Listen to This! Bob Avakian’s
“Christianity and Society—The Old Testament and the New Testament, Resistance and Revolution”

by Sunsara Taylor | November 9, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


I recently re-listened to a talk that Bob Avakian gave during the George W. Bush years called “Christianity and Society—The Old Testament and the New Testament, Resistance and Revolution.” I listened with others during a long car ride up to a Planned Parenthood in New Hampshire that has been closed down (at least for now) after someone broke into it and destroyed its computers, medical equipment, and plumbing with a hatchet. The immediacy and viciousness of the hate-filled violence of this attack had compelled a group of us to make the trip and reach out to people in the area, but it also compelled us to want to understand and dig more deeply into where these attacks are coming from, what is driving them to be so relentless and so vicious, and what it will take to stop them.

Two things in particular really jumped out at me.

The first was how much historical materialism Bob Avakian (BA) brings to bear and trains listeners in. By historical materialism, I mean a scientific approach to understanding human societies and how they change over time, including the ultimately determining role of the mode of production (the economic system and its relations at any time) in how societies organize and function with their politics, culture, social relations, and dominant ideas. BA reveals the very material and real-world factors that have led to the rise of different religions at different times, including the religious beliefs and traditions of Christianity that dominate our society today. He exposes how and why different core elements of the Bible—including the heavy weight and chain of patriarchy (the all-around domination of women by men)—came to be, and why they have remained and been reinforced by different oppressive ruling classes since they were first written. Or, why in this country the Bible Belt has also always been the Lynching Belt. He leads you to step back and look anew at things that have been so deeply embedded in our culture and society that most people have never even noticed them or thought to ask why they are that way.

Through all this—and much more—he not only demystifies the material reasons for the dominance of various religious institutions and thinking, he provides a living laboratory in a thoroughly scientific method that can and must be applied to understanding every realm of the natural and social world in which we live if we want to get free. He explicitly breaks this method down in direct and extremely illuminating opposition to other methods like faith, religious absolutism, and relativism. And he brings alive vividly and compellingly why these questions of method—the questions of not just what people think, but how they think—matter tremendously.

The other big thing that struck me is that it is impossible to understand the roots of, the full scope of, the dangers of, and the profound material basis to go up against and defeat the rapidly rising woman-hating Christian fascist assault on women in this country—and the rising assault on women worldwide—without digging into Bob Avakian’s work on religion and patriarchy.

In this talk alone, Bob Avakian goes into things like: What are all the “begats” about in the Bible, and why do they matter? (You know, so-and-so begat so-and-so, then so-and-so begat so-and-so...) Why the big deal about Jesus being an “only begotten son?” Why are Christian fascists so hell-bent on wiping out not only abortion but also birth control and any kind of scientific understanding of sex and reproduction? What does this have to do with the roots of Christianity, but also the nature of—and changes being driven by—the system of capitalism-imperialism in the U.S. today? What is there to unite with—but also what must be sharply struggled over—in the approach of various progressive and pro-choice religious forces? Why—and how—must we take on directly and unapologetically both the reactionary content of the Bible, as well as the very harmful method of thinking involved in religious absolutism (and liberal relativism)? Why is it true that forced motherhood is female enslavement? What is the way out from under the mountains of shame and stigma that have been heaped on women and their sexuality? Why will it take a communist revolution to finally and fully abolish all forms of domination over women by men, as well as all forms of oppression and exploitation? What is the relationship between very boldly promoting and fighting for this revolution and the fight which must be vigorously waged right now to bring forward very broad masses of people from different perspectives to stand up against and defeat the current war on women?

While the significance of this work goes far beyond any one immediate struggle, all of this work—and other work from BA on these topics, especially Away With All Gods! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World—is essential reading/listening for everyone who is part of the struggle right now to beat back the assault on women’s reproductive rights and all-around war on women, as well as everyone who yearns for a world free of oppression of any kind.



Volunteers Needed... for and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.

REVOLUTION AND RELIGION The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion, A Dialogue Between Cornel West & Bob Avakian
BA Speaks: Revolution Nothing Less! Bob Avakian Live
BAsics from the Talks and Writings of Bob Avakian
Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal)
WHAT HUMANITY NEEDS Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism
You Don't Know What You Think You 'Know' About... The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation Its History and Our Future Interview with Raymond Lotta
The Oppression of Black People, The Crimes of This System and the Revolution We Need