The Triumph of Bad Religion

by Nestor Ravilas

“Metho Andres, the police chaplain at Station 6 who prayed with the officers, told Reuters that the Bible justified the killing. Quoting Romans 13, he said Duterte was a God-appointed “agent of wrath” whom police should obey without question. He blamed drug users for their own deaths. “That’s a consequence of them disobeying,” said the pastor. “There is wrath coming for those who don’t obey.”[1]

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Religious Convictions and the Secular State: Neutralization and Toleration toward the Creation of Democratic Society

by Nestor Ravilas

Can religious groups impose their beliefs on people outside of their religious domain? Can we, religious people, influence national policy making that, by doing do, will end up violating and truncating the rights of people not members of our congregations?

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“Created after the Image of God”: A Political Theology on Equal Rights & Freedom for All

by Nestor Ravilas

It is a little mistake to say that human rights was born in 17th century during the beginning of the enlightenment period. Contrary to this, humans from the beginning of civilizations, from hunter-gatherer to agricultural period, have been asserting, utilizing, and imposing their rights and liberties in this planet over and against other beings, living and non-living. What is accomplished, or rather wished to accomplish, by the course of enlightenment movement is to liberally confer freedom and rights to all human beings. Although it might be correct to say that human rights and freedom were exercised prior to modernity, it is, however, confined among the civilized, the educated, the nobles, and the land owners of Europe. This is to say the savage, the ill-mannered, the proletariat, the destitute, the beggars, those belong to Nietzsche’s herd, have neither freedom nor rights. The enlightenment vision is to democratize human rights and freedom by simply acknowledging the basic humanity of everyone, including the aforementioned group of scumbags.

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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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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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