Despicable Pharisees: Reflection on Luke 18:9-14

Nestor Ravilas

What else could we get from the story? Its lesson is plain and simple, “for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted”. To dig more to it is to overdo it, and to overdo it is to spoil it. So better go and do what it says!

But for those with untrammelled imagination, follow me please into the wild.

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The Crisis of Worship

Nestor Ravilas

“For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offering.” The Lord utters those vitriolic words through prophet Hosea.

Any serious reader of the Old Testament, especially of the prophetic literatures, will not miss the apparent tension between the prophets and the temple people. Fraught with deriding comments against temple activities one would prompt to ask, “Did the prophet hate the temple rituals?” If yes, why? What caused their irritation for temple people and their activities that prophets never had to mince word on their criticism?

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Mother’s Love & Jesus’ Political Concept: Reflection on Matt. 20:20-28

Nestor Ravilas

Whatever prompted the wife of Zebedee to do the thing she did could have been pure love for her two sons. Too presumptuous to assume such thing, I know. We might probably have an Elenita Binay or an Imelda Marcos case here, mothers who deploy their kids in politics to secure political dominance of their own dynasty. The Zebedees, however, has no dynasty to maintain. What they have is a risky adventurism in supporting a fledgling revolutionary movement of another Galilean activist`.

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Resurrection of the King-God

Nestor Ravilas

“Suportahan natin ang gobyerno dahil niloklok ito ng Diyos” (Let us support this government for God has put it in power) – blustered by one religious supporter of the current Duterte regime.

The beheading of Charles I of England could be monumental event that has proven the doctrine of divine right of the king is mere human construct. None has foreseen it to happen; neither the leader of parliamentary army, Oliver Cromwell, nor Charles I himself. The fusion of temporal and divine power in the throne of England which has spawned an abusive and tyrant line of monarchs has finally come to an end. England is now under the parliament with Cromwell as its head. Soon after the fleeting reign of Cromwell’s parliament, however, the people clamored again for the return of the divine right absolutism. Thus, Charles II, son of the beheaded Charles I, revived the throne under the religious emblem of “divine right to rule”. Blood spilled all over again, first of those jurists who had sent his father to the gallows.

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Imitating Violence

Nestor Ravilas

He was sprawling in the burning pavement. His company surrounded him, holding the huge wooden cross to prevent it from falling to him. Another man is on the end of a rope tied the other end to his waist. Pulling it slightly to intimate it is time to get up and move on. He tried many times but failed. He was so exhausted. Some of his friends are now trying to help him on his feet to complete the task. As we moved along the highway of Dinalupihan, Bataan, we have ran over on more cross-carrying lads. Some are trudging hard their way up to their destination, some have their bodies contorted by heavy cross, some, like the one I described first, slumped in the pavement almost at the brink of giving up.

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Religious Symbols and Violence Reflection On Luke 9:1-9

Nestor Ravilas

The problem with religious imagination borne from oppressed and tormented communities is that it is either equally oppressive or, even worst. And since these religious symbols survived and outlived their own procreators, they transcend time and space to address and shape modern societies. Take for instance the case of the West, known to be the champion of secular democratic regimes, reminded by Carl Schmitt that their touted concept of the modern theory of the state are actually secularized theological concepts. This amounts to the fact that despite all the attempts of the prophets of rationality to either dismiss or reinterpret the phenomenon dubs now as post-secularism, it undeniably proves that secularist project fails, and religion, along with its metaphors and symbols, remain with us even after the so called, Great Separation.

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State of Exceptions and the Sovereign Decision: The King-Pope of the House of Davao

Nestor Ravilas

All discussions on political theology from Carl Schmitt to Slavoj Zizek inevitably center on the person of the sovereign, says Graham Hamill. It comes with no surprise, therefore, why modern rulers remain enchanted with the glorious days of the Caesaropapists, those sovereign kings whose absolute rule made them subject to no one for they claimed to have both political and divine authority. The closest we remember are the English monarchs from Henry VIII, to James I, to Charles I, and James II, all asserted the divine right to rule. This history of political theology, where absolute power secured by divine ordination persists in our culture like the fruit in the middle of the garden where all are craving to have a taste of it.

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