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January 28, 2005

Inspired by Ralph: one man's opinion, albeit the correct one.

Ralph mentioned something interesting in response to my post concerning this week's celebration of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. He mentioned the "turn the other cheek" reference by Jesus in Matthew, and how do we justify that with what happened in Auschwitz and with modern-day jihad.

This is my comment on the improperly used "turn the other cheek" reference. Feel free to disagree, particularly if thinking about things in ways that are different from how your Sunday School teacher taught makes you uncomfortable.

In Roman culture, hitting someone with the backside of your hand was a sign of disrespect. Striking them with your open palm implied that you were confronting/challenging an equal.

When Jesus said "turn the other cheek," he didn't mean it the way we usually take it, which is "keep getting hit and be quiet about it." Remember that Jesus was killed for being a political subversive. Rome didn't care one whit about Jewish interpretations of Torah.

Jesus was suggesting that people claim at least equality with their oppressors. If someone hits you with the back of their hand and you turn your cheek, your face is facing their palm. It is a symbol of defiance, not humble servitude. It is saying "you may have more centurians right now, but we are people too, not just materiel for your profit."

It is about liberation in the face of oppression.

Besides, to me, the anniversary is not a political one and is not meant to engender political debate: it is an anniversary of liberation, which is always welcome.

Now, back to the Paris Hilton references!

Posted by Dan at January 28, 2005 11:27 PM

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Thanks Dan. It was a theological question although I've seen it used in political debates regarding pacifism. In the context of this verse then, not resisting an evil one is probably in regards to an encounter between a Roman soldier and a Jew? Probably solid advice.

Posted by: Ralph at January 29, 2005 10:11 AM

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