Category Archives: Abuse of Power
People are made in the image of God, our Story tells us. Consequently, the transcendent, ineffable, Divine image is the deepest and truest parts of us. When we see a lesser trait of our humanity… a broken part, a wounded part… a foolish part, we tend to think we have seen something deep. But in fact, we’ve only seen a veneer overlaying the deepest and trues parts of us.
When we “name” or “label” those parts as “us” or when we label one another with this name, we diminish the deeper parts of us by making this ill-considered part of ourselves and others as the self we relate to.
Once we do this, we have reduced something transcendent and wonderful to a shadow of it’s truest form. And usually, we name one another (and even ourselves) something negative. The name we give doesn’t reflect the truest and deepest nature of our humanity, but it sticks… and it limits how well we relate with on another… and how well we can heed the teachings of Jesus about loving neighbor and enemy. Continue reading
Theoretical physicists are imagining all kinds of wild mathematical formulations to explain the most fundamental nature of reality. When they do, they turn around and test their equations with super-colliders, and it turns out… they’re right! How wild is that? In this world they’re revealing to us, the map of common sense doesn’t explain reality as it is.
The teachings of Jesus, the saints, and sages do the same. They give us descriptions of reality as it is, that make no common sense. When Jesus tells us to love our enemies, and walk away from the “getting-a-win” way of relating to them, it makes us vulnerable, unsafe, and it goes against every survival instinct we have… so we tend to ignore Jesus.
But maybe it’s our common sense that is skewed, not the ancient wisdom. Continue reading
We continue talking about why it’s so difficult for us to hear and heed the teaching of Jesus on power dynamics. Our instincts run so counter to his teaching!
Today we do a thought experiment together, and see how our ability to use our imagination is profoundly different when we are dealing with a friend and with a rival. For the teachings of Jesus to make sense, it will require we grow in our ability to extend the same moral imagination to rivals that we do to our friends. Continue reading
The idea of seeing ourselves as part of a whole rather than separate individuals has many implications if we would follow Jesus’ teaching about loving our neighbors and our enemies.
If we Westerners would love our enemies, the Muslim states come to mind. If we see them as a “them,” and us as an “us,” well it’s pretty hard not to see a loss for us as a victory for them, and visa versa. However, if we see them as part of a whole, of which we are a part, it become clear pretty quickly, that serving Muslim interests serves Western interests. Have a listen, I’ll show you how.
The same is true between the upper and lower classes, between friends and family members in conflict, neighbors, churches, and so forth. When we see the whole of which we are part, it changes how our instincts inform our actions.
And it makes it possible for us to grasp the teachings of Jesus about loving self, neighbor, and enemy. Continue reading
We ignore the teachings of Jesus, Paul, and saints and sages from several religious traditions. Consequently, we are rooted in a worldview of separateness. We do not see ourselves as one with God, or one with other human beings. Our instincts and experience insist that you are you, and I am me.
But the same is true of our emerging view of the universe. Our instincts and experience tell us that matter is matter and energy is energy. But Einstein’s theory of relativity, and subsequent experimental verification tell us that it is only our descriptions that make things different. In fact the essence of the universe is a oneness.
Jesus’ and Paul’s teachings do the same. They tell us we are oneness. However, we tend to listen to the common sense of our instinct and experience. As such, we live in worlds of competition and pecking orders.
And these become so normative, we don’t even see them as the abuse of power. They just seem like the way of the world. We wish it could be better, but this is the world we live in.
Jesus didn’t think so. Continue reading
As we begin to think about why power is so abused among us, a starting point is our very view of reality. We tend to think of ourselves as separate from one another, separate beings, separate entities, organized into separate categories.
We feel this in our guts, so it must be true, right?
Maybe not. Maybe our sense of separateness is a function of a story we tell ourselves, more than it is an objective reality. In this lesson we’ll think about the teachings of Jesus and Paul, as well as the scientific framework of Einstein.
Maybe we’re not a two-ness. Maybe we are a one-ness. And if so, that will change the power dynamics between us considerably. Continue reading
In this introductory I tell a story about speaking to our teens about sexual power. In the Bible belt, sex curriculum is limited to “abstinence only,” and teachers who wouldn’t all choose to teach this way are forced to. Consequently our best efforts don’t always go into teaching sexuality to our kids.
As the lesson proceeds, we’ll see other ways we unconsciously abuse our power and dominate one another. But sex seemed a good place to start. Continue reading