What Does Democracy Look Like? Not likely the Old Testament Thank You

I attended Occupy Denver’s forum “What Does Democracy Look Like?” this weekend to hear activist scholars of considerable repute throw in their two cents. The first day was a splendid gathering, except where a curated discussion of intentional community lapsed into theology. Yes, a distillation of mostly white reform literature (Fanon was dismissed as wayward) yielded three steps for The Way Forward: Egypt, Exodus and the Promised Land. Yep.

By which he meant: 1) Recognize your enslavement, 2) have the courage to leave all for an uncertain fate in the desert, and 3) seek/develop/discover your own promised land.

Even as metaphor it’s embarassing. Enlightened salvation from Old Testament mythology? No thank you, and for that matter, up yours! Unfortunately the language I used was less restrained, but his religious offensiveness had been compounding. He’d begun his presentation admonishing listeners that transformation begins with the self and so he’d already unmasked himself as spiritual. Worse, a monotheist.

Egypt: I’ll come back to “systems of oppression” in a moment.

The Exodus: a myth, it didn’t happen, even Hebrew scholars now agree with the historical and archeological records.

As to the Promised Land: that was a real estate scheme to backdate a deed, offered as divinely conceived proof of landlordship. The same title is being waived around to dispossess Palestinians today.

But really, isn’t the exodus-to-promised-land malarkey at the very foundation of Western Civilization’s expansion problem?! Are we really all entitled to virgin land? As if earth hasn’t been continuously and fully inhabited since before agrarian civilization, before monotheism was conceived to impose inequity, and justify slave-wages, interest and rent. The craddle of exploitation, that was Egypt.

But can we run from Egypt? The remedy staring us in the face, from which common men are deliberatly destracted, conspiring to emancipate Egypt, is to rid ourselves of the oppressor sociopaths. In practical terms understood more clearly by the better educated before us, we must strangle Egypt’s kings with the entrails of its priests.

I don’t care how academic your garb, when you tell your flock to reapply themselves to the sacred, and your “sacred” is biblical, supposing to transcend nature, you’re a priest.

Thank you WDDLL organizers but I do not go to church and I resent when devious means are employed to bring it to me. Actually those priests are the worst, they’re missionaries! If we’ve learned one thing as we discuss mankind’s break from his mille millenia of sustainable existance, resist the colonizer. Conquored peoples ourselves, we can only wish that indigenous peoples could have given Western missionaries the reception they deserved, and it’s no less true today: fire.

Alas as a result I heard a number of attendees today praise their faith. To each his own, but unhelpful. If you have to evangelize you’re a liability because nonsense is infectuous, especially as education levels recede. Can others entrust you with the battleplan while you commune with the adversary?

There’s a wonderful scene in AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD, Werner Herzog’s dramatic depiction of conquistadors wreaking havoc in the Amazon. Following a coup among the greedy Spaniards, the wife of the abruptly deposed leader appeals to the mission’s priest, as her last resort to restore order. The priest, her ally only moments before, turns on her thus: “Her ladyship must know that the church always stands on the side of the strong.”

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Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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