blessedharlot

5 notes

blessedharlot:

[ (St. Bernard) points out that such a soul is inevitably subject to insecurity and fear. And fear is the “color” which darkens the soul and obscures the divine image, distorting it into an idol and a caricature. Fear is the “impurity” of the soul that aspires to be omnipotent.
Fallen man, then, is one in whom the Divine Image, or free-will, has become a slave to itself by making itself its own idol. The image of God is distorted by “unlikeness.” Under the tyranny of such an idol, freedom itself becomes a kind of slavery, in which man drives himself wild trying to will what is impossible, trying to verify and prove his impossible claim to be a “god”.]
I’m reading Thomas Merton’s “The Silent Life”, one of his explorations of  monastic life. On the whole I’m surprised at the remarkable amount of common ground I’m finding with him theologically, considering not just the differences in our callings and backgrounds but our profound fundamental differences in Christian lenses (classical theology for him, anti-capitalist body-positive feminism aiming at intersectionality for me).
BUT dealing with classical theology always involves rooting out violence, imperialism and sinfulness embedded in it. And here’s an example.
This quote is partway through a point he’s making, but the preceding context doesn’t matter much here. Suffice to say he’s discussing some specific impurities and sins of the soul. Then here comes this metaphor. Color itself equals fear. Color obscures the divine image. Color is impurity. Color is sin.
You don’t have to look far to see darkness equated with sin in a Christian context. Darkness and light imagery is used a lot to talk about spiritual matters in general. I have a growing distaste for this, though that’s not a common opinion it seems. But here, the problems some folks find in the rhetorical denigration of darkness are even clearer, it seems to me. Because It’s not even just darkness, it’s all color that’s denigrated here. Color is fear — which is contrasted in Christian scripture against love, so color is the opposite of love. “Love casts out color”, so to speak. Color = impurity, thereby centralizing not just light but whiteness as pure and holy. Color is sin. Nonwhiteness is made a sin. 
Is the metaphor still harmless?
Let’s look at where it goes next. Let’s proceed to the very next paragraph, where this soul of color has *chosen* SLAVERY through their sinful actions.
This certainly isn’t an isolated incident. Merton didn’t make this up himself. As I said, it’s embedded in classical Christian theology, forged as it was in and by Empire, wounding the heart of the gospel.
But white Christians, liberals included right along with every other political stripe, need to be very clear just how deeply white supremacy is rooted in the history of our faith. We need to be clear how much is still there. Thomas Merton is elevating something from our history that has directly allowed for the murder of Michael Brown and countless other people of color.
Look here to read more about chromophobia and colonialism, and here is a look at the chromophobia tag from medievalpoc. These are not harmless metaphors. The history of denigration of color in art is fundamentally related to the rhetorical denigration of darkness. And these ideas grew with and made possible a long history of colonialism and violence enacted on dark bodies and bodies of color, violence still happening today. These things are related, profoundly.

blessedharlot:

[ (St. Bernard) points out that such a soul is inevitably subject to insecurity and fear. And fear is the “color” which darkens the soul and obscures the divine image, distorting it into an idol and a caricature. Fear is the “impurity” of the soul that aspires to be omnipotent.

Fallen man, then, is one in whom the Divine Image, or free-will, has become a slave to itself by making itself its own idol. The image of God is distorted by “unlikeness.” Under the tyranny of such an idol, freedom itself becomes a kind 
of slavery, in which man drives himself wild trying to will what is impossible, trying to verify and prove his impossible claim to be a “god”.]

I’m reading Thomas Merton’s “The Silent Life”, one of his explorations of  monastic life. On the whole I’m surprised at the remarkable amount of common ground I’m finding with him theologically, considering not just the differences in our callings and backgrounds but our profound fundamental differences in Christian lenses (classical theology for him, anti-capitalist body-positive feminism aiming at intersectionality for me).

BUT dealing with classical theology always involves rooting out violence, imperialism and sinfulness embedded in it. And here’s an example.

This quote is partway through a point he’s making, but the preceding context doesn’t matter much here. Suffice to say he’s discussing some specific impurities and sins of the soul. Then here comes this metaphor. Color itself equals fear. Color obscures the divine image. Color is impurity. Color is sin.

You don’t have to look far to see darkness equated with sin in a Christian context. Darkness and light imagery is used a lot to talk about spiritual matters in general. I have a growing distaste for this, though that’s not a common opinion it seems. But here, the problems some folks find in the rhetorical denigration of darkness are even clearer, it seems to me. Because It’s not even just darkness, it’s all color that’s denigrated here. Color is fear — which is contrasted in Christian scripture against love, so color is the opposite of love. “Love casts out color”, so to speak. Color = impurity, thereby centralizing not just light but whiteness as pure and holy. Color is sin. Nonwhiteness is made a sin. 

Is the metaphor still harmless?

Let’s look at where it goes next. Let’s proceed to the very next paragraph, where this soul of color has *chosen* SLAVERY through their sinful actions.

This certainly isn’t an isolated incident. Merton didn’t make this up himself. As I said, it’s embedded in classical Christian theology, forged as it was in and by Empire, wounding the heart of the gospel.

But white Christians, liberals included right along with every other political stripe, need to be very clear just how deeply white supremacy is rooted in the history of our faith. We need to be clear how much is still there. Thomas Merton is elevating something from our history that has directly allowed for the murder of Michael Brown and countless other people of color.

Look here to read more about chromophobia and colonialism, and here is a look at the chromophobia tag from medievalpoc. These are not harmless metaphors. The history of denigration of color in art is fundamentally related to the rhetorical denigration of darkness. And these ideas grew with and made possible a long history of colonialism and violence enacted on dark bodies and bodies of color, violence still happening today. These things are related, profoundly.

Filed under chromophobia christianity racism mysticism

6 notes

http://blessedharlot.tumblr.com/post/96393735501/so-im-reading-a-bunch-of-stuff-on-monastic-life

blessedharlot:

So I’m reading a bunch of stuff on monastic life and on their cousins, the lay orders, because I’m deeply interested in pursuing a project about it. I wonder what kind of lay order or religious community or rule of life could be built for freaks and outlaws, for social justice folks and…

Filed under christianity lay orders anticolonialism social justice

19,599 notes

dauntlessdaughterofmary:

This is not cute.

Slow lorises are not fit to be pets, and they go through horrific abuse to be sold as pets.

notactuallycute explains:

all five species of slow loris are listed as endangered or vulnerable. these are creatures that should be left in the wild or used for conservation efforts.

slow lorises have a toxic bite. before they’re set out to be pets they have teeth pulled out or removed with nail clippers. since the people in the slow loris pet trade care only about the money and not the animals many die from infections because they just remove them cheap and fast.

they’re transported from Indonesia to other parts of the world in stressful, cramped conditions which can cause anywhere from 30% to 90% of the animals transported to die on the way.

they’re also easily stressed and nocturnal, meaning they’re prone to health issues even if they make it into someone’s home as a pet because how many people do you think get these as pets that also realize that kind of stuff? not many, especially not with those viral videos out there making them seem to be adorable perfect pets.

also, yeah, the slow loris pet trade isn’t exactly legal either.

http://primatesnotpets.tumblr.com/post/30181705941/slow-loris-pet-trade-horror-story
http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/wild/videos/slow-loris-animal-cruelty/
http://forcechange.com/36867/stop-the-illegal-trade-of-the-slow-loris-in-indonesia/
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/extinction-countdown/2012/01/27/should-youtube-ban-videos-adorable-endangered-slow-loris/
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/8397234/Slow-loris-YouTube-videos-fuel-endangered-species-trade.html

Whoa. I didn’t click through to the video, and foolishly assumed this was some kind of professional animal care environment. Because loris. They aren’t pets. There’s a pet trade now? Of course there is. Fucking people.

(Source: sizvideos)

Filed under animal abuse not every animal is supposed to be a pet argh gif

74,440 notes

pattilahell:

onlyblackgirl:

odinsblog:

Racial bias in America: from higher suspension rates in preschool, to disproportionate rates of capital punishment, to everything in between, structures of authority routinely allow anti-Black racial bias to color the “facts”, and warp the narrative. And frequently (whether unintentional or otherwise) the police and the media often work together to further criminalize innocent Black victims

1Criminalizing Blackness in America

2. 14-year-old Tremaine McMillian attacked and choked by police, literally while holding a puppy…because McMillian made them “feel threatened” and gave them “dehumanizing stares

3. Author and CNN contributor keithboykin: how the AP slandered Renisha McBride even in death

4.  The Associated Press: when can skin color alone determine who is and who isn’t a looter? (hint: don’t be Black)

This implicit racial bias does not magically stop at innocuous events like the VMAs, or in Hollywood. So far, it doesn’t ever turn off. There are two Americas and racial bias is as ubiquitous as the air we breathe

They just figured this out?

"A new study"

(via girlwhocriedsupernova)

Filed under racism anti-black racism