Can movements be explored in ways that enable mutual learning and transformation, rather than erasing difference? Outside this false dichotomy is the domain of relationships that are alive, responsive, and make people capable of new things together, without imposing this on everyone else. It is in this space where values like openness, curiosity, trust, and responsibility can really flourish, not as fixed ways of being to be applied everywhere, but as ways of relating that can only be kept alive by cultivating careful, selective, and fierce boundaries. For joy to flourish, it needs sharp edges.
How do we know when to be open and vulnerable, and when to draw lines in the sand and fight? Who to trust, and how? When are relationships worth fighting for, and when do they need to be abandoned? These are not questions with pre-given answers; they can only be answered over and over again in a multiplicity of ways.
A crucial outgrowth of joy and fidelity to it, we suggest, is that people will take different paths and have different priorities. Movements and forms of life will diverge and sometimes come into conflict. There is no trump card that can be used to dictate a path to others: not the state, not morality, and not strategic imperatives of unity or movement-building. Encountering difference might lead to new capacities, strong bonds, and new forms of struggle.
Or it might be more ambivalent and difficult, mixing distance and closeness. Or it might mean being told to fuck off. For all these reasons, we try to share some of our own values, and some of the struggles and movements that deeply inspire us, without saying that they are right for everyone or that others should share our priorities. This book is laid out in five core chapters. Each chapter looks at Empire from a different perspective, showing how it is being undone at the edges and cracks. Chapter 1 suggests that, increasingly, Empire works through subjection and the accumulation of powerlessness.
Backed by violence, its promises of happiness work like an anesthetic, closing subjects off from transformation. Joy is the growth of an embodied thinking and doing that undoes this stifling subjection. In Chapter 2 we look at how Empire maintains its hold through morality and toxic relationships. As an alternative to the false choice between duty-bound moralism or isolated individualism, we recover a conception of relational ethics from the Spinozan current. We deepen this relational ethics in Chapter 3, arguing that joyful militancy is sustained by emergent values—common notions—of trust and responsibility.
Drawing on stories from transformative justice, youth liberation, and Indigenous resurgence, we look at some of the ways people are able to undo this dependence and figure things out together. Chapters 4 and 5 track the ways that Empire has seeped into radical movements and spaces. Attempts to root out Empire have paradoxically fueled some of its most debilitating tendencies, including suspicion, moralism, rigidity, and shame, turning radical politics into a competitive performance rather than a shared and enabling process.
In Chapter 5 we tell three tangled stories about the historical emergence of rigid radicalism, looking at the way ideology has permeated Marxism, anarchism, and other movements; how schooling has promoted a paranoid search for flaws and limitations; and how moralism crops up in radical spaces, leading to guilt, shame, and puritanism. In each of these stories, we try to show how rigid radicalism is constantly being undone and warded off by other ways of being, ethical responsiveness, strong relationships, and common notions.
Ultimately, we want joyful militancy to be about questions and curiosity, not fixed answers or instructions. In this spirit we hope that this book contributes to ongoing conversations, and that it supports people in figuring out for themselves what thriving resistance looks like, and how rigidity and stagnation can be warded off. A concept is a brick. It can be used to build a courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window. Personally, I want to be nurturing life when I go down in struggle. I want nurturing life to BE my struggle.
Anyone who has been transformed through a struggle can attest to its power to open up more capacities for resistance, creativity, action, and vision. Joyful transformation entails a new conception of militancy, which is already emerging in many movements today. To be militant about joy means being attuned to situations or relationships, and learning how to participate in and support the transformation, rather than directing or controlling it.
Everywhere, people are recovering, sustaining, and reinventing worlds that are more intense and alive than the form of life offered up by Empire. The web of control that exploits and administers life—ranging from the most brutal forms of domination to the subtlest inculcation of anxiety and isolation—is what we call Empire. It includes the interlocking systems of settler colonialism, white supremacy, the state, capitalism, ableism, ageism, and heteropatriarchy. Using one word to encapsulate all of this is risky because it can end up turning Empire into a static thing, when in fact it is a complex set of processes.
These processes separate people from their power, their creativity, and their ability to connect with each other and their worlds. As other worlds emerge through resistance and transformation, they reveal more of the violence of Empire. Pushing back against sexualized violence reveals the ways that rape culture continues to structure daily life.
Indigenous resurgence reveals the persistent concreteness of settler colonial occupation and the charade of apologizing for genocide and dispossession as if they were only part of the past. Holding assemblies where people can formulate problems together, make decisions collectively, and care for one another reveals the profound alienation and individualism of life under Empire.
Trying to raise kids or even share space with them without controlling them reveals the ways that ageism and schooling stifle young people and segregate generations. Struggles against anti-Black racism and white supremacy reveal the continuities between slavery, apartheid, and mass incarceration, in which slave catchers have evolved into police and plantations have shaped prisons.
The movements of migrants reveal the interconnected violence of borders, imperialism, and citizenship. And the constant resistance to capitalism, even when fleeting, reveals the subordination, humiliation, and exploitation required by capital. There is no doubt that we live in a world of intertwined horrors. We suspect that anyone reading this already knows and feels this horror in one way or another.
However, upwellings of resistance and insurrection make this knowing palpable in ways that compel responses. In this sense, it is not that people first figure out how oppression works, then are able to organize or resist. Rather it is resistance, struggle, and lived transformation that make it possible to feel collective power and carve out new paths. No, the masses were not innocent dupes; at a certain point, under a certain set of conditions, they wanted fascism, and it is this perversion of the desire of the masses that needs to be accounted for. In order to rule, those in positions of power need to constantly crush and subdue the forces of transformation.
They do not merely need obedience; they need their subjects to be separated from their own capacities. It makes capitalist relations feel inevitable and to some even desirable. An important insight shared by many radical currents is that these forms of violence and control are ultimately toxic for everyone. For white people to become white, they have to internalize entitlement and a hostility to difference, hiding from the ways their lives depend on institutionalized violence and exploitation.
Settlers must build their lives on a living legacy of genocide, indebted to ongoing extraction and dispossession. Being privileged by Empire means being sheltered from its most extreme forms of violence and degradation, and to be enrolled in a stultifying form of life that recreates this violence.
Most of what is called privilege has nothing to do with thriving or joy; this is why privileged white men are some of the most emotionally stunted, closed-off people alive today. None of this is to deny that there are pleasures, wealth, and safety associated with whiteness, heteropatriarchal masculinity, and other forms of privilege.
Instead, it is to insist that everyone, potentially, has a stake in undoing privileges—and the ongoing violence required to secure them—as a part of transformative struggle. The mission then for the denizens of the undercommons is to recognize that when you seek to make things better, you are not just doing it for the Other, you must also be doing it for yourself.
Gender hierarchies are bad for men as well as women and they are really bad for the rest of us. Racial hierarchies are not rational and ordered, they are chaotic and nonsensical and must be opposed by precisely all those who benefit in any way from them. I just need you to recognize that this shit is killing you, too, however much more softly, you stupid motherfucker, you know? Empire is killing all of us, in different ways, and all of us, in different ways, are marked by incredible legacies of movement and revolt. Its forms of control are never total, never guaranteed.
Slaves broke their tools in the field, poisoned their masters, learned to read in secret, and invented subversive forms of song and dance. Empire reacts to resistance by entrenching and accumulating what Spinoza called sadness : the reduction of our capacity to affect and be affected. For Spinoza, sadness cannot be avoided or eliminated completely; it is part of life.
All things wax, wane, and die eventually, and the process can provoke thought, resistance, and action. Sadness and joy can be intertwined in complex ways. But Empire accumulates and spreads sadness. Drawing on Spinoza, here is how Deleuze put it:. We live in a world which is generally disagreeable, where not only people but the established powers have a stake in transmitting sad affects to us. Sadness, sad affects, are all those which reduce our power to act.
The established powers need our sadness to make us slaves. The tyrant, the priest, the captors of souls need to persuade us that life is hard and a burden. The powers that be need to repress us no less than to make us anxious … to administer and organize our intimate little fears. Empire propagates and transmits sad affects. Sadness sticks to us; we are made to desire its rhythms. Terrible situations are made to feel inevitable.
For this reason, we speak of the entrenchment of Spinozan sadness as that which is stultifying, depleting, disempowering, individualizing and isolating. But this entrenchment might not feel agonizing or even unpleasant: it might feel like comfort, boredom, or safety. I chose to introduce this term, despite its unfamiliarity in most activist realms I am part of, because I felt its intervention was a necessary part of my argument about how power works. Some of us are steered into forms of life that are compatible and complicit with ongoing exploitation and violence, while other populations are selected for slow death.
New forms of subjection are invented to contain each new rebellion, enrolling subjects to participate in the containment. Prisons and policing come to be felt especially by white people as a form of safety and security. Misogyny is eroticized and objectification reaches new heights, taking new forms. Desires for affluence and luxury are entrenched amidst growing inequality.
Through cellphones and social media, surveillance and control are increasingly participatory. When they are working, these forms of subjection are felt not as impositions but as desires , like a warm embrace or an insistent tug. With all this in mind, we want to pull happiness and joy apart, in hopes of further clarifying what we mean by joyful militancy. The happiness offered to us by Empire is not the same as joy, even though they are conventionally understood as synonyms. Under Empire, happiness is seen as a duty and unhappiness as a disorder. Marketing firms increasingly sell happy experiences instead of products: happiness is a relaxing vacation on the beach, an intense night at the bar, a satisfying drink on a hot day, or the contentment and security of retirement.
As consumers, we are encouraged to become connoisseurs and customizers, with an ever more refined sense of the kinds of consumption that make us happy. As workers, we are expected to find happiness in our job. Neoliberal capitalism encourages its subjects to base their lives on this search for happiness, promising pleasure, bliss, fulfillment, arousal, exhilaration, or contentment, depending on your tastes and proclivities and your budget.
Empire also sells the rejection of upward mobility and consumerism as another form of placid containment: the individual realizes that what really makes him happy is a life in a small town where everyone knows your name, or a humble nuclear family, or kinky polyamory, or travel, or witty banter, or cooking fancy food, or awesome dance parties. The point is not that these activities are wrong or bad. Many people use food, dance, sex, intimacy, and travel in ways intertwined with transformative struggles and bonds. But Empire empties these and other activities of their transformative potential, inviting us to shape our lives in pursuit of happiness as the ultimate goal of life.
Rebecca Solnit explains this powerfully:. Happiness—the wall-to-wall carpeting of the psyche—is somewhat overrated. This promise has a gendered and racialized logic: Empire is designed to secure white male happiness in particular, while the feelings of women, genderqueer and trans folks, and people of color are intensely policed. As Nishnaabe scholar and artist Leanne Betasamosake Simpson writes,. I am repeatedly told that I cannot be angry if I want transformative change—that the expression of anger and rage as emotions are wrong, misguided, and counter-productive to the movement.
The underlying message in such statements is that we, as Indigenous and Black peoples, are not allowed to express a full range of human emotions. We are encouraged to suppress responses that are not deemed palatable or respectable to settler society. But the correct emotional response to violence targeting our families is rage.
Simpson shows how the restriction of negative emotions can take place in movements themselves: imperatives to be happy, nice, or kind can sustain violence, forcing out anger and antagonism. For those who refuse these imperatives, control and coercion lurk behind happy promises. Being perceived as a threat to the happiness of others—especially white men—can be lethal. These tangled webs of subjection are portrayed as individual failings or pathologies. Unhappiness, outrage, and grief are then perceived as individual disorders, to be dealt with through pharmaceuticals, self-help, therapy, and other atomizing responses.
The point is not that happiness is always bad, or that being happy means being complicit with Empire. Happiness can also be subversive and dangerous, as part of a process through which one becomes more alive and capable. But when happiness becomes something to be gripped or chased after as the meaning of life, it tends to lose its transformative potential. The wall-to-wall carpeting of happiness is an anaesthetic under Empire.
The challenge is not to reject happiness in favor of duty or self-sacrifice, but to initiate processes of thinking, feeling, and acting that undo subjection, starting from everyday life. Because Empire has shaped our very aspirations, moods, and identities, this always entails grappling with parts of ourselves. This is one of the fundamental questions that runs through the Spinozan current: How are people made to desire their own stifling forms of subjection?perunda.com/kings-and-dragons.php
Letter from a Region in My Mind, by James Baldwin | The New Yorker
How do we come to desire the violent, depleting forms of life offered up by Empire? How do transformative movements get drawn back into the rhythms of capitalism and the state? And most importantly, how can we bring about something different? Because Empire has a hold on our desires and the rhythms of our lives, undoing it cannot be about discovering a truth or revealing it to others as if we have all been duped.
The kind of transformation we are interested in is not about converting people, or finally being able to see clearly.
Blood, Tears, & Joy: A Special Child; A Bitter Heart; God's Joyous Freedom
To emphasize joy, in contrast to happiness, is to move away from conditioned habits, reactions, and emotions. Bubbling up in the cracks of Empire, joy remakes people through combat with forces of subjection. Joy is a desubjectifying process, an unfixing, an intensification of life itself. It is aesthetic, in its older meaning, before thinking and feeling were separate: the increase in our capacity to perceive with our senses.
As Mexican activist and writer Gustavo Esteva explained in his interview with us,. We use the word aesthetic to allude to the ideal of beauty. The etymological meaning, almost lost, associates the word with the intensity of sensual experience; it means perceptive, sharp in the senses. That meaning is retained in words like anaesthesia. Comparing a funeral in a modern, middle-class family and in a village in Mexico or India, we can see then the contrast in how one expresses or not their feelings and how joy and sadness can be combined with great intensity.
Esteva suggested to us that sentipensar still carries this meaning in Spanish: the conviction that you cannot think without feeling, or feel without thinking. As the feminist scholar Silvia Federici explained when we interviewed her, joy is a palpable sense of collective power:. I like the distinction between happiness and joy.
I like joy, like you, because I think joy is an active passion. Joy is the sentipensar , the thinking-feeling that arises from becoming capable of more, and often this entails feeling many emotions at once. It is resonant with what the Black poet and intellectual Audre Lorde calls the erotic:. For once we begin to feel deeply all the aspects of our lives, we begin to demand from ourselves and from our life-pursuits that they feel in accordance with that joy which we know ourselves to be capable of. Our erotic knowledge empowers us, becomes a lens through which we scrutinize all aspects of our existence, forcing us to evaluate those aspects honestly in terms of their relative meaning within our lives.
And this is a grave responsibility, projected from within each of us, not to settle for the convenient, the shoddy, the conventionally expected, nor the merely safe. Lorde makes it clear that this capacity for feeling is not about fleeting pleasure or contentment: following its line requires responsibility and pulls one away from comfort and safety.
It undoes stuckness. It makes stultifying comforts intolerable. In our interview with writer and activist adrienne maree brown, she emphasized that joy is the capacity to be more fully present with ourselves and the world:. I feel very fortunate that my mother read The Prophet by Khalil Gibran to me many times. There is this whole thing on how your sorrow carves out the space for your joy, and vice versa. That has helped me a lot. In recent years I have been on a path to learn somatics, how to be in my wholeness, with my trauma, with my triggers, with my brilliance.
In this sense, joy does not come about by avoiding pain, but by struggling amidst and through it. To make space for collective feelings of rage, grief, or loneliness can be deeply transformative. Empire, in contrast, works to keep its subjects stuck in individualizing sadness: held in habits and relationships that are depleting, toxic, and privatized. This stagnation might be held in place by the pursuit of happiness, and the attempt to numb or avoid pain.
To be more fully present, in contrast, means tuning in to that which affects us, and participating actively in the forces that shape us. This tuning-in might be subtle and tender, or it might be a violent act of refusal. Sometimes these shifts are barely perceptible and take place over decades, and sometimes they are dramatic and world-shaking. For Deleuze, thought begins from cramped spaces where one is hemmed in by the forces of subjection.
It is not an act of individual will, but a scream that interrupts unbearable forces, opening space for more active combat. One spark of refusal can lead to an upwelling of collective rage and insurrection. We should analyze this distinction between pleasure and pain as being an inscription of the social order into our bodies. And in the same way, it is the mundane and miniscule pleasures produced through contemporary power arrangements which keep us dependent on those arrangements for our well-being.
It is the process that momentarily sets us free from our fear of death literal or figurative which is such a powerful inhibitor. But more to the point, jouissance is located in precisely the aspects of these moments and of others unknown to us which elude historians, the ones which cannot be captured in a textbook or situated neatly within narratives of progress for queer people, or of rational political struggle for a better future.
Jouissance is difficult to pin down because it is movement and transformation itself. By breaking the divide between pleasure and pain, it undoes habits that hold subjects in place. We are not suggesting that there is some hidden unity behind queer nihilist jouissance , the notion of the erotic in Black feminism, or the Latin American concept of sentipensar. But we do think that these and other currents resonate with the Spinozan concept of joy: a process that is transformative, dangerous, painful, and powerful, but also somewhat elusive.
In fact, to grip it, to nail it down, to claim to represent it fully would be to turn it into a dead image divorced from its lively unfolding. The way to participate in joyful transformation is through immersion in it, which is impossible if one is always standing back, evaluating, or attempting to control things.
Even the capacity to live otherwise and reject parts of Empire is often presented in patriarchal ways: the subject of revolution is the heroic, strong-willed individual who has the capacity to see past illusions and free himself from mistakes and errors of the past. As feminist, queer, anti-racist, and Indigenous writers have pointed out, this is a vision that falls back on the detached, masculine individual as the basic unit of life and freedom. Rather than trying to rationally direct the course of events, an affective politics is about learning to participate more actively in the forces that compose the world and oneself.
This is what Spinoza meant by intelligence.
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Supporting joy cannot be achieved through a detached rationality, but only through attunement to relationships, feelings, and forces—a practical wisdom that supports flourishing and experimentation. I am so excited for this project. It all resonates deeply with things I have been thinking, witnessing, fearing, and dreaming.
The role of joy, in particular in the way you describe it, is often absent—though not entirely—from our conversations and constructions in the northern part of the Americas and Europe. It is both a fairly large and abstract concept, and at the same time a very simple, direct, and emotive one.
How do we feel when we participate in a movement or group? What are our relationships to others in the group? Does it feel open? Is there trust? Why do we come back to assemblies and actions? Are people open to one another? These questions are not just about whether people feel good. They are about how spaces and struggles affect us, and about the potential of becoming more alive, open, trusting and creative. Depending on the context, the relationships, and the way things unfold, a tactic like a strike or a street demo might be based on a dismal conformity to habit or duty, or it might be a profound experience that connects people in new ways and opens possibilities for creativity and movement.
It might also be a messy mix of stale routines, reactive containment, and transformative potential. As we explore in the next chapter, transformative power might look like a dramatic break from the relationships and life paths that have been offered by Empire, but it might also involve more subtle work of learning to love places, families, friends, and parts of ourselves in new ways. It entails deepening some bonds while severing others, and enabling selective openness through firm boundaries. What could it mean to be militant or fiercely committed to all this?
Is it possible to be militant about creativity and care? Can militancy be something that is responsive and relationship-based? Can people be militant about joy? We want to connect joy to militancy for a number of reasons. We are interested in how the capacity for refusal and the willingness to fight can be enabling, relational, and can open up potentials for collective struggle and movement, in ways that are not necessarily associated with control, duty, or vanguardism. We want an expansive conception of militancy that affirms the potential of transformation at the expense of comfort, safety, or predictability.
With joyful militancy we want to get at what it means to enliven struggle and care, combativeness and tenderness, hand in hand. However, the historical associations and current renderings of militancy are complex. Historically, militancy is often associated with Marxist-Leninist and Maoist vanguardism, and the ways these ideologies have informed revolutionary class struggle and national liberation struggles.
These ideals of militancy have been challenged, especially by Black, Indigenous, and postcolonial feminists, who have pointed out the pitfalls of rigid ideology, patriarchal leadership, and the neglect of care and love. The traditional figure of the militant—zealous, rigid, and ruthless—has also been challenged by situationism, anarchism, feminism, queer politics, and other currents that have connected direct action and struggle to the liberation of desire, foregrounding the importance of creativity and experimentation.
From this perspective, the militant is the one who is always trying to control things, to take charge, to educate, to radicalize, and so on. This kind of militant tends to be two steps behind transformations as they manifest themselves, always finding them lacking the correct analysis or strategy, always imposing a framework or program. The suspected presence of one militant is enough to turn a whole area into a strike zone in which all military-aged men are conceived as enemy combatants, and everyone else as collateral damage.
Within this discourse, the militant is increasingly the ultimate Other, to be targeted for death or indefinite detention. In all of these representations—from the Maoist rebel to the terrorist extremist—the figure of the militant tends to be associated with intense discipline, duty, and armed struggle, and these ways of being are often posed in opposition to being supple, responsive, or sensitive. At the same time, there are other currents of militancy that make space for transformation and joy. When we interviewed her, queer Filipino organizer Melanie Matining spoke about its potential to break down stereotypes:.
It was used a lot in Filipino organizing. It breaks down sterotypes of submissiveness. Artist and writer Jackie Wang argues that militancy is not only tactically necessary, but transformative for those who embody it. He also focuses on Indigenous refusal and resistance, the revaluation of Indigenous traditions, and a rise in Indigenous militancy and direct action. So that is the emergent part.
It comes in cycles. The always-there emergent militancy is acted on through management strategies, recognition and accommodation, whatever. That has its effects: it dampens the crisis, it overcomes contradictions temporarily. And then the militancy will emerge again.
And it boils over, comes to the surface, and some new technology is deployed in order to manage it, and reconciliation is the latest tool that is doing that work. It comes out of the ongoing refusal of Indigenous peoples to give up their ways of life. The summer of brought some strong medicine to Turtle Island. This was about years of resistance. It was not a beginning. Nor was this the end. This was a culmination of many, many years of Onhkwehonwe resistance resulting in a decision to put up barricades in defense of, and to bring attention to, Haudenesaunee land ethics, treaty responsibilities, and governance.
Indigenous resurgence and events like Oka are not joyful in the sense of being happy, but in the sense that they are deeply transformative and able to catalyze solidarity across Turtle Island. But unlike Marxist conceptions of militancy in which the vanguard is supposed to usher in a global revolution, it is clear that Indigenous struggles do not implicate everyone in the same way. It compels us to learn, together, how to support Indigenous resurgence and resist settler colonial violence.
Joyful militancy has also emerged in spaces where people generate the capacity to move with despair and hopelessness, to politicize it. In her study of the queer movement ACT UP, queer theorist and activist Deborah Gould shows how their militant tactics not only won institutional victories that prolonged and saved lives; they were also a process of world-making:. It was a place to elaborate critiques of the status quo, to imagine alternative worlds, to express anger, to defy authority, to form sexual and other intimacies, to practice non-hierarchical governance and self-determination, to argue with one another, to refashion identities, to experience new feelings, to be changed.
The militancy of ACT UP was not only about a willingness to be confrontational and defy conventions of straight society and mainstream gay and lesbian politics; the movement also created erotically-charged queer atmospheres and sustained networks of care and support for members who got sick. Catalyzed by grief and rage, it blew open political horizons and changed what was possible for people to think, do, and feel together.
But, on the other hand, I would say that a militant is somebody who struggles for justice in the situation … Thus we have to pay attention to the situation, to the encounters that take place in it, to how meaning is elaborated there, to the subjectivities that arise as a result of those encounters. It is an attempt to intervene effectively in the here and now, based on a capacity to be attuned to relationships. Because they have not separated affects from political activity, Mothers never consider each other means toward ends. Nobody has to be subordinated to strengthen the organization. Rather, they regard each other as ends in themselves.
What bonds them together is not an idea but the affect, love and friendship that arises from supporting each other, sharing intimate emotions, moments of joy and sorrow. They organize themselves through consensus, understood not as a system of decision-making or conflict resolution, but as a direct engagement with the lives of one another. As in a now long established feminist tradition, for them the personal is political. Mothers guide themselves by an ethics of intimate conviction whose exercise cannot be detached from everyday life.
They have a profound distrust of ideologies and party lines and are proud of their autonomy from the state, political parties, unions and NGOs. Their autonomy does not consist in fighting against a dominant ideology, which might summon the need for the specialized knowledge of a vanguard party, but rather … in the affirmation of liberating aspects of popular culture that already exist among them. The Mothers are a powerful example of how militancy often springs from everyday life and the bonds of kinship, rather than abstract ideological or moral commitments.
These struggles eventually waned or were absorbed by Empire, at least partially. The Argentinean government eventually began using the discourse of human rights and began to offer money and services as an attempt to relegitimize the state and regain control, causing deep divisions between the Mothers and other movements in Argentina.
As Coulthard explains above, new forms of militancy tend to provoke new strategies of containment and absorption by the state, leading to the invention of new forms of struggle. None of these movements stayed frozen in one form: in various ways they transformed, dissolved, shifted, or were institutionalized.
Joyful transformation sometimes ebbs and flows, becomes captured or crushed, grows subtler or percolates into everyday life, but always re-emerges and renews itself. Militancy is not a fixed ideal to approximate. We cannot become these examples, nor should we look to them as ideals. Rather than boiling joyful militancy down to a fixed way of being or a set of characteristics, we see it arising in and through the relationships that people have with each other.
This means it will always look different, based on the emergent connections, relationships, and convictions that animate it. In relation to this, we believe it is important to hesitate, lest our understanding of militancy become another form of rigid radicalism. Not everyone we spoke with has been enthusiastic about this word. For instance, in our interview with them, writer and artist Margaret Killjoy was ambivalent, emphasizing its connection to armed struggle:.
It's dangerous as terminology … I don't use it much myself … because of course the first implication it seems to have is that of armed struggle, which is far from a universally applicable strategy or tactic. We hope that joyful militancy allows for questions and uncertainties that are too often smothered by conventional conceptions of militancy. We also recognize that many will still prefer different language. We are not suggesting that all joyful struggles share an ideology, a program, or a set of tactics. What we are calling joyful militancy is not a shared content, though we do think there are some shared values and sensibilities.
Rather it is an attunement and activation of collective power that looks different everywhere, because everywhere is different. It is expressed in quiet forms of subversion and sabotage, as well as all the forms of care, connection, and support that defy the isolation and violence of Empire. It is not a question of being a certain way, but a question of open-ended becoming, starting from wherever people find themselves.
It often erupts through the capacity to say no, to refuse, or to attack the debilitating form of life offered up by Empire. It might come through a riot or a barricade. Ultimately it is up to people to figure this out for themselves by composing gestures, histories, relationships, feelings, textures, world events, neighborhoods, ancestors, languages, tools, and bodies in a way that enables something new, deepening a crack in Empire.
This is at odds with the stiff, macho militancy that attempts to control change from above. It cannot be a kind of more-radical-than-you stance that occupies a fixed position or argues for a single way forward. How do we create situations where we feel more alive and capable than before? Is it Thou my spirit has so constantly struggled for? Alas, my God, why didst Thou not show Thyself to me long ago? Why hast Thou delayed so long? How many a weary way have I not wandered! Eternal Wisdom: Had I done so thou wouldst not have known My goodness so sensibly as now thou knowest it. The Servant: O unfathomable goodness!
How very sweetly hast Thou not manifested Thyself to me! When I was not, Thou gavest me being. When I had separated from Thee, Thou didst not separate from me; when I wished to escape from Thee, Thou didst hold me sweetly captive. Yes, Thou Eternal Wisdom, if my heart might embrace Thee and consume all my days with Thee in love and praise, such would be its desire; for truly that man is blest whom Thou dost anticipate so lovingly that Thou lettest him have nowhere true rest, till he seeks his rest in Thee alone.
O Wisdom Elect! Since in Thee I have found Him whom my soul loveth, despise not Thy poor creature. See how dumb my heart is to all the world in joy and sorrow. Lord, is my heart always to be dumb towards Thee? O give my wretched soul leave, my dearest Lord, to speak a word with Thee, for my heart is too full to contain itself any longer; neither has it anyone in all this world to whom it can unburden itself, except to Thee, my elected Lord, Father, and Brother.
Lord, Thou alone knowest the nature of a love-overflowing heart, and knowest that no one can love what he cannot in any way know. Therefore, since I am now to love Thee alone, give me to know Thee entirely, so that I may be also able to love Thee entirely. Eternal Wisdom: The highest emanation of all beings, taken in their natural order, is through the noblest beings to the lowest, but their refluence to their origin is through the lowest to the highest. Therefore, if thou art wishful to behold Me in My uncreated Divinity thou must learn how to know and love Me here in My suffering humanity for this is the speediest way to eternal salvation.
The Servant: Then let me remind Thee to-day, Lord, of Thy unfathomable love, when Thou didst incline Thyself from Thy lofty throne, from the royal seat of the fatherly heart, in misery and disgrace for three-and-thirty years, and didst show the love which Thou hast for me and all mankind, principally in the most bitter passion of Thy cruel death: Lord, be Thou reminded of this, that Thou mayest manifest Thyself spiritually to my soul, in that most sweet and lovely form to which Thy immeasurable love did bring Thee.
Eternal Wisdom: The more mangled, the more deathly I am for love, the more lovely am I to a well-regulated mind. My unfathomable love shows itself in the great bitterness of My passion, like the sun in its brightness, like the fair rose in its perfume, like the strong fire in its glowing heat. Therefore, hear with devotion how cruelly I suffered for thee. A fter the Last Supper, when on the Mount of Olives, I gave Myself up to the pangs of cruel death, and when I felt that he was present before Me, I was bathed in a bloody sweat, because of the anguish of My tender Heart, and the agony of My whole bodily nature.
I was ignominiously betrayed, taken prisoner like an enemy, rigorously bound, and led miserable away. After this I was impiously maltreated with blows, with spittle, with blindfolding, accused before Caiphas, and pronounced worthy of death. Unspeakable sorrows of heart were then seen in My dear Mother, from the first sight she had of My distress till I was hung upon the cross. I was shamefully presented before Pilate, falsely denounced, and sentenced to die. They stood over against Me with terrible eyes like fierce giants, and I stood before them like a meek lamb.
I, the Eternal Wisdom, was mocked as a fool in a white garment before Herod, My fair body was rent and torn without mercy by the rude stripes of whips, My lovely countenance was drenched in spittle and blood, and in this condition I was condemned, and miserable and shamefully led forth with My cross to death. They shouted after Me very furiously, so that: Crucify, crucify the miscreant!
Resounded to the skies. The Servant: Alas! Lord, the beginning is indeed so bitter, how will it end? If I were to see a wild beast so abused I should hardly be able to bear it. With what reason, then, must not Thy Passion pierce my heart and soul! But, Lord, this is a great marvel to my heart; I would needs seek Thy divinity, and Thou showest me Thy humanity; I would needs seek Thy sweetness, and Thou settest before me Thy bitterness; I would needs conquer, Thou teachest me to fight.
Lord, what dost Thou mean? Eternal Wisdom: No one can attain divine exaltation or singular sweetness except by passing through the image of My human abasement and bitterness. The higher one climbs without passing through My humanity, the deeper one falls. My humanity is the way one must go, My Passion the gate through which one must penetrate, to arrive at that which thou seekest.
Therefore, lay aside thy faint-heartedness, and enter with Me the lists of knightly resolve: for, indeed, softness beseems not the servant when his master stands ready in warlike boldness. I will put thee on My coat of mail, for My entire Passion must thou suffer over again according to thy strength.
Make up thy mind to a daring encounter, for thy heart, before thou shalt subdue thy nature, must often die, and thou must sweat the bloody sweat of anguish because of many a painful suffering under which I mean to prepare thee for Myself; for with red blossoms will I manure thy spice garden. Contrary to old custom, must thou be made prisoner and bound; thou wilt often be secretly calumniated and publicly defamed by My adversaries; many a false judgment will people pass on thee; My torments must thou then diligently carry in thy heart with a motherly heartfelt love. Thou wilt obtain many a severe judge of thy godly life; so also will thy godly ways be often mocked as folly by human ways; thy undisciplined body will be scourged with a hard and severe life; thou wilt be scoffingly crowned with persecution of thy holy life; after this, if only thou shalt issue forth from thy own will and deny thyself, and shalt stand as wholly disengaged from all creatures in the things which might lead thee astray in thy eternal salvation, even as a dying man when he departs hence, and has nothing more to do with this world; if only thou shalt do this, then wilt thou be led forth with Me on the miserable way of the cross.
The Servant: Woe is me, Lord, but this is a dreary pastime! My whole nature rebels against these words. Lord, how shall I ever endure it all? Gentle Lord, one thing I must say: couldst Thou not have found out some other way, in Thy eternal wisdom, to save me and show Thy love for me, some way which would have exempted Thee from Thy great sufferings, and me from their bitter participation? How very wonderful do Thy judgments appear! Eternal Wisdom: The bottomless abyss of My hidden mysteries in which I order everything according to My eternal providence , let no one explore, for no one can fathom it.
And yet, in this abyss, what thou askest about and many things besides are possible, which yet never happen. However, know this much, that, in the order in which emanated beings now are, a more acceptable or more pleasing way could not be. The Lord of nature knows well what He can do in nature. He knows what is best suited to every creature, and He operates accordingly. How should man better know the hidden things of God than in His assumed Humanity? How might he, who has forfeited all joy through irregular lusts, be rendered susceptible of regular and eternal joy?
How would it be possible to follow the unpractised way of a hard and despised life, unless it had been followed by God Himself? If thou didst lie under sentence of death, how could He, who should suffer the fatal penalty in thy stead, better prove His fidelity and love towards thee, or better excite thee to love Him in return? Him, therefore, whom My unfathomable love, My unspeakable mercy, and My bright divinity, My most affable humanity, brotherly truth, espousing friendship, cannot move to ardent love, what else shall soften his stony heart?
Ask the fair array of all created beings if ever I could have maintained My justice, evinced My fathomless mercy, ennobled human nature, poured out My goodness, reconciled heaven and earth, in a way more efficacious than by My bitter death? The Servant: Lord, truly, I begin to perceive that it is even so, and he whom want of understanding has not blinded, and who well considers the subject, must confess it to Thee, and extol the beautiful ways of Thy love above all ways. But still to follow Thee is very painful to a slothful body. Eternal Wisdom: Be not terrified at the following of My Passion.
For he whose interior is so possessed by God that suffering is easy to him has no cause to complain. No one enjoys Me more in My singular sweetness than he who stands with Me in harsh bitterness. No one complains so much of the bitterness of the husks as he to whom the interior sweetness of the kernel is unknown. For him who has a good second the fight is half won. The Servant: Lord, Thy comforting words have given me such heart, that, methinks, I am able to do and suffer all things in Thee. Therefore, I desire that Thou wouldst unlock for me the entire treasure of Thy Passion, and tell me still more about it.
E ternal Wisdom: When I was suspended on the lofty tree of the cross because of My unfathomable love to thee and all mankind, My whole frame was very grievously distorted, My bright eyes were extinguished and turned in My head; My divine ears were filled with scoffing and blasphemy; My delicate nostrils were wounded with foul smells; My sweet mouth was tormented with bitter drink; and My tender feeling with hard blows.
The whole earth was not able to afford Me any rest, for My feeble head was bowed down with pain and distress, My fair throat was unnaturally distended, My pure countenance polluted with spittle, My beautiful complexion faded. My comely figure withered entirely away, as though I were an outcast leper, and had never been the fair and Eternal Wisdom. The Servant: O Thou most gracious mirror of all graces, in which the heavenly spirits regale and feed their eyes, would that I had before me Thy delicious countenance in its deathly aspect until I had well steeped it in the tears of my heart; would that I might behold again and again those beautiful eyes, those bright cheeks, that tender mouth, all ghastly and dead, till I had fully relieved my heart in fervent lamentation over my Love.
Sweet Lord, Thy Passion affects so deeply the hearts of some people that they are able to lament over Thee with the greatest fervour, and weep for Thee from their very hearts. O God, could I, and might I, now represent all devout hearts with my lamentation, might I shed the tears of all eyes, and utter the doleful words of all tongues, then would I show Thee to-day how near to my heart Thy woeful Passion lies. Eternal Wisdom: No one can better show how deeply his heart is affected by My Passion than he who endures it with Me in the practice of good works.
To Me, a free heart, unconcerned about perishable love, and ever intent on following the main thing according to the type of My contemplated Passion, is more agreeable than if thou didst always bewail Me, and didst shed as many tears from weeping over My torments as there ever rained drops of water from the sky; for the following of Me was the cause in which I suffered bitter death, although tears are also pleasing and agreeable to Me. The Servant: O sweet Lord, since then an affectionate following of Thy meek life and voluntary Passion is so agreeable to Thee, I will in future be more assiduous in a voluntary following than in a weeping sorrow.
But, as I ought to have both, according to Thy words, teach me how I shall resemble Thee in both. Eternal Wisdom: Renounce thy pleasure in dissolute sights and voluptuous words; let that savour sweetly of love, and be grateful to thee, which before was repugnant to thee; thou shouldst seek all thy rest in Me, shouldst willingly suffer wrong from others, desire contempt, mortify thy passions, and die to all thy lusts.
Such is the first lesson in the school of wisdom, which is to be read in the open, distended book of My crucified body. And consider and see, whether, if any one in all this world were to do his utmost, he could yet be to Me what I am to him? T he Servant: Lord, if I forget Thy worth, Thy gifts, Thy benefits, and all things, still one thing moves me and goes to my very heart; this is, when I well reflect not only on the way of our salvation, but also on its unfathomably faithful way.
Dear Lord, many a one so bestows a gift on another, that his love and faith are better known by his way than by his gift. A small gift in a faithful way is often better than a great one without this way. Now, Lord, not only is Thy gift so great, but also the way of it, methinks, is so unfathomably faithful.
Thou didst not only suffer death for me, but Thou didst also seek whatever is deepest in love, whatever is most intimate and hidden, in which suffering can or may be experienced. Thou didst really do as though Thou hadst said: Behold all hearts, if ever a heart was so full of love; look on all my limbs; the noblest limb I have is my heart; my very heart have I permitted to be pierced through, to be slain and consumed, and bruised into small pieces, that nothing in me or upon me might remain unbestowed, so that ye might know my love.
Lord, how was it in Thy mind, or what were Thy thoughts? Might one not indeed learn something farther on this head? Eternal Wisdom: Never was there a thirsty mouth that longed so ardently for the cool fountain, nor a dying man for the pleasant days of life, as I longed to help all sinners and to render Myself beloved of them. Sooner couldst thou recall the days that are gone, sooner couldst thou make green all withered flowers, and gather up every drop of rain, than possess the power to measure the love which I bear to thee and all mankind.
And, therefore, was I so covered with marks of love that one could not have placed the small point of a needle on any spot of My lacerated body that had not its particular love-mark. Consider that My right hand was nailed through; My right arm stretched out; My left very grievously distended; My right foot perforated; My left cruelly transfixed; that I hung fainting, and in great distress of My divine limbs; all My delicate members were immovably fastened to the hard bed of the cross.
My hot blood, because of My anguish, burst forth in many a wild gush, which overflowed My expiring body, so that it was a most piteous sight to see. Behold a lamentable thing! My young, My fair and blooming body began to fade, to wither and pine away, My weary and tender back had a hard pillow on the rough cross, My heavy body gave way, My whole frame was gashed with wounds, and like one great sore, and all this My loving heart willingly endured. T he Servant: Now then, cheer up thou soul of mine! Collect thyself entirely from all exterior things into the calm silence of thy interior, that so thou mayest break away, and wander at large, and run wild in the rugged wilderness of an unfathomable sorrow of heart, up to the high rock of misery, now contemplated; and mayest cry aloud from the depths of thy sad and languishing heart, till it resound over hill and valley throughout the sky, and pierce even to heaven before all the heavenly host; and speak with thy lamentable voice thus: Alas, ye living rocks, ye savage beasts, ye sunny meads!
Who will give me the burning fire of my full heart, and the scalding water of my sorrowful tears, to wake you up, that ye may help me to bewail the unfathomable heartrending woe which my poor heart so secretly suffers? Me had my heavenly Father adorned above all living creatures, and elected to be His own tender and blessed spouse. And lo, I have fled from Him! Woe is me! I have lost the beloved of my choice, my only one! Woe on my wretched heart! Forever woe! What have I done, what have I lost! I have fled from myself, all the host of heaven, all that could give me joy and delight, have fled from me!
I sit forsaken, for my false lovers were deceivers. O misery and death! How falsely and miserably have ye not forsaken me, how despoiled me of all the good with which my only love had arrayed me! Alas honour! Alas joy! Alas all consolation! How am I utterly robbed of you! Whither shall I turn myself? The entire world has forsaken me, because I have forsaken my only love.
Wretched me! When I did so what a lamentable hour it was! Behold in me a late daisy, behold in me a sloe thorn, all ye red roses, ye white lilies! Take notice how very quickly that flower withers, fades, and dies, which this world gathers! For I must always thus living, die; thus blooming, fade; thus youthful, grow old; thus healthy, sicken. And yet, tender Lord, all that I suffer is of small account compared to my having made wroth Thy fatherly countenance; for this is to me a hell and a grief above all grief.
Alas, that Thou shouldst have been so graciously kind, that Thou shouldst have warned me so tenderly, and drawn me so affectionately, and that I should have so utterly despised it all! O heart of man! What canst thou not endure! As hard as steel must thou be not to burst utterly with woe.
True, I was once called His beloved spouse: woe is me! I am not now worthy to be called His poor handmaid. Nevermore, for bitter shame, may I raise my eyes. Henceforth in joy and sorrow my mouth to Him must be dumb. O how narrow for me is this wide world! O sin, to what a pass has thou brought me! Woe to thee, thou false world! Woe to him that serves thee! How hast thou rewarded me, seeing that I am a burthen to myself and thee, and ever must be.
Hail, all hail to you, ye rich queens! Ye rich souls, who, by the misfortunes of others, have become wise; who have continued in your first innocence of body and mind; how unwittingly blessed ye are! O pure conscience! O free and single heart! How ignorant are ye of the state of a heart oppressed and sorrowful through sin! Ah me, poor spouse, how happy was I with my Beloved, and how little did I know it! Who will give me the breadth of the heavens for parchment, the depth of the sea for ink, leaves and grass for pens, that I may write fully out my desolation of soul, and the irreparable calamity which my woeful separation from my Beloved has brought upon me!
Alas that ever I was born! What is left but for me to cast myself into the abyss of despair? Eternal Wisdom: Thou must not despair. Did I not come into the world for the sake of thee and all sinners, that I might lead thee back to My Father in such beauty, brightness, and purity, as otherwise thou never couldst have acquired? The Servant: O what is that which sounds so sweetly in a dead and outcast soul?
Eternal Wisdom: Dost thou not know Me? Art thou fallen so low, or hast thou lost thy senses, because of thy great trouble, my tender child? And yet it is I, the all-merciful Wisdom, I Who have opened wide the abyss of infinite mercy, which is, however, hidden from all the saints, to receive thee and all penitent hearts. It is I, the sweet Eternal Wisdom, who became wretched and poor that I might guide thee back again to thy dignity. It is I, Who suffered bitter death that I might bring thee again to life.
Lo, here I am, pale, bloody, affectionate, as when suspended between thee and the severe judgment of My Father, on the lofty gibbet of the cross. It is I, thy brother. Behold, it is I, thy bridegroom! Everything that thou ever didst against Me will I wholly forget, as though it had never happened, provided only that thou return to Me, and never quit Me more. Wash thyself in My precious blood, lift up thy head, open thy eyes, and be of good cheer.
Receive as a token of entire peace and complete expiation My wedding ring on thy hand, receive thy first robe, shoes on thy feet, and the fond name of My bride for ever! Lo, I have garnered thee up with such bitter toil! Therefore, if the whole world were a consuming fire, and there lay in the midst of it a handful of flax, it would not, from its very nature, be so susceptible of the burning flame as the abyss of My mercy is ready to pardon a repentant sinner, and blot out his sins. The Servant: O my Father!
O my Brother! O all that can ravish my heart! And wilt Thou still be gracious to my offending soul? O what goodness, what unfathomable compassion! For this will I fall prostrate at Thy feet, O heavenly Father! And thank Thee from the bottom of my heart, and beg of Thee to look on Thy only-begotten Son, whom, out of love Thou gavest to bitter death, and to forget my grievous misdeeds.
Remember, heavenly Father, how Thou didst swear of old to Noah, and didst say: I will stretch My bow in the sky; I will look upon it, and it shall be a sign of reconciliation between Me and the earth. O look now upon it, tender Father, how cruelly stretched out it is, so that its bones and ribs can be numbered; look how red, how green, how yellow, love has made it! Look, O heavenly Father, through the hands, the arms, and the feet, so woefully distended, of Thy tender and only-begotten Son. Look at His beautiful body, all rose colour with wounds, and forget Thy anger against me.
Such is Thy name. To whom did Thou give Thy best-beloved Son? To sinners. Lord, he is mine! Lord, he is ours! This very day will I enclose myself with His bare extended arms in a loving embrace in the bottom of my heart and soul, and living or dead will never more be separated from Him. Therefore, do Him honour to-day in me, and graciously forget that wherein I may have angered Thee.
For, methinks it were easier for me to suffer death than ever to anger Thee, my heavenly Father, again. Neither afflictions nor oppressions, neither hell nor purgatory, are such causes of lamentation to my heart, as that I ever should have angered and dishonoured Thee, my Creator, my Lord, my God, my Saviour, the joy and delight of my heart. Oh, if for this I could give voice to my grief of soul, through all the heavens, till my heart should burst into a thousand pieces, how gladly would I do it!
And the more entirely Thou forgivest my evil deeds, so much the greater is my sorrow of heart at having been so ungrateful in return for thy great goodness. And Thou, my only consolation, Thou my tender elected one, Eternal Wisdom! How can I ever make Thee a complete and proper return of thanks for having at so dear a rate healed and reconciled with Thy pangs and wounds the breach which all created beings could not have made good?
And, therefore, my eternal joy, teach me how to bear Thy wounds and love-marks on my entire body, and how to have them at all times in my keeping, so that all this world, and all the heavenly host, may see that I am grateful for the infinite good which, out of Thy unfathomable goodness alone, Thou hast bestowed on my lost soul. Eternal Wisdom: Thou shouldst give thyself and all that is thine to Me cheerfully, and never take them back. All that is not of absolute necessity to thee shouldst thou leave untouched; then will thy hands be truly nailed to My cross. Thou shouldst cheerfully set about good works and persevere in them; then will thy left foot be made fast.
Thy inconstant mind and wandering thoughts shouldst thou make constant and collected in Me; and thus thy right foot will be nailed to My cross. Thy mental and bodily powers must not seek rest in lukewarmness; in the likeness of My arms they should be stretched out in My service. Thy sickly body must often, in honour of my dislocated bones, be wearied out in spiritual exercises, and rendered incapable of fulfilling its own desires.
Many an unknown suffering must strain thee to Me on the narrow bed of the cross, by which thou wilt become lovely like Me, and of the colour of blood. The withering away of thy nature must make Me blooming again; thy spontaneous hardships must be to My weary back as a bed; thy resolute resistance to sin must relieve My spirit; thy devout heart must soften My pains, and thy high flaming heart must kindle My fervid heart.
The Servant: Now, then, fulfill Thou my good wishes, according to Thy highest praise, and according to Thy very best will; for indeed Thy yoke is sweet, and Thy burthen light: this do all those know who have experienced it, and who were once overladen with the heavy load of sin. T he Servant: Sweetest God, if I leave Thee but a little I am like a young roe which has strayed from its dam, and is pursued by the hunter, and runs wildly about, until it escapes back to its cover.
Lord, I flee, I run to Thee with ardent desire, like a stag to the living waters. Lord, one little hour without Thee is a whole year; to be estranged one day from Thee is as much as a thousand years to a loving heart. Therefore, Thou branch of salvation, Thou bush of May, Thou red blooming rose-tree, open and spread out the green branches of Thy divine nature. Lord, Thy countenance is so full of graciousness, Thy mouth so full of living words, Thy whole carriage such a pure mirror of all discipline and meekness! O Thou aspect of graciousness to all the saints, how very blessed is he who is found worthy of Thy sweet espousals!
Eternal Wisdom: Many are called to them, but few are chosen. Eternal Wisdom: Lift up, therefore, thy eyes, and behold this vision. The Servant lifted up his eyes and was terrified, and, with a deep sigh, said: Woe to me, dear Lord, that ever I was born! Do I see aright, or is it only a dream? I saw Thee before in such richness of beauty, and such tenderness of love; now I see nothing but a poor, outcast, miserable pilgrim who stands wretchedly leaning on his staff before an old decayed city.
The trenches are in ruins, the walls falling down, only that, here and there, the high tops of the old timber work still project aloft; and in the city is a great multitude of people; among them are many that look like wild beasts in a human form: and the miserable pilgrim goes wandering about to see if any one will take him by the hand.
I behold the multitude drive him with insult away, and hardly look at him, because of the things about which they are busy. And yet some, but only a very few, offer to give him their hands; this the other wild beasts come and prevent. Now I hear the miserable pilgrim begin to sigh woefully, and cry aloud: O heaven and earth have pity on me; me who have garnered up this city with such bitter toil, and who am so badly welcomed in it, while those who have spent no labour upon it are yet so kindly received!
Lord, such is what has been shown me in the vision. O Thou eternal God, what does it mean? Am I right or wrong? Eternal Wisdom: This vision is a vision of pure truth. Hearken to a lamentable thing; O let it touch thy heart with pity! I am the miserable pilgrim whom thou didst see. At one time I was in great honour in that city, but now I am brought down to great misery and driven out.
The Servant: Dearest Lord! What is this city, what are the people in it? Eternal Wisdom: This decayed city is an image of that spiritual life in which I was once so worthily served. And while they were living in it so holily and securely, it begins in many places to fall very much to ruin; the trenches begin to decay, and the walls to crack, that is to say, devout obedience, voluntary poverty, secluded purity in holy simplicity, begin to disappear, and, at last, to such a degree that nothing is to be seen standing, except the high timber work of mere exterior observance.
As to the great multitude, the beasts in human form, they are worldly hearts under spiritual disguises, who, in the vain pursuit of transitory things, drive Me out of their souls.
That a few should, nevertheless, offer to give Me their hands, but are hindered by the rest, signifies that some men of good intentions and devout feelings are perverted by the speech and evil example of others. The staff on which thou didst see Me stand leaning, is the cross of My bitter passion, with which I admonish them at all times to think on My sufferings, and to turn, with the love of their hearts to Me alone.
But the cry of misery thou didst hear is My death which even here begins to cry aloud, and ever cries aloud, because of those in whom neither My unfathomable love nor My bitter death is able to do so much as to expel the worm of sinful thoughts from their hearts. The Servant: O Lord, how it cuts through my very heart and soul to think Thou art so lovable, and yet, in spite of all Thy advances, art in many hearts so utterly despised. Tender Lord, what will Thy advances be to those who, though they see Thee in the miserable shape in which Thou art rejected by the multitude, yet stretch out their hands to Thee with sincere faith and love?
Eternal Wisdom: Those who for My sake give up perishable affections, and receive Me with sincere faith and love, and remain constant to the end, will I espouse with My divine love and sweetness, and will give them My hand in death, and exalt them on the throne of My glory before the whole court of heaven. The Servant: Lord, there be many who think they will still love Thee without giving up perishable love.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Lord, they will needs be very dear to Thee, and yet will not the less indulge in temporal love. Eternal Wisdom: It is as impossible as to compress the heavens together and enclose them in a nut shell. Such persons array themselves in fair words, they build upon the wind, and construct upon the rainbow. How may the eternal abide with the temporal, when even one temporal thing neither can nor will endure another? He but deceives himself who thinks he can lodge the King of kings in a common inn, or thrust Him into the mean dwelling of a servant. In entire seclusion from all creatures must he keep himself who is desirous of receiving his guest as he ought.
The Servant: Alas, sweet Lord, how completely bewitched must they all be not to see this!
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Eternal Wisdom: They stand in deep blindness. They endure many a hard struggle for pleasures which yet neither fix their attachment nor afford them full gratification. Before they obtain one joy they meet with ten sorrows, and the more they pursue their lusts the more are these upbraided with being insufficient. Godless hearts must needs be at all times in fear and trembling. Even the fleeting pleasure they obtain proves very harsh to them, for they procure it with much toil, they enjoy it in great anxiety, and lose it with much bitterness.
The world is full of untruth, falsehood, and inconstancy; when profit is at an end, friendship is at an end, and to speak shortly, neither true love, nor entire joy, nor constant peace of mind, was ever obtained by any heart from creatures. Dear Lord, what a lamentable thing it is, that so many a noble soul, so many a languishing heart, so many an image formed after God in such beauty and sweetness, that in Thy espousals ought to be queens and empresses, powerful in heaven and on earth, should so foolishly go astray and degrade themselves!
Oh, wonder of wonders! To think that of their own accord they should be lost! Since, according to Thy words of truth, the fell separation of the soul from the body were better for them than that Thou, the Life Eternal, shouldest have to separate from their souls where Thou findest no dwelling-place. Oh, ye dull fools, behold how your great ruin prospers, how your great loss increases, how you allow the precious, the fair, the delightsome moments to pass away, which ye may hardly or indeed never again possess, and how gaily you carry yourselves the while, as though it concerned you not!
Thou gentle Wisdom, did they but know it and feel it surely they would desist. Eternal Wisdom: Listen to a wonderful and lamentable thing. They know it and feel it at all hours, and yet do not desist; they know it and yet will not know it; they beautify it, like unsound argument, with dazzling brightness, which yet is unlike the naked truth, as so many of them at last, when it is too late, will have to feel.
Tender Wisdom, how senseless they are, or what does it mean? There were 52 questions, questions like: Do you hate to get up in the morning? Is life boring? Do you ever think about killing yourself? Are you unhappy? Do you have trouble eating? All kinds of questions. And they were designed to determine whether a person was depressed. A score of 10 or higher indicated you were depressed. The higher the score, the greater the depression. I took the test as objectively as I could; my score was zero. Now if you could quantify joy, I must have it. Zero, I am totally not depressed.
Now, I may be unhappy, but remember happiness is a response to circumstance; joy is a confidence built on relationship. Now that test can never be objective for a Spirit-filled Christian because a Spirit-filled Christian possesses joy. And do you remember what I told you joy was? Joy is a gift from God to those who believe the gospel of Christ, being produced in them by the Holy Spirit, because they receive and obey the Word of God while experiencing trials and keeping their hope fixed on the glory which is to come.
Paul, no doubt, would have had a zero, too, on the test, and his situation was far worse than mine. And the joy that Paul or any other Christian experiences is not some transient, emotional feeling that lifts you up one moment and drops you the next, depending on circumstances. True joy is an unwavering constant in a Spirit-filled life.
It is not produced by a bed-of-roses experience, of tranquility, and peace, and comfort, and safety. He had joy. He had joy, the result of his eternal relationship with a living God through Jesus Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit within him. And because he was so near to God, he was full of joy. And so Paul knew that inexpressible and irrepressible joy, which is an abiding feeling of peace, and calm, and tranquility, and contentment, and delight, and satisfaction that flows out of deep within because of the presence of God being imprinted on the soul, and the conscience being void of offense toward God.
Paul was filled with joy in spite of his situation. And I understand what that means. Now Paul, filled with joy, writes this letter to the beloved Philippians. And as he thinks about them, his joy overflows. The joy that he had in his heart because of his relationship to the living God spilled over when he thought about the Philippians. It was a special congregation. There were really no major problems among the Philippians. All my memories, all my prayers, all of you bring me joy. They had some needs. They had needs. Paul was not blind to their needs, but rejoiced in the level of their spiritual commitment.
They loved the Lord. They loved Paul. They cared for Paul with an unusual zeal, more than any other church; they continually sent him gifts of money to meet his need, to support him. They were generous in their gifts. And every time he thought about them he rejoiced. They were magnanimous, they were generous. Everything they did demonstrated their love. And as he writes he is a prisoner in Rome. And they heard about that, and because of their love for him, they want to send to him a gift of love, money. The bearer of that gift is one of their congregation named Epaphroditus.
Well, when Paul received that gift from the Philippians, when Paul received Epaphroditus, the receipt of their love, and care, and generosity to him opened the floodgates of joy in his heart. Trials, in fact, may become occasions of deeper joy, because they cast the believer totally off his circumstances and onto his God. Now, as we come to verses 3 through 8, his joy spills out.
And as it spills out, we see the elements of his joy.
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There were pieces of that joy that we can identify - characteristics, elements. There was the joy of recollection, the joy of intercession, the joy of participation, the joy of anticipation, and the joy of affection. Let me just label these the elements of a Spirit-produced joy — the elements of a Spirit-produced joy that relates to others, that relates to others.
Now, before we look at these I need to say this. No one — now mark this — no one and absolutely nothing can produce this kind of joy but the Holy Spirit, okay? Only the Holy Spirit can produce this joy. Let me give you an illustration. Wednesday, I found on my desk a book.
Publishers send me books — not only Christian publishers send them to me to review, but secular publishers as well. Let me tell you about the book. And it recommends that the way to overcome depression, according to this doctor, 70 to 80 percent effective, is through the use of amino acids and vitamin-mineral supplements. I found myself drawn into the book, so I read it. A person in depression can be tested in these ways by the examination of their fluid, and the depression shows up in a chemical deficiency. These are identified as chemical markers for depression.
Depleted chemicals cause a distorted function. In the brain, she goes on to point out, there are neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are what pass impulses from one cell to the next. That creates depression, somehow. These neurotransmitters are the chemicals released at the nerve endings in the brain when one cell is close to another, and they are essential for the brain to pass its messages and data around. The two ones that we know are serotonin and norepinephrine. Now, when those are depleted, that goes along with depression.
So, says Dr. Slagle, depression can be relieved, then, by replacing serotonin and norepinephrine through amino acids and vitamin supplement, mineral supplement. So I read those two chapters that explained all that, and then came the hundred pages on the program — extensive bio- chemical program. And you get into this kind of program, and you go through all of this — chapter after chapter after chapter of how to get all this stuff together.
Then came the last chapter. The next paragraph said, and I quote. Did you get that? That cancelled the whole book. Secondly, develop the art of creative visualization, which is to visualize yourself as Alice in Wonderland. Do sleep programming. Listen to a lot of positive vibe music. Get exercise. Stop being focused on the future. And this book, Be Here Now by Baba Ram Dass, will teach you how to focus on the moment; and you must learn to ignore the future. And then this: cultivate a meaningful spiritual philosophy.
Find a belief system that works for you; any one will do, if it works. Avoid those that talk of sin and guilt. And the last point was, find the light in yourself. That is a depressing book. Paul had that joy. All we have to do is go to the Word of God. Why did we ever believe the world had anything to say anyway?
He had that joy. And as he writes to these beloved people, he indicates the elements of his joy. You see, Paul had this inventory of memories, and by virtue of the power of the Holy Spirit within him, he focused on the positive ones. They were a cause for gratitude. His heart was filled with joyous thanks to God for the sweet memories of these believers. We get it in English, the eucharist. We should do the same. There must have been some discord there.
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