America and “the Fall”

WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange addressed the United Nations General Assembly yesterday. His speech is reminiscent of American theologian William Stringfellow who declared in 1968 that we were already living under the rule of “extra-constitutional powers and authorities” that operate covertly in the shadows of democracy.

Watch WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaking by satellite from Ecuador where he lives in exile. Unedited Politics deserves credit for posting this.  Of particular interest are references to President Obama that hold his Administration accountable while seeming to grant some credit and holding out hope that he might change things.

Julian Assange Speech to UN General Assembly: “US Trying to Erect National Secrecy Regime” – 9/26/12.

William Stringfellow

William Stringfellow – author, lay theologian, lawyer among the poor and defense attorney for Bishop James Pike and the Berrigan Brothers (Frs. Phil and Dan) – wrote the following in 1973:

“In this world as it is, in the era of time, in common history – in the epoch of the Fall, as the Bible designates this scene every principality has the elemental significance of death, notwithstanding contrary appearances. This is eminently so with respect to nations, for nations are, as Revelation indicates, the archetypical principalities… All virtues which nations elevate and idolize – military prowess, material abundance, technological sophistication, imperial grandeur, high culture, racial pride, trade, prosperity, conquest, sport, language, or whatever – are

subservient to the moral presence of death in the nation. And it is the same with the surrogate nations – the other principalities like corporations and conglomerates, ideologies and bureaucracies, and authorities and institutions of every name and description…

“The Fall is where the nation is. The Fall is the locus of America… Since the climax of America’s glorification as a nation – in the ostensible American victory in World War II, most lucidly and aptly symbolized in Hiroshima – Americans have become so beleaguered by anxiety and fatigue, so bemused and intimidated, so beset by a sense of impotence and by intuitions of calamity, that they have, for

the most part, been consigned to despair… Racial conflict has been suppressed by an elaborate apartheid; products which supposedly mean abundance turn out to contaminate or jeopardize life; the environment itself is rendered hostile; there is a pervasive Babel; privacy is a memory because surveillance is ubiquitous; institutional coercion of human beings has proliferated relentlessly. Whatever must be said of earlier times, in the past quarter century, America has become a technological totalitarianism in which hope, in its ordinary connotations, is being annihilated.”

An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land, William Stringfellow, 1973. (Bolded print added by Views from the Edge)

2 thoughts on “America and “the Fall”

  1. I’m not sure if the couple of sentences I wrote were erased or sent, so, I’ll begin again. This is really a tough post for me. I have been working (and spending, for our household) hard to elect Democrats, especially President Obama, and I keep getting emails from one outfit or another that reminds me of one shortcoming or another of the hero whose tee shirt I am wearing. (These are, of course, minor details within the larger narrative of the Fall, and our existence within it.) I wish with all my soul that the President would completely nix the Keystone XL Pipeline. I equally wish he would stop the terrible mistreatment of Brad Manning. I equally wish he would try to capture and try terrorists rather than using drone strikes with the concomitant collateral damage, that is loss of innocent human lives. There are quite a few other things on my wish list, but that is a sample. But it still seems to me that Romney would be worse — his admiration for the Ryan budget, thinking that Russia is our worst enemy, etc. I also think that the opinions he expressed in that video about the 47% were really what he thinks. His words flowed easily, there were no pauses for thought, he just spoke as he thought. So it seems that we do live in terrible times, in the Fall.
    On a completely different note, I have kept reading N.T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God. He believes that Paul believed in a two-stage resurrection, the first, the resurrection of Jesus Himself, the second, that which will come to His people at the second coming. But through the first Resurrection and the Spirit we already live in Resurrection time. Now this is a condensation of approximately 120 pages of very dense writing including minute examination of individual verses, groups of verses, and even single words. But it raises a little hope about this time, even if it makes one very depressed at how poorly one stacks up in comparison with the real people of God. He believes that it is necessary to suffer, or at least to welcome suffering, following Christ. I’m afraid I haven’t done well in that regard.
    Anyway, the quote sent me thinking, obviously. And perhaps set me thinking in far too many different directions at once.


    • CA, This is sure is tough stuff. The speech is downrigtht chilling, and we wish that things were otherwise. But politics is the art of the possible, and in the strange new world in which we live, I believe the range of possibiliites available to the President is narrow. Like you , I often scratch my head. The case of Brad Manning is, at best, puzzling. There is no good reason for the suspension of due process, and evgn less reason to make a villain out of a man of conscience who did his country a great service. I agree, Carolyn, that the choice of Mitt Romney is a horrible option – for the reasons you state. I, too, believe he really did speak his mind and heart VERY clearly in his statement about the 47%. And his core belief in American excecptionalism is downright scary. Thanks, again, for coming by. Stay well out there in Pennsylvania.


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