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?

Continue reading →

Advertisements

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.

Continue reading →

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.

Continue reading →

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.

Continue reading →

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.

Continue reading →

Weaponizing Theology

by Fred Laceda

Religion and politics’ connection is interesting, at times odd, and often times explosive. One contemporary depiction of this relationship is between Stannis and Melisandre in The Game of Thrones. The former’s political ambition is bolstered by the latter’s religious idea that Stannis was the chosen one. Politics and religion, in other words, has an intimate relationship. The offspring of such intimacy is hoped to be a blessing, but Melisandre and Stannis’ offspring offers a cautionary tale: Melisandre bore a shadowy, perhaps cursed, child.

Continue reading →

Poor Joseph: Another Horror of Christmas

by Nestor Ravilas

Whenever I read this part of nativity story (Matt. 1:18-24), I could not help but to sympathize with the plight of Joseph. Not that I claim Joseph suffered and sacrificed more than what Mary had given up just to realize the divine plan. Only that his credulity in some sense flays down the most endeared image of macho Filipino male. I am wondering up to now what moves Joseph to acquiesce to such abject role in that divine drama; whether for the love of Mary or for God, I am not really sure. Since the drama was already done and we are all aware how the story has ended, Joseph was redeemed into heroism or sainthood and the role he played is now recognized as an act of indomitable faith. Prior to that, of course, he was nothing but an idiot easy to fall to such dimwitted narrative of the divine visiting the earth. And there is nothing more enduring, more torturing, than the part of yourself mocking you, saying, “You’re shit, you’re so gullible to believe that Mary is carrying the savior in her womb!” I pity him for that!

Continue reading →