Wednesday, August 13, 2008

God's Fart, Our Farts

Imperialism exists when a single truth is forced on a plural world. This is why, despite the fact the women hold up half of the sky, majority of men and women believe that men are stronger, more intelligent, more gifted, and closer to God. This is why, to this day, many churches only ordain men as priests. This is also why Christianity has, in the past two thousand years, killed more people in the name of Jesus than all the victims of wars, ethic cleansings, and religious genocide combined.

Those of us who read our Bibles and pray everyday, know that God is a God of surprises. Each person, each plant, each snowflake, each butterfly, each pebble is different from the rest. Our Bible has 66 books that offer us 66 different ways of articulating faith and faith experiences.

Our Bible offers us four portraits of a man, whom his followers confess is God-in-the-flesh, who lived, and loved, and labored with the poor, the marginalized, the downtrodden, those whose only hope was God. His enemies, those who protected the status quo and maintained the ideologies of empire, tortured and executed him. He was dead. His message of liberation has been silenced. His enemies have won. So they thought.

But God has the last laugh. God always has the last laugh. God raised Jesus up from the grave. And he is loose. Laughing because death has no hold on him. Not anymore.

Filipinos, according to research, are among the happiest people in Asia. Despite our problems, despite our miseries, despite the seeming hopelessness of our situation, we laugh. We laugh at our leaders and their broken promises. We laugh at our churches and the superstitions we confess. We laugh at ourselves, all the time. And this is why, I believe, we have survived all these years.

Filipinos have the last laugh. Maybe it’s a gift from God. The Spaniards taught us the pasyon to domesticate our broken spirits, but we used the pasyon to ignite revolution. The Spaniards used bamboo poles to punish and to drive Indios to and from the fields, but we used bamboo poles to create a dance of celebration, and called it tinikling. The Americans banned the singing of the Philippine National Anthem and the unfurling of the Philippine Flag and sentenced those who disobeyed to prison; we used the American’s principle of separation of State and Church to bring both the anthem and the flag into our worship life. The American’s built the jeep as a weapon of mass destruction. We turned it into a vehicle of Filipino culture—and called it jeepney. We always have the last laugh.

For over 100 years, we have been forced to speak, to think, to believe, to worship, to sing, to make love, to pray, to be… in English. Constantino, in his “The Mis-Education of the Filipinos,” said, “For a sprinkling of English, we sold our souls.” Frantz Fanon and Paulo Freire said that the worst kind of colonialism is when the colonizer has possessed the colonized’s soul.

We need an exorcism and, as I have been arguing for a few minutes now, laughter plays a critical role in our collective decolonization.

English is the imperial language. It is the language of our theologies, our liturgies, our books of discipline, our confessions. English is the master’s tool. We all know this. We also know that one of the best ways to dismantle the master’s house is to use the master’s tools. Any student of peasant revolt theory and the different schools of tradition on resistance, from passive to active non-violence, to armed revolt, know that the colonized has over four centuries of tradition to draw from. I will offer one simple model. In postcolonial studies, this is called THE SCRIPT AND THE SUB-SCRIPT, more specifically, mis-pronunciation as deconstruction.

In the Pentateuch, Moses requested to see God’s face, but God said, those who see God’s face will die, so God allowed Moses to experience God’s back FART. When the Israelites were fleeing from Pharaoh and was trapped between the Egyptians and the Red Sea, God FARTED the waters and God’s chosen were able to escape towards the Promised Land.

In the letters of Paul, we are challenged to celebrate the church as the body of Christ. The body is composed of many FARTS and each FART is as important as the other. No FART can say to another FART that it is more needed or more important. Each one of us therefore, has a FART to claim, to share, to be proud of.

As a laughing people, we worship a God who laughs. Let us go continue doing so…. Let us always affirm what God has done and what God is doing, and commit to what we can do, as communities and as individuals, celebrate God’s FART and the unity of our FARTS.

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