There Is No “War” On _______ [Fill In The Blank With Your Polarized Political Opinion]

War On EverythingI am neither offended nor outraged, but I am saddened by bourgeois liberals who are offended by a non-existent, so-called “war” on science or deluded conservatives who are outraged by a so-called “war” on Christmas, etcetera.

I have been to war, and war is hell. I would hope that we could try not to diminish the reality of the horror of war or the victims of violence in war by using the word “war” to describe someone’s opposition to someone else’s political or religious point of view.

But I am sure that some liberal will be offended or some conservative will be outraged by my suggestion.

© Paul Dordal, 2017


Toward A [Christian] Anarchist Position on Anti-Imperialism

anti-imperialismAs a Christian and an anarchist, I condemn without commentary the immoral U.S. government’s bombing of the Syrian airbase on April 7, 2017 (and all the illegal bombings it has carried out all over the world especially over the past 16 years). I am encouraged by many like-minded folks from various Pittsburgh-based progressive and leftist groups which have cried out against U.S. militarism and imperialism this past week.

Unfortunately, long before the recent U.S. strike against the Syrian airbase, the Syria situation had been the locus of significant debate and division within the radical left socialist movement in Pittsburgh. Accusations have been hurled at each side of this divide about who is an actual anti-imperialist. Though it is an important debate, the divisions have, sadly, weakened the anti-war/anti-imperialist movement in Pittsburgh at a time when we desperately need to work together.

Nevertheless, the positions of these two sides of revolutionary socialists, though having some valid arguments (opposition to the demonization of post-colonial leaders, opposition to regime change, solidarity with foreign liberatory groups, and opposition to brutal dictatorships), they fall short of an anarchist anti-imperialist position. This does not mean, of course, that anarchists cannot struggle alongside these revolutionary socialists. Anarchists can consider both sides comrades as we struggle against capitalism, militarism, and imperialism, but only as long as we anarchists are fully aware of their statist orientations and goals.

I am in strong relationships with three other spiritually oriented Pittsburgh-based anarchist activists. We have been working as mediators between these two sides in order to bring solidarity (but not uniformity) to the anti-imperialist struggle. Yet, I also believe, as anarchists we must be able to stand on our own convictions, and not simply choose sides in the debate among the revolutionary socialists. As a Christian anarchist, I believe there is an anarchist perspective on anti-imperialism which needs to be articulated as a means to share this perspective with those who have anarchist leanings as well as with the revolutionary socialists we often work with.

Here are a few points to consider for anarchists going forward especially as it applies to the Syrian flashpoint.

  1. [Christian] anarchists are by nature anti-imperialist. We always oppose any outside powers which seek to impose their will on the people in a particular place. We also oppose all hierarchical (oppressive) nation-states. Thus, as we oppose imperialism, we also oppose nationalism. Lucien van der Walt, a South African anarchist, said, “Anarchists stand in solidarity with struggles against imperialism on principle, but seek to reshape national liberation movements into social liberation movements.”[i]
  1. Therefore, we should identify and support truly anarchist or revolutionary non-statist socialist groups in a particular place and not join in on the demonizing of the oppressive State-Ruler at the time. Demonizing a particular State-Ruler and supporting regime change suggests that there is “good” State-Rule or “good” State-Rulers (Mk 10:18). This process will require that anarchists identify and confirm that the liberatory group we are in solidarity within a particular land is indeed a revolutionary group (and not a tool of one of the imperialist powers or the nationalist movement in that country).
  1. From an anti-war/anti-imperialist [Christian] anarchist perspective, the means by which anarchist social movements create revolution should be militantly non-violent. “We do not fight with the weapons of this world ….” (2 Cor 10:4). My personal belief is that using violence against humans is simply falling into the same oppressive behaviors of the oppressors. (Nonetheless, once an anarchist group has established itself in communality, it inheres the right to protect itself against violent imperialists and nationalists.)
  1. Additionally, as anti-war/anti-imperialist [Christian] anarchists, we understand that the revolutionary struggle must be one that results in a non-hierarchical organizational system lest we fall back into nationalism, which inevitably leads to imperialism. Jesus, our anarchist example, said, “You know that the rulers of this world like to oppress the people. It can’t be that with you. You must follow another way. Instead, the greatest among you must be your servant” (Mt 20:25-26).
  1. [Christian] anarchists, therefore, should only functionally, not formally, associate with statist revolutionary socialist groups. But we don’t need to call out specific groups for having a deficient imperialistic theory, and we remain in solidaristic dialogue as we struggle together against U.S. imperialism. However, our anarchist movement will only grow as we do not get sucked into our various allies’ statist ideologies and debates.[ii]

I hope these reflections encourage meaningful and respectful dialogue among those who sincerely struggle for the liberation of all people. Finally, I hope that all who are opposed to U.S. militarism, imperialism, and capitalism can band together towards the enlightenment and empowerment of the oppressed masses who unwittingly support the immoral U.S. government’s actions around the world.

© Paul Dordal, 2017


[i] Lucien van der Walt, “Towards a history of anarchist anti-imperialism: In this struggle, only the workers and peasants will go all the way to the end.” March 3, 2005. Downloaded from

[ii] See Lawrence Jarach, “Anti-Imperialism: Just Another Statist Ideology” in Anarchy Magazine, issue #65, 2008. Downloaded from

My Country Is Not Of This World (Mk 8:15)

jesus-preaching-3In my upcoming book, In Search of Jesus the Anarchist, I make a case for a reading of scripture which brings the paradox of freedom and equality into focus. Dualistic thinking causes us to see freedom and equality on a continuum, one always being emphasized over the other. In anarchist thought, freedom and equality are simply two sides of the same coin—you cannot have one without the other. One cannot be fully free, while another is not.

Likewise, spirituality/religion and politics/social action are not two distinct fields of thought, but intertwined in the very fabric of every human being.  We are both innately religious and political animals. The Bible is at once both a spiritual/religious and political/social story of redemption. Jesus, who is fully God and fully human, lived perfectly within the paradox of absolute freedom and equality with God and humanity. Jesus calls us to view and live life in a non-dualistic manner. This is the path to freedom and equality.

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus says to us, “Guard yourself against the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod” (8:15). These two yeasts represent the polarizations of harmful dualistic religious and political thought.

The yeast of the Pharisees is legalism (unfreedom) which results in religious oppression. The yeast of Pharisaism grows insidiously through an elite religious class (priests, religious lawyers, doctrine enforcers) who oppress the masses within their own community. Jesus counters this with a message of grace, mercy, and forgiveness: a spirituality based not on law but on love (Gal 5:13).

The yeast of Herod is the desire for political power (inequality), through being complicit with Empire. Herodian yeast is an idolatrous love of country more than the love of God. Jesus counteracts the love of power with a radical call to sacrificially serving the world and militant, agitating nonviolent activism against oppressive hierarchical power structures. “It can’t be the same way with you, whoever wants to be a powerful leader must repent and become a servant to all” (Mt 20:26, Mk 9:35). This is the politics of the Commonweal of Love (or as Jesus called it, the Kingdom of Heaven).

There is, however, a yeast we should seek: The yeast of the God’s heart reign: “The Commonweal of Love is like a woman baking bread. She takes some flour and mixes in a tiny bit of yeast until it permeates all the dough” (Mt 13:33). It only takes a little bit of Christ’s love in his people to counteract the yeast of the Pharisees (unfreedom) and Herod (inequality). The yeast of mutual love, of accepted suffering on behalf of others, of nonviolent action against injustice is what brings the paradox of freedom and equality into focus. It is Christ’s Spirit working in us that can make the paradox of freedom and equality a reality—the impossible possible.

© Paul Dordal, 2017

Hearing The Voice of Truth (Jn 3:3)

voice-of-truthIn little over a month, my new book will be published. These next few blog posts are written to prepare you for what I am going to be sharing in my book. The book is called In Search of Jesus the Anarchist.

The title of the book is not a tease; the book is exploratory and contextual theology. In these uncertain days, marked by extreme polarization, my book proposes a new way forward, especially for disaffected Christians.

Nevertheless, what I am proposing in my book is, I believe, the truth about Jesus. With all the voices in our world, propaganda, fake news, cults, and gurus, how can we discern the voice of truth? Casting Crowns had a song a while back called The Voice of Truth. In this song, like so much of Evangelical worship music, the lyrics express a very individualistic form of faith. To Casting Crowns, the voices of “the world” are the ones that tell us lies about ourselves (negative voices), but the voice of God tells us the truth about God’s love for us (positive voices). It is a good song, after we account for its overly individualistic bias:

“But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.”

Now, if the voice of truth or voice of God speaks to us individually about our personal relationship with God, would it not also be sharing the reality of the plight of the poor, the oppressed, of all the injustices that God expects us to confront as God’s Beloved people? Would not the voice of truth break through our conformist attitudes toward the societal systems of domination and evil? Is not the Bible story also a very communal story, which is concerned with the grave injustices committed against the poor and oppressed? Yet, our Western faith practices and systems reinforce a Western individualism which is nowhere to be found in the Bible. In many ways, Western Christian forms do not proclaim the voice of truth.

Murray Bowen, of Bowen Family Systems theory, made the astute observation that emotional health was dependent on the level of differentiation or the degree to which a person can think and act for himself or herself despite the ever present voice of his or her family and societal groups. Thus, undifferentiated thinking occurs when one cannot hear other voices, because the voices of dominant family members and the societal groups to which they belong potentially drown out the voice of truth. This is why children tend to stay in the same religion or political parties as their parents. Undifferentiated thinking is why most people stay trapped in what James Fowler calls mythic/literal or conventional belief systems of faith. In essence, surprisingly, it is often people of faith, believers in God, who cannot hear the voice of truth.

Now, what if to be born-again meant to be able to break free of the negative and erroneous “group think” or undifferentiated thinking about God and life we inherited from our parents and or societal domination systems? Isn’t this what Jesus was saying to Nicodemus. “Because you are trapped in your Pharisaical group think, you cannot even see the beauty of the kingdom of God. You must be converted; you must be born-again, again!” (Jn 3:10 & 3:3).

When you hear people talking about politics or religion and you think their beliefs are crazy or stupid, or you feel yourself getting angry because of the different ways others think, feel, or act, ask yourself these questions: “Could I learn something here? Why I am reacting so negatively to this voice? Could it be the voice of truth, the voice of God?”

I will close with this for now. If the voices we are listening to or agreeing with are xenophobic, isolationist, imperialist, homophobic, racist, patriarchal, classist, etc., we are not hearing the voice of God—the voice of truth. Because the voice of truth will tell you a different story. The voice of truth says do not be afraid to rise up against the domination systems of evil, even if they are your own.

© Paul Dordal, 2017

Make America Least Again (Prophetic Reflection)

make-america-great-again-cross-outToday, the greatest danger to the world’s safety and security is the concept and practice of U.S exceptionalism. Making America Great Again by its very statement implies that other nations will necessarily be less. By Making America Great Again the rest of the world will suffer, but ultimately it will be the U.S. that suffers the most because of its arrogance.

I want to be clear: anyone who claims the Name of Christ cannot subscribe to U.S. exceptionalism. Our Scriptures tell story after story of how so-called great leaders and great nations have fallen because of their pride and imperialistic nationalism. The psalmist proclaimed:

“Why the big noise, nations?
Why the mean plots, peoples?
Earth-leaders push for position,
Demagogues and delegates meet for summit talks.

Heaven-throned God breaks out laughing.
At first he’s amused at their presumption;
Then he gets good and angry.
Furiously, he shuts them up” (Ps 2:1-2a; 4-5, MSG).

In contrast, the position of godly people is always as humble and down to earth. St. James proclaimed an oft repeated Scriptural truth when he said, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble” (Ja 4:6). This favor—the blessing, prosperity, and peace of God are not for the strong or powerful, they are for the meek and humble. Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Mt 5:5, NIV).

It may be understandable for non-Christians, or those who hold no respect for God, to claim their own greatness or to promote abstractions called “States” as great or powerful, but it is unconscionable for a believer in God to ever make such a claim.

Jesus spoke clearly to his followers and said with no ambiguity, “Those who wish to be great, must be the least; whoever wants to be first, must be the very last” (Mt 20:26; Mk 9:35).

And if that was not clear enough he gave the example of how it should be done: “Jesus got up from the supper table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his loins, poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he had around him. After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, ‘Do you understand what I was doing? Since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow: do as I have done to you. You know these things—now do them! That is the path of blessing’” (Jn 13:4-5; 12b-17, TLB).

If you claim to be a Christian and wore the hat or agree with the sentiment of Mr. Trump, or you believe somehow that the U.S. is exceptional among nations, you might want to check your spirit and see what the Lord has to say about it.

© Paul Dordal, 2016

The Curses Reversed (Reflection)

reverse-curseIn conventional Christian thought the reversal of the curse that Jesus accomplished is typically understood as a relational reconciliation between God and humankind. Humans, as this reading goes, are “sinners” who are not capable of having a relationship with a holy God, who is without sin. In this reading of Scripture, restoring right relationship with God is the most important reason for Jesus’ incarnation, life, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension. This reading is based on the notion that, and I will put it in stark terms, we are all bad and God is all good. It is a dualistic, simplistic, and extremely polarized reading of Scripture. Yet, it persists as the primary reading of Christianity.

So, we need to look at other ways to look at the curses in the Bible. But before we can do that we might need to look with new lenses. I call these lenses, anarchist lenses.

The curse of Adam and Eve was patriarchy, hierarchy, and domination: “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (Ge 3:16b).  The curse of Cain was a world filled with war and violence: “You are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your violent hand” (Ge 4:11). The curse of Babel was racism and nationalism: “their language was confused and they were scattered over the face of the earth” (Ge 11:4b; 7; 8a).

It is Jesus who comes as the proclaimer of liberation to reverse the curses which humans brought upon themselves.  The first reversal, that of hierarchy and domination took place as Jesus was nailed to the Cross. Jesus came preaching an end to patriarchy, hierarchy,  and domination and demonstrated it on the Cross as the suffering servant. Second, through his resurrection, Jesus, who is the prince of peace, showed that real life comes to the peacemaker willing to die nonviolently for others, not the violent who seeks to save their lives through the weapons of this world. Finally, it was on Pentecost when Jesus, through the Spirit, let the world hear that we could understand each other and not be separated by ethnicity, race, religion, gender, language, but that we could all be one, just as Jesus was One with God.

The Biblical metaphors of the curses are all reversed by Jesus, and the Spirit empowers us, as we are open, to be curse reversers in our world. We must put an end to patriarchy, hierarchy, domination, war, violence, racism, nationalism, and all forms of discrimination.

© Paul Dordal, 2016

Christians Against Empires (Reflection)

B751_ItsAPlanetNotAnEmpireCan you imagine the enslaved ancient Hebrews voluntarily supporting the Egyptian Empire’s desire to conquer large amounts of territory circa 1400 BCE? Of course not. Can you imagine first century Christians being supportive of the Roman Empire in its quest for hegemony? I think not. Then how is that so many twenty-first century American Christians still support the U.S. Empire in its continuing imperialistic activities throughout the world?  Empire is empire and Jesus was opposed to them. So should all Christians.

The Apology That Leads to True Freedom (Reflection)

freedom-allSaint Justin, in his First Apology, warned of the demonic forces which attempt to enslave the world. The follower of Jesus, however, Justin Martyr says, is empowered to be free from the demons of sexism, capitalism, racism, nationalism, and imperialism (First Apology, 14). Justin’s list of systems of oppression put a social justice frame around the apostolic, but often obscure, teachings of Saint Paul who said, “We fight these demons, these powers and principalities, not with the military weapons of the world, but with the nonviolent, but powerful and living Word of God” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

The liberating teachings of Christ and his prophets and their repudiation of the demonic systems of domination and oppression today need to be preached again, primarily to the Church and then to the world. Unfortunately, the tremendous good which the Church does is often overshadowed by its succumbing to evil and being complicit with the injustices of abuse of power, seeking prestige, and the acquiring of vast amounts of wealth and property. These injustices require a constant critique of the Church. Thankfully, the Church is Holy and cannot be fully overtaken by Satan and the demons (Matthew 16:18). Nevertheless, it can surely benefit from a critique from within and hopefully grow in holiness.

There are three, but not just three, primary ways in which the Church has regularly become complicit with the demons and principalities.  It has often desired power, prestige, and property. Through its hierarchy, its pomp, and its acquired wealth, the Church has been infiltrated and  controlled by demonic powers. The first step in exorcising the Church of these worldly influences is to recognize this possession and to name the demons (Mark 5:9).  Thus, naming the world in love, as Paulo Freire espoused, we are able to expose the oppressor and to transform ourselves and them as well.

Upon naming these demons of abuse of power, of prestige, and of property, the Church is now able to be dispossessed of these possessions.  Go and sell all, Jesus says to the Church, and give to the poor, and then come follow me (Luke 12:33; 18:22). The Church by supporting and participating in hierarchical and patriarchal systems, by seeking societal standing and reputation, and by the purchasing and ownership of lavish properties has been knowingly and unknowingly used throughout history by Satan to contribute to the oppression of God’s good earth and her very good people.

What now shall the Church do? Apologize? St. Paul says there is a false sorrow that leads to spiritual death, but only a godly sorrow marked by repentance which leads to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10).

No, it is time for the Church to repent, to change, to be set free by dispossessing itself of its institutional power, prestige, and property.  And then to present to the world, as Saint Lawrence did, the only true treasure of the Church: its agape people.

© Paul Dordal, 2016

Christendumb (Reflection)

The DeserterAfter just a few hundred years, as the Church grew rapidly despite intense persecution and without any political power, Christianity suffered its greatest blow to its credibility and viability as a movement of God’s authentic people.  In 313 the Church went to bed with Emperor Constantine and became part of the Kingdom powers of this world. The late Phyllis Tickle, encouraged by a new movement of authentic Christian faith in the 21st century, remembered this situation all too well.  “[T]here is no question that Constantine’s preempting of Christianity in the fourth century was the great pivot point by means of which Christianity became a dominant institution” (2008: 161). This pivot point is commonly known as the beginning of Christendom (Christian + Kingdom), which I believe should be known as the era of Christendumb.

Why is it dumb for Christianity to be a kingdom? Didn’t Jesus announce and proclaim the Kingdom of God come to earth (Mt 3:2, 6:10)? No, not in the way we commonly understand kingdoms. Jesus was using the vernacular of his day to make his point, but he was not promoting developing a Christian kingdom, like the kingdoms of his, or even our, day.  Jesus when asked if he was a king replied, “My kingdom is not from this world” (Jn 18:36a, NET). What Jesus was actually proclaiming was what I am now calling the Commonweal of Love.

To put it simply, Jesus’s kingdom is not a kingdom at all, because it is not about power.  Kingdom’s, nations, empires, like the United States, are power-based domination systems.  The era of Christendumb was all about power, and even when the Reformation came, other denominations, Lutheran, Anglican, etc. went to bed with or were the state powers of their time.  They were, and still are, (de)domination systems meant to control others.

One of the scariest things about Donald Trump (his rhetoric is fascist, plain and simple) is that he claims that he will give Christianity power again if elected.  Religious leaders like Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell, Jr. have sidled up to Trump in the hope that they too will have power. The response of all Christians to Trump and all denominational authorities should be resoundingly, “We don’t want your power, nor do we need it.”

To put it more clearly, if Christians were to have power then they could fight and kill just like the immoral nations of this world, especially the United States.  But Jesus said, “If my kingdom belonged to this world, my servants would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders.  But as it is, my kingdom is not from here” (Jn 18:36b, NET).  Jesus does not call us to have power, lest we fall into the temptation of the world towards domination and oppression.  St. Paul also proclaimed the strangeness of our commonweal of love and the pacifist attitude of Christians who live an alternative (anarchist) lifestyle: “For though we live as human beings, we do not wage war according to human standards, for the weapons of our warfare are not human weapons, but are made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds. We tear down arguments and every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God …” (2 Co 10:3-5a, NET). Our weapons are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Ga 5:22-23a, NET).

Christian should have no interest in the powers – the States, Empires, Nations, and Denominations of this world.  They are abstract objects, no-things; they are like deceptive idols (see Habakkuk 2:18 and 1 Corinthians 12:2).  Christians are inaugurating the new commonweal of love because “our citizenship is in heaven…” (Ph 3:20a, NET).

Mohammed Bamyeh said, “… the fundamental starting point in a consistent anarchist conception [is a] … duty toward humanity” (2009: 30).  “Fundamental to anarchist thought therefore is apprehending human reality in a non-abstract manner.  This perhaps is why anarchy has historically been oriented to local community, where human bonds are both experienced in everyday life and negotiated there as well.  Anarchists therefore do not belong to nations” (2009: 37).

That our citizenship is in heaven, i.e. the “kingdom” of God as Jesus preached it, is the real lived out, commonweal of love. The commonweal of love is experienced in the local “places” of relationships wrought in the Kairos time of the immediate reality of our lives.  Christians, like anarchists, do not belong to nations; we belong to Christ and the world, where we live and breathe as a no-nation under God.

Bamyeh, A. Mohammed (2009). Anarchy as Order.  The History and Future of Civic Humanity. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishing.

Tickle, Phyllis (2008). The Great Emergence.  How Christianity is Changing and Why. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

© Paul Dordal, 2016


Radical NoGo to, and type in the words “Radical Christianity.”  You will find many popular titles that discuss radical discipleship and which call Christians to become radical.  Don’t read them.

The call of Jesus is to die.  Die to your old life and be born again to a new normal.  This call is not radical, it’s normal.  If you try to be radical, you will be simply trying to add something to the life you are already living.  You will fail.  You need to die.

Jesus said, “Repent!” “Change!” Repent of what; change what?  Repent of your bad religion and bad politics.  Jesus calls us to an un-kingdom life, which is the opposite of life in the kingdoms of this world.  His is an un-kingdom of love, peace, mutuality, and solidarity.  This is the call of Jesus the un-king.  It is a call to the normal Christian life, not a radical one.

© Paul Dordal, 2015