Violence, Nonviolence, Real, Imaginary, Powers, Principalities

I am still deeply grooving on Nonviolent Communication. Joined the NVC parenting yahoo group. Working on it in my own life. Finding it helpful.

Got a couple books tonight. The Powers That Be by Walter Wink. It’s a condensation/popularization of his Powers series. It was referred to by Marshall Rosenberg in some of his NVC writings. I’m just barely beginning it but so far I really like it. It’s a kind of theologizing that I can really appreciate.

Also, Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence. I read this a few years back and gave away my copy of it. I’d like to read it again, now that I’m reading a lot about nonviolence.

I think it might actually dovetail well with NVC. One of the things I like about NVC is that while it is studiously nonviolent, it doesn’t take a violent attitude towards violent people, so to speak. It’s about compassion, not about condemnation. It often involves finding the positive things that lie underneath objectionable, violent communication and actions, and finding ways to bring them out in ways that aren’t hurtful. In a sense it is not about avoidance of violence but about redemption from violence. About moving past it, not shrinking back from it. “I would like to suggest that killing people is too superficial,” says Rosenberg.

Killing Monsters is largely about the idea that imaginary worlds don’t play by the same rules as the real world, and things that would be harmful in the real world can be harmless or even helpful in an imaginary world, for people who can tell the real and imaginary worlds apart. Which is most people, even most little children.

In both NVC and KM I see the notion of looking beyond violence to see what positive thing is there. In NVC you’re in the real world and you’re trying to find a way to avoid the violence and get the positive thing anyway. In KM you’re talking about imaginary worlds, where the violence is not real, and can safely serve as a dramatic symbolization of the things that underlie it (power, passion, self-protection, confidence, fear, whatever else).

In both cases you have an openness to see what positive thing lies behind the violence.

And Wink apparently discusses the “Myth of Redemptive Violence” which he says underpins domination culture. I wonder how that will interact with all this?

Good reading ahead of me.

UPDATE: Read a good chunk of Wink. Looks like Wink is in direct contradiction to KM on the media issue. As far as Wink is concerned, everyone from the Enuma Elish to X-Men to Popeye is complicit in purveying the Myth of Redemptive Violence, the founding myth of Domination culture, which is what we’ve been living under for 8,000 years, since the rise of horse-oriented conquest cultures. I can’t really follow him writing off all of known human culture and artistic production for all of known history as an evil myth.

There were some things I liked a lot about what he’s saying, so I’m going to keep reading. But I have a grain of salt ready.

UPDATE: Finished Wink. It was a book with a lot of great information on topics I care a lot about, and with a lot of stuff that really made me think, and a lot of stuff I really agree with. However, the book as a whole didn’t make me go yes, yes, YES! the way some do. I like the book a lot, and huge parts of it I’m totally on board for, and I learned a lot of cool thigns from it, but there is enough in it that doesn’t quite work for me that it’s not on my list of “wonderful turn-your-mind-inside-out books.”

The Powers that Be is described as a condensation and popularization of Wink’s trilogy of more academic theological works on the Powers, and I might or might not like those better.

1 thought on “Violence, Nonviolence, Real, Imaginary, Powers, Principalities”

  1. That book was very important for me when I read it (probably 5 years ago?) and I’ve always found Wink very stimulating. I think you’re right about the danger of writing off too much of popular culture as embodying the myth of redemptive violence, though from what I know of Wink I suspect he would say if challanged that there is much of value in that art, should we be able to take into account its understanding of violence. It would be an interesting debate to get him involved in.

    I read part of one of the trilogy that book was based on and was very much enjoying it, but it was a friend’s copy and I didn’t take it with me when I went home. I keep meaning to get hold of them to finish that reading.

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