Collapse of Philippine Democracy Part 2: Docile Subjects

Nestor Ravilas

Ruby Paredes on her book “Colonial Democracy” says that the problem with our democracy is that our democratic institutions were established under colonial power. She is saying, in effect, the problem is either what was bequeathed to us by our American overlord is a distorted form of democracy, or we have not fully understood something that was actually imposed to us. Or both defects might have been embedded within Philippine democracy without us recognizing it. In that case, what we have learned and has immensely left an impact to our culture and psyche is the docility and subservience to colonial master than the emancipating “people is the sovereign” principle of democracy.

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Colonialism and Consumerism

Fred Laceda

The lectionary text for this Sunday has an interesting reception in Christian history. We know of Matthew 28:16–20 as the missionary text par excellence. This association with missions was a late development, however. Modern missions – or the sending of Christian missionaries in foreign lands – is a product of the Reformation period. It was also at this time that Western powers began their colonial adventurism. Hence colonialism and Christian mission gestated from the same imperialistic womb. It is in this entanglement that we should situate the Western missionary enterprise. And the “Great Commission” text stands as its greatest theological legitimation.

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Differing Opinions: Reflection on John 10:1-10

Nestor Ravilas

On this side we have Jesus, the Good Shepherd, whose distinctive voice consoles and entices us, who leads us where flourishing of life is possible, and protect us from threats against our well-being. That is our Jesus, our refuge.

On the other side are the scoundrels: strangers, thieves and bandits, whose business in life is to thwart the good intention of the good shepherd. These are the enemies which we have to push and keep outside.

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The Riddle of Romans 13

Nestor Ravilas

Romans 13 again comes to the fore as the national government is miserably fumbling and mishandling the management of the current pandemic. When democratic principles granted us the rights for free speech demonstrable in expressing our opinion publicly, Evangelical Christians immediately seize the public space to shelter and protect the government with the usual and irritating “be-subject-to-authorities” discourse of Romans 13. Proudly, they brandished that the Bible is higher than the Constitution. But, do they really know their Bible?

Did the Bible really say that the emperor, or the government for that matter, is beyond reproach? That we should refrain from criticizing the government, which amounts to challenging the authority of God in the same way?

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At the Foot of the Cross: The Violent Legacy of a Theological Symbol

Fred Laceda

N.T. Wright asks why the Cross became the enduring symbol of Christianity especially if we consider its original purpose as Rome’s mechanism to literally quash dissent. In a typical Wright fashion his answer comes in a form of weaving together seemingly disparate theological threads to create a coherent metanarrative. The finished product is a comprehensive and learned theology which most Christians would agree with. What is lacking in such a theological appropriation and remembering of the Cross is the road it travelled from a violent symbol to a symbol of redemption. This road, contrary to our Christian bubble, is accompanied by antagonism, exclusion, and violent hatred. Let me tell that part of the story.

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What would you do with a dead God?: A Theological Problem of Jesus’ Suffering and Death

Nestor Ravilas

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem
and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders
and chief priests and scribes,
and be killed, and on the third day be raised.
Matthew 16:21

Let them recite the song of Marduk,
Who bound Tiamat and took kingship.
Enuma Elish VII 161–162

The disciples were shocked. For a moment they were stunned, and no one could utter a word. Something is wrong with what Jesus was saying, this is not how the story should go? Jesus has just shared to them his imminent suffering and death in the hands of his enemies.

Peter, the most impertinent of the twelve, able to regain composure and blurted out, “God forbid it, Lord. This must never happen to you!” And from there Peter gained his first slide to infamy in Christian history.

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