The Curse of Constantine

“One of history’s greatest lessons is that once the state embraces a religion, the nature of that religion changes radically. It loses its nonviolent component and becomes a force for war rather than peace. The state must make war, because without war it would have to drop its power politics and renege on its mission to seek advantage over other nations, enhancing itself at the expense of others. And so a religion is in the service of a state is a religion that not only accepts war but prays for victory. From Constantine to the Crusaders to the contemporary American Christian right, people who call themselves Christians have betrayed the teachings of Jesus while using His name in the pursuit of political power.”

–Mark Kurlansky, Nonviolence

Of course, this phenomenon is not limited to just the Christian right. To some degree we all pursue our own power while ignoring the powerless. I know that often times I can be violently nonviolent. It’s fairly easy to consider yourself a proponent of nonviolence when the topic surrounds the Iraq or Afghanistan wars currently going on or the build up of nuclear weapons all around the world. But it gets a bit more difficult when considering our own thoughts, words and all the other daily choices that in some way or another commit violence on others, even those we love.

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2 thoughts on “The Curse of Constantine

  1. Great point, Zach. True non-violence starts in the little daily actions: the work commute, lines at the grocery store, the seat next to the bathroom on a cross-country flight.

    If we are unable to practice non-violence in our daily walk, it’s virtually impossible to embody non-violence in the larger issues.

  2. I struggle with taking the theory and belief I hold about nonviolence and actually applying it to my everyday life. This was a good reminder that making belief concrete is what actually makes it transformative. Blessings brotha!

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