What religion is most dominant in the world? Is Islam on the rise accompanied by its US shadow Islamaphobia? Is Christianity flying high with curving right wing? Is it atheism? Buddhism ? No. Truthfully, it’s the religion of violence: our belief that war (with Afghanistan… Japan… Iran… or___ _blank) will bring peace. A belief, worldwide as far as I can see, that military strength brings security. Even Quakers succumb to it. “Be tough.” “Get the upper hand.”
I first understood this idea from Walter Wink, who died last year. He explains how Redemptive Violence is the dominant religion in our society. Redemptive Violence is the belief that when someone offends us, violence towards them is appropriate and can heal the victim. How are we taught that violence saves us?
Most of us watched TV starting at a young age. Cartoons and sit-coms are quite violent. The average child who has had 40,000 hours of screen time by age 17, has viewed some 15,000 murders. What congregation can hold a candle to that inculcation into the Dominant religion. No wonder so many of our 17 year olds easily register for the military. Now we have MP3 and dramas that sell violence as pleasurable and entertaining. They want to fight villains like Darth Vadar and Popeye.
Everyone remembers Popeye the sailorman? Wink reveals the plot, “In a typical segment, Bluto abducts a screaming and kicking Olive Oyl, Popeye’s girlfriend. When Popeye attempts to rescue her, the massive Bluto beats his diminutive opponent to a pulp, while Olive Oyl helplessly wrings her hands. At the last moment, as our hero oozes to the floor, and Bluto is trying, in effect, to rape Olive Oyl, a can of spinach pops from Popeye’s pocket and spills into his mouth. Transformed by this gracious infusion of power, he easily demolishes the villain and rescues his beloved. The format never varies. Neither party ever gains any insight or learns from these encounters. They never sit down and discuss their differences. Repeated defeats do not teach Bluto to honor Olive Oyl’s humanity, and repeated pummellings do not teach Popeye to swallow his spinach before the fight.”
So the US drones on a similar trajectory as Popeye (or are we Bluto?). We conquer Germany, and then fascism rises its head again. We fight Al Queda in one country and then invade another country endlessly fighting around the world like Popeye from one episode to another. We appear to vanquish the enemy, but violence never brings us peace. It’s delusionary. Wink again, “Our origins are divine, since we are made from a god, but…We are the outcome of deicide.” Even our religion, the death penalty of Jesus, is infused with murder. This Domination Religion is found everywhere.
How is it that this Autumn seems so gorgeous in the midst of living Under Domination? By Domination system I don’t mean exactly apartheid regime. It’s a more subtle form of mind occupation, it’s the ocean of violence and the acceptance of violence all around. It’s bittersweet to see such beauty in the world of Domination. The wind tussles a yellow leaf back and forth over the river’s edge. A seagull soars from a bridgepost and cuts spirals in the sky. Wildlife seems so tame to me after absorbing the Pillars of Violence humans live and breathe. We are savage in our violence. The wind moans through the copse of trees, and despite the stiff breeze the yellow and red-tipped leaves hold onto the dancing branches for dear life.
“I saw also that there was an ocean of darkness and death, but an infinite ocean of light and love, which flowed over the ocean of darkness.” G Fox 1680s