A Shepherd at the Supreme

David Wojnarowicz, Untitled (spirituality), 1988.
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By ALEXANDRE ARAGÃO DE ALBUQUERQUE*

André Mendonça in the STF and the many versions of God with their consequences for politics and democracy

How to understand the manifestations of God today?

Our starting point is based on the thought of the Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff. For the thinker, experiencing God is not talking about God to others, but talking to God along with others in the human walk. To find the living God, it is necessary to go beyond that God constructed by the religious imaginary, sculpted in our image and likeness, according to our personal and corporate interests, imprisoned in the meshes of doctrines with their pretensions to frame him, subjecting believers to the rigor of reductive conceptions and controllers of their freedoms and their whys. (Experience God, the transparency of all things, Voices).

Despite being Mystery, but because it is real and meaningful, we project images of it and build representations, even if God is something that cannot be represented. God is identified with the concepts we make of him. Instead of experiencing God, we experience our images of God. In this way of thinking, the word of God is conceived in the way of human words; the will of God as the human will; God's power as human power. In these forms of representation, everything is assumed by God, with no place for human history. An anthropomorphic conception of God with profound political and religious consequences.

However, for a mystical person, the Mystery is an event to be welcomed with complete availability; and as such, it is not in opposition to intelligence. It belongs to the Mystery to be known ever more and more. It is the limitlessness of reason. Fortunately, there are those who try to think of it from the perspective of human, historical, open, dynamic and contradictory existence, where, in fact, the Mystery with its immanent and transcendent dimension appears. God is only real and meaningful to human beings if they emerge from the depths of their own human existence in the world-with-others.

It is by understanding human historicity that we can find what is called immanence and transcendence. Immanence and transcendence are dimensions of concrete historical human reality. Immanence is the given situation, conjunctural and structural; transcendence is the human dimension through which humans overcome such situations. They are united in the same concrete human being. This unitary and complex process is called historicity. Therefore, God is not a fixed object. It cannot be framed within the framework of reductionist, normative or scientific paradigms.

But how to understand God in the face of the drama of millions and millions of innocents, over the centuries, who were and continue to be arrested, barbarously tortured for their libertarian convictions in the face of the oppressive religious, military, political and economic power; or those who suffer from misery and hunger due to structural class injustice; as well as all those women who were victims of feminicide, abused and violated in their bodies by the lords of the Casa Grande, by the Ustra colonels who tortured them in the basements of dictatorships, or by the bully husbands and lovers of the present time?

A path indicated by the theologian Leonardo Boff deals with the fact that to speak about the experience of God it is necessary to assume a critical posture within the general crisis of our representations of the Mystery of God. After all, our time is characterized by a suspicion against all discourses that try to translate what is radically decisive in human life. Criticism has challenged all ideas about God by unmasking the political-ideological function assumed by religions in order to justify the status quo or to preserve different models of unequal and hierarchical societies. (BOFF, Leonardo. Experience God, the transparency of all things).

 

A shepherd in the supreme

The explosion in the growth of certain “charismatic” churches and communities, with strong popular appeal, obeys the individualist logic of the Market by submitting religion to neoliberal ideology through theologies of prosperity and emotional rapture, instead of developing a mystique of interiorization leading to a strong critique of the status quo to promote profound personal and social transformation. Its founders and leaders are proclaimed as “shepherds of the flock”, interpreters of God's will for their communities of believers. These theologies present the will of God divided into countless laws, dogmas, canons, increasingly detailed precepts, according to interests of power not explicitly revealed. Power is subjugating things to the interests of a person, a group, a class, a political system.

On April 29, 2020, When he took office as Bolsonaro’s minister, the Presbyterian pastor André Mendonça, defined by his Chief as “terribly evangelical”, in his inauguration speech, attributed to the President of the Republic words strongly laden with theological-messianic content, resorting to the image of “prophet sent by God to save his people” to categorize the Captain, fulfilling the political rite of Bolso-fascist strategic language centered on the systematic identification of Bolsonaro as the promised Messiah.

At a rally in 2017, the Captain loud and clear stated his purpose nazifascist of transforming Brazilian democracy into a terribly theocratic State: “Since we are a Christian country, God is above all. There is no such story about a secular state. It's a Christian state! And whoever is against it, move! Let's make Brazil for the majorities, the minorities have to bow to the majorities. Laws must exist to defend majorities. Minorities adapt, or simply disappear.” Therefore, he had already made clear to all Brazilian citizens his Nazi-fascist intention of authoritarian submission, by force, of political minorities. Consequently, he was elected by the majority of Brazilian voters in 2018 on such a Nazi-fascist platform.

Already in July 2020, the then Minister of Justice André Mendonça informed that he had asked the Federal Police to open an investigation based on the National Security Law, infamous debris of the military dictatorship, against opponents of the government, in full exercise of their right to freedom of expression. expression. However, a month earlier, on June 14, 2020, the headquarters of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) was violently attacked by bolsofascistas, encouraged by members of the executive power structure, launching rockets and fireworks, to threaten the highest court. of Justice, shouting: “We are facing the bandits of the STF”. A degrading spectacle. Presbyterian pastor André Mendonça, Bolsonaro’s minister, meekly, afraid of upsetting his Prophet, released an official note in which he did not condemn the attack, and even stated that institutions should respect those agitators who perpetrated the terrorist act.

Last Wednesday, December 1, it was the turn of the Brazilian Senate to align itself with the Bolsonarist theocratic project by approving this Presbyterian pastor to occupy a seat on the Federal Supreme Court. Bolsonaro's rigging in the STF is part of his campaign promise to end the secular state and replace it with a Christian state. After caninely defending the government when he headed the Advocacy General of the Union (AGU), the religious was awarded a vacancy in the STF, where he will obviously remain faithful to the interests of Bolsonarism.

In his manifestation after the approval, Mendonça expressed: “The first reaction was to give glory to God for this victory. It is a step for man, but in the history of evangelicals in Brazil it is a leap”. Therefore, emphasis was given neither to the Law, nor to the Rule of Law, nor to the secularity of the Brazilian State, but to the cleric representing the evangelical community, as if it were a political and not a legal position. Moro has already clearly shown, with his disastrous performance, the damage to Brazil when the toga aims at political power by manipulating the legal system. The former judge, declared a suspect by the STF, was able to sell the country's strategic interests to the US, as he assumed even in the recent confession book he has just published.

Finally, one of the scenes that most marked the day of Mendonça's approval to the STF was the video that circulated on social networks in which the first lady jumps with joy, cries with emotion for the victory, praying in the language of angels her thanks to Jesus, in a room where several leaders also congratulated themselves for this manifest will of God for the evangelical community. It is known that one of the processes that Mendonça must judge in the STF is the investigation request by Michele Bolsonaro for the barrage of checks received in his account from Flávio Zero Um's advisor, Fabrício Queiroz. Certainly, one more reason for the ardent prayers of the first lady.

 

Brief poll on the topic

In the midst of these manifestations, having as a reference the focus given in the first part of this article, it occurred to me to carry out a brief poll, a lightning survey, the following day, 02/12, via Whatsapp, with a group of 30 (thirty) known people mine, engaged for a long time in Christianity of Catholic origin, all with higher education, from different parts of Brazil, to seek to capture a minimal perception of them in view of the approval of the evangelical pastor André Mendonça to the STF, according to a generative question presented: “Will it be what was God's will? For this researched group, the will of God represents a fundamental value in their Christian asceticism.

My perspective was that, as a Catholic group, not linked to the tradition represented by Mendonça, their responses could present some degree of peculiarity, unlike the evangelical unanimity linked to the pastor.

First, it is necessary to register that of the 30 (thirty) people chosen for the poll, only 08 (eight) answered the generating question.

Two people, a man and a woman, stated emphatically “Certainly not”. When I continued with the questionnaire asking them where they got that certainty from, they no longer replied.

Another respondent said: “It has nothing to do”.

The fourth respondent said: “Ask God”.

The fifth person said, "What a malicious and unscientific question." But then he responded with a NO that it was God's will for Mendonça to be nominated. I asked him why he would be so sure. He answered me: “Because what comes from the devil is not from God”. So I asked: Do you consider Mendonça a representative of the devil? She said, “Not him. Bolsonaro yes”.

The sixth respondent stated: “God is totally different. The will of God is a very complicated concept. But the irrational ones defend it”.

The seventh person interviewed stated: "Of course it was not God's will." I asked why, “Of course”, she told me: “Because they are fundamentalists and the State and our institutions need to be secular”. I insisted: Where do you get this certainty that it wasn't God's will? She replied, “Not everything that happens is God's will. We have free will. God does not choose for us. I believe that the Holy Spirit helps us to lead in the best possible way if we give our little help. I believe that the Holy Spirit helps us in conducting our journey. We have a duty to be ethical, to take care of our Common Home, to take care of each other as humanity”. She even made the following consideration: “These questions you raise are very good”.

Finally, the last Catholic interviewed expressed: “It was God's will. It is God manifesting himself in human beings so that we wake up and become vigilant”.

 

Final considerations

Despite being a survey of small scope, it is impressive to attest to the disparity of perceptions about the concrete fact of the appointment of Pastor Mendonça. When using the comparative method between the perception of the evangelical group linked to the Presbyterian pastor and the Catholics participating in the poll, it leads to consider the possibility that it is not the same Christian God, or as if He had different wills, including antithetical ones, about the same fact.

Based on the above, a window of questions on the subject opens up, based on the brief investigation carried out, and it is possible to ask: Would the God of the rich be the same as the God of the poor? Would the God of the oppressor be the same as the God of the oppressed? Would the God of the Big House be the same as the God of the Senzala? Would the fascist's God be the same as the democrat's God? Would the God of the colonizer be the same as the God of the colonized? Finally, would there then be a true God? And what would be the importance and relationship of God with Politics, with Democracy, with the Secular State and Popular Sovereignty? Apparently, these are still unresolved issues that affect the concrete life of contemporary republics, of representative democracies with their political parties.

*Alexandre Aragão de Albuquerque Master in Public Policy and Society from the State University of Ceará (UECE).

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