Violence and the Cross an Essay

Download this Essay in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Essay:

Gustavo Gutierrez did just that in Latin America, employing Marxist analysis to interpret the Jesus' teachings in the Gospel. Gutierrez founded Liberation Theology, which is, essentially, the twentieth century take on Violence and the Cross. Christ is viewed less as Redeemer and more as Liberator.

Evans discusses this same interpretation in black theology, which is, essentially, a continuation of Liberation Theology: "In spite of the ravages of their kidnapping and the disorientation that they endured, African slaves retained an outlook on their experience that continually reaffirmed their worth as individuals and as a people…The Jesus whom they encountered as they were exposed to the Bible was a caring and liberating friend who shared their sorrows and burdens" (12). Yet, in black theology, Jesus does not bring grace through suffering that can perfect one's nature and lead one's soul to Heaven (as classical theology insists); in black theology, Jesus is the agent of social and economic change -- He is viewed as the hero of the downtrodden -- a figure of inspiration: something like Gandhi, a peaceful, non-violent revolutionary, exercising non-violent protest in the very teeth of violence. The spiritual side of the ancient ecclesiology is absent, as the Vatican stated in the 1980s with regard to Liberation Theology (before, of course, backtracking and acknowledging the fundamental good intentions at the heart of the movement).

Migliore, too, discusses the changes in theology. Violence and the Cross, of course, lead to the Resurrection -- but modern theologians cannot agree on just what the Resurrection should mean. According to Migliore, some take the viewpoint that the Resurrection is not something that happened to Jesus but something that happened "in the disciples." The traditional narrative, however, states that Jesus resurrected and ascended into heaven, while the disciples were visited by the Paraclete at Pentecost. States Migliore, "According to Rudolf Bultmann…the resurrection is a symbol of the rise of faith in the saving significance of the cross as proclaimed in the early Christian message: 'The faith of Easter is just this -- faith in the word of preaching'" (192). What then is the word of preaching? What is it that needs be preached? According to Evans it is liberation: "The history of revelation and the history of liberation are the same history" (12-13).

Evans also illustrates the new theology that revelation is changing -- that the deposit of faith (as defined by the Church) is "contingent, partial, and incomplete in the sense that human history is yet unfolding" (13). Such is the novel idea of evolutionism, of Teilhard de Chardin, Gustavo Gutierrez, the Second Vatican Council, and much of modern theology. The focus of such theology is the liberation of an oppressed social class from the tyranny of capitalists -- and in a way it is an anachronistic theology even as it continues today. In this sense, the dynamic behind Liberation Theology has expressed itself anew in black theology, feminist theology, and numerous other variants. Liberty from social, economic, and political slavery takes primacy over liberation from sin. Violence is decried as the ultimate evil -- yet willingness to suffer in reparation is neither praised nor preached by such theologians. On the contrary, the mantra of the French Revolution is touted: liberty, fraternity, equality.

Manifestations of Violence and the Cross in Literature and Film

The best representative of violence and the cross in modern literature is found in the works of the American southern gothic writer Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964). An anomaly herself, O'Connor was a practicing Catholic in the Protestant Bible Belt, whose stories were a woven tapestry of Protestant hypocrisy and violent rejection of Christ. The rejection of Christ that O'Connor pursues, however, is two-fold: it is not merely His doctrine that is rejected -- it is His very person and His willingness to offer for us the example of suffering for sins needed for the attainment of salvation. O'Connor's masterwork, Wise Blood, is a novel of a young man named Hazel Motes who is Christ haunted. Motes, having rejected the salvific and redemptory nature of Christ's death on the Cross, denies Original Sin, and goes on to deny God Himself. Motes, in effect, becomes a preacher of atheism, demanding of the people of the small southern town in which he dwells that they throw off the shackles of superstition, which keeps them from rising up and attaining their rightful inheritance here on earth. In brief, Motes becomes a preacher of Liberation Theology without Christ.

Of course, O'Connor recognizes that the religion of the modern world is characterized by the odd conundrum with which it situates itself, so she creates a parallel preacher in Wise Blood who dresses like Motes, acts like Motes, talks like Motes, and preaches like Motes -- but preaches a Protestant variety of his doctrine: the Church of Christ Without Christ. Whereas Motes preaches anti-Christ and receives no followers, his double preaches Protestantism and not only gets people to follow him but he also gets them to pay to do so. Motes preaches to the people exactly what they believe and what their actions signify -- his double preaches what they want to hear: not suffering for the sins, but forgiveness without reparation: in other words, Christ without Christ.

All of O'Connor's short stories (and two novels) are devoted to the theme of Violence and the Cross. Each narrative is an expression of human nature's violent reaction -- not only to Christ, but also to what His suffering and death on the Cross signify. The Violent Bear It Away is a perfect example of what Migliore attempts to illustrate in his theological analysis: it is the story of a young boy commanded by his evangelical grandfather to baptize his young cousin; the boy is driven to obey despite himself and his rejection of his grandfather's faith: he drowns his cousin (but at the same time says the words of baptism -- again despite himself). O'Connor, quite singularly, saw the intimate relation between blood and the Cross, Christ and suffering. However, O'Connor does see a kind of significance in the passionate rejection of Christ that has much more meaning than the indifferentist reception. The violence with which Motes attacks his double is a prelude to the passion with which he will later throw himself into conversion and repentance.

In film, the two most popular depictions of Christ, violence and the cross come in Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ and Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. The latter was derided for its gruesome depiction of Christ's suffering at the hands of Pilate. The former was derided for its unorthodox, blasphemous depiction of Christ struggling with His two natures. In Gibson's Passion, all the major artists since the Renaissance are mimicked in shot after shot, from Rembrandt to Holbein. Scorsese's Temptation, however, is based on the novel of a lapsed-Catholic (Nikos Kazantzakis), directed by a lapsed-Catholic (Scorsese), and depicting a Christ who is as conflicted and troubled as the writer and director. The film attempts to de-vilify the role of Judas by showing his betrayal as a necessary and therefore laudatory role in the Redemption. Neither film tackles the theme of Violence and the Cross from Migliore's exact perspective (Gibson's is more an act of faith, Scorsese's an act of re-interpretation).

If anything, both films may be said, in a way, to express Migliore's statement that "it is in a world captive to the way of violence that Jesus lived and died for us all" (190). Where Migliore differs from the medieval age of faith is in the meaning and impact of Christ's crucifixion. For Migliore, Christ represents a new non-violent humanity. Of course, such a statement ignores the event recorded in Scripture where Christ chases the money-changers from the temple with a whip. The new non-violent representation has more to do with modern ideology than with history; nonetheless, Migliore is certain that "God raised the crucified Jesus and made him the chief cornerstone of a new humanity that no longer espouses the way of violence, that no longer needs scapegoats, that no longer wills to live at the expense of victims, that no longer imagines or worships a bloodthirsty God, that is no longer interested in legitimations of violence, but that follows Jesus in the power of a new Spirit" (190). The new Spirit can be supposed as a kind of conscientious-objector type of the pacifistic Catholic Worker mold. Like black theology, it is a new interpretation given to fill the hole left by the medieval ecclesiology, with liberty, fraternity and equality as the new parameters in place of the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost.


In conclusion, Daniel Migliore details his theology of Christ and the new humanity in which violence is absorbed and overcome by Christ's death on the cross. It is a modern interpretation of the Scriptural account of Christ's passion, and although it details how Christ suffered for "our sake," it departs from the traditional narrative of suffering for penitential…[continue]

Cite This Essay:

"Violence And The Cross An" (2011, May 21) Retrieved December 10, 2016, from

"Violence And The Cross An" 21 May 2011. Web.10 December. 2016. <>

"Violence And The Cross An", 21 May 2011, Accessed.10 December. 2016,

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Cross Cultural Counseling in the 21st Century

    Cross Cultural Mores and Values: Middle-Eastern Americans, South Asian-Americans and Native Americans No longer a melting pot but more like a salad bowl, the United States has always been a land of immigrants and its diverse demographic composition today is a reflection of this process. In fact, just one group, Native Americans, can be regarded as being the original inhabitants, but anthropologists argue that even these people likely migrated from other

  • Violence in Video Games Unlike Movies Video

    Violence in Video Games Unlike movies, video games are not regulated by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), which is ironic because there are a wealth of studies indicating children do not distinguish between fantasy and reality in a gaming environment (Ferguson, 2011). Simply put, the more time children, adolescents and teenagers spend playing a video game the more they see their reality as the gaming environment (Boyle, McLeod, Rojas, 2008) (Hartmann,

  • Violence Against Children in China

    The document states this in this wording (United Nations): Bearing in mind that the need to extend particular care to the child has been stated in the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child of 1924 and in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child adopted by the General Assembly on 20 November 1959 and recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the International Covenant on

  • Cross Cultural Comparison Between Mexicans in

    Newborn babies are given "a mile hallucinogenic drug, tsentsema" (84), in the form of an uncooked leaf from the tsentsema plant. The idea is to help the baby "see" an arutam soul, when the baby is under the influence of the tsentsema plant. The belief is that boys need them but girls don't, and boys are not born with an arutam, so they must obtain them along their growth pattern.

  • Domestic Violence No Place Like

    What appears to explain their shared high rates of violent behavior is their increased interpersonal dependency. They are socially withdrawn and entertain a negative view of themselves. These difficulties with trust are common in the two disorders. They are thus more personally dependent on their partners. Furthermore, veterans with a major physical health problem are likelier to commit domestic violence than the other veterans surveyed. The physical problem tends

  • Family Violence Against Women in

    Komisi Nasional Anti-Kekerasan Terhadap Perempuan - KNAKTP National Commission on Violence Against Women addresses policy reform at the national level, which may or may not prove to be effective in Cambodia, depending on officials leading government. (Organizations Addressing VAW, 2008) Findings from the survey reported by Knight (2006) stress that the challenge "to establish and implement a culture-sensitive standard of justice," is at times difficult. Forum Pemerhati Masalah Perempuan -

  • Cross and the Crescent

    Cross and the Crescent The main role of Richard Fletcher's The Cross and the Crescent is that it presents a concise history of the relations between Muslims and Christians in a period characterized by histeria and fear in the United States, regarding anything related to Muslims. This history of Muslim-Christian relations comes at the opportune moment, as it explains in a very balanced way the relation that these two different

Read Full Essay
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved