Walters sees law and religion as two powerful, politico-cultural institutions that must be kept in check in order to protect the rights of those who are marginalized by the society. History reveals a litany of horrors that have been perpetrated on marginalized peoples by both religious bigotry and the law.
Through theological and jurisprudential theoretical inquiries, Walters advocates a thesis of at-one-ment through the historical Christus instead of the Christianity's bastardized version of the Christus. His thesis then is grounded in a theory of challenge and resistance to oppression and the advocacy of the possibilities for redemption from oppression.
No Sacred Place challenges the church in particular and society in general to create a new social order and right the wrongs of the current system.
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No Sacred PlaceBad Faith, Lies and Illusions
By ivan hugh walters
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 ivan hugh walters
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAn Introduction: Sanctum Chrisma
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— Took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. Robert Frost (1874–1963)
No sacred place: bad faith, lies and illusions is a critical study of social injustice at the behest of law and religion in the context of cultural politics in Christianized societies. I theorized the causes of social injustice and oppression of marginalized peoples as affected by the law and Christian moral theology in both modern and postmodern cultural politics. On the basis of my perception of the issues, I advance a theory of redemption by way of at-one-ment with the Christos through a transgressive discourse. This discourse challenges several of the traditional assumptions of Eurocentric Christianity and malecentric jurisprudence. I see law and religion as two of the most powerful politico-cultural institutions which must be kept in check in order to protect the rights of those who are marginalized by the society. History reveals a litany of horrors which have been perpetrated on marginalized peoples by religious bigotry and its handmaid, the law. I believe that it is imperative that we guard against the recurrence of these social injustices in the name of religion or for that matter in any other name or cause. Social injustice as a way of life is not an option that should be exercised by anyone in a pluralist democratic society.
When I use the nomenclature 'Church' in this book I am referring to that amorphous, motley collection of institutions: denominations, sects, and cults which profess to follow the teachings of the Christos.
When I use the term 'jurisprudence' I am referring to the principles of legal theory that examine the application and the close relation of law to the social structure and the ideology that underpins the law. Jurisprudence then is the exploration or speculation as to "what the law is about; what was or should be the role of the law and the lawyer in society; whether it was capable of responding to contemporary needs" (Freeman, 2001, p.2).
I have identified the sources of the social injustice in the society as legalism and religionism. I have identified the solutions to these problems to be meaningful social structural changes which must be engineered by both the legislature and the Church. In other words, the legislature and the Church as the two sources of the problem also possess the solutions to the problem. They have constructed the social injustices which I have indentified in this book and they are responsible for the deconstruction of those social injustices for the purpose of reconstructing the society on more egalitarian principles of justice.
In the essays which I have included in this book I have explained as clearly as I am able to, the grounds of the opinions which I have had on social, political, and religious matters since my days in the Seminary. As I grow older, I am amazed to find that instead of relenting or attenuating, these opinions have increased in strength and vivacity by the progress of reflection on my literary and lived experiences. It is as though they have reached the stage of maturation and I feel compelled to release them from their juvenile custody.
My main concern or contention is with the legal and moral principles which regulate the social relations of privileged and subordinate groups in the society. I believe arbitrary social inequalities are morally wrong and should be so legally as well. I believe they should be dismantled and replaced by egalitarian, equitable principles which jettison the imbalances in power and privilege in social relations. In this way the marginal status of some social groups can be abolished.
The task which I have undertaken is arduous indeed. The very language which I must use in this book, the several voices, moods, and tones that are deployed to effectively explicate the concepts clearly demonstrate the high intensity of my burden in stating a case for the human rights of the marginalized within the context of the Church in particular and the society in general. My deficit in language is combined with my emotional and spiritual difficulties. This is inevitable in my interrogating the Church to which I am so deeply attached. My burden is made even more onerous to discharge because I am contending with a mass of established sentimentalities which are deeply rooted in privileged malecentric societies. These societies have at their disposal a preponderate weight of legal and theological arguments which can be mounted against my case for the marginalized in the society.
The nemeses which I must confront and dispatch are the patterns of behavior that are rooted in feelings of sentimentality, which according to Mill (1869), even though their foundations are shaken by logical and cogent argumentations, when they are bested they tend to borrow deeper into the feelings of their adherents. I believe the protagonist of freedom should not be put on the defensive but in this situation the antagonist of freedom has the better of the protagonist because he asserts a challenge to feelings that are almost universally accepted. This is the challenge with which I must contend. I am not daunted by the difficulties of my task. I am just cognizant of them.
In pursuit of the main objectives of my contentions in this book with the use of the definitions of church and jurisprudence as stated above as the guide in my discourse, I have critically examined the following:
1. the unlawful oppression of sexism and heterosexism in Christian theology;
2. the historical and cultural limitations of Scripture;
3. priest craft as a systemic masquerade of lies and illusions;
4. the malecentric underpinning of moral theology by male and heterosexual privileges;
5. the dynamic construction of the social order;
6. the irrational basis of the argument for invidious stigmatization of those who are perceived to be the Other on so-called biblical principles supported by social and legal punitive sanctions;
The book will also meet the following objectives:
1. to challenge the traditional Christian moral theologica1. discourse and myopic malestream jurisprudence;
2. to advance a theory of redemption from oppression through at-one-ment in the Christos which has implications for the social structure in terms of:
a) strong legal protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms under the constitution for those who are cast as the Other;
b) the application of Human Rights Conventions to personal protection;
c) the right to determine oneself in a pluralist democracy;
d) the protection of free moral choice in a pluralist democracy;
e) greater participatory democracy;
f) public discourse for building of just communities; and
g) faith that is grounded in the historical Christos.
3. the resistance to oppression by advancing the thesis that the protection of the dignity and freedom of the individual requires sustain, constant, and vigilant surveillance against the tyranny of the majority through the enactment of appropriate laws.
Through these moral and jurisprudential theoretical inquiries I advocate the thesis of at-one-ment through communion with the historical Christos instead of the Church's bastardized version of him. The objective of the above pursuits is based on the principle that one must acknowledge and confess one's sins before one can be reconciled with the Holy Other. My critical approach is not intended to tear down and destroy the Church but to expose its moral wrong doing for the purpose of urging and goading it to the point of metanoia (repentance) for self-transformation and by extension the transformation of the social order.
The theory of essentialism from a philosophical perspective advocates that epistemology has a set of core values that are permanent, unalterable, and eternal. These so-called core values are found in every society and are relevant ad infinitum for the advancement of humankind. This notion has been applied by theologians, for example, to the biblical record which supposedly proclaims the unalterable and eternal human nature. These conceptions have their origins in the philosophy of Plato's Timaeus and Philebus which present the demiurge (God) who through his divine feat brought order out of chaos and so created a paradigm that is unalterable and eternal (Genesis 1:1, 15-18). I do not subscribe to the notion of unalterable nature of the cosmos, humankind as portrayed in the Platonic cosmogony because epistemology is socially constructed, and therefore flexible being conceptualizations that are informed by theory and theory is susceptible to change; if theory loses its dynamism then there is a great potential for humankind's stagnation. This perspective is contrary to theistic beliefs which move from the existence of the world to the postulation of an intelligent creator. As the atheists contend out this is a fallacious argumentation out of "blissful ignorance". The line of reasoning that is presented in the argument does not prove the existence of a deity but creates its own set of theoretical difficulties. The several philosophical argumentations that are adumbrated in this area evidence the epistemological limitations of cosmogony. I am rather persuaded that cultural politics is a social construct of a particular social order in particular given historical epoch. The social values of that particular cultural politics change from time to time and are not binding on future generations. My line of reasoning here is patterned on the theory of Social Reconstructionism (Gutek 1997).
The theory of perennialism is not unlike that of essentialism. The former asserts that the important characteristics of human nature are changeless and recurrent. The assertion is based on the Aristotelian premise that human beings are rational creatures. Gutek (1997) explains that metaphysically, the perennialists proclaim the intellectual and spiritual character of the universe and the human place within it. The changeless nature of humankind can be discovered through observation and reason. Social life can be centered round the perennial human characteristics. Perennialism is based on Thomism which is the dominant philosophy that has been associated with the Roman Catholic Church since the Middle Ages. Thomism focuses on religionism with a theistic basis which proclaims a Creator God that is revealed in Holy Scripture. "Thomists embrace supernaturalism and find revelation, recorded in the Bible, to be an authoritative source of divinely inspired truth" (Gutek, 1997, pp. 51-52). For Thomists humankinds'ultimate happiness is re-unification with the Creator God from their estrangement which has been accomplished through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Humankinds are free moral agent who can choose or reject the path of salvation. Like Aristotle, Thomists believe humankinds are highly rational creatures and their rationality albeit incomplete is their greatest happiness. "Perfect happiness comes after the death of the body when, through the gift of divine elevation, the human experiences an immediate cognitive and affective union with God" (Gutek, 1997, p.53).
Postmodernism challenges the optimistic views of perennialism, essentialism, and Thomism. Postmodernism advocates the view that everything we think, all of our experiences, and our aspirations have been handed down to us through the cultural politics that is prevalent in the society in which we were nurtured. In other words, we are environmental products. For example, it is interesting to note that one's religious practices and beliefs are derived from one's geographical location in the planet. For this reason the Hindus in India and the Moslems in the Middle East do not look to the Christos as their savior. In the United States there is a multiplicity of religious beliefs and practices due to demographic factors for the most part. However, the Commonwealth Caribbean being former colonial enclaves of Western Europe, the majority of us look to the Christos for salvation because the Western Christian culture was imposed upon our minds as descendants of former African slaves. This Western Eurocentric hegemony is found in all of the agents of our socialization: the home, the school, the religion, and public opinion.
The imposition of Western Christianity was readily acceptable by minds which lack criticality hence its preponderance in the Commonwealth Caribbean. All of our deepest religious beliefs and practices have been inculcated into our minds through our religious upbringing and conditioning in the social context of this particular kind of cultural politics. Therefore, all of our knowledge is culturally bound to a particular historical epoch.
Postmodernism cultivates a healthy skepticism towards easy value judgment on things cultural. In these circumstances, it would be wise to heed postmodernists' objection when trying to formulate universal or quasi-universal theories of human nature and the development of cultural politics.
The salience of postmodernism that can be gleaned from the foregoing line of reasoning follows inexorably that future generations of humankind can deconstruct any of its social creations so as to make it relevant to current social circumstances. Therefore, the prevailing cultural politics is subject to deconstruction and reconstruction by future generations of humankind ad infinitum. Cultural politics has an inherent dynamism that cannot be contained by social restraints.
The objective of the foregoing theoretical perspective is to explicate the philosophical principles that underpin the transgressive discourse in this book. I have used an eclectic theoretical approach of moral theology and legal philosophy in the crucible of postmodernism and Reconstructionism in order to effectively explicate my thesis. The principles are used separately, interchangeably, and at times they are intermingled. I use this eclectic philosophical approach to do justice to the various subject matters that are discussed in this book: social justice, gender, slavery, hermeneutics, sexuality, homosexuality, gay marriage. Consequently the tone and mood of the narratives will vary according to the subject matter that is being discussed in the particular section. The reader will observe that the tone and mood are sometimes personal and conversational and at other times academic and legalistic. This is almost inevitable because in my discourse I have deployed a critical interdisciplinary approach to the understanding of social justice through the lenses of theology and jurisprudence in a historical, sociological, and political context. As a result, the probity of this critical transgressive discourse treats church cultural politics as inseparable from its social, historical, political, economic, and technological dimensions. So in order to accommodate this colorful flow of the language that is deployed to execute the multiple narratives, the book is subdivided into five sections for easier readability.
I present a narration of my humble beginning, my relationship with the Church, some aspects of my legal professional experiences, and my religio eruditi to make the connection between theory and practice to support and articulate the case which I advocate in this book. These narratives are an integral part of the book because it is through my literary and lived experiences that I am able to theorize my opinion on the meaning of social justice from a theological and a jurisprudential perspective.
Therefore, No Sacred Place: Bad Faith, Lies and Illusions critically examines and analyzes the meaning of social oppression by raising honest questions about religious and legal misdeeds throughout history and their continued negative sociological impact today upon the lives of those who are perceived to be 'different' or Other and to celebrate the courage of those who were prepared to take a stance against oppressive religious, social practices, and beliefs; whether their stance was based on legal and/or moral grounds.
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