I’m not quite sure how you got there.

Mark Van Steenwyk of Jesus Radicals has a great little intro to Christian Anarchy out, “That Holy Anarchist” and it’s a cheap Kindle purchase right now. I highly recommend it as an overview to Christian Anarchism.

While discussing some tensions between Christians and Anarchists, the question of violence comes up. He has a great bit here:

It is also important, I think, to remember that Jesus’ teachings aren’t the same as Gandhi’s. Many [pacifist or nonviolent] Christians have mistakenly assumed, based upon Jesus’ life and teachings, that everything we usually identify as “violent” is off-limits. Yet clearly, Jesus engaged in such things as property destruction, verbal abuse, and civil disobedience. Rather than developing an absolutist code, we should engage Scripture in the midst of the practice of communal discernment in particular contexts and let things develop from there.

 Van Steenwyk, Mark (2012-06-26). That Holy Anarchist (p. 56). Missio Dei. Kindle Edition.

I’ve had plenty of conversations, and always see listed as a primary objection to any sort of Christian nonviolence position, that because Jesus turned over the tables, he couldn’t have been completely nonviolent. These are people who justify violence in self-defense, militarism, etc. I’ve never quite understood how someone can make the leap from turning over tables in the temple to drone strikes, but somehow people manage it.

Interestingly, these are the same type of people who get put off when they see any sort of protest that involves property destruction, and sometimes even civil disobedience. In this line of thinking, somehow yelling at the police, forming a human chain, or smashing a window become unacceptable violence. So to clarify this position: drone strikes are ok because Jesus flipped over the tables, but human chains are not.

I wish I was kidding.

I’ll be honest: I’m not sure how I feel about resistance through things like property destruction. Sometimes, as in the case of the Catonsville Nine burning draft cards during Vietnam, I think it serves a brilliant prophetic purpose. I don’t see quite the same value in smashing bank windows (though I certainly understand the sentiment). It’s possible my ambiguous feelings are because I’m a coward, but I haven’t sorted it all out yet.

If you want to read some more about this (and I hope you do), check out these articles from a few months ago:

Chris Hedges “The Cancer In Occupy”

and David Graeber’s response – “Concerning the Violent Peace-Police”

They’re both excellent reads, and will provide you an interesting insight into some of the thinking going on behind the Occupy movement.


~ by Joe Paparone on July 17, 2012.

One Response to “I’m not quite sure how you got there.”

  1. But Joe, drone strikes are against them … protests are against us. 😉 -Bo

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