Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Christian Music and the War in Heaven


Christian music can be so insipid, so tame, so limited in its expression of the whole range of human emotion and experience. So musically weak. But it also points me to God and a deeper experience of love, which is the only thing I care about.

This song however is not insipid and it inspires we greatly. As sung by Noel Richards, from around 1994. My only issue is the gendering of God, which has historically been such an excuse for the denigration of women, but we'll overlook it on this one occasion:
The Lord is a warrior
We will march with Him
The Lord is a warrior
Leading us to win

Waken the warrior spirit
Army of God arise
Challenge the powers of darkness
There must be no compromise
We shall attack their strongholds
Our hands are trained for war
We shall advance the Kingdom
For the victory belongs to God

Our God is awesome in power
Scatters His enemies
Our God is mighty in bringing
The powerful to their knees
He has put on His armour
He is prepared for war
Mercy and justice triumph
When the Lion of Judah roars

Many Christians love singing stuff like this. How many of us want to experience, and live, a love that is genuinely as fierce as this? Personally, I'm up for it.




Do you know what it means to have hands trained for war? I have no idea what you've been up to in the last few years. Me, I've been learning how to fight. And I call you all to the war.

But perhaps let us be clear what I am fighting for. My religion is love and that trumps, in every way and every time, doctrine and tradition. It's not that these things have no value, but the law of love supercedes them every time. My single obsession is to experience reality and to learn to love love with everything I am. I don't particularly need to believe anything to do this, reality exists (of that much I am certain) it doesn't need me to believe in it. This actually draws from Christianity, Buddhism and science and is essentially progressive Christianity in action. (I am not an evangelical, I am a progressive Christianity.)

Elements of Christianity, particularly the person and pain of the Christ, are my "current working model" which is an approach based on rational scepticism and the scientific method. What I would add, without I think too much pride I think, is that if you get to know me, and see how I live, my "current working model" is working out damn fine thank you very much...

So I seek and aspire to fight for love. I seek to fight for the oppressed, the lonely and the hurting, and in large part at the moment that seems to mean those hurt and oppressed by modern Christianity! Which is a tragedy that breaks my heart and makes me so angry. And then my Christian friends get angry that I am angry. And that hurts.

It is worth adding a further footnote about the language of war, because it makes some people very uncomfortable when used in a religious context. This is understandable but I still believe it is appropriate. Appropriate not because of religious beliefs but because of the reality of being alive and seeing how people are treated! It's not a war we started, or even want to be in, but if you genuinely care about people you must respond to the call.

The war I see is the exact same war the Social Justice Warriors fight, and boy am I smug that we got our enemies calling us Social Justice Warriors. Too damn right! The only weapon worth fighting with, the only weapon worth having, is love. Look at what is happening particularly in America with the hate directed towards gay and transgender people, the regular killing of young black men, and so on. The same things happen here and in the rest of the world too, there is a genuine struggle for life against "forces of evil" (personified in individuals and understandable as an abstract movement of bad ideas). I am not at war with people, I seek to love people, I am at war with bad ideas and the hateful actions that are the consequence of those ideas.

I understand the fear and distaste for warlike language. I still strive to understand what it means to be a warrior, with real warlike capacities inasmuch as it's possible for these concepts to have any real meaning, the better to be able to support the cause of love. Ultimately, and gradually, yes I believe the rule of genuine love can and must be imposed by force. However, let's rightly understand what that means. The force I refer to here is merely the legitimate exclusion from voluntary social structures of anything that isn't love. As those social structures become clearly better, and larger (therefore more powerful - but power being merely a side-effect and not the intention or goal), people will not be able to tolerate exclusion and be forced to love. That is a path fraught with difficulty and danger, genuinely, but I do not believe it to be an unnavigable path.

One of the tangible things I have done in the last few years to "learn how to fight" is train in Krav Maga for six months with the Krav Maga Defence Academy. Krav Maga is a non spiritually pretentious martial art for self defence, based on the principle that the best defence is to ensure your attacker is not able to get back up again for a while. In essence it teaches the ancient and noble art of street fighting. I am so grateful for the lessons I learned, the most important of which have nothing to do with physical violence.

Krav Maga taught me how to manage, and channel, a great deal of aggression without fear or losing control, something that is useful and powerful in a personality utterly unrelated to physical violence. The specific practical technique I learned that has stayed with me (I am generally physically inept) is how to punch hard, fast and repeatedly. I've never had to use it, but knowing I can allows me to be confident in situations that used to scare me a great deal. I feel that these are both very good reasons to appreciate and be grateful for those who taught me.

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