Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Apocalyptic Pacificsm

As mentioned before, thorubos last weekend discussed John Howard Yoder's The Politics of Jesus. I do not claim to fully understand Yoder's position, and I am still processing what he means and what I think of that, but here's one thought, anyway. (be sure to look at the sites of other thorubos-ers for more discussion of themes in the book.)

I have also been all about David Dark's Everyday Apocalypse of late. I'm a big fan of Mr Dark, and his idea of apocalyptic art. Apocalyptic, basically, tells us the truth about ourselves and our situation as sinful people. It subverts the powers of consumerism and selfishness in our culture. It offers surprising hope - the hope that comes from standing against those powers and affirming humanity. I think this is a great idea, and most of my favorite art is apocalyptic.

My friend Scott pointed out, though, when he read the book, that Dark doesn't spend much time applying this idea of apocalyptic beyond aesthetics. If apocalyptic art is in concert with the Bible (and I think it is) then it should inspire us to live in an apocalyptic way. I think that Yoder is trying to offer a model of apocalyptic living. Yoder presents Jesus life as that same kind of apocalyptic - turning our expectations on their heads:

Here at the cross is the man who loves his enemies, the man whose righteousness is greater than that of the Pharisees, who being rich became poor, who gives his robe to those who took his cloak, who prays for those who despitefully use him.

So maybe Yoder's idea of being radically pacifist - generous and selfless and nonviolent - is in concert with the shape of the Gospel that David Dark and many artists have pointed to. Maybe it's a part of living apocalyptically, of being salt and light. It seems crazy, but I think that's the point.


jystewart said...

My introduction to Yoder came from that same Mr. Dark, who pressed a copy of "Body Politics" into my hands late one night after Sarah had just come off stage. He's definitely a fan, and I'm sure he'd appreciate your reading.

As I read Everyday Apocalypse, there is quite a lot in there about living out our day to day lives, and I very much doubt that Dave intended to draw a line between the aesthetic content and the political/personal content.

As we see Radiohead uncovering the machine there's a reminder that we must free ourselves from acting in the manner of the machine. When we see the Simpsons using humour to expose foibles of contemporary society we're reminded that the pen is mightier than the sword. When we call the jokes disarming that needn't be merely a metaphor.

Very glad to hear more discussion of Dave's book. Hopefully a lot of people will be turning out to hear him speak at the FFM in April.

Bob K said...

I responded to your post in my blog so you might want to go there to take a look.

bethany said...

Thanks for your comment Mr Stewart, and good point. I didn't mean to imply that Everday Apocalypse doesn't include the connection to apocalyptic living - it surely does. And when it isn't explicit it is implicit. So my reading may be more at fault than Mr Dark's writing.