Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Renouncing the Nation-State and Recapturing the Reality of Eucharist

With all the debate that has been going around regarding immigration and the new law in Arizona, it is a good time to examine the building blocks that have created our concept of the modern nation-state. It is a good time to read William Cavanaugh.

In his article, "World in a Wafer", Cavanaugh contrasts the artificial unity of Globalization with the true communion of the Eucharist. While corporate globalization, upheld by a confederation of nation-states, has succeeded in creating a monolithic "McDonalds" culture throughout the world at the expense of ethnic diversity, it is the Eucharist that truly collapses the walls of division among social groups. Yet it also affirms diversity of culture, being celebrated in small localities and lending itself to take a variety of shapes and forms through its various liturgies.

When I see Christians affirming the walls that divide nations, I am intensely saddened. The reality of the Eucharist should consume and destroy all national identities. Yes, we are to submit to the laws of the nation- state that may exist, but that does not mean we should try to perpetuate them or shouldn't try to change them, or rather change the hearts of those who uphold them through reasonable debate and prayer on their behalf.

In our hearts, if the reality of the Eucharist has taken hold, we must also renounce our identities with human nations. By this I do not mean renouncing the diverse ethnic practices and cultural heritage that makes our shared unity in Christ more beautiful. Rather, we must renounce the human boundaries and arbitrary laws that create distinctions between who is "one of us" and who is an "other". In the Eucharist the only "One" is Christ's body, shared by all who are of his body, and the only "other" are those to whom Christ must be preached.

If our identity with the nation-state were dissolved, the nation-state itself would dissolve, because it is only an illusion in people's minds. The power of the powerful is only possible if the masses believe in it. But what would be put in it's place? Perhaps a return to a confederation of local villages would be in order. Things were organized much like this before the Federalists took over the colonies. It is the expansionist ideology, which has taken various shapes and forms throughout our short history, that has created our national enemies. The best course of action to take then, would be to simply and peacefully dismantle the infrastructure that the Federalists have created, to free our minds from the tyranny of fear that is their greatest weapon to keep themselves in power. To free our minds from ignorance and the false claim that safety is achieved through biggering the military and homeland security measures. If we lived simply in small villages, neighbors banding together to protect the weak and provide for the poor in their own localities, if we stopped running after more land, more wealth and more power, if we stopped measuring success in terms of wealth or job security, then our very smallness would be our greatest protection. No one would bother us because we wouldn't own or control anything they would want.

This is a way of life that can be sought after and enjoyed now, even if the vast majority do not agree. By refusing to recognize social boundaries in our everyday interaction with people, by sharing all that we have, by practicing radical hospitality, by refusing to buy things we don't need or own things that would cause us to worry if they were taken away. This is true freedom, and this freedom is absolutely free.

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