25.5.07

non-violent active response

I find it one of the hardest things that I do - walking the way of the cross.

about 7 or 8 years ago I had one of those experiences which is like a lightbulb going on in your head. a lecturer walked me (and the rest of the class) through the 'turn the other cheek' passage in a whole new way. allow me to paraphrase:

'imagine' she said, whilst hauling a student to up to the front of the class, 'that you are going to hit me on the right cheek, you have to hit me with your right hand of course, because in that culture you do unmentionable things with your left, which means that you effectively slap me rather than hitting me, this is demeaning and is the thing that you do to someone who you believe to be inferior to you'

'Okay' I think, 'so?'

'so' she goes on to say, 'if I then turn to him my left also, what is it that I do? Effectively I have turned the cheek to him that makes him either desist from his violence towards me - he can't slap me with his left hand, he thinks that's icky - or hit me with a fist, which would denote equality of relationship.'

'Oh' I think, as the lightbulb switches on.


suddenly the story about 'turn the other cheek' takes on a whole new meaning. this is not a story about how Christians allow themselves to be oppressed passively - or more to the point, sit by whilst others all around the world suffer oppression. this is an example of how to sit in the middle of violently asserting our 'rights' and passively losing any prophetic voice in this nation or the life of the Church.

we are called to resist violence and oppression with non-violent acts of resistance.

the ultimate act of non-violent resistance was that of Christ's submission to a violent death on the cross.

an act which was not passive, but which defeated violence once and for all.

I find that discovering the 'way of the cross' is my biggest challenge when engaging with those who would silence my voice.

2 comments:

dave williams said...

Yes,

I remember being struck (no pun intended) by that explanation the first time I heard it -I think the carrying the soldiers load further fits into the same idea of passive resistance

I've left a message under your post re the Turnbull video -see below

jody said...

yes, the soldiers load and giving away your tunic as well as your coat are both examples of non-violent active resistence to a violent encounter.

the Jew was allowed to be commandeered to carry the Roman soldier's load for 1 mile only, any more than this was breaking Roman law. So for Jesus to say, go one mile extra, was to make the point that this was an oppressive system of slavery - the Roman would think twice about doing it again.

for the coat and tunic, it is the person who causes someone to be naked who is to be ashamed. If someone unjustly (because the Roman courts were biased to a Roman citizen) takes your coat, give them your tunic, they will cause you to be naked and the shame will be theirs.

what is also worth a look is the 'widow's mite', often used to squeeze the last penny out of every member of the congregation - however look at the Luke passage in the context it is set....I would say it is more about saying the poor widow should not have to give her last mite and those of us who are more wealthy should provide the extra tithe.

living Word, huh?