Sunday, January 14, 2007

I attended church today

I went to a Unitarian Universalist church today. It was my first time. I wasn't sure to expect, but when I got there I had to remind myself that it mostly be elderly people as I walked in with a greybeard.

The service was great. The female's pastor's female partner (age 60 or so) sat next to me. It began with hymns. Then the floor was given to anyone who wished to voice "a joy or concern." One woman came forward with the news that her friend's 13-year old daughter had collapsed and died rather randomly. The next woman came up to say that she was very happy, somewhat randomly. The next guy came up to speak on Bush's upcoming surge. I laughed my way through his short rant because it made me happy. Then we lit a last "candle of concern" for the "unspoken" and "unspeakable" concerns in the world.

The sermon was good. It was mostly on Martin Luther King, Jr. and a Unitarian martyr of the period, James Reed. It ended on the subject if money, a word that, like God, Unitarians like to avoid. She urged us to spend our money wisely, because every time we spend our money, we change the world. It ended with the following quote:

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.... The chain reaction of evil — hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

Exactly my thoughts on the matter. If we had resolved the Israel-Palestine conflict by pressuring Israel to concede the West Bank this entire terrorism problem wouldn't exist. It's not too late. It requires sacrifice. That this entire method for dealing with the problem is seemingly ignored by the mainstream drives me nuts.

By the way, I encourage you to check out Martin Luther's page of quotes and perhaps check out his Letter to Birmingham out of respect for his memory. He was surprisingly intelligent.

Power properly understood is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose. It is the strength required to bring about social, political and economic change. ... Now a lot of us are preachers, and all of us have our moral convictions and concerns, and so often have problems with power. There is nothing wrong with power if power is used correctly. You see, what happened is that some of our philosophers got off base. And one of the great problems of history is that the concepts of love and power have usually been contrasted as opposites — polar opposites — so that love is identified with a resignation of power, and power with a denial of love.
It was this misinterpretation that caused Nietzsche, who was a philosopher of the will to power, to reject the Christian concept of love. It was this same misinterpretation which induced Christian theologians to reject the Nietzschean philosophy of the will to power in the name of the Christian idea of love. Now, we've got to get this thing right. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love. And this is what we must see as we move on. What has happened is that we have had it wrong and confused in our own country, and this has led Negro Americans in the past to seek their goals through power devoid of love and conscience.

Now, I don't think Nietzsche thought love and power were polar opposites. Quite the opposite: power is required to love. He calls into question the sincerity of the love of the weak. After all:

"What is good? All that heightens the feeling of power in man, the will to power, power itself. What is bad? All that is born of weakness."

To this end we now need many preparatory courageous human beings who cannot very well leap out of nothing—any more than out of the sand and slime of present-day civilization and metropolitanism: human beings who know how to be silent, lonely, resolute, and content and constant in invisible activities; human beings who are bent on seeking in all things for what in them must be overcome; human beings distinguished as much by cheerfulness, patience, unpretentiousness, and contempt for all great vanities as by magnanimity in victory and forbearance regarding the small vanities of the vanquished; human beings whose judgment concerning all victors and the share of chance in every victory and fame is sharp and free; human beings with their own festivals, their own working days, and their own periods of mourning, accustomed to command with assurance but instantly ready to obey when that is called for, equally proud, equally serving their own cause in both cases; more endangered human beings, more fruitful human beings, happier beings!

Violence and oppression are far from the result of the will to power, nor likely involved in the will to power. The best path towards power has always been a very different method. Sincere magnanimity is the most powerful position to take. Period. It must be taken from a position of power, although one might say that Jesus died magnanimously. And Nietzsche would have lavished powerful praise upon King for his efforts, I imagine.

"What is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil." -- Beyond Good and Evil.

UPDATE: I forgot to add that it was refreshing to talk to these people. All of them were highly educated. Most of them well understand economics (one woman and I discussed the economic effects of war as she brought up the fact that it destroys reources) and philosophy. Nearly of all them were white-collar professionals; there were a couple people from Intel, a retired engineer, a journalist. Attending a Universalist Unitarian church is a good way to network.


Lynda Walldez said...

Hey thanks for the advice and comments. :D You are very insightful.

undergroundman said...

Thanks, you should respond to them. ;)