Jesus Radicals Blog 2005-2017
Rather than individualized battles, the view of social anarchism encourages us to see struggles as interconnected, and to act appropriately by building alliances and solidarity between them. . . . Yet while social anarchism has been at the forefront of challenging many oppression, most social anarchists have not been very active—either historically or presently—in challenging the human domination of animals.1
On a day like Thanksgiving, when various charred and mutilated bodies lay strewn across millions of American tables, the feeling that is foremost in my heart is not one of gratitude, but of mourning and even anger. That the average person sees no disconnect between centering thanks and grace around death is unsurprising. That this disconnect remains an oversight or rejected outright in radical Christian and anarchist circles is more confusing. Like Bob Torres, anarchist and vegan author of Making a Killing: The Political Economy of Animal Rights, I contend that lack of careful and ongoing attention to nonhuman animal liberation leaves one of the most obvious and persistent forms of oppression unchallenged. Furthermore, it also makes for incomplete and disjointed analysis around other forms of oppression and resistance. Below are a few thoughts on important movements that miss the animal liberation piece and the consequences of that omission.
For most Christians, there is one big reason for rejecting anarchism: it isn’t biblical. Or is it? A superficial reading of the Bible reveals a God who thinks of himself as a sort of Warrior King, who sanctions state-enacted genocide, and who promotes a string of saintly kings, like King David. When Jesus arrives, it is to start a Kingdom of God that, apparently, seems content to co-exist with early rulership. In fact, Jesus himself says to “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s” and Paul advocates being good subjects to the governing authorities. Therefore, Christian Anarchism is a contradiction in terms, right?
Furthermore, the sorts of ideas many Christian Anarchists hold are also glaringly unbiblical. Like nonviolence (after all, many biblical heroes were prolific smiters). Like communism (after all, certain patriarchs were “blessed” with vast property–which they didn’t share equally with all). Like egalitarianism (after all, Paul tends to affirm male leadership, Jesus praises a Centurion who holds a position of authority, etc.). The Bible is the enemy of anarchism. Right?
I don’t think so. While it is outside the scope of a single article to tackle every challenge that traditional readers of Scripture advance against anarchism, I would at least like to offer a sort of overview that can serve as a simple lens for seeing Scripture differently. I’ll try to provide links to other resources for those of you who’d like to dig deeper. To really address the myriad of issues that emerge from an anarchic reading of Scripture, one would probably better be served with a commentary series. What I’m offering here is a super simple overview, not a complete survey. If any Bible scholars out there want to publish an Anarchist Bible Commentary Series, I would not only be happy to buy a set, but also would have great ideas for who should contribute.
Eda Ruhiye Uca is the director of Hosanna! People’s Seminary and a regular contributor to Jesus Radicals. A first generation American of Middle Eastern heritage, she has lived in intentional communities and works on the Christian Peace Witness steering committee and Women’s Ordination Conference anti-racism team. Eda is currently a Justice, Missions and Reconciliation Certificate student at The Episcopal Divinity School.
By: Eda Ruhiye Uca
In one year USAmericans will elect the next President of the United States. Many anarchists, Christian radicals, Catholic Workers, New Monastics and others practicing anti-empire Christianities with community-oriented power nexus will say, “So what?” After all, fewer Americans are getting a piece of the (apple) pie, every 80 minutes a veteran takes his own life, and the prevailing winds have blown the spirit of revolution from the Middle East to North USAmerica in a post-colonial dream spiritually conceived in the Mary-minds of third wave feminist theologians, wherein Arabs and Muslims break the power of totalitarianism and spread freedom and democracy to USAmericans! An election? Just a choice between two evils. So what?
I too am unsatisfied by the choice between elite big business military leaders. Yet I worry that some of us (and I put myself in this camp) have sometimes mistaken the entrenched, systematic, psychopathic malevolence of USAmerican politics for being so equally distributed that we’ve treated the tepid choice between “two evils” as being no choice at all. As we prepare for the coming election (or don’t- Election? Harrumph!) it may be of use to eavesdrop on the prayers of those others unabashedly proclaiming Christ Jesus.
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Eda Ruhiye Uca