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Liberation

"We seem to have picked up the idea that holiness is a trance-like sense of peace and well-being in relation to those all around, an experience of floating on a magic carpet of tranquility. Wherever that picture of holiness came from, it certainly wasn't Mark's Gospel. Jesus is constantly having heated debates with everyone who held Israel in check. The one thing everyone seems to agree on today is that there's plenty wrong with the world. There are only two responses to this—either go and put it right yourself, or, if you can't, make life pretty uncomfortable for those who can until they do. When we take stock of our relationship with the powerful, we ask ourselves, 'Does the shape of my life reflect my longing to see God set people free, and do I challenge those who keep others in slavery?"    - Sam Wells ; Introuction to Binding the Strong Man: a political reading of Mark's story of Jesus by Ched Myers


"The point is not that Jesus was a good guy who accepted everybody, and thus we should do the same (though that would be good). Rather, his teachings and behavior reflect an alternative social vision. Jesus was not talking about how to be good and how to behave within the framework of a domination system. He was a critic of the domination system itself."    - Marcus J. Borg ; The God We Never Knew: Beyond Dogmatic Religion to a More Authentic Contemporary Faith


“Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. In the light of these ideas, Negroes will be hunted at the North and held and flogged at the South so long as they submit to those devilish outrages and make no resistance, either moral or physical. Men may not get all they pay for in this world, but they must certainly pay for all they get. If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others.”    - Frederick Douglass ; If There Is No Struggle, There Is No Progress, 1857


"Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow."    - Isaiah ; Isaiah 1:17 


Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”    - Jesus ; Matthew 11.4-6


"I had crossed de line of which I had so long been dreaming. I was free; but dere was no one to welcome me to de land of freedom, I was a stranger in a strange land, and my home after all was down in de old cabin quarter, wid de ole folks, and my brudders and sisters. But to dis solemn resolution I came; I was free, and dey should be free also; I would make a home for dem in de North, and de Lord helping me, I would bring dem all dere. Oh, how I prayed den, lying all alone on de cold, damp ground; 'Oh, dear Lord,' I said, 'I haint got no friend but you. Come to my help, Lord, for I'm in trouble!'"    - Harriet Tubman ; Harriet, The Moses of Her People (1886)


"After all, are we not all oppressed, especially those who think that their freedom is found in social, political, and economic domination of others? Although these questions point to an essential truth of the gospel of liberation, they have been used by oppressors for untruth. The untruth of these questions lies in the subjective and often undisclosed intention of the people who ask them. While pretending to be concerned about the universal character of the human condition, oppressors are in fact concerned to justify their own particular status in society. They want to be oppressors and Christians at the same time. Since the oppressed are the only true Christians, oppressors claim to be victims, not for the purpose of being liberated but for their own social interests in retaining a 'Christian' identity while being against Jesus Christ. This is what Dietrich Bonhoeffer in another context called 'cheap grace.' I call it hypocrisy and blasphemy."    - James H. Cone ; God of the Oppressed


"The parable's harvest thus symbolically represents a dramatic shattering of the vassal relationship between peasant and landlord. With such surplus, the farmer could not only eat and pay his rent, tithes, and debts, but indeed even purchase the land, and thus end his servitude forever."    - Ched Myers ; Binding the Strong Man: a political reading of Mark's story of Jesus


"The oppressors do not perceive their monopoly on having more as a privilege which dehumanizes others and themselves. They cannot see that, in the egoistic pursuit of having as a possessing class, they suffocate in their own possessions and no longer are; they merely have. For them, having more is an inalienable right, a right they acquired through their own 'effort,' with their 'courage to take risks.' If others do not have more, it is because they are incompetent and lazy, and worst of all is their unjustifiable ingratitude towards the 'generous gestures' of the dominant class. Precisely because they are 'ungrateful' and 'envious,' the oppressed are regarded as potential enemies who must be watched. It could not be otherwise. If the humanization of the oppressed signifies subversion, so also does their freedom; hence the necessity for constant control. And the more the oppressors control the oppressed, the more they change them into apparently inanimate 'things.' This tendency of the oppressor consciousness to 'in-animate' everything and everyone it encounters, in its eagerness to possess, unquestionably corresponds with a tendency to sadism."    - Paulo Freire ; Pedagogy of the Oppressed: 30th Anniversary Edition


"The oppressor consciousness tends to transform everything surrounding it into an object of its domination. The earth, property, production, the creations of people, people themselves, time— everything is reduced to the status of objects at its disposal. In their unrestrained eagerness to possess, the oppressors develop the conviction that it is possible for them to transform everything into objects of their purchasing power; hence their strictly materialistic concept of existence. Money is the measure of all things, and profit the primary goal. For the oppressors, what is worthwhile is to have more— always more— even at the cost of the oppressed having less or having nothing. For them, to be is to have and to be the class of the 'haves.'"    - Paulo Freire ; Pedagogy of the Oppressed: 30th Anniversary Edition


"With the establishment of a relationship of oppression, violence has already begun. Never in history has violence been initiated by the oppressed. How could they be the initiators, if they themselves are the result of violence? How could they be the sponsors of something whose objective inauguration called forth their existence as oppressed? There would be no oppressed had there been no prior situation of violence to establish their subjugation. Violence is initiated by those who oppress, who exploit, who fail to recognize others as persons— not by those who are oppressed, exploited, and unrecognized. It is not the unloved who initiate disaffection, but those who cannot love because they love only themselves. It is not the helpless, subject to terror, who initiate terror, but the violent, who with their power create the concrete situation which begets the 'rejects of life.' It is not the tyrannized who initiate despotism, but the tyrants. It is not the despised who initiate hatred, but those who despise. It is not those whose humanity is denied them who negate humankind, but those who denied that humanity (thus negating their own as well). Force is used not by those who have become weak under the preponderance of the strong, but by the strong who have emasculated them."      - Paulo Freire ; Pedagogy of the Oppressed: 30th Anniversary Edition


"In order for the oppressed to be able to wage the struggle for their liberation, they must perceive the reality of oppression not as a closed world from which there is no exit, but as a limiting situation which they can transform."    - Paulo Freire ; Pedagogy of the Oppressed: 30th Anniversary Edition


"This lesson and this apprenticeship must come, however, from the oppressed themselves and from those who are truly solidary with them. As individuals or as peoples, by fighting for the restoration of their humanity they will be attempting the restoration of true generosity. Who are better prepared than the oppressed to understand the terrible significance of an oppressive society? Who suffer the effects of oppression more than the oppressed? Who can better understand the necessity of liberation? They will not gain this liberation by chance but through the praxis of their quest for it, through their recognition of the necessity to fight for it. And this fight, because of the purpose given it by the oppressed, will actually constitute an act of love opposing the lovelessness which lies at the heart of the oppressors’ violence, lovelessness even when clothed in false generosity."    - Paulo Freire ; Pedagogy of the Oppressed: 30th Anniversary Edition


"Any attempt to 'soften' the power of the oppressor in deference to the weakness of the oppressed almost always manifests itself in the form of false generosity; indeed, the attempt never goes beyond this. In order to have the continued opportunity to express their “generosity,” the oppressors must perpetuate injustice as well. An unjust social order is the permanent fount of this 'generosity,' which is nourished by death, despair, and poverty. That is why the dispensers of false generosity become desperate at the slightest threat to its source, True generosity consists precisely in fighting to destroy the causes which nourish false charity. False charity constrains the fearful and subdued, the 'rejects of life,' to extend their trembling hands. True generosity lies in striving so that these hands— whether of individuals or entire peoples— need be extended less and less in supplication, so that more and more they become human hands which work and, working, transform the world."    - Paulo Freire ; Pedagogy of the Oppressed: 30th Anniversary Edition


"In order for this struggle to have meaning, the oppressed must not, in seeking to regain their humanity (which is a way to create it), become in turn oppressors of the oppressors, but rather restorers of the humanity of both. This, then, is the great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed: to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well. The oppressors, who oppress, exploit, and rape by virtue of their power, cannot find in this power the strength to liberate either the oppressed or themselves. Only power that springs from the weakness of the oppressed will be sufficiently strong to free both."    - Paulo Freire ; Pedagogy of the Oppressed: 30th Anniversary Edition


Tubman herself believed her success in singlehandedly liberating over three hundred slaves was superintended by God, who had preordained her political action.    - Delores S. Williams ; Sisters in the Wilderness: The Challenge of Womanist God-Talk


There can be no Christian theology that is not social and political. If theology is to speak about the God of Jesus who is revealed in the struggle of the oppressed for freedom, then theology must also become political, speaking for the God of the poor and the oppressed.    - James H. Cone ; God of the Oppressed


There can be no Christian theology that is not identified unreservedly with those who are humiliated and abused. In fact, theology ceases to be a theology of the gospel when it fails to arise out of the community of the oppressed. For it is impossible to speak of the God of Israelite history, who is the God revealed in Jesus Christ, without recognizing that God is the God of and for those who labor and are overladen.    - James H. Cone ; A Black Theology of Liberation


Liberation in the Hagar stories is not given by God; it finds its source in human initiative.    - Delores S. Williams ; Sisters in the Wilderness: The Challenge of Womanist God-Talk


Hagar becomes the first female in the Bible to liberate herself from oppressive power structures.    - Delores S. Williams ; Sisters in the Wilderness: The Challenge of Womanist God-Talk


"Human beings are made for each other and no people can realize their full humanity except as they participate in its realization for others."    - God of the Oppressed ; James H. Cone


"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind,to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor."    - Jesus ; Luke 4.18-19


At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do."    - Jesus ; Matthew 11.25-26


"What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."    - ; Matthew 11.7-11


"If there is no friendship with them and no sharing of the life of the poor, then there is no authentic commitment to liberation, because love exists only among equals."    - Gustavo Gutierrez ; A Theology of Liberation: 15th Anniversary Edition


"The very next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and yelled out, "Here he is, God's Passover Lamb! He forgives the sins of the world!"    - John the Baptist ; John 1:29, The Message


"'Kingdom of God' is a political as well as religious metaphor."    - Borg, Marcus J.; Crossan, John Dominic ; The Last Week


Any message that is not related to the liberation of the poor in a society is not Christ’s message.    - James H. Cone ; A Black Liberation of Theology


It has always been a mystery to me how men can feel themselves honoured by the humiliation of their fellow-beings.    - Gandhi, Mohandas K ; An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With Truth


"A bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching."    - Isaiah ; Isaiah 42:3-4


"When the fear of jail disappears, repression puts heart into the people."    - Gandhi ; The Onion Thief


"He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick until he brings justice to victory."    - Matthew ; Matthew 12:20 


"But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream."    - Amos ; Amos 5:24 


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