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.

Continue reading →

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.

Continue reading →

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?

Continue reading →

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.

Continue reading →

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.

Continue reading →

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?

Continue reading →