has desired to subject a people abroad.

Just the opposite, in fact. Libya was an effort in liberation.

You are making the same mistake as the others on this forum - amalgamating all the wickedness of America and placing it at the top, regardless of who occupies that responsibility.

Meaning, you have platitudes but no discernment. The world is not either all black or all white (in terms of guilt and not skin colour). It is polychromatic.

It is doubtful that Obama is a man of war -  neither is Hilary. In fact, I’ll bet the latter thinks that if men were to carry a child in their belly for nine months, then give painful birth; they would reflect a hundred times before sending that child off to a possible death in a useless war.

MY POINT

There is no room for God in a political debate. Belief in a god is apolitical and well it should be. Politics is purely of human nature and any time mankind has interjected God into the national politics it has been to institute or consolidate a monarchy - most often with absolute power (by means of Divine Right).

If God exists, and there is some well-founded doubt about that fact, then God is perfectly neutral in terms of “foreign policy” towards the nations of this earth.

Why should a God of Universal Love, pray tell, single out blessings for only one nation? A bit selfish, don’t you think?

Belief in God is an act of faith and it is the right to that act that is guaranteed by the Constitution - not any given established religion. And so is the right to not believe in any God protected likewise.

As for politics and religion, a good guideline is that never the twain should meet. They inhabit different worlds of belief and should not be confused one with the other.

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By 51st Stater, January 10, 2012 at 11:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As soon as you call yourself Christian, Bhuddist, Muslim, Jew, American, Chinese or Calithumpian you create separation and division.

First.  We are beings.
Second.  We are humans.
Third.  We are woman or man.
Fourth.  We are son or daughter.
Fifth.  We are brother or sister.
Sixth.  We are mother or father.
Seventh.  We are friend or colleague.
Eigth.  We are (insert nationality).
Ninth.  We are (insert occupation).
Tenth.  We are beholden to all other beings in that LOGICAL order.

From that evolves truth and justice.

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By OzarkMichael, January 10, 2012 at 7:19 pm Link to this comment

JDMysticDJ said: “Hedges’ intolerant critics here have ignored his article “Fundamentalism Kills”

Thats a lie. Many of us dealt with that article.

I stood straight up to that article for about two weeks. The documentation of my posts prove that I am telling the truth.

Hedge’s Fundamentalism rticle was based on innuendo and outright lies,  so its no surprise that whenever you mention it you immediately resort to a lie.

Many of us did NOT ignore that article, but faced it head on. If you want a rematch, just say so.

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By OzarkMichael, January 10, 2012 at 7:08 pm Link to this comment

Surfboy said:

Their incompetence and utter stupidity coupled with inherited wealth and political power has created a monster and they have to feed and educate and perpetuate it.  It’s like a helpless child that they must nurture.

It was a hateful thing to vandalize your store. I hope you still have that business.

Please explain the ‘helpless child’ quote. i dont understand who is the parent and who is the monster/child in the analogy.

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By OzarkMichael, January 10, 2012 at 7:06 pm Link to this comment

A brief word to Inherit The Wind. A few months ago we were right in the middle of an argument and you just came to a halt. I was making a strong point at the time, but that never stopped you before, so i was at a loss to figure why you stopped writing. Now i know.

You probably want to attain closure on our argument? OK, i will graciously fill you in with the highlights: I ran up the score. You had nothing to say in response so i did it again in slow motion. The crowd went wild. It was glorious. You may never live it down so you are better off just forgetting the whole thing. Better luck next time.

Thanks for being a good sport and more seriously:

Glad to see you getting back where you belong!

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By gerard, January 10, 2012 at 6:27 pm Link to this comment

Inherit the Wind:  Keep hangin’ in there!  We need you.  Love.

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By prosefights, January 10, 2012 at 6:22 pm Link to this comment

Truthdig, we believe, is making a major contribution by not ‘moderating’ aka censorship, posts.

And also presenting the positive side of liberal arts ‘education’.

Keep in mind that Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter were engineers.

Donald Rumsfeld, Fred Fair told me, is working on trying to improve his image for history.

Take this rummy.

http://www.prosefights.org/greenline/greenline.htm

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By lorenzo jones, January 10, 2012 at 4:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It seems that the axis around
which most human inflicted
suffering in this world turns is
the delusion of racial
superiority.The “dark ages” of
Europe just prior to the “age of
discovery” was rife with
filth,disease,ignorance,
superstition,religious bigotry,and hatred.The Spanish
Inquisition reveals this truth.
When white skinned Europeans
“discovered” the new world they
immediately attributed such
wonderful feats to their
superior intellect…and of
course the guiding hand of god.
This was true even though the
“discovery” had been made
before…just hadn’t been
PUBLISHED. So the superiority
complex of white Europeans grew
to become the cornucopia of
racial bigotry, which brought
the age of Colonialism, which
brought WWI, which has never
really gone away. It’s still
here. You see when oil was
discovered under the soil of
Iran, it actually belonged to
the white skinned British not
the Iranians…god just put it
in the wrong place.

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By JDmysticDJ, January 10, 2012 at 4:18 pm Link to this comment

Inherit The Wind

I too noticed your absence and was a little concerned for your welfare. I was going to say a little prayer for your speedy recovery but God told me, “Oh, hell no! I don’t take no prayers for no honkey Jew Agnostics!” (God’s a little mean spirited sometimes.)

****************************************************************

Hedges’ attempting to point out the differences between religious thinkers i.e. Blacks vs. Whites, Liberation Theology vs. Evangelical preaching, Cone vs. Niebuhr, etc. etc. has aroused the “Dogs of Atheism [sic]” There is zero tolerance for religious thought on the part of some.

The somewhat embarrassing “Tim Tebow Show” is a further illustration of intolerance on the part of some. Tebow is very enthusiastic about his faith and seeks to share his faith with others and pay tribute to his “Lord and Savior”. It’s evident that some would like to “....Prohibit the free expression thereof” via ridicule and condemnation rather than by legal means, although some would like to see rules prohibiting such demonic behavior. John 3:16: 316 yards passing averaging 31.6 per pass… hum? I’m convinced! Tebow’s a demon!

From Wikipedia:

“Q. What insights of Niebuhr’s are most pertinent for the nation’s public life today?”

“’...His critique of Americans’ belief in their country’s innocence and exceptionalism — the idea that we are a redeemer nation going abroad never to conquer, only to liberate.’”

Read Niebuhr’s, “ The Irony of America.” Niebuhr is a critic both of Communism and of American belief in “American Exceptionalism.” I’ll proffer that history has revealed that Niebuhr’s criticism of Communism was not without some merit and that Neibuhr’s criticism of American Exceptionalism will be seen as having some merit in the future as well as in the present. Perhaps Obama, Hillary, et al. should read Niebuhr critically.

I have the utmost admiration for the Cone quotations Hedges gives us, and a fair amount of admiration for Niebuhr, and a little less admiration for Hedges. I think Hedges’ contrasting Cone and Niebuhr reveals a hidden agenda, seeing as how Obama has cited Niebuhr.

Hedges’ intolerant critics here have ignored his article “Fundamentalism Kills” and his book,” American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.” Not wishing to rehash an old debate I will never the less reiterate my belief (And Hedges’) that dogmatic Atheists exhibit the same characteristics as other fundamentalists do.

Personally, and of more interest to me, is Cone’s contention that “The Blues” was a subliminal expression of being oppressed and a powerful political tool. I find myself mesmerized by “The Blues” circa 1920’s, 1930’s and beyond. It’s my contention that “Doo Wop” and “Rock and Roll” supplanted “The Blues” as a political tool in the 50’s and 60’s.
 
Judge give me life this mornin’
Down on Parchman farm
Judge give me life this mornin’
Down on Parchman farm
I wouldn’t hate it so bad
But I left my wife in mourn

Oh, goodbye wife
All you have done gone
Oh, goodbye wife
All you have done gone
But I hope some day
You will hear my lonesome song

Oh, listen you men
I don’t mean no harm
Oh, listen you men
I don’t mean no harm
If you wanna do good
You better stay off old Parchman farm

We got to work in the mornin’
Just at dawn of day
We got to work in the mornin’
Just at dawn of day
Just at the settin’ of the sun
That’s when the work is done

I’m down on Parchman farm
I sho’ wanna go back home
I’m down on Parchman farm
But I sho’ wanna go back home
But I hope some day
I will overcome

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By tim, January 10, 2012 at 4:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The most Christ-like people I’ve known didn’t go to church—they were too busy helping others.

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By peteb1991, January 10, 2012 at 1:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

First I should state, I’m a recovering addict, and it’s been my experience that through suffering is our greatest spiritual growth. When I was complacent in life and my addiction, I became spiritually dead, I was judgmental and sanctimonious. When I finally faced the end, diagnosed with HIV, I finally woke up, I could see the world through others eyes and found compassion and empathy. I came to see that through our toughest trials, we grow and learn of a oneness and Love greater than any one of us alone.

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By balkas, January 10, 2012 at 11:48 am Link to this comment

recall that also hebrews—who, [save judeans] entirely evanesced—also believed in
a deity and which they called yahweh.
so much about god the savior.
and in spite of believing in god, israelis have not since ‘46 enjoyed one hour of
piece in palestina.
and, i suggest, they never ever will as long as there is that other god present there.
but even american god will be one day challenged by a more or less equal god to a
war that most likely [and would, thank my goddevil for it] end war for all time!
how about one of these gods challenging the other two or one of them to peace on
earth?
well, hope so! thanks

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By balkas, January 10, 2012 at 11:13 am Link to this comment

god and americans, god and iranians, god and ashkenazim and the devil
refereeing in between the three deities.
hey, that etern divide et impera doing miraculous things and the devil’s work never
ends.
and the god being believers and the devil sacerdotal class, we can only expect ever
greater paroxism from the latter.
but this, too, shall pass! how life would end is a matter of conjecture but not that
it’ll end! thanks

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By Lafayette, January 10, 2012 at 10:02 am Link to this comment

BLACK DEATHS DUE TO LYNCHINGS

ITW: Uprisings by Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner were as brutally suppressed as anything by Stalin or Saddam Hussein. 

You’ve reached one metaphor too far on this one.

The death of blacks both in our American south is certainly murder, but not comparable to the widespread killing of either Stalin or Hussein.

From WikiP:

The Tuskegee Institute has recorded 3,446 blacks and 1,297 whites were lynched between 1882 and 1968. (Yes, some whites were murdered as well but certainly not because of their colour.)

Hussein is attributed the deaths of anywhere between twenty and one hundred thousand Kurds. The scale is not nearly the same.

Which, most certainly, does not lessen the gravity of black lynchings.

POST SCRIPTUM

WikiP again:

In the Great Migration, extending in two waves from 1910 to 1970, 6.5 million African Americans left the South, primarily for northern and mid-western cities, for jobs and to escape the risk of lynchings.

And the above all happened in this God-loving Great Country of America.

Here we are in a New Millennium many years later and still combating the prejudices that prevent us from an Egalitarian Society. As a nation, we should not gloat about our supposed “greatness”. We have a lot, both then and now, which has been a shameful disrespect for basic Human Rights.

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By balkas, January 10, 2012 at 8:25 am Link to this comment

if your knowledge is violent, rude, intolerant, you’d be violent, rude,
intolerant.
and all religions are rude, extremely intolerant, voodooish, violent,
superstitious, a priori in knowledge [putting the cart before the horses]
thanks.
meritocracy, discrimination and/or personal supremacism
[nazism/fascism] =violence, warfare, torture, etc.

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By Inherit The Wind, January 10, 2012 at 7:54 am Link to this comment

Thanks, A-S.  I feel the same.  And it’s good to feel the brain cells working again. I expect to be back in the gym soon, too!

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By Arabian Sinbad, January 10, 2012 at 6:34 am Link to this comment

@ Inherit The Wind, January 10 at 3:34 am

It’s good to see you back after some absence, articulately writing great posts with which I identify and concur.

Despite our previous strong disagreements, believe it or not, I did miss your comments and I was wondering what happened. Now I know that you had serious health issues requiring surgery, and I am happy for your recovery.

Barring the issue of Israel/Palestine, I find that there is close intellectual and moral affinity between us, as demonstrated by your comment above.

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By katsteevns, January 10, 2012 at 6:25 am Link to this comment

@ stevendeedon

I never implied that suffering silently meant passivity, you did. I doubt you could “passively” let yourself be nailed to a cross, but let me know if you succeed. Meanwhile, hand me a paper towel.

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By Inherit The Wind, January 10, 2012 at 4:34 am Link to this comment

I’m not Christian, am Agnostic but it seems to me this argument over suffering is nonsense and one only needs to look at Cone’s admiration for Martin Luther King.

It’s not “suffering in silence” and putting up with the shit—it’s knowing when and when not to make a stand, and when you can.  Blacks growing up under slavery and later under the backlash of the KKK had little choice, just to survive.  Uprisings by Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner were as brutally suppressed as anything by Stalin or Saddam Hussein. 

Long before slavery was abolished, the mindset that gave rise to the KKK was present in the South, as Mark Twain’s remarkable passage in Huckleberry Finn alludes to (the speech by the Colonel on the roof standing up to the lynch mob). Twain points out that ACTUAL Law had little meaning and only Mob Law had any power in the region.  Is it little wonder when the Whites had their power (justifiably) taken away they turned back to their mob mentality, and, with the evil brilliance and genius of Nathan Bedford Forrest created a terrorist organization par excellence that wiped out the REAL gains of the Civil War?

Yet, when the time was right, MLK, a pacifist, used non-violent techniques and enlisted sympathetic whites to help create a national climate that would force change.  Yet even as Bull Connor’s “Brute Squad” came down on them, they suffered the clubs and dogs and fire hoses without violent resistance.  I even remember, as a boy, meeting another boy, all of 12 years old, with a scar on the back of his calf where he was SHOT in such a demonstration.  A sheriff’s deputy SHOT a 12-year from behind!

Having recently come out of a painful surgery, while pain isn’t good or fun, it can make you stronger. Even the doctors are amazed at what I have endured, walking when I should have been screaming in pain. (I just figure I was too stupid to know better).

But it’s not about me.

And it’s not about GLORIFYING suffering. Hair shirts and self-flagellation is for perverts, idiots and fools, or, at best, the philosophically confused.  No, it’s not the suffering that matters—it’s how you face it and what you do with it and how you use it to focus yourself.

Look, even the Marines know it. Ask most ex-Marines about it and they’ll tell you they wouldn’t go through it again for a million dollars.  But they wouldn’t give up the experience for a million either.

I think that’s what Cone is saying: that the suffering can temper you, make you a better person, can render you sympathetic and empathetic to the suffering of others.  Yet we all know it can also, instead make you bitter and cold and resentful, and THAT is what he and MLK (and with it Chris Hedges) warn against.

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By Outraged, January 10, 2012 at 3:09 am Link to this comment

Re: stevendeedon

Your comment:“I wouldn’t call the referenced remark
“snotty,” but rather, heavy handed and downright
insulting.”

I wouldn’t call it “snotty” either since one who is “HEAVY HANDED AND DOWNRIGHT INSULTING” commands a description of much nastier verbiage.

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By Textynn, January 10, 2012 at 12:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The south’s entire economy was grown on the backs of black slaves.  When slavery ended, the exploitation of blacks continued on under various formulas right up to today.  Formulas used more and more, casting a wider net to the lower middle class and on up. .. low wages, no real access to health care, no job security etc.  Arkansas didn’t/doesn’t know how to function by actually paying for all those billions of hours of back breaking labor that is done by those that are to be “detested”.

You have to have an excuse to exploit people like this.  The Southern Baptist Church was formed to justify slavery as an accepted Christian practice. If that sounds ridiculous, look it up.  Contempt for those that are asked to do the dirty work of society for a pittance is a must have ingredient in exploitation. This contempt which says that these are people that MUST be exploited. The proverbial witch hunt. Now, the right is even using this formula to brand old people collecting funds they paid into for a lifetime as being losers asking others to pay their way. It’s right out of the Exploiters’ Handbook.  Contempt and Exploitation go hand in hand.  A lot of Exploitation requires a LOT of contempt. 

Now, the International Elite have “come for those” of the middle classes that allowed all this contempt and,yes, took part.  It takes a lot of poor people’s forced subsidy to support the likes of a Helen Walton worth 18Billion. It is no random happenstance that Walmart hails from AR.  The deep South whose historic legacy was born on forced exploitation.  A way of wealth for a few that comes at the cost of everyone else. A way of wealth that has been turned on an entire nation.  According to Brave New Films video, Walmart’s six family heirs own the equivalent, in combined wealth, of that of the bottom third of the American people, combined.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=no87KvDQG8g&feature=g-all-u&context=G2a7673bFAAAAAHgATAA

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By stevendeedon, January 10, 2012 at 12:05 am Link to this comment

I wouldn’t call the referenced remark “snotty,” but
rather, heavy handed and downright insulting.

I never call anyone a fool or stupid, but I won’t suffer such
foolishness as people just tossing off apodictic statements that are
absolutely, completely the opposite of the facts, and
with no attempt to support their remarks
with evidence.  The remark I was responded to was just
such a statement.  And though I am extremely liberal,
pluralist (perhaps postmodernist) left-leaning,etc on
almost every issue, neither will I respond kindly
toward blasphemous jokes.

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By stevendeedon, January 9, 2012 at 11:48 pm Link to this comment

gerard: Yes, this clarifies very well what you seem
to have intended, if I’ve understood it correctly (the issues turns on who “their
salvation” refers to). So I incorrectly batched you
up with others who mean something entirely different,
and whose accusations, I agree, are outlandish.

And yes, “tough love,” “suffering purifies,” etc. is
usually an excuse to disregard another’s suffering.
As I might have mentioned, I am Tibetan Buddhist (as
well as Catholic), and I from what I understand, in
Asia “karma” function somewhat the same way (“he
deserves” or “needs to pay off his karmic debt”),
which I reject.  Ancient Judaism had its version of
this—“the reason you’re a paralytic, destitute,
etc is because you have sinned.”  And of course, like
I mentioned in America we have our version, i.e.,
you’re too lazy, don’t try hard enough, and so on.

(BTW Steven Colbert has a riotously funny and cutting
video on this, from December 16, 2010, called “Jesus Is A
Liberal Democrat”: http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/368914/december-16-2010/jesus-is-a-liberal-democrat .) 

Given the gap between supposed intention and actual
behavior—which you point out—I’ve turned to
studying the Cognitive Sciences. Humans after all are
chimps in drag, sometimes compassionate, sometimes
murderous, so closing this gap will require better
understanding of human nature, rather than
browbeating everyone for their hypocrisy. Moral
Psychology is a rapidly re-blossoming field, led in
large part by the work of Jonathan Haidt, and I think
you’d probably find it intriguing.  His web page is
at http://people.virginia.edu/~jdh6n/

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By gerard, January 9, 2012 at 11:17 pm Link to this comment

stevendeedon:  Checking back, I found this on one of your previous posts:

“Like I say, you need to do some reading. Until then, have another drink (if you’re allowed) and don’t waste our time. Or, if it’s more suitable for your age, find a sandbox and a good toy dumptruck.” 

It seems excessively “snotty” to me and I wonder if you would find it helpful if someone had addressed that remark to you?

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By gerard, January 9, 2012 at 10:44 pm Link to this comment

stevendeedon:  Sorry to say you got me entirely wrong.  I have nothing against Mother Teresa, or the Catholic Worker religous philosophy.  In fact, I respect it deeply and do not in any way associate it with prolonging anyone’s suffering for personal spiritual gain.  That’s outlandish!
  I wish to point out, however, that it is easy for ungenerous souls to excuse overlooking the pain of others by saying that those others will be “better for it” or that “suffering purifies the spirit” and therefore I need to nothing to alleviate another’s suffering because that other is earning spiritual purification. (The belief about “karma” borders on the same sort of “justification for suffering.”)
  I actually think that sometimes (often?) this rationalization is used to excuse “walking by on the other side of the street” by millions of people who know at heart that they should do something to alleviate the pain of others, and yet do not wish to “get involved.”
  I hope I have made myself clear.

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By they call me the working man, January 9, 2012 at 10:28 pm Link to this comment

blessed are the advocates of fierce condemnation because, um, well maybe not.

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By stevendeedon, January 9, 2012 at 9:58 pm Link to this comment

katsteevns:

I regret saying so, but your post is nothing but late
night barroom blather, from someone who’s obviously
run out peanuts and is bored with playing napkin
games.

If you think Jesus was about suffering silently, you
need to try to make a chapter and verse case, along
with some secondary scholarship to back you up. The
Kingdom of Heaven is not about pie in the sky, and
turning the other cheek is not about passivity. Paul
may have encouraged people not to get Romans pissed
off at them and thinking that Christians were bad
citizens and troublemakers.  But that has nothing to
do with your nonsense.

Like I say, you need to do some reading. Until then,
have another drink (if you’re allowed) and don’t
waste our time. Or, if it’s more suitable for your
age, find a sandbox and a good toy dumptruck.

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By stevendeedon, January 9, 2012 at 9:44 pm Link to this comment

gerard:  Your last post takes this off in another
direction than your earlier one.  Yes, of course, the
people who are not poor justify their own privilege
and good luck and rationalize their ignoring of the
poor by saying poverty is your own fault, you’re
lazy, blah blah blah. I call this the American Myth
(“you too could be rich” and other such nonsense). 

But your earlier post brought up the notion of
perpetuating the suffering of another so that one
might attain one’s own salvation by ameliorating it.
Worse, I’ve seen others accuse Mother Theresa
and the Missionary Sisters and Brother of Charity of
actually doing this.  I knew the former Jesuit who
was the founding superior of the Brothers of Charity. 
I also have some familiarity with the Catholic Worker
movement in the U.S. I find this notion
(aforementioned) not only pathological, so utterly
bizarre that I cannot imagine a person applying it
unless his is either a psychiatric patient(and off
his meds) or someone who hates Christianity and is
out to create a grotesque parody of Christian. 
compassion.  I suspect both types find their way onto forums like this, but the latter more the former.

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By katsteevns, January 9, 2012 at 9:24 pm Link to this comment

Yes, one of the “messages” of the New Testament is to suffer silently, your reward will come later. And admittedly, adhering to it will get one though any mess that befalls them. But, by God, if Jesus can flip the tables of the money changes, then so can his people!

And, let us not just assume that all “messages ” in the NT were penned by the hand of God. This is why He invented SALT.

God is Love,
Love is Blind,
Ray Charles is God.

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By gerard, January 9, 2012 at 9:01 pm Link to this comment

stevendeedom:  As to “justifying the suffering of another”—unfortunately (and again obviously) those who regard welfare as handouts to bums, cheats and others who are “not titled to it”—seems like justifying suffering of others to me. As a nation, we’re full of it. Evidence:  Constant fighting against unions; lack of universal health care (even to the most minimum standards); making war every chance we can get, even though it kills and maims and ruins the lives of millions (even going to sar as to allow weapons making to be a mainstay of our economic stability!); inflicting cruel and unusual punishments on tens of thousands in mis-managed prisons for drug abuse and other minor crimes; trying teen-agers as adults; allowing homeless people to get rained on, frozen, and left to die in the streets etc. etc. ad nauseum.  That it’s all obvious seems not to effect anyone very much, and those who protest it are pepper-sprayed or worse.
  (I specialize in the obvious because apparently it isn’t obvious enough!)

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By Susan Wells Vaughan, January 9, 2012 at 8:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

While researching and writing my book about two Salisbury, NC lynchings, similarities to the Crucifixion became very obvious to me.

At the root of the lynchings, in my view, was the economy, keeping a class of slavery, in effect, to exploit and act as an example to poor whites, who were kept in a state just barely above slavery, placated by evidence that there were those worse off. People of color were kept in line by the threat of lynching or other violence, and whites often used the violence to vent their frustrations.

I see this as so very relevant to politics today. We are bombarded with propaganda promoting hatred and infighting among the poorest and middle classes, to keep us distracted from the policies and issues that are most important to our lives and which we could change if we worked together.

Ruling classes kept the poor divided during slavery and after, during Jim Crow, and they (the wealthy few in charge), with the help of the media, promoted hatred and division of one group against another, dividing political power and getting support from the majority, even though this majority did not benefit from elites’ policies and actions. The propaganda methods were sophisticated and subtle, and they are so much more so now.

For a few brief years in the South, in NC, whites and blacks actually cooperated to end the elite rule and its policies. Improvement that benefited the majority followed. This demonstration of cooperation and democracy was too much for the wealthy classes to allow to continue (just as Chomsky & others have explained, is too much for the U.S. and corporate control to tolerate today), and the result was Jim Crow rule, ushered in by a propaganda campaign that rivals Hitler’s/Goebbels. This is where the myths began that blacks would rape white woman, that they were savages that must be controlled, not allowed to vote, because if they gained political rights, social equality would follow.

The people of color knew exactly what was going on, but most of those who hated them were completely deceived and totally unaware of how their prejudice was self-detrimental. And those doing the brainwashing reaped the benefits of the results, simply by sitting back and allowing the indoctrinated masses to do their dirty work for them.

Those who were lynched were most often martyrs of an oppressive system. As in the manner that Jesus’ death was described, those lynched went through a process of torture and humiliation before the final act of murder was committed upon them. The trial, whether legal or mob-conducted, was often a farce. And astonishingly, many victims forgave their murderers with their last breaths.

When you get into these stories, as I did, they are very very tragic and so much a reminder of the Christian Crucifixion.

I personally believe that only the power of propaganda could influence people with Christian beliefs or anyone else to act with such violent hatred toward others. And of course, those perpetrating these lies often use distortions of religious beliefs as their main weapons. When you look at the tactics used, and how pervasive the lies, permeating every aspect of southern society, it helps explain how this could happen, as it helps in understanding the Nazi holocaust. As it help in understanding the support Bush got for the Iraq war, especially from the Christian Right. At least for me it does.

The title of my book is A Game Called Salisbury, and it focused on the use of political rhetoric of the Jim Crow period, paralleling it with the politics of today and the past.

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By prosefights, January 9, 2012 at 7:29 pm Link to this comment

“Cone’s chapter on Reinhold Niebuhr, the most important Christian social ethicist of the 20th century and a theologian whose work Cone teaches, exposes Niebuhr’s blindness to and tacit complicity in white oppression. Slavery, segregation and the terror of lynching have little or no place in the theological reflections of Niebuhr or any other white theologian.’

Former Iraq ambassador Ryan Crocker, a Whitman graduate, issues an unlikely Niebuhrian challenge to the class of 2009

http://crosscut.com/2009/05/28/politics-government/19023/A-gutsy-commencement-address/

red Fair, buddy and neighbor of Donald Rumsfeld, smoking dope with one hand and a drink in the other.

http://www.prosefights.org/whitmancrocker/whitmancrocker.htm#dope

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By stevendeedon, January 9, 2012 at 6:55 pm Link to this comment

Gerard,

No offense, but you have a keen eye for the obvious. To me it’s utterly bizarre that anyone would concoct such a notion(“justifying the suffering of another,” etc.) unless they were themselves hostile to religion and trying to contrive some Hitchensian distortion of Christian charity, or Mother Theresa, etc.

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By gerard, January 9, 2012 at 6:39 pm Link to this comment

Sinbad:  Eugenics (in the U.S.) was big in my father’s day—1870 to 1930 or so.  Science and anthropology killed it off temporarily, but it was so convenient in strengthening attempts to justify racism that it has had a comeback among ignoramuses.

stevendeedon:  Gaining “salvation” through suffering, and gaining “salvation” through alleviating suffering are surely two different things.  It would be very easy to prove that suffering is much more apt to be degrading than uplifting.  It would also be easy to prove that alleviating suffering is better than turning a blind eye to it.  However, fortunately, it is also easy to prove that we really can’t justify one person’s suffering because it enables another person to be “uplifted” by alleviating it!  (What a web these spiders weave!)

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By they call me the working man, January 9, 2012 at 6:32 pm Link to this comment

@What Is Progress

Agree 100%

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By Arabian Sinbad, January 9, 2012 at 6:04 pm Link to this comment

America’s historical atrocities are so many to be covered in one thick tome, let alone one article. This article by Chris Hedges touches upon the evil legacy of slavery, lynching and Jim Crow whose victims were exclusively black Americans.

In addition, I want to bring to reader’s attention another bad kept secret that has been hardly discussed but in passing by the media. This atrocity is called “Eugenics” whose victims were mostly blacks, but also some disadvantaged whites. From 1907 up to the 1970’s more than 35 States practiced forced sterilization against some 60,000 humans who had either mental or physical defects. This was done on the grounds that those people would be a burden on the society and economy if they were allowed to procreate.

The issue of acknowledging this atrocity of human rights, apologizing for it and compensating the surviving victims was recently briefly brought up in the local government of either North or South Carolina, but it was quickly shelved on the grounds that the economy is too bad to allow for such a luxury!

I am curious to know how many posters on Truthdig have ever heard or knew about this dark chapter of the U.S.A. history!

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By stevendeedon, January 9, 2012 at 5:51 pm Link to this comment

I’m sure Mother Theresa’s point isn’t the glorification of pain, but the inspiration to give of your life for the well being of others—thus to accept a life of poverty for oneself, in order to serve others (like those dying in the streets of Calcutta).  People who attempt to criticize her on this point show nothing but their own ignorance of Mother Theresa and the nature of Catholic religious orders, and often, the critic’s own anti-religious bias. 

To attempt some pseudo-Marxist criticism of Christianity in response to this essay suggests that the critic didn’t read the essay and knows nothing about its author. Hedges is a very left leaning social advocacy journalist, who happened to go to Harvard Divinity School (hardly the bastion of conservatives or social ostrich heads). James Cone is inspired—as Hedge’s explicitly points out—by Ignacio Ellacura, one of the leaders of Liberation Theology—which has in fact been criticized for using a Marxist critique of capitalism!

To talk about people burying their head in the Bible in this context is just distracting blather.

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By anaman51, January 9, 2012 at 5:22 pm Link to this comment

It doesn’t matter what color you are or what country you came from. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female. Your age makes no difference. Starvation is an equal opportunity destroyer. Disease has no eyes with which to choose its victim. Poverty is a killer worse than any disease, but you won’t find anyone willing to fight it the same way. As long as the poverty is happening to someone else, those who are unaffected are okay with it. By the time it becomes obvious that poverty can happen to anyone, it’s too late.

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By Paul Watkins, January 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Some people say religion gives the mind positive moral
structure and a sense of purpose, others say religion suppresses free thinking and expansion of thought. 
Me…I believe in directing my free will for the
benefit of ALL regardless of religion, there can be no
greater gift in life than to simply give.

Thanks for the essay Chris, it provokes a lot more than
just thought.

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By Queenie, January 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm Link to this comment

gerard: “There is grave danger in teaching the gospel of salvation through suffering.”

That is exactly what Mother Teresa espoused.

And all the while taking money from Charles Keating that he had stolen from others.

Keating got a ten year sentence in jail.

They want to make Mother Teresa a saint.

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By nick a., January 9, 2012 at 4:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sorry to say that this is Hedges at his most
superficial.

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By ElkoJohn, January 9, 2012 at 2:58 pm Link to this comment

Though I believe each human has a soul,
I don’t believe the soul lives on after the brain dies.
I believe in the social teachings of Jesus (and the Buddha),
but the theology and eschatology of the Bible are beyond my comprehension.

That being said, it is clear from my reading of the NT that Jesus taught
precisely what his followers needed to do to enter Heaven:
Matthew 25:35f,
When you saw me hungry, did you feed me? when you saw me thirsty, did you
give me water?  when you saw me homeless, did you give me shelter? when you
saw me naked, did you give me clothes?  when I was sick, did you visit me?
when I was in prison, did you come to see me? for I say to you, in so far as you
have done these things for the least fortunate among you, then you have done
these things onto me.

So my beef with the white church is that they prefer to emphasize Paul’s
theology about the blood of Jesus in order to get into Heaven, and they ignore
the non-violent teachings of Jesus when it comes to our wars of foreign
intervention.

My beef with the African-American church is that now, with a Democrat as
president, they give our government a pass too.

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By Night-Gaunt, January 9, 2012 at 2:57 pm Link to this comment

Karl Marx was bothered by the oppressed who instead of fighting that oppression simply turned to their Bibles to suffer quietly. He wanted them to not have to live like that but to fight the power an take control to live better. That is a good idea.It isn’t against religion as so many have interpreted it to mean, just against it being used to keep from rebelling against evil. That everyone should be able to get behind.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, January 9, 2012 at 2:43 pm Link to this comment

Can we please start to see through this crap?  Another way to divide us.  Squabbling amongst ourselves and stay in our place.  Special interest group politics.   

Meanwhile the tide goes out….....

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By D.R. Zing, January 9, 2012 at 2:38 pm Link to this comment

Your religion is only as violent as you are.

D.R. Zing

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By ObamaisGod, January 9, 2012 at 2:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

White people will never understand, even if white people pay x amount of reparations. White people can rally behind light skinned black man for president who speaks english well and eloquently, white people can apologize for slavery and try to pass affirmative action and civil rights laws. But they will never understand. As long as racism exists in even a single individual, white folks are to blame.

And be careful about all those Poles, Indians, Thai, Armenians et al who have so frequently, unlike black folks, “organized to take down this nation.” But don’t worry, folks like Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan are full of love for whites.

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By galeww, January 9, 2012 at 2:04 pm Link to this comment

Your article about James Cone strengthens my resolve.  The Civil Rights movement awakened me to the fact the cloistered world I lived in wasn’t the real world.  I am about to be nailed to the cross, symbolically, for my participation in Occupy. It is a small price to pay and insignificant to what others have suffered.  A friend asked me recently—what makes you care so much?

Palm Desert, where I was arrested,  is a magnificent oasis—flower lined boulevards, golf resorts, people shopping on El Paseo, dining in chic cafes.  It is an opiate, an illusion.  The Stepford Wives are are happy and think of themselves as good women.  I could be one of them. In answer to my friend’s question—why do I care so much—I can only answer—it’s the way I am.  It’s nothing I feel proud about nor ashamed about.  Your interview on cSpan helped.  I’ve watched it twice.  Articles like this one, about people who’ve overcome oppression and kept their souls intact, continue to inspire me.  Thank you. 
Gale Wheat

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By Donna Fritz, January 9, 2012 at 1:26 pm Link to this comment

I’d like to hear Chris’ ideas on why Blacks are so
underrepresented in the Occupy Movement.

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By Stupid Git, January 9, 2012 at 1:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

One more quick note in regard to this statement:

“Being Christian is like being black,” Cone said. “It’s a paradox. You grow up. You
wonder why they treat you like that.”

This sort of claim is more appropriate in the fact-free zone of a Republican debate
on CNN spoken by a Herman Cain or Allen West than this site. Claiming Christians
are a persecuted people in America - at any time since it’s colonial founding - is
laughable.

If anyone actually thinks Christians at any time have been oppressed for their
Christianity (by someone who was not of another Christian denomination) please
let me know. I really would be curious to know where this sense of victimization
comes from.

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By Stupid Git, January 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If religions were rated for their effectiveness in guiding their followers toward
good the FDA would pull it from the shelves and sue the makers for advertising a
placebo as a cure.

Human nature creates Christians that lynch and Christians that fight for equality,
just as it creates Muslims who bomb schools and Muslims who build community
centers. Human nature creates atheists like Ayn Rand and ones like me who work
almost every day to make the lives of others a little better.

All this effort trying to understand how someone did or didn’t do something
through the “lens” of religion isn’t improving the view but filtering out the whole
picture: Placebo is good because it gave people courage to suffer throughout he
hard times/Placebo is bad because it made people commit atrocities.

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By Eso, January 9, 2012 at 12:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If you consider the proposition that Christianity as we know it today was created by the French kings to give their relatives a “spiritual” job and keep them from fratricide and like, then it was John and not Jesus who created Christianity. In short, Christianity as we know it today is the beginning of oligarchies.

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By kerryrose, January 9, 2012 at 12:50 pm Link to this comment

omygodnotagain

It is likely that Blacks and Jews have not forgotten the history of their people and that is the crutial difference.  We are insulated from current traumas in the world thanks to the Mainstream Press.

As a person with Irish heritage, who was raised on stories of the injustices my family faced in Ireland and then again after immigration, I can only say that I am shocked at the amount of Irish Americans who do not have a CLUE, and who never think about injustices in their history and make the connection to injustices to other people… and ultimately have a friggin heart.  How many Tea Partiers come from immigrant families who were spit on, I would like to know.

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By Spire, January 9, 2012 at 12:48 pm Link to this comment

“,,, and then my question was how did African-Americans survive and resist the lynching terror. How did they do it? [Nearly 5,000 African-American men, women and children were lynched in the United States between 1880 and 1940.] To live every day under the terror of death.”

How do they still do it?? 
Tim Wise on racism.
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3812249801848706206

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By Ivan Hentschel, January 9, 2012 at 12:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Hedges needs to get off the gospel jesusology godstuff bandwagon. He is not good at it, mixes his metaphors and misses the boat more often than not, by failing to recognize religion’s role in the promotion of oppression, false piety, racism, ethnic brutality and man’s inhumanity to man. This is tiring, verbose and this horse died a few decades ago. Stop beating it and making excuses. I never knew that someone could be pious, glib and arrogant, all at the same time.

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By doulestandards/glasshouses, January 9, 2012 at 12:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Correct address for James Baldwin video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOL5fciA6AU&feature=related

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By omygodnotagain, January 9, 2012 at 12:36 pm Link to this comment

The black obsession with slavery, resonates with the Jewish obsession with the Holocaust, but I have to wonder what makes either of them so much more terrible than say the starvation of 5 million Ukrainians by Stalin in the winter of 1932, or one third of the Irish population that died of starvation during the potato famine, or the current sex slave trade where a teenage child can be bought for a $1 in Burma, or what happened in Rwanda (800,000 people murdered in a matter of few weeks)or for that matter the Palestinians in Gaza (a lot more than 5000 have died).
Would it be out of place to suggest that blacks and Jews have cornered the victim market, and everyone elses problems are somehow not as important. Further it seems to be the excuse for avoiding justifiable criticism that they don’t want to hear. You can’t criticize me I’m the ultimate victim

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By treehugger, January 9, 2012 at 12:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I found out about Chris from BookTv, and then about this site from googling his name. I’m a middle-aged naturalized African-American with a relatively unique background. I admit to weak religious conviction. However, I’ve learned that we all have flaws, no matter how good we think we are. Religion helps us to be the best we can be. The tenets of the major religions are good. However, much of the historical and current application of these religions miss the mark. Over the past few months, I’ve been in the process of re-directing my life’s focus towards building up humanity in positive ways. Incidentally, it was via a path of suffering, and not realizing certain successes. I really identify with Cone’s comments, minus as much religious fervor:

“It’s like love,” he said. “It’s something you cannot articulate. It’s self-evident in its own living. And I’ve seen it among many [] who struggle, particularly in the civil rights movement… They know they’re not going to win in the obvious way of winning. But they have to do what they gonna do because the reality that they encounter in that spiritual moment, that reality is more powerful than the opposition, than that which contradicts it. People respond to what empowers them inside. It makes them know they are somebody when the world treats them as nobody. When you can do that, when you can act out of that spirit, then you know there is a reality that is much bigger than you.”

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By Big B, January 9, 2012 at 12:17 pm Link to this comment

Hate to break the news to Chris and all the other truely pious people out there in tv land, but it was religion that created the brutal social and class system that has existed since the first civilizations. The rich were rich because they were favored by “god” over all others. That in turn gave them the power over the “common” man as the chosen hand of god on earth. Its’ really very simple, the old golden rule, which is of course he who has the most gold makes the rules.

Oh, but don’t worry, you poor unfortunate slugs out there living like animals will receive your just desserts in the land of milk and honey that lies in the next etherial plane, Just so long as you don’t ever question the authority of god’s chosen people who live in the castle on the hill, or the end of the cul-de-sac behind that locked gate.

lasting social change will not come this earth until the poor that are oppressed by all religions come to the realization that this god thing is all bullshit, that you will not offend god by questioning the authority of the wealthy, because their authority over you is only as real as god is. Only after the lower classes in the world realize that there is no one tending the light at the end of the tunnel, only then will they rise up and be free.

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By Arabian Sinbad, January 9, 2012 at 11:34 am Link to this comment

Thank you Chris Hedges for introducing me to the intellectual and spiritual giant that James Cone is! I feel ashamed that I didn’t have the opportunity to discover this gem of a human myself. But I promise to spend serious time educating myself on this Christian-humanist per excellence, starting with reading his book “The Cross and the Lynching Tree.”

I agree that there is something spiritually special about blacks when they embrace a faith. As a Muslim of Arab descend, I always noticed that most Afro-American Muslims who embrace Islam tend to live up to the positive edifying teachings of the faith, hence being better practicing Muslims that Arabs who were the pioneers of the Islamic faith.

No wonder then that, generally speaking, Afro-Americans who embrace Christianity are spiritually better sons and daughters of its teachings than Anglo-Saxon whites.

So I dream about a future epoch of humanity when sincere blacks, whether Christians, Jews or Muslims, become the true representative leaders of these faiths. This would be an era of world’s peace no doubt.

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By gerard, January 9, 2012 at 11:30 am Link to this comment

And one more thing:  There is grave danger in preaching the gospel of salvation through suffering. It seems (in a back-handed way) to make suffering acceptable, even justifiable. 
  I wonder if we will ever be able to become “sane” as long as suffering is in any way justified or considered necessary, if it is “forgiven” or “overlooked” under certain circumstances, such as current immigrant, sweat-shop and child labor, prostitution, a rotten tortuous prison system, political/economic conformity and war forced by custom or law.
  One thing for sure:  A lot of lies have to be told and a lot of covering up has to be done, in order to preserve various regimes of suffering.
  Yet—if nobody ever suffered ....?
There must be some middle ground somewhere in between, as it is obvious that the current world scene is rapidly becoming insufferable and unliveable. There would seem to be enough “natural disasters” without adding intentional or ignorant disasters on top of flood, famine, earthquake, disease and pain.

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