Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Spirituality IS Political

The other day the post about Sarah Barracuda received a comment from someone who signed himself "Ulrich." I didn't add it to the Palin comments, because I think I needs a response of its own.

Ulrich wrote: ". . . . Another solitary [the writer identifies himself as a solitary] sent me the link to your website. I understand the importance of the presidential election for Americans, but was disappointed to find that a solitary does not share insights on spirituality etc, rather than on Ms Palin. Monk"

My first response was that he simply didn't look around the blog beyond the page on view. Perhaps he is new to the internet, though this seems unlikely as he obviously wanted to advertise his own URL (sorry).

Then I realized that perhaps he is one of these people who thinks that spirituality should cut us off from politics. But it is exactly this attitude that gave us Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Kim Jong Il, the Burmese junta and George Bush.

There is nothing more political than spirituality and there is nothing more subversive to tyrants than the work of silence.

In an exterior sense, the power of silence was recently summed up by a Burmese quoted in The New Yorker: "Very few people realize the power of silence is harder to crush." [August 25, p. 52] At the same time, in a crisis such as the one our country faces, people who are normally silent have an especial obligation to make themselves heard at the political level. I grew up in congressional and diplomatic Washington, and inside knowledge creates additional pressure on me to do so.

In an interior sense, the work of silence teaches you to read hearts. I wrote my post about Palin from reading her heart, not from knowing anything particular about her background in Wasilla, but from the glimpses I have had, from the way she ran her gubernatorial campaign, and from the sound of her voice. It was impressionistic, but it turned out to be far more accurate than I knew at a merely rational level.

Spiritual insight is unique to each person. It was an expression of my spiritual insight [pace Ulrich] to write the post about Palin. In a different time and place, it was an expression of Bonhoeffer's spiritual insight to be part of the plot to assassinate Hitler.

At first blush, the one may seem absurd when spoken in the same breath with the other. But Palin thinks that both the Iraq War and the Alaska gas pipline are "the will of God," which means that she thinks that what she wants and what Dubya wants are the same as the will of God. Aside from the megalomania these statements evidence, there is a very real concern that her stunning lack of education and experience not only of administration and Washington, but also of the diversity of the world, combined with her cynical use of religion, may push her to decide that Armageddon is the will of God.

There are many fundamentalists with beliefs similar to hers who wish to hasten the end of the planet. In any event she cannot help but be short-sighted and faulty in judgment, no matter how much she is coached—and it is doubtful how much she is capable of receiving. Once a pit bull gets her jaws clamped around an idea, it's almost impossible to make her to let go, much less pay attention to anything else.

Never in the history of this nation has spirituality been so necessarily political, and woe betide you if you think you can retreat. Never was spirituality meant to be an escape in any event. It is rather an unshakeable commitment to risk your life for what you believe, and never were your life and the lives of everyone on this planet so much on the line as in this election. Even if it may seem life-threatening, take the risk to talk to your neighbors; write to the media; get the vote out.

Palin's name calling—"Washington elite"—won't hide the fact that she has neither education nor cultural background and apparently could care less about either one. It is not elitism to be educated; it is an obligation to democracy. It is not elitism to have culture: it is the most fundamental courtesy to others.

To run a country, especially one with so much international power and responsibility, requires both. Dubya had plenty of opportunity for them, and chose to reject them. And look where he has got us? We are a pariah nation, an embarrassment to the world, a laughingstock, and so deeply immersed in economic, military and diplomatic folly that we may never be able to extricate ourselves. Most certainly we will not if the McCain/Palin ticket is elected.

So, Ulrich, what will it be? Do we stick our heads in the sand and let the Republicans tighten their grip on this country's broken constitution? Do we let the tyranny and erosion of civil liberties develop further? Do we let the fat cats get fatter and the poor people get poorer? Do we shame this nation by putting in power someone who, under ordinary circumstances, would be laughed out of polite society, alongside an old, old man with lewd habits, PTSD and a vicious temper?

Spirituality is political, Ulrich. Look to your own country's history if you don't believe me.

And welcome to my blog.


Blogger MikeF said...

I'm afraid you're right. Temperamentally, I almost wish you weren't, but you are. Thank you!

8:39 am, September 10, 2008  
Anonymous Dfish said...

I'm cheering while reading because surely, you are spewing "fire" from within.

5:34 am, September 11, 2008  
Blogger holyfoolishness said...

thank you!

2:43 am, September 12, 2008  
Blogger Joel said...

I completely agree. What can be more political than the Gospel proclamation of God's Kingdom here, now, and forever and sealed by the worth+ship of the one hanging dead on the cross condemned by the most powerful empire in the world and the religious structures that supported it?

I hate the world "spirituality!" Was Jesus "spiritual"? What a ridiculous question. What a ridiculous word for us Christians to use! Let's get real:

The cross of Jesus is the radical condemnation of an unjust world. You must stay with the one crucified on it or stand with the crucifiers. There is no middle way. --Juan Mateos, S. J.

3:39 pm, September 15, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen! Maggie. Thanks for this post. I agree with all your points and wait with apprehension to see the results of the upcoming election. I hope and pray that racism and voting machine tampering will be kept to a minimum but those Diebold machines can be manipulated with ease. We will see.
I found your blog through an article you wrote in Weavings.. "Remembering To Forget" which I enjoyed very much.
Will be back for more visits,
New Deacon

12:49 pm, October 17, 2008  

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