Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Exercise of Power and the Refusal of Power

Nobody says its like Lehmann, eh?

"The royal trappings worn by Jesus, viz., the crown of thorns and the purpose cloak (but not insignificantly perhaps minus the mock-scepter cane), are patently a mockery of Jesus' royal pretensions and a ridicule of his weakness masquerading as strength. How undangerous can any human being get! 'In fact, it is just such a man who claims to be the king of truth! The ho logos sarx egeneto has become visible in its most extreme consequences.' Jesus, on the other hand, at the apex of defenselessness, and all but at the nadir of helplessness, dramatically reverses the field. His silent presence turns that unmasking devised by his accusers and his judge against itself. It is they who stand before the world unmasked. ...

Perhaps the most awesome thing about the imminent crucifixion was - and is - the ambiguity hidden in its inevitability. Jesus, like Pilate, was on his way to his appointed end. But whereas Pilate's exercise of power was caught in the vise of inevitability and the will-to-power, Jesus' refusal of power was caught in the vise of inevitability and the will-to-death of the people of destiny. Pilate's reluctant acceptance of the unavoidable is the final irony of the exercise of power, the strength of which is weakness. The people's passionate pressure to make the unavoidable happen is the ultimate pathos in a refusal of power, the weakness of which is its strength. Like Nietzsche's tightrope walker, Jesus goes down before established power, which he must oppose, and the fury of the people of destiny whose destiny he has come to affirm and whose fury he has come to abate."

- Paul Lehmann, Transfiguration of Politics, 61-63.

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