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Snowden’s Christmas address

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This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

I just couldn’t resist, after my own Jewish Christmas message, another unexpected Christian message – from Edward Snowden no less.

At least Snowden has finally found a place to lay his head. Even if it is in Putin’s Pussy Riot Russia.

Snowden’s Christian message resounds. Children growing up without a moment to themselves, knowing always that more than Santa is looking in on them – to see whether they’re naughty or nice. A constricted life to be sure. Will such intrusions change our understanding of what it means to be human?

Even Israel is being surveyed. Imagine that, the last great hope for Jewishkind being watched by their honest broker American friend who wants to give Israel everything it has rather than everything it wants.

Israel’s outrage is palpable. But if I were leading Israel, I’d take John Kerry’s gift wrapped Christmas present, wouldn’t you?

NSA is like the all-seeing, all-knowing God escaped from the theological realm into real historical time. Which God is more oppressive? Or has church and state once again joined hands?

Not much Christian cheer when you look world-wide. Snowden’s Christmas message is a light unto the world’s nations. And he didn’t even mention God.

Marc H. Ellis
About Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is Professor of History and Jewish Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of the Global Prophetic. His latest book is Finding Our Voice: Embodying the Prophetic and Other Misadventures.

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11 Responses

  1. W.Jones
    December 25, 2013, 10:36 am

    Hopefully the “most High” is watching the watchers.

  2. LeaNder
    December 25, 2013, 11:52 am

    I am a bit late, Marc, to your Christian redemption theme. For whatever reason it reminds me of a French novel, where “the sins” of the community are symbolically thrown into a river, of course related to some sacrifice, so that the community at large can feel redeemed and righteous.

    But strictly, and this is probably the source of power of not only the Catholic Church but every religion; its followers, its spiritual adherents. Christ, the ultimate sacrifice, allowing his followers to feel righteous, never promised a kingdom on this earth, forget about the second coming.

    Personally looking at Eastern creeds, I wouldn’t mind to not be reborn to another life. I would also find it really boring, I follow my mother in this, to wake up in the heaven of Dante and sing hallelujah all day long. Rather I would like to be a star on the firmament and ideally guide at least a few of the troubled, that’s about all the Christian religion has left me with. But strictly it is a combination of Vonnegut with a an personal experience that, Dostoevsky, of all people admittedly, expressed best in his Idiot.

    A prof once suggested to me ultimately all religion only deals with and has preserved deep human knowledge about how to deal with the basic human fact of death. But no doubt religion may well have a basic influence on our thinking at least in childhood and from there on in later life, a core wisdom Alison discovered in the latest power strategies of the JNF. Will it work?

  3. Pamela Olson
    Pamela Olson
    December 25, 2013, 12:18 pm

    The video seems to be blocked for copyright reasons. Any chance there’s another copy floating around somewhere that you could post?

    Many thanks and Merry Christmas! (I’m happy to say “Merry Christmas” on Christmas, just like I’m happy to say “L’Shana tova” at the Jewish New Year and “Kul 3am wa intum bikhair” during Ramadan) :)

  4. Keith
    December 25, 2013, 9:02 pm

    I’m not sure how deeply I want to get into this, however, what should be mentioned is that this massive data mining is not spying in the classical sense. Unless I am misinformed, for the vast majority, there will be no real time surveillance. Perhaps for selected individuals, and a crude algorithmic sweep for the majority, but by and large, nothing which could conceivably be of use in stopping bona fide terrorism. What you have is a mass of data on everyone which can be accessed for those individuals identified for analysis. Those will likely be the leadership of movements opposing neoliberal imperialism. This is all part of the plan to repress domestic dissent, just as occurs in China or Egypt under al Sisi, but at a much more sophisticated, all-encompassing manner. Neoliberalism has eliminated the carrot, all that is left is the stick.

    • Citizen
      December 26, 2013, 12:33 am

      @ Keith
      Dragnet of metadata, map of your associates in storage, so the dogs of the 1% can curb your enthusiasm at will.

      • Keith
        December 26, 2013, 12:24 pm

        CITIZEN- Exactly! Safety lying in keeping a low profile. Protest and you and your friends are in trouble. Incidentally, there is a somewhat similar process at work with student loans. Increasing tuition requiring bigger loans (not subject to bankruptcy relief) requires the graduate to be dependent upon a job for debt service, hence, always fearful of loosing employment by “making waves.” We are entering the age of neo-feudal debt servitude, yet another form of coercive social control.

  5. RoHa
    December 25, 2013, 9:52 pm
    • Xpat
      December 26, 2013, 4:13 am

      Ha! I loved the WWII reference. Feeling mauled by shopping mall Christmas.

  6. Citizen
    December 26, 2013, 12:37 am

    Aw, who needs privacy? For what? Introspection? Finding yourself, or selves? That’s what church, mosque, temple is for. And why read when you can Facebook away, or tweet your own Hallmark cards? OK, OK, to read another How To book…

  7. Xpat
    December 26, 2013, 4:17 am

    For comic relief, I watched the opening minute of the mainstream British Christmas message. The one the Queen gives. Both she and Snowden speak of “George”. In the Queen’s case, it’s all about the new baby, HRH Prince George and the joy and hope of babies and so on. OTOH, Edward Snowden’s George is George Orwell and how 2014 is set up to be so much worse than 1984.

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