Islamism, Christianism, Judeaism
EDITORIAL, 25 April 2011
by Johan Galtung, 25 Apr 2011 - TRANSCEND Media Service
From Alfaz, Spain
These are the days of the christian easter and the judaic passover; the passion story of Jesus delivered to his father in heaven, and the story of Moses delivering his people to the holy land (and the Angel of Death passing over Jewish houses, killing only the Egyptian firstborn sons). The third great narrative is islam’s hegira, Mohammed’s flight in 622 from Mecca to Medina.
There is much talk about islamism, politicized islam, these years. But there is also politicized judaism and christianity; judeaism and christianism. A symmetric approach is called for.
We are talking about geopolitics, territorial politics; not whether railroads should be run by the public or private sectors of the economy (or, more creatively, neither-nor, or both-and). We are talking about territory embodied in the religious faith. It is easily identified for islam and judaism. Mohammed was not only a preacher, but also a politician who turned Medina into a city-state with himself as the enlightened patriarch. Moses was not only a preacher but also a politician with a very specific address for “let my people go”: Judea (Samaria). Mohammed and Moses defined islamism and judeaism. But Jesus preached by words and acts; his kingdom was inside him and in the hereafter.
The christians practiced neither primitive nomadism nor modern statism, but small traditional communities wherever, as the arenas for enacting their faith. And as addresses for St Paul.
That was not to stand. The wherevers multiplied and grew. Ancient Greek-Roman polytheism yielded to christian polytheism. Three centuries after Jesus served as an example for humanity his was a terrestrial, not only heavenly, kingdom, even emperor-dom. Christianity became religio licita of the Roman Empire in 313.
Geopolitical christianity, christianism, had been defined.
Abraham’s monotheism had given rise to three faiths embodied in three geo-political formations: archetypal chosen people-promised land nationalism, city-states wherever, and successions of empires whenever. But before we spell out some implications, what would less, non- or a-political religion look like?
For the believer there will always be thought, speech and action; the right faith, the right words, the right deeds, as prescribed. There is always the micro-arena: the inner struggles and the relations to one’s next, one’s neighbor. The ten (or so) shared commandments are traffic rules for that level, eight of them telling what not to do.[i] There are no commandments for the macro level of one nation state potentially against all others, nor for city-states, nor for the mega level of rise, decline and fall of empires. US has been given three religions with a negative micro level ethic, a strong devotion to one nation-state, to city-states and to empires at the macro and mega levels, but with no moral steering at the macro and mega levels. Except as communities? Jews not fighting Jews? But there is supposedly only one Jewish state! Christians not fighting christians? They always did. Muslims not fighting muslims: better, their ummah, community of believers, or dynasty, seems to have more reality.
So we get a world of christian empires, starting in Rome, splitting 395 in a Western catholic and an Eastern orthodox part, the former with a weak ummah-like successor and inner-directed christianity till colonialism gave rebirth to Catholic, then Protestant then secular empires; the latter defeated by Russian and Ottoman empires and their secular successors, the Soviet empire and today’s fascinating Turkish revival–if the leadership manages what Olof Palme tried, to make neutrality and peace-making a valid basis for great, not only big, power politics.
Right now the ultimate christian mega-empire fights muslim communities with mega-weapons, drones, cruise and other missiles, fighter-bombers, high on cowardice–protected, few casualties–low on accuracy; the muslims with IEDs at $10 a piece, high on courage and devotion up to suicide, high on accuracy. Who wins is obvious. There are myriads of muslim communities–descendants of sultanates many of them–and only one or two vulnerable empires now trying to kill three regimes in the muslim world: Libya, Syria and Iran. All three have security machineries against that infiltration, but they also use them against their own people’s wish for democracy.
US empire christianism is fighting not only for the economic-political-military-cultural empire, but also for God’s rule on earth via USA, a country under God, invoking his support. The USA does not take such expressions lightly when coming from islam, nor should the rest of the world take US expressions lightly.
And at the root of it all is Cana’an, Zion, Israel; one land for all the chosen ones, bent on defending itself by all means, nuclearism and Massada included. Why not also against pogroms, against the shoa? Because in diaspora they were fish out of water, detached from the heaven of their faith, Eretz Israel. Goldstone’s retraction was as logical as the non-Jewish committee members’ non-retraction.
Israel has so far courted empire, not ummah. A major mistake. But top prominent Israelis use this passover not “to pass over the Palestinian people”, calling for a 1967 type Palestinian state to “extend our hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness” (from the 1948 Independence Declaration). The good side of judaism, not ugly judeaism. The leader? A woman, of course, Hannah Maron (IHT, 20-04-2011).
True religion at work, a global, spiritual force, binding on us all. May all three one day graduate into global spirituality.
[i]. See the epilogue in Johan Galtung and Graeme MacQueen, Globalizing God, TRANSCEND University Press, 2009; to be performed by Landestheater Tübingen, Germany, 15-07-2011.
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 3.0 United States License.