Moving To Personal Blog Site

movingDear friends of this blog,

When I started to blog out of my truer anarchist self about a year ago, I thought it prudent to write under a pseudonym (Pablo de la Paz).  As I have been moving out in faith to live as an authentic Christian (anarchist), I believe that I must come out of hiding.

As of today, I will be blogging only on one site, and that is my “Another Way” WordPress Site which can be accessed through https://drpauldordal.wordpress.com/. Though this site will remain on the web, I will not be blogging on it.

I would appreciate it if you went to my personal blog and “follow me” on that site. I have enjoyed very much interacting with several of you and would hope to do so more in the future.

Peace and Anarchy,

Paul Dordal aka Pablo de la Paz

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Christian Anarchism: All or Nothing (Lk 9:62)

allornothingI wrote the following on my Facebook page yesterday in anticipation of the July 4th holiday: “American Christianity” will need to die before the seeds of Christ’s Gospel can grow again in this land. The nationalism rampant within the church’s walls is like a weed which chokes the life out of its witness. Preach Christ not America!

One of the replies to the post asked the question, “Are you saying the gospel and patriotism are mutually exclusive?”  I put the question back to the inquirer, by saying, “How do you think Jesus would respond to your question, especially in light of his call to radical discipleship?”

To answer my own question here, clearly Jesus was an agitator against the State.  He repudiated power relationships and domination systems.  And he called us to live an all or nothing anarchistic Christian life.  Leo Tolstoy said that the Christian life is impossible; it is mutually exclusive, and that’s why the Church has declawed it and made it more acceptable to people who could not meet its impossible standard. But the Way of Jesus cannot be tamed.

Jesus said you cannot serve two masters (Mt 6:24); you cannot have one foot in the world and one foot in the Commonweal of Love.  The only master you can serve is yourself in submission to the Spirit in service to humanity (a trinity if you will).  Jesus the Anarchist said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Mt 10:34-38, NET). When you are an authentic follower of Jesus, agitating against power relationships and domination systems, there is going to be friction. Jesus’ hope was that the friction that occurred would ultimately bring healing and peace.

The Christian life is an all in life — an all or nothing life.  Yes, it is impossible, but it is, nevertheless, the goal. Jesus said that with God nothing is impossible, and that we would do greater things that he did when he walked the earth.  But you cannot hedge on your commitment to following Jesus.  “Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the [Commonweal of Love]’” (Lk 9:62, NET).

Later on in the gospel of Luke, Jesus again challenges us to consider the great sacrifice that it will entail to live in utter freedom, to live as a Christian anarchist. “In the same way therefore not one of you can be my disciple if he does not renounce all his own possessions” (Lk 14:33, NET). When we read the gospel with anarchist lenses it is almost unnecessary to say we are Christian anarchists. To be an authentic Christian is to be an anarchist.

Paul Dordal, 2016

Strike Back Against The Empire (Mk 12:16)

evil empireIn the first century the Roman Empire had expanded its influence around the world.  It built infrastructure, created jobs, and stationed military forces in its occupied or allied lands to keep the peace (Pax Romana) and quell unrest. The citizens of Rome thought of their Empire as the good guys.  Romans were exceptional in many ways.  Yet, they had a problem:  Christians. Christians did not accord to Rome any respect, because they saw Rome for what it was: an evil empire opposed to the goodness of God.

In the 21st Century the United States of America continues to expand its influence around the world. It is the sole superpower in the world.  It builds infrastructure in various countries, creates jobs in the global economy, and stations its military in hundreds of places around the world to keep the peace and quell unrest.  The citizens of America, overwhelmingly, think of their country as the good guys. The U.S. is exceptional in many ways.  And they too have a problem:  Anarchists. Anarchists do not accord the U.S. any respect because they see the U.S. for what it is: an evil empire opposed to the goodness of God.

The Christian, who considers him or herself a citizen of the U.S., is complicit with this evil empire because they too believe that the U.S. is the good guys. They are citizens of Rome.  But Jesus challenges you and I, followers of the The Way, when he asks, whose image is on your dollar bill? (Mk 12:16). Clearly, it is an idolatrous image. It is the image of Caesar. It is the image of an empire which is opposed to the goodness, peace, love, mercy and forgiveness of God.

Jesus was not just opposed to the Religious Domination Systems of his day, but he was opposed to all Domination Systems.  He was opposed to empire, spoke out and agitated against it. Though this is evident in every gospel, it is most evident in Luke-Acts.  Wes Howard-Brook said, “From the first chapter of the gospel to the end of Acts, Luke presents the Way of Jesus as the antithesis of the way of Rome” (418).

The governments of this world exist as the enemies of God–always have and always will. St. Paul said, “Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, they exult in their shame, and they think about [fleshly] things.  But [Christian anarchist’s] citizenship is in heaven …” (Philippians 3:19-20a, NET). As Christian anarchists we are citizens of the borderless world (heaven on earth), and we are subject to no law other than the law of love.

Reference
Wes Howard-Brook, “Come Out My People”: God’s Call out of Empire in the Bible and Beyond. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2010.

 

Pablo de la Paz, 2016

The Open Secret of Christian Anarchism (Mt 6:1-21)

a little anarchy(This post is a reflection of a non-anarchistic idea which I had previously preached several years ago, but which I now integrate into my new understanding of Jesus the Anarchist and his Commonweal of Love).

In my last post I wrote about the authority of the Christian anarchist, of how all truly free people can and should be their own authority (under no hierarchical religion or state authority).  However, I did not say much about how that personal authority was appropriated and developed.

There are two parts to developing and claiming one’s own personal freedom and authority.  There is an interior work or inner anarchy, a vertical piety if you will, which, must precede the outer or external and horizontal practice of anarchism.  The first part is deeply personal; it is so personal that might be akin to a secret.

Jesus preached a secret message that so few people hear.  Now, I am not proposing that it is secret that anyone can’t be in on.  The secret message is an open secret.  In the Gospel of Matthew, as part of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus talked about prayer, fasting, and almsgiving as the practices of spirituality which will develop true personal freedom and authority.  This interior spirituality is the way a Christian develops the anarchist character to operate with authenticity in the world.

Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are not public affairs.  Jesus said, “Be careful not to display your righteousness merely to be seen by people …” (Mt 6:1a, NET).  He went on to say that this righteousness or piety, that is prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, should always be done in secret: “But whenever you pray (fast, or provide charity), go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret” (Mt 6:6a, NET).

These secret practices are meant to develop a deep love of God, of others, and of self (Mt 22:36-40).  Prayer is intimacy with God, and develops the compassionate caring necessary to live in anarchistic communion with God and others.  Almsgiving, done in secret, is the intimate act of taking caring to the level of sharing with others so that there is equality in the world.  And fasting is an act of intimate self-care, which develops one’s inner anarchistic authority through the spiritual discipline of simplicity.

The practice of the secret of inner anarchy develops in each person an outward or horizontal lifestyle which manifests in three anarchist public practices: (a) prophetic words, (b) prophetic actions, and, (c) a reorientation towards bringing justice to the world.

There are myriad examples of this in Scripture.  I will refer to one seemingly benign example. Remember the woman caught in adultery who was brought before Jesus (John 8). The religious elite ask Jesus if it is okay to stone her to death in accordance with Mosaic law. Here Jesus displays these three outer practices very succinctly.

  1. First, Jesus uses prophetic words to confront the religious elites calling for her stoning: “Whoever among you is guiltless may be the first to throw a stone at her” (Jn 8:7, NET). The prophetic words cut to the heart of the hearer: no one is perfect, so you have no right to judge. The Mosiac law was not meant to punish people, but to warn them of the consequences of illicit behavior. They are laws of conscience.
  2. Jesus prophetic actions here are several. First, he is standing up to the religious elite (or sitting in this case, with greater authority).  He is declaring that he is not one of them.  Jesus then gives an ultimatum to the power structures which they cannot bear.  He writes on the ground with his finger (what, no one knows), but it symbolizes that he is not under the authority of the religious domination systems.  Finally, he declares that the woman is not condemned by the law, but set free by Jesus the Anarchist.
  3. Jesus prophetic words and actions are a part of his justice work. He is for the equality of women.  Since, the adulterous male is not present how could he condemn only the women involved in the sin.  Jesus the Anarchist is the fulfillment of the law; thus the law is no longer necessary.  Forgiveness is the new law, embodied in Jesus. And Jesus calls the women to move into a new anarchistic way of life: “I do not condemn you either.  Go, and from now on do not sin anymore” (Jn 8:11b, NET).

The secret to Christian anarchism is developing and practicing a personal piety producing charity, which drives an outward work leading us to practice anarchy and justice in the world.

Pablo de la Paz, 2016

 

You Are Your Own Authority (Mt 28:18-19)

Own AuthorityAnarchism is first and foremost about the theory and practice of individual freedom.  While this freedom is complete, it is not a license to disregard the right of others to their freedom.  A primal reason why a lot of people cannot begin to understand this freedom is because they are afraid, like me, to exercise it fully and responsibly.  (We all like sheep have gone astray, Is 53:6).

I believe that one of the main reasons Jesus came to earth was to empower us to exercise our own freedom and authority.  As free agents we are imbued with the authority to live out our own lives in the way and the manner in which we see fit (again careful to not do so arrogantly and without regard for others). Our authority comes from God, not men.  We are not given rights by the State, but have them intrinsically from God. Most of us, and surprisingly most Christians, are woefully unaware of our own authority.

Even the religious elite of Jesus’ day had no idea of this anarchistic authority embedded in the souls of each human.  “While Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the experts in the law, and the elders came up to him and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? Or who gave you this authority to do these things?” Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question. Answer me and I will tell you by what authority I do these things: John’s baptism – was it from heaven or from people? Answer me.” They discussed with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From people – ’” (they feared the crowd, for they all considered John to be truly a prophet). So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Then Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things” (Mk 11:27-33).

Since we are not able to grasp the reality of our own freedom and authority, Jesus, in the Great Commission, commissioned his followers to exercise their God-given authority and then to set the world free to do the same. Most sermons or commentaries on the Great Commission focus on the mission, rather than the commissioning.  But it is in the commissioning that Jesus reminds his followers of their inherited authority from God. The key word in the text in this regard is Therefore [with the implied you]. “Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations …” (Mt 28:18-19a, NET).

After Jesus ascended to heaven and the Spirit came to empower (give authority), the apostles became bold in their witness of Jesus the Anarchist and the Commonweal of Love. They agitated against the Domination Systems of their day and were soon afterwards arrested. “The high priest questioned [the apostles] saying, ‘We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name. Look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood on us!’ But Peter and the apostles replied, ‘We must obey God rather than people’” (Ac 5:27-29, NET). Too often today, Christians worship the Domination Systems of Religion and the State instead of living in obedience to God alone.

Anti-Sophist, a blogger friend of mine introduced me to the term Statetheist.  He said in a comment on this blog, that it is not just Christians, but Atheists as well, who worship the State and its authority as a god.

In his virtually unknown classic The Authority of the Believer, missionary John A. MacMillan explains how Christians are woefully under-informed about their intrinsic authority over spiritual evil (powers and principalities in the heavenly realms and on earth).  MacMillan says that, “the kingdoms of this world are under the control and leadership of satanic principalities” (1980: 18).  MacMillan later says that believers in Christ have authority over these principalities: “… the wisdom and will of the Father have made us sharers of this same authority, and that He verily intends that we should exercise it day by day in growing comprehension and apprehension” (1980:25).

Because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, the Spirit of God is now made available to all people. Therefore, we can exercise our own authority because of the Spirit who bears the fruit of love, peace, and self-control in each of us (Ga 5:22-23).

Nevertheless, voluntary association with other Christ-followers in anarchistic solidarity will only empower us more to live freely. This voluntary association also means voluntary accountability. We should in our own authority want to be in association with and accountable to others, not in order to conform to others but, because we are finite and limited beings.

Reference
MacMillan, John A (1980). The Authority of the Believer. Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications.

 

© Pablo de la Paz, 2016

Jesus the Agitator (Jn 2:15)

Reward-for-JesusI have been reflecting a lot lately on my use of the title Jesus the Anarchist. Just a few weeks ago I started the process of writing a manuscript entitled My Search for Jesus the Anarchist and the Commonweal of Love, which will integrate some of the writings I have posted on this blog.

I toyed with the idea that it might be more palatable for traditional Christians if I didn’t call Jesus an anarchist, but referred to his political stance as a social libertarian or libertarian socialist. Of course, this leaves out the spiritual emphasis which Jesus is best known for, and I would be rightly accused of over politicizing Jesus’ message.  I also thought about the title Jesus the Agitator, because this title captures well his prophetic message and activist stance. Nevertheless, I will continue to use anarchist for the book title and this blog, because that is who Jesus is, both religiously and politically; but I also like Jesus the Agitator.

Many traditional Christian commentators don’t even like the title agitator for Jesus.  These status quo members of the Domination Systems of Religion would prefer the more bourgeois title of religious reformer.  In political parlance reform is the polite neo-liberal way of saying the government can fix humanity or at least the particular people in a given State. But Jesus was no reformer. Jesus was an agitator — a radical prophet — and radical prophets don’t call for reform of religion, but of tearing down idols and ousting oppressive leaders.

Eminent anarchist Emma Goldman used the title of agitator for Jesus. Goldman was not opposed to spirituality like many atheist anarchists, just the domination forms of hierarchical religious institutions.  She held a favorable view of the prophet reformers of the Christian faith, some of whom in the past have been labeled heretics (including many of the ones who are today considered mainstream).  And Goldman was particularly fond of Jesus.  She said, “The principle of brotherhood expounded by the agitator of Nazareth preserved the germ of life, of truth and justice, so long as it was the beacon of light of the few” (1910: 22; my italics). The Agitator of Nazareth was, as I have come to know him, a truth telling anarchist named Jesus.

Unfortunately, the idea of anarchy is sometimes viewed simply as an esoteric political theory to think or talk about.  This is why the term agitator is so important for Christian anarchists.  Anarchy is not just a theory; it is a reflective and active practice of direct action against injustice and oppression. In his chapter on what anarchists do, Nicolas Walter says, “The first way is agitation…. Agitation is the point at which a political theory encounters political reality” (2002: 85). Agitation means confrontation; it means taking prophetic action in public against the domination systems of the State or any authority which sets itself over others.

So, why was Jesus killed? Because he was a Jewish reformer in Roman controlled Palestine?  No, the tipping point occurred when the Domination Systems of State and Religion conspired together to kill Jesus after he went into a public space and “he made a whip of cords and drove them all out of the temple courts, with the sheep and the oxen. He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables” (Jn 2:15, NET).  He agitated against the authority of power-hungry men who oppressed the people.

Jesus never announced himself as a messiah, god, or king, but was clearly an un-king, who rode donkeys and lived as a homeless vagabond.  He announced an un-kingdom or Commonweal of Love, which meant the end of the State and Religion, and freedom “to the captives, and the regaining of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Lk 4:18b-19, NET).  But to say that Jesus only agitated against the religious elite belies his open prophetic acts which challenged the Empire. If Jesus was not an agitating anarchist, I am fairly certain he wasn’t a threat to Rome or Judaism, and the State wouldn’t have executed him as insurrectionist.

In another post I listed several reasons, mostly from psychological theories, why Christians and others have such a difficulty with anarchism.  Jesus didn’t need research to prove his theories.  His message was simply “repent” — change the way you think and act to prepare for the next movement in human history. His announcement of a new anarchistic way of spirituality and of life was new wine, which for so many was, then and today, too hard to swallow.  To me, to you, Jesus is still prophesying today, “And no one pours new wine into old wineskins …. Instead, new wine is poured into new wineskins” (Mk 2:22, NET). Jesus the Anarchist and his Commonweal of Love are the new wineskins for a new chance for humanity.

References
Goldman, Emma (1910). Anarchism and Other Essays. New York: Mother Earth Publishing Association.

Walter, Nicolas (2002). About Anarchism. London: Freedom Press.

© Pablo de la Paz, 2016

The Gateway To Christian Anarchy (Jn 10:9)

gate-2I took the picture attached to this post about five years ago while I was traveling through Amish country in Western PA. This pic was shot as part of a photography project I engaged in to capture nature scenes that reminded me of the seven “I Am” statements of Jesus as found in The Gospel According to St. John.  I enlarged and framed this particular photo and it now hangs in my office at the hospital where I minister. It is entitled “I Am The Gate.”

As you can see the gate in the photo is wide open, the chain which could close the gate is hanging limp, and anyone can come and go through the gate as they please. The gate is worn, beaten, and broken. Some of its wounds are bandaged, but it is still a functioning gate. In some ways this “gate” is a metaphor for humanity’s brokenness and freedom. We are broken and yet functioning; we are human beings able to reflect and exercise our agency.

In a universal sense Jesus, as the prototypical human, is the gate.  Jesus is the gateway to freedom.  He says, “Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved.  They will come and go freely and will find good pastures” (Jn 10:9, NLT).

In his book on anarchism George Woodcock says, “Historically, anarchism is a doctrine which poses a criticism of existing society; a view of a desirable future society; and a means of passing from one to the other.  Mere unthinking revolt does not make an anarchist, nor does a philosophical or religious rejection of earthly power.  Mystics and stoics seek not anarchy, but another kingdom” (1962: 9).

In this statement Woodcock intimates that unreflective activists are not anarchists, nor are non-acting wannabes (arm chair Christians or ivory tower sophists).  Jesus’ idea of heaven is not a fictitious dream of another kingdom, but really a “desirable future society” on earth. Jesus call his disciples (learners) to transform this broken world into what I call The Commonweal of Love, in order that Christian anarchists do not simply reject “earthly power” (like the Amish) but enact Jesus’s anarchist movement in the world.

Jesus, The Gate, calls his disciples to enter into reflective action.  His ministry announcement is ours as well: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captive and the regaining of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed” (Lk 4:18, NET).

Jesus as The Gate is the metaphor of both anarchistic reflection and action.  How do I help others be free; how do I work to disestablish the State and Institutional Religion?  These questions can be the gateway to anarchy for Christians. Going through The Gate and helping others to find freedom will allow us to “have life, and … have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10b, NET).

Reference
Woodcock, George (1962). Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements. Cleveland, OH: The World Publishing Company.

© Pablo de la Paz, 2016