In 1887, Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) published a polemical work entitled On the Genealogy of Morality in which he contends, among other things, that Christianity contributed to legitimize what he calls the “slave morality”. According to him, Christianity was the religion of weakness and submissiveness.
The passing away of Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah (1935-4 July 2010), the man of subtle transition between Imam Moussa Sadr and Ayatollah Ruhollah Komeiny in the Shiite community of Lebanon in the 1980s, made me think about the Lebanese sects’ representation of power. In 1976, Fadlallah published his first “big” book, Al-Islâm wa Mantiqu-l-Quwwa (Islam & the Logic of Power), in which he sketched a complete and cohesive theology of Islamic power on economic, social, political and military levels. The book was written immediately after Fadlallah was expelled from Nabaa (neighborhood of Beirut, adjacent to Burj Hammud) by Kataeb militiamen. It enjoyed so much success that a second edition appeared in 1981. His resentment against the Kataeb is also visible in Hizbullah’s 1985 Open Letter, a document he wrote almost by himself. The leading motive is simple: the downtrodden (al-mustad’afûn), i.e., mainly the Shiites, have to grow strong in order to counter their oppressors (al-mustakbirîn). Fadlallah provides the Islamic and Qur’anic framework to justify and underpin his thesis. Even though Fadlallah’s and Hizbullah’s paths eventually diverged, God’s Party remained faithful to the teachings of the Master.
A Maronite friend of mine, “very Maronite” as he ostensibly claims to be–ethnically speaking, but not really religious–, rejects weak Christianity. He wants a strong Christian community in Lebanon. His longing is the Christians’ longing for a powerful state. Isn’t that the reason for which Bashir Gemayel and Michel Aoun are so popular?
The question is: Do you want to define yourself as an ethnic Christian or an ethic Christian? Do you want to be strong in the eyes of the world or do you want to be strong in the eyes of your Creator? Jesus Christ was completely clear and his words are irrevocable: “My Kingdom is not of this world”. Period. All worldly constructions are doomed to fail. Just like the temple of Jerusalem, they will be destroyed. On the other hand, in this cynical world, purely ethic Christianity would compromise the Christians’ physical security and their very existence.
There is no answer. The question of power is every Christian’s dilemma. And every Christian’s cross.
P.S.: To know more about religion as ethnic or cultural affiliation, I suggest you take a look at “Appartenir sans croire” (“Belonging without believing”) on Alter vs. Ego (unfortunately in French only).