From the Guardian, on a violent crackdown in Syria:
At least 20 people are reported to have been killed after Syrian security forces shot at protesters during a day of demonstrations around the country against the autocratic rule of President Bashar al-Assad.
The violent official response to what activists massing against the regime had labelled “Great Friday” also saw security forces use tear gas to disperse protesters in Damascus.
Once upon a time, there was a worshiper of God. He lived faithfully and graciously, so transparently shining with Divine Light that if you got to know him, you were getting to know the nature of God. He extravagantly loved people who seemed completely unworthy of any affection- brought them down from trees, called them out of caves, pulled them up from the dust.
If you watched him for a day or two, you’d think he didn’t know the dangers of rocking such a large apple cart. You’d see his eyes scan the crowd before him, looking for the next outcast, and think he just wasn’t hearing the whispers behind his back.
If you watched him for a week, you changed your mind. He knew exactly what he was doing.
From the Nation, on Côte d’Ivoire’s humanitarian crisis:
You have to come here, to one of the forest regions where Côte d’Ivoire’s million-plus cocoa farmers live, to find the fundamental reason that fighting is breaking out again: a profoundly unjust international economic order that pays the people who supply our primary products a pittance and leaves their nations chronically ill with unemployment and poverty, and with people who will fight one another over scarce resources.
Once upon a time, a man named God’s Salvation lived in a similar land. He was a person just like you and me, except that he lived more bravely and more freely than we ever have. He advised people to share, even when they didn’t have enough. He made exemplars of people who gave away much more than was reasonable. He fed an entire crowd just by getting people to pass the basket along.
He was killed for this, just as you might expect. Just like every other criminal who challenged the empire’s control.
There weren’t just three crosses on Calvary, after all. The Romans didn’t just kill a handful of people around Passover time. They decorated their streets with convict corpses and near-corpses the way we put up wreaths at Christmas. It was terrorism, with that goal publicly stated; conquered people had to walk past the tortured bodies of their loved ones. If you complained, you might be next.
Back in Genesis, Jacob’s brothers sold him into slavery. Years down the road, when he was rich and famous, he told them that while they meant it for evil, God meant it for good. That phrase is often applied to Jesus’ violent death- his oppressors meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.
Jacob didn’t say that, though, when he was in the slavers’ caravan. Furthermore, if you had come up to him then and said, “oh, God means this for good, don’t you worry,” he might have wriggled his hands free of the ropes just to slap you in the face. And you’d have deserved it, too.
God certainly did use Jesus’ death for good. It’s not good yet, though. Right now, he’s just another dead revolutionary. To call that murder good, no matter how poetic the language nor how pure the intent, is an insult to dead revolutionaries everywhere.