Friday, March 06, 2009

Empires, Mercy, and Obedience

Back to Elliott's Arrogance of Nations, we are now up to the chapter on CLEMENTIA, or mercy.  Mercy if you understand politics is the prerogative of those who have power.  In this case the Emperor.  It is the Emperor who has the ability to show those who are truly powerless and submissive mercy and it is up to him to determine what is and what is not merciful.  It is nice to be the one in charge of making these decisions.  Now it is easy to see how Paul's proclamation of God’s mercy as the public manifestation of God’s Justice could be offensive.  Because ultimately the purpose of mercy is that for those who have received such mercy they are supposed to be so moved as to respond in obedience.  But according to Paul all the world – not just the Judeans- is accountable to God.  But the subtext to all this is that it is the losers who receive mercy.

So who were the losers in Rome during the time of Paul's letter.  Well Elliott would argue, based on a number of things, including the "in chrestus" expulsion, the recent return of the homeless and jobless Judeans, and from the perspective of mercy coming from the Emperor, that the Judeans were indeed the losers.  For Paul if the Romans buy into this form of thinking then it naturally would beg the question of whether Israel stumbled so as to fall.  Paul's task is to get the Romans to be able to see past the surface of history, to see that mercy comes from the justice of God and not from throwing your lot in with the Empire. 

Now this is a very cursory attempt to summarize Elliott, his chapter, and his book, is much richer than my feeble attempts at summary make it seem.


Anonymous said...

Obedience to what?

The Western death machine manifest as the then nascent patriarchal institutional church and its drive to total power and control.

Empires are about massive force and mega-deaths.

Mercy is for those that can somehow stay in their sympathetic feeling-radiance with all other beings.

What do you really know about "Paul" and the psycho-dynamics of empire and history 2000 years ago, or at any other time, including 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon?

It is all conjecture every last bit of it.

You cant even account for your own appearance here in the form of your current body-mind.

How/why did all of the paradoxical forces of cosmic history conspire to coalesce into your current-time body? The same forces that create and explode entire galaxies for an afternoons entertainment, and which also murder 300,000 people in a Tsunami (try and explain that).

And yet you presume to know all about "Paul" and his influence on the Romans--and the psycho-dynamics of empire and thus all of Western HIS-story and all of its horrors.

Which by the way was and still is about the war against the pattern that IS Woman or Shakti or The Divine Love-Bliss-Feeling-Radiance.

Or simple incarnate feeling-happiness.

What if the Queen of Heaven was given equal influence, honour and respect in Western HIS-story.

The Queen of Heaven IS YOU or your native RADIANT STATE before and prior to you naively buying into HIS horror story.

Why cant women be priests?

Why would any sane women want to be a priest in an institution which has always been relentlessly at war with what SHE IS in her primal state.

metalepsis said...

Sorry if my post was a little muddled.

at least in this context, obedience is a response to mercy, since mercy was given by the emperor, then one ought to naturally be obedient to him.

I know a little about Paul and Empire, but you are right in that my knowledge is limited to texts and a reconstruction of the history behind those texts. My knowledge is not "full" and in light of time and space rather limited.

It may be conjecture, but I think it is reasoned conjecture at least within the framework that I am describing it.

I don't know all about Paul, I know a little about Paul, I have spent some time studying about him. But just because I can not give a metaphysical account for my being here in the form of my current body-mind, doesn't mean I can't conjecture about the happenings of history. But alas we may disagree.

Some of your questions might be better answered by a priest or the pope.

But thanks for your comment, and an introduction to your beliefs about the queen of heaven.