Posted by: HAT | November 3, 2014

Amazement Fuels Resistance

an image of a group of what appears to be peasant re-enactors - contemporary Germans dressed as peasants and carrying a peasant shoe banner, an emblem of the early modern peasant uprising

This seems to be an example of “dangerous memory”

Hi, Gang!

Dorothee Soelle devotes a section of her investigation of mysticism to Thomas Müntzer, the mystic and revolutionary associated with the Peasants’ War in Germany, the first modern revolution. In her view, Müntzer’s mysticism – his conviction that ordinary people could experience God and God’s word directly, without the mediation of the church and its clerical hierarchy – undergirded his opposition to Luther’s tightly hierarchical theology of the church and of scriptural interpretation.

Müntzer calls the first step in preparing for God ‘wonderment’: amazement and fright begin when the eternal Word comes into the human heart. … Such wonderment is ‘inescapable,’ and in its immediacy it is close to the amazement Plato characterizes as the beginning of philosophy. … Such amazement is a basic religious and, at the same time, aesthetic experience of creation as the original blessing that every creature participates in. [1]

This experience of creation as an original blessing made available to all equally by God, in turn, funds two core insights: (1) claiming elements of creation as private property is fundamentally illegitimate – a challenge to feudal relations (and by extension, all other relations that depend on the expropriation of creation), and (2) claiming exclusive authority to interpret God’s message to human beings is similarly illegitimate – as much a challenge to the doctrine of sola scriptura as to the institutional apparatus that guarded “apostolic tradition.” Both insights challenge the easy assurance that if people actually “experience God,” it will support an authoritarian status quo.

[1] Dorothee Soelle, The Silent Cry, trans. Barbara and Martin Rumscheidt (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001) 105 (Nook edition)


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