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May 11, 2017 / Fantelius

Kate’s Anger & Holy Responsibility

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(A not so short section from the short story The Holy and Captain K.
Kate, the spirit of St. Katherine of Alexandra, has been speaking about the 6W concept; War Without Weapons for a World Without War.)

“To summarize,” said Kate, “the corporate elite believe that economic conquest of everyone can be achieved by applying the formula: Control the government, own the military and maintain war production.”

The silence between us grew because Kate waited for me to say something and I didn’t know what to say. She sensed my dilemma and spoke quietly in my ear,
“They are killing people. Daily.”
She may as well have slapped me in the face.
“What do you mean?”
“Not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and other places. Daily. They speak of these people – when forced to speak of them at all – as terrorists, insurgents, Taliban, extremists, suspected militants, whatever, as though these labels justify murder. The majority of the victims are villagers and people whose crime consists of living in a place the warlords intend to control. The message shouts murderously clear, resistance will not be tolerated.”
“You really know how to make it sound horrible.”
“Look at me! If you have any trust in me at all, trust what I am about to tell you.”
She didn’t have to wait for my intense concentration.
“It’s much, much more horrible than I have described. Much more!”

She had me in a trance. Before I could respond, she continued.
“These horrors spread. The nature of the conflict guarantees its spread. It’s only a matter of time before the people in the USA and the allied countries experience similar horrors first hand.”

She had maintained her soft, loving voice while emphasizing the horrors and predicting their spread. It was too much for me. I blew it.
“Don’t you ever get angry?” I shouted angrily. “Have you ever been angry?”
“Once.”
“What happened?”
“During my lifetime I was one of the Christians in the years before and after 300. We were nothing like the Christians of today. We had no churches except for modest gathering places. Nor did we have bibles, standard liturgy or even a standard set of beliefs other than the belief in one God who viewed all people equally.”
“Jesus. It was the belief in Jesus that united you.”
“Not exactly. Most of us regarded Jesus a great prophet who brought us the word of God, the truth of God. The term ‘son of God’, for example, was a common metaphor to designate a prophet of excellence. Jesus was always referred to as ‘the’ son of God instead of ‘a’ son to testify to his unique greatness. We viewed those who twisted the metaphor into a reality – viewing the messenger as God himself – with strained tolerance. As long as they acted in a Christian manner, we saw no reason to cause dissention based on how one viewed the essence of our prophet. We were naïve.”

“I’m confused. What was it that made you Christian? What was `acting in ‘a Christian manner’?”
“The teachings of Jesus made us aware of the dignity of humanity under the authority of God. That was the key. We recognized no other authority and took direct responsibility for the welfare and condition of the people around us. We worked and lived to help and support each other. Our lives revolved around community. You can say that we all worked on the project of humanity with God as our only boss. Emperors, kings, governors and other worldly dignitaries commanded no respect from us. That’s why we were so hated and persecuted. If the rulers couldn’t command respect and couldn’t count on our obedience, their rule would prove powerless.”
“So the rulers struck out at you as a way of defending themselves. You were the terrorists of your time.”
“We were as hated and despised as terrorists of today, but we were much more threatening because of our lack of terrorism. We weren’t even aggressive. We simply turned our backs on the norms and traditions of the ruling order and built our own world. And we succeeded. We grew stronger as the empire grew weaker.”

“I’m not sure what you mean by grew stronger. You mean that more and more of you became believers, became Christians”?
“Yes, of course we had our ideology, our belief, and this was important, but our strength was also real and practical. The functions of society were in our hands. We supplied each other’s needs and helped each other in every way. The rulers claimed to be our protectors, but all they did was take from us and cause problems.”
“But you were part of the Roman Empire.”
“We were living in the Roman Empire, but we were building a world that was not part of the empire.”
“You were like a mushroom on a rotting tree,” I said in jest.
“Yes, a healthy growth on a rotten system. The mushroom analogy is … mushy. Our world was strong and vibrant.”

“So what made you angry?”
“After I was killed…”
“You were killed?”
“Beaten, tortured, raped and killed.”

I could not picture anyone harming the beautiful and gentle Kate.
“Why? What did you do?”
“I didn’t do anything. I was singled out because I was an influential Christian.”
“Were you a priest? Some sort of leader?”
“No, not influential in that way. I had no leading position. I did however influence many people. Many people joined us because of my example and the way I talked.”
“Your loving way of speaking.”
“Not so much how I spoke, but what I said. I could sell the idea of Christianity, the concept of living as equals under the authority of God.”
“And that’s why you were tortured and… (I couldn’t bring myself to say raped.) … killed?”
“Yes, and the fact that I was young, a woman and came from a wealthy family. My very existence was a threat.”
“So they killed you.”
“Yes, tortured, raped and killed me.”
“That certainly explains the anger.”
“That’s not what made me angry, or it’s not the anger I’m talking about.”
“It’s not?!”
“No. What made me angry happened a few years later.”
“Something worse that being tortured, raped and killed?”
“Much worse.”

We were silent. I’m certain Kate knew that I was trying to figure out what could be worse. My imagination couldn’t find anything.
“You’re going to have a hard time convincing me that something was ‘much worse’ than what you went through.”
“Wouldn’t you say that a thousand years of death, despair and destruction weighs more than one individual’s suffering? What’s one death compared to hundreds of millions of deaths? One rape weighed against millions of rapes?”
“I don’t understand what you are talking about, Kate. Are you saying that you were not angry about your fate because many people have shared a similar fate throughout history?”

“Forgive me, I’ll explain. This is very difficult for me. The coals of anger still glow within in me.”
Her eye’s swelled with tears and I was about to say something when she held up her hand to stop me.
“Permit me to cry if I must. The tears are a valve on the pressure of anger. You see… they gave our world away. Gave it away! We struggled for over 300 years. Despite persecutions we kept developing and building. We succeeded. We were in command of a new world. Then they gave that world away.”

Her tears were now flowing freely even if her voice was calm. I couldn’t keep my own tears back even though I didn’t know what she was talking about.
“My martyrdom as it was called occurred at the beginning of the last great persecution. A few years later in 311, Galerius, the same man who initiated the attacks against us, ended them by declaring that Christians should be treated with tolerance, The Edict of Toleration. Two years later, emperor Constantine went even further. His edict not only granted Christians full authority to practice their religion, but he returned property that had been taken from congregations and supported Christians in several ways. He was more than tolerant. He was pro-Christian even suggesting that he felt Christian himself.”

“That was certainly welcomed.
“Yes and no.”
“Yes and NO! What could be bad about that?”
“Of course it was good that the persecutions ended. The edicts however were portrayed as justice and tolerance offered by the rulers of the empire.”
“Weren’t they?”
“No! They were declarations of surrender. They didn’t give us anything. They attacked us and we defeated them. We broke their efforts to punish us and they were forced to stop. We ruled life in the empire, not them. In response to the persecutions initiated by Galerius – The Great Persecution – we, the Christians, shut the empire down. Alexandria, for instance, where I lived was for all practical purposes a Christian city. Almost half of the population was Christian and the rest of the people supported, cooperated and sympathized with us. Even many of the Roman soldiers were on friendly terms with us. Shortly after the persecutions got under way, the people withdrew all services and supplies. The Roman garrison could get no bread or food, no repairs or supplies. The ships in the harbor could not be loaded or unloaded. Even the prostitutes disappeared. The Roman troops met empty streets. People shut themselves indoors or went to relatives in the countryside. Soldiers throughout the empire rebelled and refused to follow orders rather than attack Christians. The rulers fought among themselves. The empire ceased to function. They had no choice but to declare an end to the persecutions, to admit defeat.”

“So what if they made their defeat look like a gesture of tolerance? They were trying to save face. The important thing was that the persecutions stopped, Kate. The Christians could practice their religion in peace”.
“If that was all there was to it, it would have been acceptable. But the defeated emperor took over the Christian movement. With the victorious Christians allowing it. Incredible! The victors handed over the victory to the defeated, to the enemy. For 300 years we built a society divorced from imperial authority. We turned our backs on the rulers and built a society by supporting each other. We suffered horribly under their persecutions. Yet we prevailed. We won our independence. And then we gave it away. Suddenly the emperor was calling the shots, telling us what to do, arranging meetings and creating policy for Christians. In the face of defeat he gained control by proclaiming tolerance and claiming to be a friend of the Christians. We had lived, worked and struggled in total disregard of imperial directives for 300 years and suddenly we were submitting to imperial will because the emperor was nice to us. He was helping us. Or so it seemed. We hadn’t needed any help from the authorities for hundreds of years, but when we were at our strongest and won a decisive victory, we were taking help. In reality, the emperor was helping himself take control.”

Kate’s voice had grown hard. I hadn’t seen her this upset.
“So that’s what made you angry?”
“That’s what started it,” she said and her anger faded and threatened to turn to tears again.
“What do you mean ‘started it’? Do you mean that the anger got worse or that it lasted a long time?”
“Both. Read almost any account of history and the source will mention that Christianity proper began with Constantine at the head of the Christian Church. He gave financial support, built churches, freed the congregations from taxes, passed out land grants and adopted Christians into his administration. What he actually did, – and you’ll never see this in the history books – he bought the Christian movement. And destroyed it.”
“You mean he changed it”.
“No!” said Kate with a sharpness that startled me. “Destroyed it. Obliterated it. … Killed it. It ceased to exist. The Christianity that sprang from Constantine grew into the Christianity of today. As I mentioned earlier, we, me and my Christian contemporaries, were nothing like the Christians of today.”
“Nothing and nothing. There must be quite a few similarities”.

We were silent. I saw how Kate regained her calm. Her face softened and she smiled. I knew that whatever she would say next, would be said lovingly. I was right.
“Did you know that Charlie Chaplin and Adolf Hitler were born under the same sign just 4 days apart?”
“No.”
“They were both short men; both were raised by a mother who divorced their father; both became famous and were known for the same short mustache and both lived outside the country of their origin. Quite a few similarities.”
“OK, I get your point.”
“The mushroom known as the European destroying angel (amanita virosa), and the common Button or White mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) are nearly identical. The one is delicious and nourishing, the other will kill you.”
“As I said, I get your point. But were the differences between your Christianity and the one that developed after Constantine really that different? Both were based on Jesus.”

“The differences were basic, fundamental, as different as Charlie who spread laughter and Hitler who spread death, or as different as identical looking mushrooms being nourishing contra deadly. We were a healthy growth concerned with and active in everyone’s welfare. Equal in status and dignity we took responsibility for our community. They re-established a hierarchy where a leader told the people that they were sinners, but could hope for salvation after death if they followed the rules laid down by the church. We turned our backs on worldly authorities, they claimed that the authorities had a divine right to rule us and should be obeyed.”
“You make Christianity after Constantine look like an evil organization.”
“I don’t have to do that.” She was back in lovingly mode. “They are very good at that themselves. Take care to avoid equating the people with the organization! Note also that Christians accomplished many positive things along the path of history. We are still left with a general picture of 1700 years characterized by conflict and war; a tiny wealthy elite driving toiling masses; slavery, intolerance, persecutions and any number of evils. Neither slavery or war could have occurred among us early Christians. Or take a simple thing like an 18-year-old woman having considerable influence in the congregation. This was nothing unusual for us in our community of equals. It was an impossibility for over 1000 years of Christianity.”

“There’s a lot to what you say, Kate, but you’re not going to convince me that you and your Christian contemporaries were a collection of saints living in a utopia.”
“I should hope not. We certainly had our problems and conflicts. That’s not the point. The key issue didn’t occur to me until many years later when my anger was diluted by time. I then realized that the people had abandoned God in favor of worldly authorities. This was the same as abandoning their own responsibility for life and how it developed. The rulers willingly accepted responsibility in the role of God’s representatives on earth.”

“Kate, I need to take a break and think about all that you’ve said. Despite your loving way, you are one heavy lady.”
Kate laughed. “OK, but before we take a break, there’s one thing I must make clear for you about God. Our God and the God of today’s Christianity are two completely different things. They live in different heavens so to say. We were part of the Hellenistic world. This world consisted not so much of heaven and earth, as of the spirit and the flesh. God, for us, was the body of the spirit that united us in the equality of the flesh. Atheists who take responsibility for life and humanity are aligned with and work in harmony with the force of God. People who do not take responsibility for life and the community are subjects of worldly authorities. They have abandoned God regardless of the intensity of their professed religion. To abandon responsibility is to abandon God. It’s not a crime, but it’s the ultimate sin.”

*

”I was struck by a rainbow the other day.
It completely destroyed my depresssion.”
Dartwill Aquila

*

PalestineMap

The West Bank is now the Judea-Samaria area.

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