The Gift of Death: A Reflection on Death and Dying

by Nestor Ravilas

Humans do not fear death, it is the suffering that comes before death that scares them. This, however, is not true. The prospect of ending this life is what frightened us most. Apostle Paul intones this ingrained fear of death when he said, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death!” From Paul thereon, Christianity has been generally viewed as a religion that is completely insane with the problem of death. As a threat to life, it is actually impossible not to agree with Paul, and the subsequent history of vilification of death in Christian tradition. Gilgamesh on his part provides us the ghastly picture that is lacking from Paul. “No one sees death, no one sees the face of death, no one hears the voice of death, yet savage death is the one that hacks man down,” he said. Mythical stories humanity was able to preserve were marred in one way or another with the presence of death in their story plots. Death is so formidable that most of our cultural wisdom, medicine and religions, are all pursued in search of the meaning, if not solutions, of the problem of death. Philosophy included, on its emphasis on moral life, must not be construed as passive or unaffected of the threat of death. Rather, its stress on justified existence is its best way of making sense of one’s death.

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God Dies with Us (Matthew 21)

by Nestor Ravilas

He is from Galilee, the city located exactly at the other end of the political and economic center of Judea which is Jerusalem. From the time newspapers and prime time news programs beginning to cover his activities, spies and state agents were sent out to monitor his activities. Sifted from the reports of all four gospels, the power house of the elite and political class were dispatched to sleuth on him – Pharisees, scribes, experts of the law, and even Herodians in the account of Mark, take interest on him and went down to Galilee, the city that produces most of the activists and bandits in the late second temple Judea. Galilee is the worst place to live in having situated at the dry end of the economic funnel that sloshes down starting from the prime city of Jerusalem, but a conducive den for the enemies of the state like brigands, bandits, and activists for they could safely slide to Macedonia once the state would whimsically budge in to run them down, or wickedly spray them to test its newly acquired bullets from China.

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Romans 13 as a Pharisaic Political Strategy: Approaching the Tension from Historical Perspective

by Nestor Ravilas

How much of his Pharisaic formation stayed? And how does this residue of his former religious upbringing correlate with his new found faith? Catherine Mills doubts that anyone is capable of breaking out from one’s identity formation. Although Judith Butler, out probably of her Hegelian training, casts a positive stance on this issue of identity shifting. She winces a bit, however, telling us that the task is next to impossible. Was Paul then a converted Christian with his Pharisaic foundation remains intact, lurking beneath and indirectly assisting him all the way in reading and interpreting things happening around him, including his new religious persuasion? Was his feisty stand against those “trouble makers” in the churches of Galatia bespeaks of Pharisaic symptoms who are known for intolerance of competition as demonstrated earlier by the Pharisees who bothered and interrogated Jesus throughout his life for his non-Pharicsaic reading of the Torah?

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I am Kian: The Blood of the Innocent is the Fire of Revolution

by Nestor Ravilas

It was commonly argued that the shift of execution of criminals from open public square into a secluded chamber bespeaks of a moral progress of every civilized society. This was even touted as the rationalization of once primitive way of dealing with wayward members of any given society. The public has to be spared from the horror and trauma of public executions. The justification that public display of execution was being done in order to warn the public that crime does not pay does no longer hold water, they said. It traumatizes more the public than affecting the criminal-would-be. Thus, punishments and executions for felony are now being exercised in private.

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Religion and Violence: Why Religious People are Attracted to Authoritarian Power?

by Nestor Ravilas

“Why dictatorship keeps on coming back again and again?” asked by Shalmali Guttal of the Global South during the talk on the Rise of Populist Authoritarianism that featured Walden Bello and other international political thinkers. The talk basically calls out the emergence of dictatorship, not only in the Philippines and in the US, but in the global context. What is more alarming is the deliberate effort to efface history of mass killings and genocide committed by past despotic leaders which is obviously being carried out to pave the way for the rise of this new totalitarianism. I thought at first that this phenomenon is constrained only in the “German Debate” where Jurgen Habarmas himself feisty contested this eradication of the atrocities of Shoa (Holocaust) to liberate, as its proponents aggressively argued, Germany from the horror of its past crimes against humanity. This trend, as spilled by the panelists, is actually global, and the Philippines is riding the tide in trying to eliminate or dampen the horror of the Marcos regime, obviously, to give way to Duterte’s brand of authoritarianism.

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Manny Paquiao and His Violent God

by Nestor Ravilas

I shuddered at the very thought of elevating Manny Paquiao to power when he first ran to public office not so many years ago. I know for sure it will be a big mistake. It is putting a violent man, and his violent god, to power. I campaigned against his bid for senatorial seat not only to save Evangelical community from shame, but to spare Filipinos from the predilection to violence of this man.

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Are Robbers my Neighbors too?: Chasing Alterity in the Parable of the Good Samaritan

by Nestor Ravilas

The Parable of the Good Samaritan is radical and audacious in many ways. It was Jesus’ trump card in his struggle against the religious and political leaders of his time. It basically questions the prevailing religious and social norms that formed and shaped social relations and arrangements of first century Palestine. First, the parable points out the inadequacy of written laws to embody the demand for social responsibility. That every accomplishment of each moral code written will only give you this strange feeling of insecurity of not having done enough to satisfy the requirements of ethics. To declare, therefore, that you have already done all of them is only to say that you have finally reached the limit of language, and what you are facing now from that edge is the infinite abyss that separates you from the demand — love your neighbor. Thereafter, every act of goodness you make, in hope to reduce the abyss, will always count insufficient to make the two horizons kiss. The demand therefore has no satisfaction, only its iterable cycle of beginning, of doing good again and again.

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