Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Turn the other cheek?

Been reading Brian McLaren's latest book-Secret Message of Jesus (absolute gold, potentially his best yet, but I'm not finished it yet...) and he was talking about some of the deeper meanings behind the teaching where Jesus says "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.

he goes on to explain the symbolism of turning your left cheek to somebody, because if somebody has hit you on the right cheek, it would be a backhander-which is the way a master would hit a slave or servant, or any superior would hit somebody below them. In that culture it was a very strong sign of disrespect-something lost on us today, to hit somebody with a backhander.

So, by turning to them your other cheek, you are ina sense raising yourself to their level, asking them to hit you 'man-to-man' so to speak, rather than 'superior-to-inferior' and also proving their cowardice in needing to hit you twice without you even responding. So in that way, you are switching the power balance away from them. If that makes any sense at all?

So it got me thinking, is this story totally about passive, nonviolent resistance, as many have interpreted it? Or is it more about the subversion of power? Is it more about not letting others try and control you with force, but actually undermining that force by showing it for what it is-power achieved through force rather than real leadership...

I don't even fully know what I mean by all this, or if it even makes any sense, but I'm just chucking it out there...

5 comments:

darren said...

u never heard any of this before eh? u should chase down Adrian Greenwood and/or John Uren and ask them about subversion in the gospel.

when was the last time you thought about the next text that speaks of walking the extra mile? it was the law at the time that roman soldiers could get members of the public to walk 1 mile with their equipment, but no more than a mile.

if you were to take the gear and continue to walk the extra mile what kind of things do you think the soldier would be thinking? "whats going on, is there a trap ahead, is he running away with my gear...?"

phil said...

I think that Ghanidi understood and demonstrated this well. In his non-violent resistance he showed evil/violence for what it is.

Jo Evans said...

Hey digs - Jo Evans here not sure if you've found it, but I posted something on an old page of yours. Found your site on google when I was looking for an essay quote! Bizarre. Anyway, am now e-stalking you, just for kicks and giggles. This what your saying about power is interesting. We're currently working in Brittish School in China which has the worst leadership. They screw over their teachers, mainly. Should we respect them because God has placed them above us for whatever reason, do we bitch about them like everyone else does and undermine them that way? Maybe we bypass them by doing an amazing job where God has placed us, becuase we're all meant to work in our jobs as if we're working for "our master in heaven" (it says that in the bible somewhere!!
At what point to you stand up for Justice, especially when they are doing unjust stuff to your friends? I dunno. If you're really interested though, there's a brilliant book called "A force more powerful - a history of non-violent protest". It looks at Ghandi, Bloody Sunday in Russia (not the Irish one that U2 sing about), Argentinian mothers camping out in front of the Junta headquarters demanding their children be returned, heaps of stuff. It's pretty good, I recommend it if you've got any reading time left after Theol.

Take care mate,
Jo

Digger said...

Hey Darren, yeah thats an interesting point about the pack n that, never thought of that before.

Digger said...

Hey Jo!

Ha, that is random as! It never ceases to amaze me the people you find through blogs n that-even people in China!

Yeah I dunno with you guys, its very easy for me to sit here in Australia and say, yeah, be that subversive underground influence of love and respect for others, live a different story etc, without knowing your day to day situation.

I reckon there does need to be a point though where you just stand up and say, na , this is bullshit, this can not go on, etc. When that is, who knows!