Father Cammilo Torres joined revolution in Columbia in 1966
In answer to my post on the election (my shameless attempt at political propaganda) someone posted this as a comment:
Anonymous said...The reason this person understands it that way is becuase he doesn't understand the distinction between liberal and fundamentalist in theology. We only hear from the fundamentalists in popular culture. Liberal theology tends to be a thing of a better educated more intellectual class. Fundamentalism is working class. I don't mean to do a class analysis on the two but it's obvious due to the European and academic nature of liberal theology, that it's not a part of the masses. Thus most people have no idea what it means to be liberal theologically (or politically for that matter).There is a whole "other Christianity" or an alternate Christian tradition that one never hears about.
Liberal theology grew out of the Catholic northern Renaissance. One might argue that the first liberal theologian Erasmus. This is because he was the first or one of the first to develop textual criticism of the Bible and put systematic rules to the task. Liberal theology really get's going with the German Romantic philosopher Frederick Schleiermacher (1768-1834). Schleiermacher is often called "The father of Liberal Theology." Kantian philosophy had created a problem for theology because Kant said God is not given in sense data. If we have no apprehension of God then we can't speak of God. What we do not know we must be silent about. So how to restore theology as an object of discourse when the object of theological discourse is not given in sense data? Schleiermacher found a way to go around the sense data with a concept of "the feeling of utter dependence." This move of Schleiermacher's identified the "co-determinate" of the God concept. In other words, there's a signature or trace of God that is associated with God's presence just as finger prints are always linked to our fingers. That signature is the feeling of utter dependence. As long as this can be linked to the presence and reality of God then we have a comparison that can be made and an object of theological discourse. Ironically liberal theology and fundamentalist notions of inerrancy have common ancestry in the humanists of the Renaissance. True, the concept of Biblical inerrancy can be traced to the work of Renaissance huanists (see Avery Dulles, Models of Revelation).
As a result of this from of thinking, which identifies the "co-determinate" of the God concept We have a means of understanding religion as a basic aspect of human nature. This gives us the concept of the "religious a priori." This is the special sense that religion imparts of the reality of the divine, it's not jumped up ethics, or primitive scinece, it's a thin in it own right, not derived from any other discipline. Atheists are denying a basic aspect of their humanity when they fail to understand the close link between the nature of being and he nature of the divine. The of liberal theology is based upon this impulse. Tillich's notion of God as being itself is just a radical version of what Schleiermacher discovered in the feeling, but it traces back to Augustine and Dionysus the Areopagite. Both sides of the equation, liberal and conversation, have their antecedents in the history of Christianity.
Most people think of liberal theology as a radical break with scripture. That's becuase they swallowed the hog wash of fundamentalism in thinking the fundie notion of inerrancy is the true historical Christan understanding of the Bible. Such is not the case at all. The concept of inerrency was started in the ninteeth century by people such as J.N Darby and Benjamin Warfield in reaction to modernity, it especially got going in reaction to Darwin. The chruch fathers certainly believed the scripture was true but they did not use the term "inerranat" they did not talk about taking every statement literally. They allowed for allegory and figurative understanding and also questioned the validity of certain books. This anonymous represents the new wave of under educated anti-intellectual truck driving atheists that make up the bulk of Dawkamentlism. They are the fundies of the atheist set, and they have no concept of liberal theology, they embrace liberal politics because they link it to their right to sin, but I doubt that they really know much about it. What these atheits are not getting is the modern nature of liberal theology. Their atheist views are still rooted back in the nineteenth century, fuming their hatred for a big father figure in the sky, true to Freudian nonsense, while liberal theology forges ahead with new ideas and keeps pace with science and philosophy of the era.
The liberal political tradition among Bible believing Christians and liberal theologically oriented Christians is older than the liberal theological tradition itself. Roger Williams (1603-1683) led dissenters out of the Massachusetts colony to found Road Island on the premise of tolerance while Williams himself was out of the Puritan ranks. Williams's crew became the Baptists, today renown for their stance right wing Reaganism but in their hay day they were a voice of democracy and freedom. The social welfare stat touted by Dawkamentalists such as Zuckerman owes its welfare state to its Christian heritage. In the bookA Political and Social History of Modern Eruope by Carlton J.H.Hayes Prof of history Columbia University (Vol II, MacMillion 1916):
Three Scandinavian countries, Sweden, Denmark, Norway were officially tied to the Lutheran Church. "Popular education was fostered under ecclesiastical supervision; all three people's developed native literature and a lively sense of nationalism. In all three social and Political democracy made steady progress. McMillian 1916
Religion has always played a role in Swedish culture. What Zuckerman pretends is not there, and what he hides in the data, the role played by religion in planting the core values that build the welfare state. He hides this by refusing to draw the distinction between Church attendance and real actual belief. Though attendence is low the role of religion in Swedish society is old, historical, complex and important:
Welfare and Values in Europe:Transitions Related to Religion, Minorities and Gender;
Overview of the national situation
Ninna Edgardh Beckman
Welfare and Values in Europe:
Transitions related to Religion, Minorities and Gender
Overview of the national situation
by Ninna Edgardh Beckman
Based on its very low figures of religious attendance and traditional religious faith, Sweden has a reputation of being one of the most secularised countries in the world. True as this might be, what the image conceals is the strong and complicated role that religion still plays in Sweden, not least through history and culture. The modern history of Sweden has its foundation in national homogeneity, grounded in the principle of one people and one faith. This principle is closely connected to the Lutheran majority church, to which nearly 80% of the Swedish population still belongs, even though formally state and church were separated in 2000. The recent presence of other world religions and official policies tending towards multiculturalism adds new religious aspects to Swedish culture. Religion thus continues to play an interesting role in Sweden, behind the seemingly straightforward image of a country on its way towards complete secularisation
The Swedish welfare state was built after the Second World War, based on the idea of ‘the home of the people’ (folkhemsidén). The basic principle of the model is that the state and local authorities guarantee the basic needs of all citizens. This principle is based on strong values of solidarity and shared responsibility. Decades of success for the system have since the 1990s been replaced by growing problems with keeping up the high level of benefits and services, a development, which is increasingly questioning also the values underpinning the whole welfare structure. Immigration is one factor, among many, challenging the system and immigrants have also been among those most affected by emerging new forms of poverty
Nothing about atheism or being an atheist involved there
Historians Find Religion Always Played a Role In European Social Democracy
Through Europe the role of religion in the rise of modern secular liberal states is coming to be re-evaluated. Many historians are finding now that religion always played a more vital role than previously thought. Here is a quote from a new ground breaking book:
Religion, Class Coalitions, and Welfare States
Series: Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion and Politics
Edited by Kees van Kersbergen
Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
Universität Konstanz, Germany
This book radically revises established knowledge in comparative welfare state studies and introduces a new perspective on how religion shaped modern social protection systems. The interplay of societal cleavage structures and electoral rules produced the different political class coalitions sustaining the three welfare regimes of the Western world. In countries with proportional electoral systems the absence or presence of state–church conflicts decided whether class remained the dominant source of coalition building or whether a political logic not exclusively based on socio-economic interests (e.g. religion) was introduced into politics, particularly social policy. The political class-coalitions in countries with majoritarian systems, on the other hand, allowed only for the residual-liberal welfare state to emerge, as in the US or the UK. This book also reconsiders the role of Protestantism. Reformed Protestantism substantially delayed and restricted modern social policy. The Lutheran state churches positively contributed to the introduction of social protection programs.
• Radical revision of established knowledge in comparative welfare state studies based on a combination of country case studies and comparative accounts • Introduces a new perspective on why and how religion shaped modern social protection systems and gives a new comparative account of the formation of different welfare state regimes • Systematic inquiry into the role of the state–church conflict for social policy in advanced industrial societies
1. Religion and the Western welfare state: the theoretical context Philip Manow and Kees van Kersbergen;
2. Western European party systems and the religious cleavage Thomas Ertman;
3. The religious foundations of work-family policies in Western Europe Kimberly J. Morgan;
4. Italy: a Christian democratic or clientist welfare state? Julia Lynch;
5. Religion and the welfare state in the Netherlands Kees van Kersbergen;
6. A conservative welfare state regime without Christian Democracy? The French Etat-providence, 1880–1960 Philip Manow and Bruno Palier;
7. Religion and the consolidation of the Swiss welfare state, 1848–1945 Herbert Obinger;
8. The church as nation? The role of religion in the development of the Swedish welfare state Karen M. Anderson;
9. The religious factor in US welfare state politics Jill Quadagno and Deanna Rohlinger;
10. Religious social doctrines and poor relief: a different causal pathway Sigrun Kahl. Contributors
(contributors include:Philip Manow, Kees van Kersbergen, Thomas Ertman, Kimberly J. Morgan, Julia Lynch, Bruno Palier, Herbert Obinger, Karen M. Anderson, Jill Quadagno, Deanna Rohlinger, Sigrun Kahl).
Modern Swedish life no longer includes church attendance as a strong element. This is the only measurement Zuckerman uses to determine the extent to which Sweden, or any country, is "secularized." But there are other measure that are more important. There is a new role emerging for religion in Northern Europe. The fact of secularization in terms of church attendance does not mean that people are not seeking spiritual reality.
The traditional relationship between swedes and the church has changed. Swedes are no longer as connected to conventional church fucntions. But this does not mean that they don't beileve. There is a new string for alternatives to convention, but the embers of belief are still smoldering.
Sweden.SE the official gateway to Sweden.
Sep 1, 2006
Are Swedes losing their religion?
by: Charlotte Celsing, freelance writer
Annika Gustafsson is a theology student whose studies have included work experience in congregations and at confirmation camps. She says that almost all of the young people she meets are open to questions relating to religious and spiritual matters, even though they may have objections to ecclesiastical matters.
The role of religion has changed
Religion has not become less important in Swedish society but it has changed color, according to a report from Åbo Academy (Finland). In the secularized Nordic area the Protestant Lutheran church has to be liberal and open to a modern interpretation of the Christian message. Otherwise the church feels too authoritarian – an attitude that most Swedes do not accept....Yet many Swedes express a longing for a spiritual dimension and a deeper meaning. Modern society has left a void that neither science nor a high material standard can fill....Those who the Church of Sweden fails to attract look for alternatives. Non-conformist churches – of which the Pentecostal Movement is the largest with around 87,000 members – is one example. Others are varieties of eastern religions, such as Buddhism or Hinduism.
Due to immigration to Sweden, Islam is now the country’s second largest religion after Christianity. A number of mosques have already been built in different parts of Sweden and more are planned.
Within Christianity the Catholic Church in Sweden is also large. Today it has a total of 80,500 registered members.
* Almost 8 out of 10 Swedes are members of the Church of Sweden - 7 million.
* Only 1 in 10 Swedes thinks religion is important in daily life.
* Around 7 out of 10 children are christened in the Church of Sweden.
* Just over 5 out of 10 weddings take place in church.
* Almost 9 out of 10 Swedes have Christian burials.
* Islam has around 130,000 adherents in Sweden (more according to Muslim
Zukerman's simplistic formulation would have us believe that Christianity = conservative and atheist = social consciousness and only atheists could ever support progress social institutions.
Modern atheist "wisdom" leads our atheist counterparts to contend that religion is dark and evil; God is a big meanie, and they try to stick Christianity with every social iill one can imagine, from cold breakfast to nuclear way. Some of their favorites include slavery, war, social oppression. These are suppossedly condoned in the Bible. What these great thinkers and paradigms of social insight have missed is the fact that Christianity has always been a major force for liberation and social reform. This has been true since Moses led the Israelites out of Slavery in Egypt (this became a powerful metaphor for slaves in America). In the early centuries of Christianity Christians such as Olympia, Deaconess of Constantinople spent their family fortunes to buy slaves so they could free them; they would rescue abandoned infants form under bridges (the ancient world's version of modern day abortion clinics). We know that the civil rights movement was largely motivated by the Bible. Civil rights workers tapped into an old tradition, very much at the core of the abolition movement, that found the Bible not a source of oppression but of encouragement and liberation. They did not call the major Civil rights organization "The Southern Christian Leadership Conference" for nothing! The major figure in the Civil Rights movement was not a minister for nothing. The link between the Bible and liberation goes way back, in the history of liberalism (first abolition group in America, Pheobe Palmer and the Methodist Woman's Association--same people did the first Women's Suffrage group in America) but also in the history of American social justice. But have we forgotten the Baragan brothers? Christianity and the Bible were a big influence upon the anti-war movement in the 60s as well. In fact we can find historically that Christianity has influenced and led to reform, revolution, and radical movements throughout history.
From Joachim of Flora and his thirteenth century revolt of the poor, to sixteenth century peasant revolts in south Germany, to the folks at Lo Chambo (who hid Jews from the Nazis and some of them died doing that--where Camus stayed when the wrote his great novel Le Peste--but I'm sure Avaols would find that of no intrinsic value, being literature and all.) The Ranters, the Levelers, The Diggers, the Quakers --all were revolutionaries or social activists inspired by the bible. Read he Journal of John Woolman to see how this major voice in the early abolition movement was inspired by the Bible. Also consult William Wilburforce, and the abolitionists of the early nineteenth century as well.
Atheists arguments are themselves totally irrelevant, because they ignore liberation theology as though it doesn't exist. I was a seminary student and (if I do say so myself) a very active political activist in the Central America Solidarity Movement of the 80s. I can tell you liberation theology was a major movement of the day, and the Bible was a source of its inspiration. Liberation historians demonstrate that the Christian left is very old, and it has been involved in every movement in every time period including the beginning of Imperial Christianity, when Olympia the Deaconess gave away her family fortune to free slaves (Constantinople of the 300s). Most people begin to date liberation theology with the radical priests of the `60s. If they know the history of the modern movement, they begin with CLAMB and Christians for Socialism in the `50s. If they are really historically minded, they start with A Theology for the Social Gospel, by Walter Rauschenbusch. But, Rauschenbusch, while he could be viewed as a forerunner, and while he called himself a "Christian Socialist," may really represent the end of an older tradition of Christians in the labor movement of the late 19th century (his work was written in 1917). Those who came before him, in the labor movement, represent a vast movement of religiously minded reformers with antecedents in the Second Great Awakening, much of which Hudson documents. (Winthrop S. Hudson, Religion In America: A Historical Account of the Development of American Religious Life. Second ed. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1965, 1973, 310-315.). Enrique Dussel uncovers a long history, far more indepth than we have time for here.
The point is that the "religious left", including all forms of Christian socialism, and left-leaning social reformers, is very old and represents a whole world unto itself. It is well worth learning, and demonstrates the irony and tragedy of the current climate in the academy, a climate in which academics would rather feed their urge to bash religion rather than create a dialogue with thinkers who have access to a vast tradition they themselves know little about. (History and the Theology of Liberation. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1976). Another excellent source is Smith's book on revivalism (Timothy L. Smith, Revivalism and Social Reform: American Protestantism on the Eve of the Civil War. Baltimore, London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1957, 129-80.)
While many conservative readers of the CADRE may feel that they have another side to the issues of the Central America movement, one thing we can both agree upon, weather for good or ill: a large part of the support given the FSLN (National Sandinist Liberation Front--the "Frente", the dreaded "Sandinistas") and those who took part as Nicaraguans in that movement, drew their inspiration from their Christian faith.
For a strong sense of the crucial nature of religion to the struggle in Latin America see Penny Lernoux's book, (Penny Lernoux, Cry of The People. Penguin Books, 1982. 29-30). Let us remember priests such as Father Camillio Torres, who was the first priest, but not the last, to take up arms in the struggle. He died in Colombia in 1966. His example sparked much interest in liberation movements throughout Latin America. For a look at religious involvement in the Nicaraguan revolution in particular, see Margaret Randal, Sandino's Daughters: Testimonies of Nicaraguan Women in Struggle. (Vancouver, Toronto: New Star books, 1981.) The example of Thomas Borge in Nicaragua, the FSLN Minster of Interior, is awe-inspiring in that he confronted the torturer who tortured him and killed his wife. He forgave the man and let him live because Borge had become a Christian and read in the Bible to turn the other cheek and forgive. Nothing is more touching than the letter he wrote to Father Ernesto Cardinal about his new found faith. Borge was the leader of the FSLN, the "Sandinistas" in Nicaragua. He was one of the first to help start the Sandinista party. Some might argue that his commitment to religious belief was mere propaganda; but, while he was yet a guerrilla on the run in the mountains, he sent for a priest (Ernesto Cardinal, later to become a member of the Sandinista party). He wished to discuss religion with the priest. The simple note he sent is one of the most moving documents of the Latin American struggle.
"I knew a God who joyfully rang the church bells and dressed up when General Somoza visited León... a God who forgave the heavy sins of the rich... I slew that God without mercy within my conscience. It would seem, however, that God does not wish to die. In the jungles of Colombia there has been a new Bethlehem. Camilio Torres told us before dying, or perhaps told us in dying. Father I await you..."
The priest made his way through the mountains to talk with the revolutionary, and the Nicaraguan revolution kicked in the womb. (Andrew Reding, Christianity and Revolution: Tomás Borge's Theology of Life. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1987.) Liberation Theology was spreading to South Korea and all of Asia as the Berlin wall came down. (see James H. Cone, Minjung Theology: People as the Subjects of History. ed. by the Commission on Theological Concerns of the Christian Conference of Asia. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1981)
I have no problem with finding more scholars to read more ancient texts that are now being ignored. The study of the Bible is not forcing anyone away form such study. Dr. Avalos himself could have chosen to spend his time studying these texts--then we would be enlightened by his brilliant scholarship!
People are ignorant of the Bible; we need more scholars to teach it. Ignoring the Bible is not the answer. The Bible is not all there is to the Christian tradition. Christianity is a living tradition, with many sources, not the least of which is one's own inner life. The inner life consists of prayer, but also intellectual understanding, literacy, and not just how to read the labels of aspirin bottles but an understanding that there is a world of letters. I cannot abide academics who hate the world of letters. This is the essence of the one-dimensionalizing tendencies of atheism and reductionism that the PC crowd have taken up--and Avalos is their spokesperson. They want to further one-dimensionality at the expense of Western culture. The Bible is at the heart of Western culture. Avalos wants to persuade us that Biblical values are ancient-world and thus foreign to us, but they are the heart of our culture. All of our modern values are the grandchildren of Biblical values. Democracy; autonomy; selfhood; the individual; basic human rights; humane treatment of the poor; worker's rights; even modern science--it all comes out of the Christian tradition.
Arnold J. Toynbee observed that Christianity freed humans from the cyclical understanding of time. Christianity made “history” in the modern sense possible. Ancient paganism, the texts with which Avalos wants to replace Biblical studies, would not have allowed us progress in history, or even a modern concept of history at all; they were focused upon the eternal return of the god/goddess from winter to spring. The same things over and over again. But Jesus died and rose once for all, and then we venture forward in time toward an eschatological horizon. There will be no end of history. History will continually sublate itself until the final and once for all return of Christ.
We can make progress. But we can only make progress if we remember who we are and where we came from. We cannot abandon the inner, the world of books and letters, our ability to think, faith in God, or our understanding of culture as it was and as it will be. This makes the Bible far more relevant than anything, and it means that people with Ph.D's in Biblical studies have an awesome responsibility: a responsibility to promote the world of letters, not to abort it. One is called to teach, not to persuade the student to give up learning. We need to learn more about the Bible. We need to talk up the Bible, we need to educate people on it, and we need to help students develop their own little worlds lined with books so they can understand the interrelationship between the Bible and the culture. I fear this is something for which many of our modern teachers are not equipped.
If we put the tradition of the "alternate Christianity," the one that speaks for the weak and helpless, we would have to start with Jesus himself. Then we would go through the Christians who resued babies set under bridges by pagans to perish because they were female or could not be cared for. Then we would go up through the the 300s where in Constantinople deaconesses were giving the family fortunes to free slaves. We would have to include the peasant revolts of the dark ages up to the 1500s in south Germany were people found their inspiration to stand for their own rights and lives in the scripture. We would include the abolition movement the civil rights movement.I say its' the atehist who is out of step with modernity. He's still living in the 19th century trying to disprove religion through outmoded means unaware of the developments stemming from Schleiermaher and the new liberal theology.
Notes on Sources
1 Matthew L. Lamb, Solidarity with Victims: Toward a Theology of Social Transformation. New York: Crossroad, 1982, 122.
2 Barry Katz, Marcuse and The Art of LIberation: An Intellectual Biography.Verso, 1982, 200.
3 A. Daniel Frankforter, A History of The Christian Movement: The Development of Christian Institutions. Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1978, 170.
See Also, Karl Marx and Frederick Engles,The Communist Manifesto . New York: International Publishers Co. inc. 1948, 1984 ed. 33. Granted, Marx didn't think much of "Christian Socialism" in the middle ages, which he called ":Feudal Socialism." "Nothing is easier than to give Christian asceticism a Socialist tinge. Has not Christianity declaimed against private property...? Christian socialism is but the Holy Water with which the priest consecrates the heart burnings of the aristocrat." Granted, history was waiting for Marx to come and introduce true socialism. But, the socialism of the middle ages was more diverse than that. It existed in the monasteries as a monastic form, along side early capitalism, but it also existed among the peasants and in revolutionary form. And there were thinkers, such as Joachim of Flora who led a peasant revolt to bring on the end of times.
4 Enrique Dussel, History and the Theology of Liberation. Maryknoll New York: Orbis books, 1976. Dussel uncovers a long history, far more indepth than we have time for here. The point being, the "religious left," including all forms of Christian socialism, and left leaning social reformers, is very old and represents a whole world unto itself. It is well worth learning, and demonstrates the irony and tragedy of the current climate in the academy, a climate in which academics would rather feed their urge to bash religion rather than create a dialogue with thinkers who have access to a vast tradition they themselves know little about.
5 Winthrop S. Hudson, Religion In America: A Historical Account of the Development of American Religious Life. Second ed. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1965, 1973, 310-315.
Most people begin to date liberation theology with the radical priests of the `60s. If they know the history of the modern movement, they begin with CLAMB and Christians for socialism in the `50s. If they are really historically minded, they start with A Theology for the Social Gospel , by Walter Rauschenbusch. But, Rauschenbusch, while he could be viewed as a forerunner, and while he called himself a "Christian Socialist," may really represent the end of an older tradition of Christians in the labor movement of the late 19th century (his work was written in 1917). Those who came before him, int he labor movement, represent a vast movement of religiously minded reformers with antecedents in the second great awakening, much of which Hudson documents.
6 Timothy L. Smith, Revivalism and Social Reform: American Protestantism on the Eve of the Civil War. Baltimore, London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1957, 12980.
7 Penny Lernoux, Cry of The People. Penguin Books, 1982. 29-30. Torres was the first priest , but not the last, to take up arms in the struggle. He died in Colombia in 1966. His example sparked much interest in liberation movements throughout Latin America.
8 Andrew Reding, Christianity and Revolution: Tomás Borge's Theology of Life.Marknoll, New York: Orbis books, 1987. Borge was the leader of the FSLN, the "Sandinistas" in Nicaragua. He was one of the first to help start the Sandinista party. Some might argue that his commitment to religious belief was mere propaganda, but , while he was yet a gorilla on the run in the mountains, he sent for a priest (Ernesto Cardenal, latter to become a member of the Sandinista party). He wished to discuss religion with the priest. The simple note he sent is one of the most moving documents of the Latin American struggle. "I knew a God who joyfully rang the church bells and dressed up when General Somoza visited León..a God who forgave the heavy sins of the rich...I slew that God without mercy within my conscience. It would seem, however, that God does not wish to die. In the jungles of Colombia there has been a new Bethlehem. Camilio Torres told us before dying, or perhaps told us in dying." The priest made his way through the mountains to talk with the revolutionary, and the Nicaraguan revolution kicked in the womb.
9 For a strong sense of the crucial nature of religion to the struggle in Latin America see Penny Lernoux's book, op. cit. For a look at religious involvement in the Nicaraguan revolution in particular, see Margaret Randal, Sandino's Daughters: Testimonies of Nicaraguan Women in Struggle. Vancouver, Toronto: New Star books, 1981.
10 James H. Cone, Minjung Theology: People as the Subjects of History. ed. by the Commission on Theological Concerns of the Christian Conference of Asia. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis books, 1981. Minjung means "mass of the people," as in "a great crowd." It is a theology specific to South Korea, where they are not allowed to use the term "the people" because the government fears the spread of Maoism. But, this is one example of a liberating style theology spreading over Asia.