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Let’s briefly consider the similarities and differences between these two statements:

“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom through domination, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who fails to dominate. Domination triumphs over weakness.”

The contrast is easy to see: one elevates mercy, while the other elevates domination. One is the clearly stated view of the President of the United States, articulated recently on a call with all 50 Governors. The other is the clearly stated view of Christian teaching and Scripture. The two are deeply and dramatically opposed to each other.

A note on domination. When I hear it elevated like this, the person who comes to mind today is Thomas Thistlewood. He was a consummate Enlightenment-era gentleman and slave plantation owner who made his fortune by physically dominating souls in Barbados until he finally drowned in 1786. To avoid traumatizing people further, I won’t describe the nature of his work as a slavemaker and slavekeeper. Those who want to know can discover the utter depths of depravity involved in domination in his extensive journals. Suffice it to say that this highly profitable system required the regular importation of new human beings as if they were property, because it used them up so quickly. That is where domination leads, and it is where American ideals of domination have lead us in the past.

This brings me to a similarity between our two contrasting statements: both are utterly uncompromising in elevating their core ideal. It is this uncompromising character that makes both statements powerful drivers of social transformation, if we live into them. Both ideals are transformative in precisely opposite directions.

As for me, I’m committed to uncompromising mercy. This means that I’m utterly opposed, at the deepest level of my being, to the deadly ideology of uncompromising domination. Down that road lies the most complete desolation that can be imagined.

Community Organizer. Enemy Lover. Pastor. Practices honest, serious, loving and fun discourse. (Yes, still just practicing.) Author of According to Folly, etc.

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