A few quotes from Dorothee Soelle

A few quotes from Dorothee Soelle December 12, 2009

I was reading excerpts tonight from the late German feminist and political theologian and activist Dorothee Soelle — who coined the term Christofascism — and thought I would share just a few provocative passages.

“I suspect that the post-Christians do not want to have anything to do with the dialectic of a religious institution. But it is just this self-contradictory experience of the church as traitor and the church as sister that stares me in the face, and I have to live with it. Post-Christianity seems to me like a slick formula that covers up the two-sided encounter with the church and reduces it to the ‘church from above.’ Then the church from below is forgotten, and with it what tradition has identified as the ‘mystical body of Christ.'”

(From “Christianity and Post-Marxism” in The Window of Vulnerability: A Political Spirituality (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990), pp. 24-5)

“I am often impatient when believers ask me: ‘Are you a Marxist?’ The best reply I can think of is a counter-question: ‘Do you brush your teeth? I mean, since the toothbrush has been invented?’ How can anyone read Amos and Isaiah, and not Marx and Engels? That would be absolute ingratitude toward a God who sends us prophets with the message that to know YHWH means to do justice. Are we not obliged to do use every analytic tool that can help us to comprehend injustice and at the same time reveal the victims of injustice as the possible forces for change that can break the spell of oppression for both the oppressors and the oppressed? Can we afford to ignore Marx at a time when I ought to be clear to every attentive observer of the misery of the Third World that capitalism neither can nor will satisfy hunger? Our economic system works for the rich, not for the other two-thirds of the human family.”

(Ibid., pp. 25-6)

“If we do not [use our tradition], it will use us.”

(Ibid., p. 27)

“Reagan was a master at playing on the deep-seated anxieties of people caught up in massive technological change. He exploited their fear of inflation and the loss of jobs and turned it toward a different point — namely, sexuality. It is not the nuclear bomb that threatens our survival: it is love between two men or two women that endangers everything we have achieved!”

(From “Christofascism,” in The Window of Vulnerability: A Political Spirituality (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990), p. 138)

“In a theological perspective it is evident that the content of this fascist religion [right wing Christianity] contradicts the message of the Jewish-Christian tradition. The God of the prophets did not preach the nation-state, but community between strangers and natives. The apostle Paul did not base the justification of sinners on the Protestant work ethic, but on grace, which appears for young and old, for diligent and for lazy people! And Jesus did not make the family the central value of human life, but the solidarity of those deprived of their rights. The most important norms of the Moral Majority are not contained in Christian faith, as we can see from the many critical remarks against the family that appear in the gospels. It is characteristic of Christofascism that it cuts off all the roots that Christianity has in the Old Testament, in the Jewish Bible. No word about justice, no mention of the poor, whom God comes to aid, very little about guilt and suffering. No hope for the messianic reign. Hope is completely individualized and reduced to personal success. Jesus, cut loose from the Old Testament, becomes a sentimental figure. The empty repetition of his name works like a drug: it changes nothing and nobody. Therefore, since not everybody can be successful, beautiful, male, and rich, there have to be hate objects who can take the disappointment on themselves. Jesus, who suffered hunger and poverty, who practiced solidarity with the oppressed, has nothing to do with this religion.

“At a mass meeting a thousand voices shouted: ‘I love Jesus’ and ‘I love America’ — it was impossible to distinguish the two. This kind of religion knows the cross only as a magical symbol of what he has done for us, not as the sign of the poor man who was tortured to death as a political criminal, like thousands today who stand up for his truth in El Salvador. This is a God without justice, a Jesus without a cross, an Easter without a cross — what remains is a metaphysical Easter Bunny in front of the beautiful blue light of the television screen, a betrayal of the disappointed, a miracle weapon in service of the mighty.”

(Ibid., 140.)


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