LT Essays #5:
The Sermon on the Mount
n the Beatitudes, we find a fulcrum point for the social mission of liberation theology vs. the traditional emphasis on a personal salvation that transcends secular concerns. The two attitudes seem to be antithetical, and they have engendered great theological controversy. But it seems to me that, unlike the real difference between Marxism and capitalism, this difference is apparent only. It can be resolved, at a deeper level.
Now these are difficult words. Many people see them -- quite
understandably -- as powerful tools for the mass-marketing of
oppression. Think of it: if only we can get people to believe
that eternal life depends on their being poor, meek, mournful,
hungry, persecuted peacemakers! Why, we can march right in and
get all the diamonds and gold! Sadly, millions of TV viewers,
hungry and thirsty for righteousness, have sent their money to
finance the theme parks, cable networks, and presidential
aspirations of televangelists. Religion has proved to be such a
powerful force for evil that many despair of it ever mustering
equal potency for good.|
Nevertheless: if we are poor in spirit, our hearts are not addled by envy. If we allow ourselves to mourn, we are not lonely, sealed off from human connection. If we are meek we stand less chance of sudden death from a heart attack; if we are merciful we simply feel better about walking down the street. If we are pure in heart we have fewer headaches, better digestion, and our jokes, when we can remember the punchlines, get merrier laughs. Are these things not blessings?
Social action is by no means irreconcilable with personal salvation; they are the same thing. In the end, what liberation theology liberates us from is the delusion that we might, somehow, be able to escape the fundamental paradox of human existence: that while we die alone, we live in a community.
— Lindy Davies