Archives For Power
Trouble I’ve Seen:
Changing the Way the Church Views Racism
Drew G.I. Hart
Paperback: Herald Press, 2016
Buy now: [ Amazon ]
We will be reading through the book this month, and posting discussion questions as we go. We hope you will read along with us, and share your thoughts and questions. (Or, even better, get a group of people at your church to read through the book together!)
Here are some quotes and questions, please use the comments below to share your own thoughts and questions.
Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power
When it comes to power, Christians often gravitate toward one of two familiar poles. One holds that power is a neutral tool that can be used for good or ill. Recognizing its usefulness in getting things done and making the world a better place, this position seeks power and strives to wield it well.
The other clings to Lord Acton’s famous nineteenth century dictum: “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Acknowledging the damage that power-wielding people routinely inflict upon those around them, this position eschews power and either gives up on making a difference in the world or seeks “power free” methods for effecting change.
A Feature Review of
Truth Speaks to Power: The Countercultural Nature of Scripture
Reviewed by Aaron Woods
Power is a tricky thing for many of us to understand. What is power? How does it work and should we use it? Can it be used well or does it always corrupt? How does Scripture reframe the use of power? These questions and more are the focus of theologian, Walter Brueggemann, in his latest book, Truth Speaks to Power: The Countercultural Nature of Scripture.
In his retirement, Brueggemann continues to write extensively, and his books continue to enlighten. Truth Speaks to Power invites readers to reconsider commonly known Old Testament narratives in a new light: through the lens of truth and power. He challenges the reader through this hermeneutical lens to see that, whether the reader recognizes it or not, Scripture is in a process of contesting power.
I stumbled this morning on this fascinating 1978 lecture by Wendell Berry, which as best I can tell has never been published in one of Berry’s books.
Description:In a discussion about language and culture, the author of The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture argues that the deterioration of language into vague technocratic abstractions is directly responsible for our present moral, ecological and political ills.
If this lecture was timely in 1978, it is even more so today, 35 years later!!!
*** Books by Wendell Berry
There are a few rough spots is this recording (presumably due to the transfer from tape to digital), but stick with it as this lecture is well worth the time!
CLICK HERE to download as an MP3 (87 MB)…
A Review of
Thirst: Water and Power in the Ancient World
Reviewed by Mary Bowling
Water is the stuff of life. No one, anywhere, ever, can live without it. For many of us it is simply there at the turn of a knob or push of a button without a second thought. But for many more, and especially in the past few years, there have been serious issues relating to severe water shortages or devastating floods around the United States and the globe. As Steven Mithen relates in Thirst, humans have been managing their water supply for millennia with varying degrees of success, but even with the relative sophistication of some of the early systems and the amazing strides that humans have made during recent history in controlling nearly every aspect of our built environment, sometimes water will still just do what it wants with us. Are there lessons we can learn from early societies about effective and sustainable water management, or are we doomed- as they all eventually were- to abandon our cities, disperse, and regroup in new forms to try it all over again?
An excerpt from the recently released book, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity Today by James Davison Hunter. Scot McKnight has recently been reviewing this superb book on his Jesus Creed blog, which you will not want to miss.
You also will not want to miss Hunter’s chapter on the “Neo-Anabaptists,” which he contrasts to both the Christian Right and the Christian Left.
Watch for a review coming soon in the ERB!
A Brief Review of
The Inquisition: Reign of Fear.
Hardback: Thomas Dunn Books, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]
Reviewed by Mark Eckel.
Human beings, no matter their belief, will use their power to make others cower. The Spanish Inquisition is one of innumerable historical episodes displaying this facet of human depravity. Usurping rule, abusing authority, creating fear, promoting group hatred is the progression of every hostile takeover of any human institution. “Fear is of course a wonderful tool for consolidating the power of an increasingly authoritarian state. Successfully embedded, this fear can always be invoked, in the name of the war of good against evil, against targets that pose an economic or political challenge” (77). Toby Green joins the ranks of many researchers who remind us atrocities perpetrated against people for their beliefs is always a blow against freedom. Inquisition: Reign of Fear is a display of how the institutional becomes personal.
One feels the dread of the average citizen in his attempt to steer clear of suspicion. Anonymous accusations led to misleading evidence prompting psychological conditioning creating lie-upon-lie, all because of authorities’ weak compliance. Exported through New World discoveries, the Inquisition flourished in distant lands whose inhabitants were subjected to bloody evangelism. Detailed accounts in Green’s book are impressive. Fifty pages of endnotes demonstrate the depth of research.
The reader learns that the papacy did not condone the inquisitors. Weak kings allowed special interests to usurp control of institutions. Indeed, the Spanish church authorities were an aberration within the Church itself. A powerful argument could have been created by Green to make more of hijacked belief. There is a huge difference between The Inquisition—detoured doctrine, a deviation from its Source—and the worldwide results of totalitarian dictatorships. The former shows the ends of undeterred, untethered minority control, the latter is an inevitable consequence of a group’s presuppositions. To equate inquisitors with murderous East German stasi or Mao Zedong’s killing fields is a memorial insult to hundreds of millions of people who lost their lives because of Communism (355).
Macro-motivations for the inquisition are also absent. Islamic invasions are unmentioned. Protestant persecution is muted. One is left to wonder why power was usurped at this time, in this place. Green’s consistent truism is once the match is lit, the fire is hard to contain. For example, “The inquisitional state of mind helped to sew [sic] the seeds of the rebellions which at away at Spanish power and its role in the world” (140-41). But a full examination of inquisitional fallout would bolster the argument.
Lord Acton’s famous statement “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” applies to the Inquisition. Green has done a service to everyone by reminding institutions that special interest groups within their own organizations can create adversarial, sometimes deadly, climates. But everyone must never forget their personal susceptibility toward abuse of power.