Must Reads on Interfaith Violence Responses?

StevePame

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I have a student doing a summer school project. They want to write on the way different faiths discuss the use of violence against governments.

From the varied faith traditions of the members here, what would you consider the “must reads” for a 15-year old doing a comparative essay on this topic? Texts need to be in English.

Thanks for your help.
 

Cino

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I don't understand what is meant by "violence against governments" - war between nation states, trade sanctions, punitive treaties, that kind of thing? Or rather civil wars, armed insurrections, revolutions?
 

Thomas

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Ow, tricky, from a Roman Catholic point of view.

Reference from history is rare, as really from about the 6th century on, the Church increasingly becomes part of the Establishment.

In contemporary times, you have 'Liberation Theology' focussed on South America. I wouldn't advise a 15-year-old to read the theologians or the theological debate, though ... you'd want a 'Liberation Theology for Dummies' or 'Made Simple' ... I'm not sure where you'd find a simple view?

In short the RCC has always been against the use of violence against the state. The RCC is institutionally hierarchical, so is always deeply suspicious of any movement of 'the people' against 'the establishment' because they see themselves as an 'establishment' (THE Establishment, the Archetypal hierarchy).

Cardinal Ratzinger opposed Liberation Theology as a Marxist interpretation of the Gospel. Pope Francis was against it, then changed, and now endorses it in principle, on the basis that the Gospel is socialist, it's Marxist before Marx, or maybe Marx is the gospel with God stripped out?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Lutheran) was anti-Nazi, but the Church was institutionally neutral (whereas the priesthood was not) — the Jesuits were on the list to be dealt with once the 'Jewish Problem' had been 'solved'.

The Church's stance towards the Nazis was shaped by the lesson of Rome's decision to excommunicate Elizabeth I. As a policy it backfired, because now the Church had taken a stance against the Crown, Catholics could be executed not for heresy (which the population had grown tired of) but for treason, a state crime, which the public in its anti-invasion fervour was only too happy to embrace. The number of Catholics killed during Elizabeth I's reign escalated significantly, as to be Catholic was de facto against the Crown — there was no theological defence. It was assumed Hitler would simply add Catholics to the Jews if the Church declared an obligation on Catholics to morally resist Nazism.

Any more help I can offer, let me know.
 

StevePame

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Ow, tricky, from a Roman Catholic point of view.

Reference from history is rare, as really from about the 6th century on, the Church increasingly becomes part of the Establishment.

In contemporary times, you have 'Liberation Theology' focussed on South America. I wouldn't advise a 15-year-old to read the theologians or the theological debate, though ... you'd want a 'Liberation Theology for Dummies' or 'Made Simple' ... I'm not sure where you'd find a simple view?

In short the RCC has always been against the use of violence against the state. The RCC is institutionally hierarchical, so is always deeply suspicious of any movement of 'the people' against 'the establishment' because they see themselves as an 'establishment' (THE Establishment, the Archetypal hierarchy).

Cardinal Ratzinger opposed Liberation Theology as a Marxist interpretation of the Gospel. Pope Francis was against it, then changed, and now endorses it in principle, on the basis that the Gospel is socialist, it's Marxist before Marx, or maybe Marx is the gospel with God stripped out?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Lutheran) was anti-Nazi, but the Church was institutionally neutral (whereas the priesthood was not) — the Jesuits were on the list to be dealt with once the 'Jewish Problem' had been 'solved'.

The Church's stance towards the Nazis was shaped by the lesson of Rome's decision to excommunicate Elizabeth I. As a policy it backfired, because now the Church had taken a stance against the Crown, Catholics could be executed not for heresy (which the population had grown tired of) but for treason, a state crime, which the public in its anti-invasion fervour was only too happy to embrace. The number of Catholics killed during Elizabeth I's reign escalated significantly, as to be Catholic was de facto against the Crown — there was no theological defence. It was assumed Hitler would simply add Catholics to the Jews if the Church declared an obligation on Catholics to morally resist Nazism.

Any more help I can offer, let me know.
Thank you for this, Thomas. At this point I’m trying to capture a broad list to help this student, but can then narrow things down as they begin to figure out their thesis. This is a two-term summer course so they have until August to submit. I’m intrigued where the student takes this as they approached me and said they knew what they wanted to write on already, on only the third day of summer term!

At only 15, they’re already more advanced in their critical thinking than a lot of my 18-year old students.
 

StevePame

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I don't understand what is meant by "violence against governments" - war between nation states, trade sanctions, punitive treaties, that kind of thing? Or rather civil wars, armed insurrections, revolutions?
Good question. They’re still fleshing this out. My initial reaction is they’re interested in civil wars/insurrections and what to do if a leader/government is oppressing a people or limiting their freedoms (including religious freedoms). As we discussed context, the student mentioned the render to Caesar what is Caesar’s passage and the one from Romans about having everyone be subjected to the governing authority. They were curious what other faith traditions say in those situations.
 

wil

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I think there is a difference between church rhetoric and actual responses from believers.

As far as I know there are protestors, law enforcement, elected officials and bureaucrats in and from every religion.

I wouldn't know where to start but I like you admire the level of interest and the topic.and (TWO YEARS) I hope.i live long enough to see the results this research!
 

Cino

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A potentially interesting spin on the topic: Buddhadassa Bhikkhu, a Thai Buddhist monk who was... uncompromising and nonconforming to a degree. He was influential to a group of revolutionaries in Thailand in 1932. Remarkable because in Thailand, Buddhism is state-sponsored and a pillar of the status quo.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhadasa

His translated works are mainly concerned with Buddhist meditation and philosophy, you have to read carefully to see past the Boomer generation translator's sensibilities that sanitized the material, especially his "Dharma Socialism".

Another lead in Southeast Asia might be the "Buddhist Crisis" of South Vietnam. Here is a wiki page on one of the monks who self-immolated in public in that time.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thích_Quảng_Đức
 

Thomas

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Hi Steve —

I've had a quick look on Liberation Theology and nothing useful's come up. I was thinking of the actions rather than the theologising, I met three brothers who were in the thick of it and they were telling us stories.

People live in vast shanty-towns, and they don't technically own the land they're on. So the govt wants to build a shopping mall, and summarily drives them off.

The clergy, and monks especially, would organise squats and take up the case of the shanty-town dwellers in the courts, as there is allowance in law for someone living unchallenged on a property for X-number of years was given the rights to that little estate.

So I was thinking of on-the-ground, local clergy v the state activities, rather than the refined and abstract issues raised by theology and socialism.

Basically, the church was running free and pro-active legal aide.
 

StevePame

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A potentially interesting spin on the topic: Buddhadassa Bhikkhu, a Thai Buddhist monk who was... uncompromising and nonconforming to a degree. He was influential to a group of revolutionaries in Thailand in 1932. Remarkable because in Thailand, Buddhism is state-sponsored and a pillar of the status quo.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhadasa

His translated works are mainly concerned with Buddhist meditation and philosophy, you have to read carefully to see past the Boomer generation translator's sensibilities that sanitized the material, especially his "Dharma Socialism".

Another lead in Southeast Asia might be the "Buddhist Crisis" of South Vietnam. Here is a wiki page on one of the monks who self-immolated in public in that time.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thích_Quảng_Đức
Thanks for the recommendation!
 

StevePame

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Hi Steve —

I've had a quick look on Liberation Theology and nothing useful's come up. I was thinking of the actions rather than the theologising, I met three brothers who were in the thick of it and they were telling us stories.

People live in vast shanty-towns, and they don't technically own the land they're on. So the govt wants to build a shopping mall, and summarily drives them off.

The clergy, and monks especially, would organise squats and take up the case of the shanty-town dwellers in the courts, as there is allowance in law for someone living unchallenged on a property for X-number of years was given the rights to that little estate.

So I was thinking of on-the-ground, local clergy v the state activities, rather than the refined and abstract issues raised by theology and socialism.

Basically, the church was running free and pro-active legal aide.
Thank you. I’ll still share this with the student. Part of the exercise is refining their argument, so even if the theology doesn’t articulate it, the actions on the ground may be something they use in their argument.

This is the first time the department has allowed this sweeping scale of an assignment so it is a learning experience for all of us :)
 

stranger

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Steve, this is my favorite story from the book of Chuang Tzu. Not sure if it would be applicable here or not, but thought I would offer it. (Warning, the ending is not to be taken literally.)

https://www.sjsu.edu/people/james.lindahl/courses/Phil70A/s3/swordssm.pdf

There are other writings from the Tao which seem to indicate that violence should only be used when there is no other choice. The Tao, however, is impartial and could be used by soldier and farmer alike.
 

StevePame

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Steve, this is my favorite story from the book of Chuang Tzu. Not sure if it would be applicable here or not, but thought I would offer it. (Warning, the ending is not to be taken literally.)

https://www.sjsu.edu/people/james.lindahl/courses/Phil70A/s3/swordssm.pdf

There are other writings from the Tao which seem to indicate that violence should only be used when there is no other choice. The Tao, however, is impartial and could be used by soldier and farmer alike.
Thanks for the recommendation!
 
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