Thursday, October 13, 2005

because you can't buy happiness

ever considered shoplifting as a form of civil disobedience?
well, someone did. "YOMANGO" in spanish slang means 'i steal'.
'manga' is spanish for sleave, hence 'mangar', to sleave, to
steal. it is both a "brand" of clothing and a political movement
(complete with sophisitcated philosophical tenants) hailing from
barcelona, with "franchises" all across europe and latin america.
what are they about? simply the "promoting of a life-style.
specifically, the promoting of shoplifting as a form of disobedience
and direct action against multinational coorporations." the catch?
they supply you with lables to sew on to the clothing you lift.

"Dare to desire: YOMANGO is your style: risky, innovative. It is
the articulate proliferation of creative gestures. YOMANGO is not
about theft, its about magic, about the liberation of desire and
inteligence cristalized in the 'things' offered for sale."

wow. that's all i can say... wow.


Flyin J said...

that is the only way that I would go into a Walmart. To steal things from those Union-crushing bastards

pedro said...

So,do they promote shoplifting from their stores as well? Would they prosecute shoplifters? I doubt that the answer to either question is affirmative, and I can't stand hypocritical, untenable, inconsistent ideology.

This notion of "yomango" is even one step beyond "do whatever you want/ believe whatever you want, as long as you don't harm someone else" (the prevailing sentiment of the West). It's now "stick it to the Man for the greater good."

I, personally, support "disobedience" that promotes social responsibility (free trade, environmental responsibility, etc.) that subverts the system from within in a constructive manner, as opposed to anacrhical disobedience that says "f*** the system" (radical anti-WTO demonstratiors, eco-terrorists, etc.).

pedro said...


Regardless of my expressed ambivilence, I am interested in learning more about the growing global movement that desires to empower the traditionally disenfranchised and to bring down the corpulent power of an oppressive capitalist West.

Some of these movements might include radical Islam, the anti-WTO movement, Liberation Theology, yomango, among many others. It seems to me that regardless of the means employed, the rest will continue to seek the demise of the West.

I have a great deal of sympathy for people who hold these perspectives, at least in that I, too, believe that the West needs to own up to centuries of building its wealth and power on the broken backs of the rest of the world.

How can we who have the power (white, comparatively rich, well-educated, Western men) address this disparity in an intellectually resopnsible and peaceful way and work toward restitution? Are we eilling to listen to the voices of the disenfrancised, and are we willing to give our power up?

elnellis said...

pedro, thanks for seeing this seemingly stupid enterprise as at the core a desire for something meaningful and entirely legitimate. and yes, it does come back to the frustrating issue of power in which we are all so entangled... hmmm. i'll have to think about this more.

Aaron said...

When i read this article i felt the same feelings of ambivalence as Pedro... (btw... is that THE Pneter?? long time no see....). on the one hand i understand the desire of this movement to bring down "the man" and screw the system, however, the saddening and sickening side of it is that in doing so they have evolved so far from their original intent to fight the man for the sake of mankind. i just finished reading the book "Fight Club" by Chuck Palaniuk, where the same type of thing happens. What starts out as "Damn the man" too quickly spirals into "Damn mankind"-- a sort of narcissistic and nihilistic existence... i've noticed a danger of this is that it's easy for Man vs. the System to subtly evolve into Man vs. Man without its advocates even realizing it. How could an ideology such as this in it's purest form be so "noble" yet transform itself into something so destructive, self-seeking and ugly with no concept of its consequences?

Anonymous said...

Why can't we stand up for what's right and do it within the law? Why is it a stronger statement, possibly condoned by believers in Christ, to break the law? If you have a passion for the poor, feed and clothe them. Don't wait for a political movement that will do it for you. Politics is never our answer, why do we deify it in this way?

elnellis said...

anon- you are sort of missing the point here. i'm assuming you are the same anon from josh's blog and arrived here through bryan's (something in the spirit of your comments is consistent). i'm curious why you are so desperate to participate in these conversations that seem upsetting to you, without showing your face? what are you protecting? why do you keep coming back? whose bull-dog are you? i'm also curious as to how you arrived at your sense of absolute certainty that is evident in your comments. on some level it must "justify" the way you completely write off dialogue and people who are struggling towards meaning. you also seem to have a clear distinction between the secular and the sacred. what if holy longing is behind every sin? what if everything in life is meaningful? what if God is also at work in politics? what if???

bryan said...

wouldn't it be so wonderful if everything was meaningless...


Lian said...

Just a clarification note.
The Anon. above is Erika, not whoever you thought it was. She is anonymous because she doesn't have a blog.
In her defence, I don't think a sense of certainty writes off dialogue at all, in fact, those of us who are proclaimedly uncertain should always remember that we maintain a sense of certainty about uncertainty - if you take my meaning. It is impossible, I think, to dialogue if none of us claim our vantage point. How else can we change and be changed? Of course, love is the supreme virtue that gives us hiumility, strength and deference and makes our encounters meaningful - but not less heated.

pedro said...

Your comment was brilliantly and compassionately stated.

Anonymous, your point is well taken, though I'm not sure to what you refer when you talk about Christians breaking the law. I agree that compassionate love on the grassroots level is at the heart of Christ's message, and Christ himself demonstrated this love.

I disagree, however, that we should then recuse ourselves from political involvement. I do not agree with the conservative political views of the American Christian Right, and I take serious issue with the intellectual and Biblical integrity of many of thier political endorsements, but my Christian worldview takes politics seriously, because political power is real power that has the potential to be leveraged to help the poor and empower the disenfranchised. I, too, am somewhat jaded and cynical about the possibility of affecting long-term results in an American democratic system that is fueled by the poll numbers and the ever looming election.

Why should Christians not engage in every area of life for the glory of God?

elnellis said...

wow! what a picture this has become! erika, my sincerest appologies. your anonomous words came at an untimely juncture of previous anonomous "encounters." my erred reading into the "spirit" of your post was a desperate struggle to find personhood behind your faceless comment, proving the point that "objective words" are myth and any meaning in words totally to do with the PERSON behind them (this is my approach to Scripture, too. that the meaning in the text is based on the Person behind it). i responded/reacted to your comment because you were nowhere to be found. it is easy to mistreat an object, but difficult to mistreat a person. erika, please forgive me for this misunderstanding, and i'm curious if there was a reason you didn't sign off on your comment.
chad, i see what you mean on the certainty issue, but i still hold that certainty in dialogue removes the fluidity of the conversation and makes for an inevitable debate. i can still claim my vantage point without saying, i know i'm right and i know you are wrong. i am saying with certitude: here is where i am right now (but i will always be open to the posibility of change). that's where i was going with that.
again, i'm sure my frustration with recent experience of anonomous posts overshadowed my desire for this to be a humble, dialogical forum. this all serves to highlight the oddity of blogging and the difficulty of communication. thanks for not running away from this wierdness. :)

bryan said...

i would say that meaning in words also has much to do with the person in front of them, namely, the reader. the relational beauty is when there can be genuine dialogue and a meaning can be arrived at between author and reader...or self and other...or whatever other realm of encounter there may be.

the direction this discussion has moved in is fascinating. the feel i have in here is more of a desire to move towards one another in hopes of understanding and dialogue. phil, the anon that you were reacting against doesn't seem to have the same relational desire. thank you all for the lesson that is this blog post!

Jaime said...

This is what i think, beforehand i apologize for the grammar structure, i´m still learning English. hope you understand.

Sometimes we forget things that the bible tells us, we spend so much time concentrating in Jn. 3:16, The bible call us to do justice, What is justice you may wonder? Justice is to give somebody what he/she deserves. Well does anybody in the world deserve to be mistreated? I don´t think so. You, as Christians, should be the first ones on the frontlines, fighting for equality (not just supporting an evil president). What this has to do with what you are talking here? Well, Everything. if a goverment suports the opression of people,(Iraq) we have the divine responsability, not a right, to disobey it. Because if dont raise our voice we become supporters of this evil. I´m not justifying YoMango, I´m not sure how i feel about it, i dont event think i need to justify it. What pisses me off is the attitude of most Christians to remain motionless in front of the unjustice. We hide our fear behind the ideas of : "god puts the goverments, we should obey", "We Should obey the Law, the bible tells us so", thats just a bunch of senseless words. We are called to do Justice.
I have two friends, Andrew and Nathan, they and some of their friends have been to jail and fine for a million dollars, no pesos, for breaking the Law. They took medicine and medical help to the people in Iraq, before the war started. They are a great example to me, of what civil disobedience is.
heres a webpage that you all should check, there are a few Christians out there working to make this a better world to live. The question is not Do you want to join them?, but is When are you going to join them? I hope soon, for your own sake. You will be hold accountable for it.

chuck said...

'fight club' comes to mind. i really appreciate chuck palahniuk's take on social retrobution.
also i love the thought of anonominity in these contexts. not for the sake of cowardness or 'getting away' with something, but rather causing the reader to examine a thought purely on it's own merit. it's a fascinating concept in an electronic domain like this. how much can we truly know someone in a place like this? do you see my face or are you just seeing a 2-d image?

elnellis said...

i agree, anonominity adds a distinct dimension to conversation. how can we truly know someone in a place like this? by the amount of themselves they bring. given, as we talked about on sunday chuck, any level of identity deception is possible in this form of communication. but encounter takes place when presence is met with presence. and when i look for your face, i don't mean the 2-d image next to your comment.

elnellis said...

hey jaime, i couldn't agree more with your comment. how can we stand idely by and still call ourselves christians? i don't know, but i do it every day. and i'm wondering if the prime calling is not to do justice, but to work for redemption (and sometimes, justice is a part of redemption). justice and liberation is not complete until there is reconciliation- and that may not take place in this life, but we are to work towards it. "...thy kingdom come, ON EARTH, as it is in heaven."

Lian said...

I agree with you Phil.
The great difficulty that I see here with what you guys are saying is that social justice can never be relational.
For instance, the Iraq war issue becomes infinitely difficult to untangle because there are so many individuals involved. It's easy to point the finger, Jaime, at Bush and say, essentially, "these people don't want what we are offering". It's equally easy to applaud him (as you suggest, and I agree, too many Christians are doing) and say, "we have saved these people from monstrous oppression". In my mind, both would be true. But can you see the problem? "THESE PEOPLE".
There is no doubt that God oversees with intense concern the affairs of the world, but we should not forget that politics and civil rights and social justice inherently must assign broad categories - must judge, once for all, a person, as part of a group, to be "x". This sort of necessary labelling has nothing to do with the transforming dialogue we are all seeking here.
If, as Christians, we are to follow the example of our master I think we'll notice in him, not only a courageous disregard for the whims of political rulers in favour of his Father's work, but, moreso, an almost total indifference to the exercise of political and social power. He was always interested in individuals. He didn't break the law because he was angry about what the leaders were doing or what the law said or because he wanted a sort of non-violent coup, he broke it in order to LOVE specific people in myriad ways. For too long, I fear, we have been wrapped up in movements rather than relationships.
To my mind, politics, civil rights movements, broad protest, civil disobedience as protest etc. have the allure of the One Ring - they represent power to do good. I think it is our calling to lay down power and take up, as Frodo did - much more, as Christ did - sacrifice. Not martyrdom for the cause of the poor - love to death of the poor family down the street - not life in prison for the oppression in Iraq - the loss of freedom that comes of being a father to the fatherless (of which there is no end in Iraq and Sudan and Nth Korea etc. ad infinitum).
Power only destroys - quickly. Love is slow and painful and agonizingly specific, but it alone heals - brings justice in tiny, pooling drops.

Jaime said...

I didn´t mean to ofend anybody, so if somebody did get offended i apologize.
Lian, I´m sorry if you got the impression that i was saying that we needed to have the power. I dont think we should, actually Nobody should have power, As you say "Power only destroys-quickly" I couldn´t agree more with you, Power corrupts.
We shouldn´t let anybody to have POWER over us, we shouldn´t let a goverment tell us who to love, or who to help, we shouldn´t let anybody abuse of other people. instead we should let the TRANFORMING Love of God afect our innerself, then our relationships and finally our community. We are individuals, yes, but a part of a community, too.
I want to end with this quote,
"Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And don´t lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the Glory forever.
Lian, i hope i get the chance to meet you someday, you seemed like a interesting person to have a conversation. If you´re ever in Oaxaca drop me a line, the Coronas will be on me.

elnellis said...

chad, i totally agree. incarnational living is entirely about relationships. and that is what i was getting at with the whole "reconciliation" aspect of redemption. i understand redemption as relationship restored and this should be the aim of our involvemnt in this world. i love how you looked at jesus' work through relational eyes. that is so key.
i'm wondering what your suggestion about lableing and categorizing means for the church's relationship with the homosexual community? how do we move towards dialogue and true encounter?

jaime, you said nobody should have power and we shouldn't let people have power over us... i'm wondering how we deal with power being that we do have some and powers do exist over us. how do we live in this world that is defined by power? how do we live in churches that are "in bed" with power?

oh, jaime, lian (chad) was in oaxaca 1.5 yrs ago, you should have hooked up. and don't forget to invite me to the corona fest when it happens.

Lian said...

Jaime, definitely no offense taken. I'd love to hook up in Oaxaca one of these days. It's a beautiful town.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I left that anonymous note. I'm new to the blog scene and didn't even think about putting my name in with the text...maybe it;s just the pregnancy stupids.

elnellis said...

erika, i felt awful- i totally thought you were this other pesky anon guy that has been buzzing around my blog... and i know those "placenta brain" moments, they even happen to husbands- watch out chad.

pedro/pneter said...


In your last posting, you states your point with compelling understanding into the nature of Christ's ministry on earth.

I do, however, disagree wth you that social justice from a redemptive perspective can never encompass the group.

I agree that Christ in his ministry was primarily focused on individuals and their redemption, but central to his message as well was the advent of the Kingdom, which is more than merely the redeemed individuals living in a common relam. It is, rather, the realm of the king that encompasses a redeemed reality. Individuals exist in the kingdom but so do the redeemed (plural, i.e., the remnant or church) who are more than just an grouping of atomistic individuals. That is, the bride of Christ (collective) maintains her own distinct character.

Plus, th ekingdom will encompass a redeemed creation, which itself extends beyond redeemed individuals.

In looking at the history of redemption, we must look beyond the live and death of Christ (which, of course, was the apex of this history) and must remember that redemption has been a journey that started at the beginning, as the "spirit hovered over the deep." Much of that history, as told and retold through the stories and oracles of the Old Testament, concerns the true Israel, the remnant.

I believe that both an individual relational perspective and a corporate social justice perspective must be present in our dialogue on redemption.

You're right, social justice is about groups that we must label for convenience sake, but these labels need not carry prejudice nor be the primary lense through which we associate the individuals that compose them. They are important, however, because they provide context. The people of Iraq are suffering in a unique way and in unique circumstances compared to the people of the U.S. Gulf Coast who have been hammered by successive major hurricaines, compared to the people of Pakistan many of whom have died or are still suffeing from a major earthquake, compared to the people who live (and more often die) in extreme poverty around the world, compared to the victims of genocide in Rwanda, compared to the victims of genocide in the former Yugoslavia, compared to the victims of genocide in Hitler's Third Reich, etc.

The point is, suffering may affect groups of people, and identifying these groups give us context for how to love the individuals who are suffering in particular ways.

No individual exists in a vacuum, and every individual is part of many social groups or networks. Because we were created as social beings, who we are is a composite of our individual personalities and inherent traits, as well as our personal experiences and the experiences that are unique to our social groups and tribes.

You're right in saying that power without love destroys as the One Ring destroyed. Indeed, the paradoxical beauty of the cross is that the greatest act of redemption/love/power was exhibited through the most humiliating demonstration of weakness/sacrifice/death. However, as Aslan said following his resurrection, (and I do paraphrase) "The power written on the stone table was broken by a more ancient, far more powerful principle - that the blood of a traitor can be atoned for only by the blood of the innocent."

pedro said...


Sorry, I was replying to YOUR last posting, not to Chuck.

Jaime said...

I agree with you Peter, I think labels are necesary because they tell a great deal about our history/story.
The only way labeling is wrong, it´s when used in a derogatory way.

Lian said...

Well said Peter.
I won't respond at length, but, essentially, I agree whole heartedly that individuals are merely part of groups/communities/ societies. I am very convinced that reality is inextricably plural (look at God himself) and that redemption is of a people in a more profound way than of an individual. However, when I speak about individuals as I did above I am really talking about the specific. It is simply impossible for us to move away from lumping people into categories - and we can certainly assert, on one level, that they are a part of those categories - but, to me, the life of sacrifice, the life of relationship and transformation, the life of engagement in those communities must take place in the specific - in the present. The communities which God is redeeming are forming themselves continuously every moment and the individuals in those communities must give up more and more the power that comes from the general, the categorical, the dichotomistic - the FUTURE - and embrace the faithful abandon and maddening holism of the specific moment. If we fail to do this, we slowly allow the atomism you are speaking about to errode the unity redemption is working in us through our inherent subjectivity. We can be only be ONE because we are many.

pedro said...


I think we are in perfect agreement.

The crux of this conversation is that we can never distance ourselves from the real lives of poeple. The gift of grace is so much more than just correct theology or absolute (objective) truth. It is a living, engaging, even evolving thing in the sense that life changes, and God has always met his people where they are, in order to bring them closer to where he is.