The Text of the chapter eighteen is in process, and will be posted soon. Please check back!
This chapter picks right up where the previous one left off. In an earlier post in this series, I noted how I believe this creative Apocalypse is like "Buddhism on crack" in many ways. What I mean is that, just as the Buddha implored his followers to renounce desire, John celebrates martyrdom, persecution, and death, and goes much further than the ancient Indian prince. Perhaps he goes too far? John and the early followers of Jesus were not trying to "one up" the Buddha's philosophy, (if they were even aware of his teachings) but they are simply responding to the hostile circumstances in which they found themselves. Instead of chasing money, they decided to renounce the reckless pursuit of it, as an act of service to the Earth for the restoration of the world. Chapter eighteen is a poetic condemnation of luxurious living, not because wealth is evil, but because it is often acquired at the expense of others' basic livelihood. As Method Man, the wise philosopher of the Wu-Tang Clan has spit, "behind every fortune there's a crime."
I, as an American, am forced to ask this question: how am I complicit in my country's exploitation of the world? No, I am not trying to be "unpatriotic" or a "liberal America hater" or a "socialist." But, it is hard not to ask certain questions when I read this Text proclaiming, "all the nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality...the kings and the merchants of the Earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living." Rather than throw stones at certain individuals or condemn a nation, my inclination is always towards self-examination. How am I complacent and actually betraying the very notions which I purport to believe? It's easy to sit back and complain about others. Doing the difficult work of introspection (not to be confused with narcissistic navel-gazing!) is essential on the lonely, narrow Path to Love, Light, and Life. It may take hell and heartache to get there, but I'd rather consolidate my efforts in the direction of creativity, health, and wisdom. We can gorge on money, power, and respect, or feast upon wealth, humility, and dignity. Our collective choices will have a direct impact on our surrounding Environment, which are only sure to harm us when we choose unwisely.
At the same time, we must ask what we ought to abstain or "fast" from, in a sense."Your splendors are lost from you, never to be found again!," is the lamentation of this section. Then why don't we simply become crucified to these splendors, and crucify these splendors to ourselves now? Our "sacrifice" should then not be seen as helping "the world," but restoring the Earth, and thereby, blessing us and all things. We're only being wise in aiding that which helps us. Certainly, the writer envisions this as the specific and corrupted social/religious/political sphere of his day. We now have the task to translate not only the Text, but also the world in which this Document was created. So, when we are told that "the merchants of the Earth weep and mourn for her, since no one any longer buys...slaves, that is, human lives," we must not lament that a world like this is coming to an End! Of course, when an economy becomes dependent on such vicious desires, we cannot help but long for its demise, despite the wake of its wrath. However, may our prayers never be ultimately vindictive towards any particular human individual, for that is when we ultimately turn in error. Hopefully that does not keep us from wanting a system that causes the deepest human harm to be redeemed! Restoration is always possible in God's economy. What kind of justice do we seek, and how will we obtain it?