The end is nigh

R.W. Johnson: 40-odd years prophesying the end for South Africa

This updated version of How Long Will South Africa Survive? sees the country more crippled than ever by corruption, cronyism and greed

Rian Malan

“…we find a network of what Johnson calls ‘warlords and patronage lords’ running the provinces, and below them, a new class of black businessmen and government mandarins who work together to divert state resources into their own pockets. As Johnson sees it, this ‘predatory’ elite can feed its voracious appetite only by redistribution away from others, in the process impoverishing everyone but itself. ‘This is not some form of aberration from the liberation struggle,’ he says. ‘A glance around Africa shows that this is liberation.’

Ten years ago, Johnson would have been crucified for saying such things, but How Long? Mark II was greeted by an ominous silence here in South Africa, making its way on to local bestseller lists without any review attention, not even attacks from Johnson’s enemies. It seems even they are reconciled to the fact that Johnson is right again: South Africa is in crisis.

 

How Long Will South Africa Survive?: The Looming Crisis R.W. Johnson

Hurst, pp.288, £25

The ugly truth about SA white land ownership

“Julius Malema is a devotee of the Goebbels/Stalin/Mao rulebook on propaganda which preaches if you tell a lie enough times, people will eventually believe it. Witness the EFF leader’s racist ranting about who should own South Africa’s land. He was at it again last week outside the magistrate’s court in my boyhood home of Newcastle, stirring murderous thoughts in revolutionary breasts. But Malema’s self-righteous belief that he can force expropriation of legally owned land has been made once too often. A long overdue assessment has now been provided by Rian Malan, author of globally acclaimed bestsellers including My Traitor’s Heart. Malan’s piece is republished with permission from James Myburgh’s excellent Politicsweb.co.za. The result is a lashing of Eton College circa-1700 proportions. As you might surmise, Malema’s sweeping hyperbole collapses under historical scrutiny. But it is the way Malan shares research into the history of his little patch of 1200 square metres that makes this piece so compelling. Will exposure to the truth change the recently graduated EFF leader’s approach to a highly complex reality? Probably not. He is, after all, a politician – a breed who rarely allow facts to get in the way of their vote-catching narrative. But it is sure inform the rest of us. And as we maintain at Biznews, one must never underestimate the intelligence of the common man or woman once empowered with knowledge which helps make up their own mind. Goebbels, Stalin and Mao didn’t have to contend with the information-democratising power of the internet. Malema does.  – Alec Hogg

By Rian Malan

https://www.google.co.za/amp/www.biznews.com/thought-leaders/2016/12/25/rian-malan-malema-white-land-ownership/amp/

There is an interesting riposte to Malan by Mandla Seleoane at http://www.politicsweb.co.za/opinion/malema-and-the-land-a-reply-to-rian-malan

 

One self or many selves?

By Gregg Henriques Ph.D.

Understanding why we have a multiplicity of self-states.

Reblogged, with appreciation, from
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/theory-knowledge/201404/one-self-or-many-selves

“Properly speaking, a man has as many social selves as there are individuals who recognize him and carry an image of him in their head.”
– William James

“But the concept of the self loses its meaning if a person has multiple selves…the essence of self involves integration of diverse experiences into a unity…In short, unity is one of the defining features of selfhood and identity.”
– Roy Baumeister

“These two quotes capture competing perspectives on one of the most longstanding puzzles of human psychology: What is the self? And, more specifically, is there just one ‘self’ in each person or do we really consist of many different selves? When faced with this question, most people respond initially that there is just one “self” and that is the ‘me’ who is reading this blog! My hope for this rather lengthy blog is that it will give you a clearer sense of why this is such a complex question.

Let’s start with a basic common sense response and say that there is a single self. This position can initially be justified by the basic observation that we inhabit one body. My body can be conceived of as an object and like most “normal sized” objects, it exists in one location in space and time and in that sense it is singular. But deeper reflection reveals that we are not usually talking about the physical body when we are talking about the self. If so, my ‘self’ would still be there if I had a heart attack and fell to the floor and died. But most people, myself [:o)] included, would say that a dead body does not contain the self; the self resides in the dimension of the mental and cultural and is not really reducible to the physical and biological. (see: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/theory-knowledge/201207/why-i-am-not-my-brain) 

That raises the question, what does the ‘self’ consist of? In other blogs (see https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/theory-knowledge/201304/another-trinity-you) I describe the human self as consisting of three related, but also separable domains. The first domain is the experiential self. This is the ‘theater of consciousness’ and the first person felt experience of being. In this context, it includes the felt consistency of being across periods of time. In that sense, it is tied very closely to memory. This is the part of you that “disappears” when you enter a deep sleep, flickers on and off as you dream, and then comes back on line as you wake up. In this TED Talk (http://www.ted.com/talks/antonio_damasio_the_quest_to_understand_consciousness)  the famed neuropsychologist, Antonio Damasio shares his thoughts on this portion of the self—and he appropriately notes that it is a portion that relates very directly to experiential consciousness, it also relates deeply to your core drives/needs and emotionally organized feeling states. This level of self is a mental capacity we share with other animals, and it presumably forever disappears when we die (at least from a naturalistic perspective).

A second portion of the human self is called the private self-consciousness system. In more common parlance, we can call this the “narrator” (or interpreter), because is the portion of your being that verbally narrates what is happening and why and tries to make sense of what is going on. As you read this blog and think about what it means, this is your verbal narrator working. It is also the part that includes your reportable self-concept and explicit beliefs and values about the way the world works (e.g., your religious and political beliefs). This portion of the self is what Damasio calls the “autobiographical self.”

The final portion of the self is the public self or persona. It refers to the public image that you attempt to project others, which in turn interacts with how other people actually see you—the crucial element of this portion of the self is referenced in the James quote above.

Mapping these three parts of “the human self” gives clues about the primary focus of this blog, which is becoming aware that although we tend to experience a sense of continuity and unity of the self, the fact of the matter is that it is much too simple to say that we have one self and be done with it. If you have ever been surprised by how you acted, or felt confused, conflicted, or uncertain about who you truly are, or realized how dramatically different you feel in different situations or in different moods, then you know that this thing we call the ‘self’ can have many different and often competing facets and states—and if you haven’t had this experience, then you probably have not been paying too much attention!

To see what I mean, let’s start with an everyday example that recently happened to me, and then let me give an extreme example from my clinical practice a decade ago. The other day I received a call on the heels of a conference presentation I offered, in which the caller invited me to be in charge of the membership of a particular organization. The caller, who interacted with me on several occasions during the conference but did not know me prior to the event, said to me, “We need someone in charge of membership like you who is gregarious and socially engaging.” Later, when I told my wife about the way he characterized me, she laughed said, “I thought you psychologists could read people. He obviously failed there!” My wife, who knows me very well, was basing this comment on the fact that in many social situations I tend to be fairly reserved, am hesitant to make ‘small talk’, and am more likely to find myself in a corner rather than the center of attention. So, which is the “real me,” gregarious or reserved?

Now consider a patient I worked with, call her Hannah. I met Hannah because she was enrolled in a clinical research study I was running for folks who attempted suicide(between 1999 and 2003). She had made many serious attempts. In a fairly short period of time, I began to see that there were many dramatically different sides to Hannah. First, she presented as cold and aloof. Then, by about our third or fourth session, she switched, attaching to me, praising me, telling me she thought I could “save” her and that she needed to keep seeing me. Then as the therapy progressed, I saw a rageful, destructive part of her. I had Hannah doing some diary work, and when she became activated in this way, she wrote differently, talked differently, and had different memories (in addition to relating to me dramatically differently). She even had a different name for her self (Fran) and often could not remember what Hannah was doing when she adopted the persona of Fran. Hannah had been seriously and horribly abused as a child, both physically and sexually, over many years. She suffered what used to be known as Multiple Personality Disorder and what is now called Dissociative Identity Disorder. MPD/DID is a fascinating (and tragic) condition and has been controversial diagnosis (which is one of the reasons the name was changed). It is controversial precisely because it seems that some individuals do operate as radically different personalities within the same body, and yet this observation clashes with the strong felt sense that each individual has a single person residing within them. (It is also controversial because it is so exotic that it provides an incentive to fake it or fake report on it).

My overall point with these two examples is that it is very clear that people have a multiplicity of self-states; without wading into the complicated debate about the validity of MPD/DID, at the very least DID shows how extreme these multiple self-states can be in people. Moreover, as a clinician, although DID is very unusual, it is very common in the clinic room to see a situation when the multiplicity of self-states is an obvious source of distress and maladaptive behavior patterns. Because of this and the general value of self-knowledge, it is important for folks to understand the forces that go into why we humans experience a multiplicity of self-states, which is what follows here.

Conceiving the “self” as patterns of behavior through time. Although we often think about the self as a “thing,” it is also the case that one can think of the self as a pattern of behavior through time. In this view, the “I” is synonymous with what I feel, think, and do feel across time. When examined in this light, then the idea that there are multiple self-states becomes clear in the sense that we do very different things across time. This basic insight frees us to think about the self in a much more dynamic way, as opposed to attempting to characterize it as a specific, fixed, and unchanging object.

Situations matter. Thinking of the self as a pattern of behavior across time blends into another key point as to why we have a multiplicity of self-states, which is that our behavior is largely a function of the situation. This fact should not be too surprising, but as fellow PT blogger Sam Sommers points out, it is a surprisingly easy thing to lose sight of. If we go back to my everyday example, there are some situations that are rewarding for me to be gregarious, whereas there are other situations that are much less so. If I am in a situation where others will reward talk about theoretical and philosophical dimensions of psychology, I am likely to become energized and talkative. However, if the social system is rewarding talk about other topics I both know and care little about, I become reserved. In sort, change the situation and you change my behavior and thus I enter into a different self-state. It is also, of course, the case that our self is defined by roles that society has constructed. There are very different expectations for myself as a husband as opposed to a friend as opposed to the director of a doctoral program in professional psychology. And not only that, how I experience myself will be hugely influenced by how others see me, a point so important that we need to spell it out further.

Our sense of self is shaped deeply by others. James Mark Baldwin has a great quote that “ego and alter are born together,” which means our self-concept is foundationally shaped both by how others see us and how we see ourselves in relation to others. This starts with our earliest attachments, when our fundamental sense of security is shaped by how well our care-takers were attuned to our needs and vulnerabilities. Thus we come to experience ourselves first via the eyes of others. In addition, our self-consciousness system was shaped as a social reason giving device. That means that our “narrator” first starts off via speech narrating to others why we are doing what we are doing, and this means that our self-concept is formed in large part by the audiences. In terms of a multiplicity of self-states, this means that our self-concept is deeply influenced by the “audience” we initially narrate to. Change the audience, and we change the self. That is in part what William James is getting at in his quote.

An excellent example of this was found in a classic social psychology experiment on attractiveness. In the experiment, done in the 1970s, men and women, who had never met, were arranged to have a phone conversation. The man was given a picture of the woman he was talking to. The picture actually was either of a very attractive woman or a much less attractive woman (this was the experimental manipulation, it was not really a picture of the other woman). The transcripts of the conversation were taken and then the male’s portion was removed. Independent reviewers then assessed the female’s portion of the conversation for the degree of friendliness, engagement and likability. And, lo and behold, the women who were talking to men who believed they were talking to someone beautiful were rated as being more positive on these socially desirable qualities. In short, our very essences are profoundly shaped by others and how others see us.

The core self is organized by motives and emotions—and these fluctuate! Our experiential self forms the organized core of our self, and it in turn is organized by emotions which are tied to our goals. As I note in this blog here, our perceptual-motivational-emotional system will fluctuate, depending on things like biorhythms (time of day, month, season) and what goals have been sated (e.g., hunger, sex, sleep) or are active. A vivid example of this is the hunger drive. In her wonderful novel, Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand reports on the life of Louie Zamperini, a WWII vet, who is shot down and spends six weeks on a raft with a fellow solider. As their hunger sets in, it comes to completely dominate their minds, such that they smell food, dream of food, and talk of food around the clock.

We have evolved “subselves.” We can be even more specific about our motivational systems and how they give rise to our experience of a multiplicity of self-states. In The Rational Animal (2013), PT Blogger Doug Kenrick and Vladas Griskevicius argue that there are seven major evolutionary goal states that have shaped our psychology in profound ways; as such we should consider ourselves as really a collection of “subselves” that have different perceptual-motivational-emotional structures designed to solve the following adaptive problems: 1) self-protection/injury avoidance; 2) disease avoidance; 3) affiliation; 4) status seeking; 5) mate acquisition; 6) mate retention; and 7) kin care. Importantly, because these different subselves have different goals, they may often be in conflict and different situations will activate them in different ways.

The present versus future self. One of the most common conflicts between self-states that people experience is the conflict between their present and their future self (here is a TedTalk on this). http://www.ted.com/talks/daniel_goldstein_the_battle_between_your_present_and_future_selfAlmost everyone can relate to this. Our current self wants the piece of cake, but our future self wants to be fit and trim. Our current self wants to be relaxed by a cool drag on a cigarette, but our future self does not want lung cancer. Our current self wants to take the day off and go on a vacation, but our future self does not want to face an annoyed boss or depleted bank account. As fellow PT blogger, A. David Redish articulates brilliantly in his book The Mind Within the Brain, the mind (of which the self as we are thinking about it is a part) is an action selection system that consists of many different subsystems that operate on different time scales. The most basic is the reflex system, which operates almost instantaneously. Another quick acting/reacting system is the emotional-Pavlovian response system. There is also, however, a deliberative system that extends the animal/human in time, simulating future situations and future costs and benefits. Because these systems compute action selection differently, then it is not at all uncommon to experience very different and conflicting self-states as a consequence. And, as any addict can attest, these systems can produce very different and highly conflicted self-states.

The sense of self-continuity across time is dependent on memory systems. I have been thinking of writing this blog for the last couple of weeks. How do I know this? Because I have memory systems that connects my current self to my past self. As anyone who has experienced amnesia, worked with a demented elder, or had an alcohol induced black out, if the memory system is knocked out, the self-system is greatly compromised. As I note in this blog, we have several memory systems that are relevant, including short and long term, as well as procedural, episodic and semantic. Crucial for understanding why we have so many different potential self-states is that these memory systems are influenced by many different things. For example, we code memories by emotional states. Thus, if you are in a happy mood, you remember positive events; in contrast, being in a negative mood results in being more likely to recall disappointments and failures. In addition, the memory system, as described here, organizes events based on themes and is heavily shaped by primacy, recency, and goal states. Because memories are encoded by emotion, traumas can result in very powerful shifts in memory systems, such that for some, they can be blocked out completely and for others, they can result in the chronic activation. PTSD occurs in some folks because of the inability of the memory system to effectively integrate and habituate to the trauma, which can then result in fairly dramatic changes to the self-state.

Psychodynamic Defense Mechanisms.

The autobiographical self, or ego, is a knowledge system that is organized by different forces. Most notably, it is inclined toward aligning information that is: 1) accurate and coherent; 2) consistent with existing structures; and 3) enhances the self, depicting it has good, right, and effective and  are some additional blogs on this topic). Because of the needs to see one’s self in this manner and to manage one’s impulses and the impressions that one forms in others, the human psyche comes equipped with filters that shift attention, block impulses, and rationalize events. These processes have been documented by psychodynamic theorists in great detail. Dissociative Identity Disorder represents perhaps the most extreme manifestations of these processes, such that aspects of the self are so “split off” or “compartmentalized” that not only is the person not conscious of them (which is common), but whole personalities can be built around them and then emerge.  

In sum, there are many forces that influence and shape our sense of self such that in retrospect is it no surprise that we all experience a multiplicity of self-states. In fact, with so many forces, it is almost a miracle that we have a sense of continuity at all! However, as Damasio notes, an experiential reference point is crucial for learning over time, and this, in addition to the capacity to integrate many streams of information at once, is likely why nature gave us experiential consciousness. And autobiographical consciousness becomes a stabilizing force when one realizes that they themselves are the audience that they are justifying their actions to as they engage in private speech. It is this sense of “I” that remains fairly constant across settings, and functions not unlike the executive of a company—the company is far larger and more divergent than she is, but she nevertheless remains a central control point. A quote from Carl Jung captures the emergence of this frame of reference brilliantly.

I was taking the long road to school…when suddenly for a single moment I had the overwhelming impression of having just emerged from a dense cloud. I knew all at once: I am myself!…Previously I had existed, too, but everything merely happened to me…Previously I had been willed to do this and that: now I willed. This experience seemed to me tremendously important and new: there was “authority” in me.

Many people, however, struggle to form a stable, healthy executive that serves as a coherent control system for the multiplicity of self-states that emerge as a function of shifting moods, biorhythms, roles situations, and relationships, and so on. Instead, they experience themselves as a collection of competing, incoherent parts, which can create much conflict, functional impairment, and distress. For these individuals, they need a form of psychotherapy that recognizes the multiplicity of self-states (e.g., see Parts Psychology by Jay Noricks) and allows them pathways to begin to weave together these parts of self into a more functioning whole.

 


 

Gregg Henriques, Ph.D., author of A New Unified Theory of Psychology, directs the Combined Clinical and School Psychology Doctoral Program at James Madison University. He is a licensed clinical psychologist with expertise in depression, suicide and the personality disorders. He has developed a new meta-theoretical system for psychology articulated in many professional journals, and is now applying that system to researching well-being, personality and social motivation, and he and his students are working on the development of a general system of psychotherapy. Henriques received his M.A. in Clinical/Community Psychology from UNC-Charlotte and his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Vermont. He also completed several years of post-doctoral training at the University of Pennsylvania under Aaron T. Beck exploring the effectiveness of various cognitive psychotherapy interventions for suicide and psychosis. Henriques teaches courses in personality theory, personality assessment, social psychology and integrative adult psychotherapy. Author of Theory of Knowledge.”

 

 

White fragility

Reblogged from https://users.drew.edu/~jlenz/brs.html

If you bristle at the term “White Fragility,” that’s white fragility

November 14, 2016 by Christian Piatt

“You hear the term “Black Lives Matter,” and it pisses you off. You think, “What about me? Doesn’t my life matter? Why do we have to say that black lives in particular matter? Makes it sound like theirs matter and mine doesn’t.”

You see a company or university going out of their way to recruit non-anglo and female candidates, and you feel overlooked, slighted. “But I have the same qualifications as they do!” You say. “Isn’t giving them that access because of their gender or race just a reversal of the kind of discrimination we’re supposed to be getting away from?”

You hear black people using the “N-word” and are put off by the fact that they can say it, but for some reason, you’re not allowed to.

You look for scholarships for your kid and realize they don’t meet the demographic requirements for many of them, despite-passing muster academically. You shake your head at banks who offer special loans to women- and minority-owned businesses. Your mouth hangs open in disbelief that the month of February – the whole month! – is dedicated to the celebration of black history.

You feel increasingly invisible, inconsequential, like you’re on the receiving end of the kind of denials and silencing you’ve been told is bad.

Welcome to your white fragility.

Then on top of it all, you find out there’s this new term that makes you sound brittle, weak, that suggests to you that you’re not allowed to have feelings about all of this. So “those people” can complain about being disenfranchised, but I can’t say anything when I feel like I’m being labeled in a way that’s judgmental of how I simply feel?

You can feel however you want. That’s a fundamental human reality. You can rage, cry, gnash your teeth day and night about the shifting systems of power under your feet.

Just don’t expect anyone other than people who look and think exactly like you to feel sorry for you.

Don’t like being called fragile? try being called “faggot” or “nigger” for a few years. Try being valued principally for how you look and for your sexual appeal before your intellect or other potential. Try turning on any sports channel and struggling to find anyone who looks like you playing, or opening your history book and feeling like you’re an outlier in a foreign territory.

Don’t like the sound of “black lives matter”? Try being systematically profiled, pulled out of your car or home, incarcerated and beaten because you fit a demographic that people in power believe inherently adds suspicion to anything you do.

Try being denied heath care or access to a loved one in a hospital.

Or being told you can’t speak or do any number of other jobs, simply because of the sexual organs you were born with.

Try being told you’d be better suited to do pick up some sort of trade, rather than pursuing your dream of becoming a lawyer.

Your world is changing, white people. And there will be times when you feel like you’re being treated unfairly. Sometimes, you’re right, too. I read a story about a white man involved in a car accident with a black woman in Chicago recently, who ended up being beaten by a group of nearby men for being “one of those white boy Trump supporters.” This is wrong, it should be called out as such, and the consequences should fit the crime.

Yes, some of it may actually be a swing too far for a bit, but bear in mind that, aside from the immediate effects you may see, there are invisible (to you at least) systems at work that have held people back, telling them they can’t ensuring that cycles of suppression, oppression and marginalization perpetuate the myth that, somehow poverty and laziness are cousins, or the insane fallacy that you are a self-made man.

So go have your tantrum. Scream at the wall and shake your fists in the air.  Then get on with your life. Be open to the possibility that your world has, in actuality, been revolving around you as the axis for a long, long time.

What’s more, the fact that this axis is shifting actually will be a good thing for all of us in the long term. It will be different. It may feel scary and uncertain. But just as black lives matter, so do black ideas, inventions, leadership and voices. Just as queer voices do, and women’s voices, those with different ability, identity and ethnicity.

If you let them, they might even make your life a little bit richer, opening up new opportunities and perspectives your anglo-centric imagination couldn’t grasp on its own.

“Cry out loud until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.”

I was reading a few articles at Patheos by Christian Piatt, founder of Milagro Christian Church in Pueblo, Colorado USA.(1)

He writes about dealing with some challenging social issues in “inner-city Portland” – issues with poor and homeless people, drug addicts, uninvited tenants:

“If ever there was a time when I felt like ministry was an act of complete vanity, this was it. I could just as well be the priest in Ecclesiastes, wailing to the heavens about the pointlessness of it all. Three people come to me; three people are turned away with little or nothing. Those at the margins of society – ominous, violent or unsavory as they may be – are threatened with forcible removal if they trespass on our sacred space.

I have no good news. If there is any, I am hopelessly blind to it. The system is broken, and we are broken with it. The religious systems have failed the people they claim to serve, and our social safety nets have holes large enough for lives to slip through, nearly undetected. So I wept bitter tears at my desk, threw a few things against the wall, packed up and drove to my house in the suburbs where my family waited for me.

I am not in the likeness of Christ today. Sometimes I wonder, for all of our studying, worshiping and evangelism, how many of us even ever catch a glimpse of what we’re really supposed to be about. For today, my only prayer is taken straight from Ecclesiastes:

Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”

Rebecca Trotter wrote a response to Piatt’s blog post (my emphasis in bold type):

I hope this doesn’t come out as trite – I certainly don’t mean it to be. But I’ve loved some pretty hopeless cases over the years and have come to believe that maybe fixing anything for anyone isn’t the point. I think we’re supposed to just love the best we can, without regard for results or appreciation or anything. Just love in order to learn to love the way God does. Just because that’s who we are – loving people. And then just trust that God provides the increase and the real power. And maybe the least of these really are like Jesus – not subject to being rescued or delivered from their suffering, but with a role to play the likes of which we can hardly imagine now.

She ends with a quote by the Christian mystic, Julian of Norwich

“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”

I’m jumping around a bit, but there is a sort of thread to all this – so bear with me:

(a) I remember well the controversy surrounding the Johannesburg Central Methodist Church Bishop Paul Verryn who, in attempting to live a Christ-centred life in support of thousands of Zimbabwean refugees, immigrants and the poor, fell foul of his own church laws and an ANC government seemingly hell-bent on assassinating both his character and work. See the interesting Jan 2010 article by Faranaaz Parker of the Mail & Guardian, which shows just how ugly things became for someone seeking to imitate Christ.

(b) I have a tatty old copy of The Discarded People: An Account of African Resettlement in South Africa by the late Cosmas Desmond, a Franciscan friar. The stories he relates are harrowing – an eyewitness account of the oppression and racist cruelty under Apartheid and its devastating effects on lives and communities.

So where am I going with these seemingly unrelated stories?

The “thread” is found  in the words of the Christian songwriter Michael Card, in his 1988 song Why:

For all who seek to love
A thorn is all the world has to give

This the heart of the matter. For Christian Piatt, for a Paul Verryn, for a Cosmas Desmond, all who in their own way seek to see Christ’s Kingdom come, there is the realization that Christ’s words remain as true now as when they were spoken two thousand years ago:

“My kingdom is not of this world.
If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders.
But now my kingdom is from another place.”

There is this tension between seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and accepting that no dominionist christian utopia is possible nor theologically justifiable. This is where Rebecca Trotter’s words are so important: there are no accolades, there are setbacks, failures. Our hearts at times fail us. People fail us. Our government or church, people we trust. But this is not the final word. At Golgotha, the place of the skull, Jesus cried out

“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) – itself a lament from Psalm 22.

In Matthew Poole’s Commentary there is a further exposition of Christ’s words:
My kingdom is not of this world; that is, I cannot deny but that I am the King of the Jews, but not in the sense they take it, not such a king as they look for in their Messiah; my kingdom is spiritual, over the hearts and minds of men, not earthly and worldly. And of this thou thyself mayest be convinced; for was there ever an earthly prince apprehended and bound for whom none of his subjects would take up arms? There is none of my disciples that takes up arms, or offereth to fight for me; which is a plain evidence, that I pretend to no kingly power in disturbance of the Roman government.

Researching this post I stumble upon a powerful sermon by Luke Powery, Associate Professor of Homiletics at Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina. The entire sermon is worth reading. Some excerpts:

“A cry of forsakenness. A cry of abandonment.”

“This loud cry declares that there is something wrong with the imperial system of the day. This loud cry says that there is something wrong with the religious system of the day. This expression of lament, according to Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann, basically declares “life is not right!” So when Jesus cries out he reveals his dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs. Jesus is put to death because of blasphemy and sedition. He represents another religious and political order as Messiah and King. His cry critiques the norm, what is normal, so the religious and political powers of the day attempt to kill the cry of Jesus. They not only want to put Jesus to death but they want to destroy those loud cries that come from the oppressed. Jesus cried out, in Mark, with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani? My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” “Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.” Jesus’s final melody is in the tune of a Psalm 22 loud cry of a lament, that same lament that one scholar says “danced and swayed” in the belly of the slave ships of the Middle Passage. What else can you do at the foot of the cross? What else can you do on a cross? But lament! My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

“So cry out. Cry out with a loud voice. Lift every voice. Let it resound loud as the rolling sea. Cry out loud until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream. Cry out loud until the wolf lies down with the lamb. Cry out loud until death and mourning are no more. Cry out loud until new systems and structures are put in place to protect the innocent and convict the guilty. Cry out loud until the “New Jim Crow” prison industrial complex is destroyed. Cry out loud for the Trayvon Martin’s of the world. Cry out loud for the Iraqi immigrant, Shaima Alawadi, who was killed in California, left to die next to a note that told her to go back to her own country. Cry out loud against hatred of any kind. Cry out loud for the poor and cry out loud against the system that keeps them poor. Cry out loud for the orphan. Cry out loud for the widow. Cry out loud for Jesus. Cry out loud to Jesus. If someone didn’t cry out, slavery would still be in existence. If someone didn’t cry out, the Jim Crow laws would not have been abolished. If someone didn’t cry out, blacks and women would have never received voting rights. If someone didn’t cry out, Duke would not be commemorating 50 years of its first black undergraduate students. If Jesus never cried out, the temple curtain would not have been torn. If Jesus never cried out, the centurion would still be spiritually blind. If Jesus never cried out, we wouldn’t have unmediated access to God. But because Jesus cried out, we can know that even lament is worship. Because Jesus cried out on the cross, we can learn that God will never leave us nor forsake us. If I ascend to heaven, God, my God, is there and if I make my bed in Sheol, God, my God, is there. So cry out, don’t drop out of the Christian race. Because when you cry out loud, you will learn “dominion belongs to the Lord” and “proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, saying that he has done it.” Because when you cry out loud, God will take the thing that has been hurting and hindering and harming you and do just like God did with the veil of the temple, and tear it up from top to bottom.”

– From the sermon “My God, My God, Why?” preached by the Rev. Dr. Luke A. Powery on Good Friday, March 29, 2013, at Duke Chapel, Durham, North Carolina.


 

Notes and further reading:

(1) Vanity of Vanities: Does Ministry Really Matter?
 http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christianpiatt/2013/08/vanity-of-vanities-does-ministry-really-matter/
and

When Ministers Lose Their Faith
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christianpiatt/2013/07/when-ministers-lose-their-faith/

Paul-Verryn
https://mg.co.za/article/2010-01-29-paul-verryn-what-went-wrong

and

http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Methodists-pull-plug-on-Joburg-church-slum-20141228)

Michael Card
Michael is a graduate of Western Kentucky University, where he earned his bachelors and master degrees in biblical studies. Michael has also received honorary PhD’s in music and Christian education from Whitfield Seminary and Philadelphia Biblical University. Michael lives in Franklin, Tennessee, where, with a group of close friends, he pursues racial reconciliation and neighborhood renewal. He and his wife, Susan, have four children and one grandchild. http://www.michaelcard.com/biography

My Kingdom is Not of This World
John 18:36

The error of Dominion Theology
Dominion Theology is a group of Christian political ideologies that seek to institute a nation governed by Christians based on Christian understandings of biblical law. Extents of rule and ways of achieving governing authority are varied. For example, Dominion Theology can include theonomy, but does not necessarily involve advocating Mosaic law as the basis of government. The label is applied primarily toward groups of Protestants in the United States.

Prominent adherents of these ideologies are otherwise theologically diverse, including Calvinist Christian Reconstructionism, Charismatic/Pentecostal Kingdom Now theology, New Apostolic Reformation and others. Most of the contemporary movements labeled Dominion Theology arose in the 1970s from religious movements reasserting aspects of Christian nationalism.

Luke Powery, Associate Professor of Homiletics at Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina

https://chapel.duke.edu/sites/default/files/My%20God%20My%20God%20Why%203-29-13.pdf