Engaging Politics in Myanmar
A Study of Aung San Suu Kyi and Martin Luther King Jr in Light of Walter Wink’s Political Theology
Violence is not just physical; like everything in life, it bears spiritual implications. Thus, nonviolence offers more than just a method for resisting oppression. It offers a spiritual revolution – a way of seeking life to cultivate the reality of God’s kingdom in a world where the myth of redemptive violence is rampant.
In this book, Dr Aung Htoo places Walter Wink’s political theology in conversation with both Aung San Suu Kyi and the work of Martin Luther King Jr. Locating this dialogue against the political backdrop of Myanmar’s history, Htoo explores the theological and political implications of nonviolence in the cultural context of the country’s people groups. He draws on the shared Buddhist and Christian foundation of commitment to loving kindness to suggest a new political reality for Myanmar – one in which its citizens work together for the transformation of their shared homeland. Ultimately, Htoo challenges Christians to dethrone the spirit of domination and bear witness to the holistic gospel in every aspect of their lives. This is an excellent resource for anyone interested in theology, peace studies, or the intersection between faith and politics.
Dr Aung Htoo’s knowledge of Myanmar and the situation of the Christian community is impressive. The book offers a creative exploration of non-violence and its significance for the local Christian community.
David Tombs, PhD
Howard Paterson Chair of Theology and Public Issues,
University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
Creative. Original. Ground-breaking. Excellent. The book is bold in design and convincing in implementation. This book is a superb, critical, dialogue with three quite different thinkers/activists in order to develop a culturally appropriate theological ethics. The initial application is for Christians in Myanmar. But the basic methodology deserves widespread use. Highly recommended.
Ronald J. Sider, PhD
Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Theology, Holistic Ministry and Public Policy,
Palmer Theological Seminary, St Davids, Pennsylvania, USA
Issues of power, oppression, justice, and compassion are at the heart of this challenging and important work that brings together diverse voices from outside the modern West in dialogue with the ethical paradigm of Walter Wink and his “Powers trilogy.” This work brings into conversation political theology, practical theology, and moral theology and the result is a penetrating challenge to Christians in Myanmar, and the rest of us, to live with wisdom and courage in an increasingly post-secular society.
Myk Habets, PhD
Head of Theology, Laidlaw College, Auckland, New Zealand
Senior Research Fellow, Australian College of Theology, Sydney
Table of Contents
- List of Abbreviations
- Part I
- Chapter 1 Introduction
- 1.1 Context of the Study
- 1.2 Significance of the Study
- 1.3 Method of the Study
- 1.5 Thesis of the Study
- 1.5 Outline of the Study
- Chapter 2 Two Contrasting Orders: The Domination System and God’s Domination-Free Order
- 2.1 Exploring Wink’s Theology of Nonviolence
- 2.1.1 An Analytical Summary of Wink’s Powers Trilogy
- 2.1.2 Why Wink?
- 2.2 Wink in Dialogue with Others: Toward a Constructive Frame
- 2.2.1 The Powers as the Basis of a Christian Social Ethic
- 2.2.2 The Powers and the Domination System
- 2.2.3 The Powers and God’s Domination-Free Order
- 2.3 Summary of the Chapter
- Chapter 3 Jesus’s Third Way or Nonviolent Engagement: A Critical Construct
- 3.1 Engaging the Powers Nonviolently
- 3.1.1 Jesus’s Third Way
- 3.1.2 Why Nonviolence?
- 3.1.3 Just War, Pacifism, Christian Realism, Just Peacemaking, and Nonviolence
- 3.1.4 Violence and the Cross
- 3.2 An Examination of the “What If” Dilemma
- 3.3 The Powers, Church and Nonviolence
- 3.4 What’s Next When the Powers Fall? Toward a Reconciliation
- 3.5 Summary of the Chapter
- Part II
- Chapter 4 Martin Luther King Jr on Nonviolence
- 4.1 Biographical Exploration: How King Came to Believe in Nonviolence
- 4.1.1 Parental Influences
- 4.1.2 Intellectual Quest
- 4.2 Involvement in the Civil Rights Movement
- 4.3 King’s Principles of Nonviolence: A Critical Examination
- 4.3.1 Nonviolence as a Method of the Strong
- 4.3.2 Nonviolence as a Path to Reconciliation
- 4.3.3 Nonviolence as the Weapon against Evil
- 4.3.4 Nonviolence and Redemptive Suffering
- 4.3.5 Nonviolence and Inner Strength
- 4.3.6 Nonviolence and Justice
- 4.4 What Would You Do?
- 4.5 Summary of the Chapter
- Chapter 5 Suu Kyi on Nonviolence
- 5.1 Parental Influences
- 5.2 Intellectual Upbringing
- 5.3 Entry into the Myanmar Politics
- 5.4 Political Life of Suu Kyi (1988–the Present): A Survey
- 5.4.1. The Military Regime and Suu Kyi
- 5.4.2 Physical Attacks on Suu Kyi
- 5.5 Principles of Nonviolence: A Critical Examination
- 5.5.1 Why Not Violence?
- 5.5.2 Nonviolence as a Buddhist Ethic
- 5.5.3 Mettā as the All-Embracing Principle of Nonviolence
- 5.5.4 Nonviolence as a Revolution of the Spirit
- 5.6 Dialogue, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation
- 5.7 Rule of Law and Nonviolence
- 5.8 A Proponent of Principled or Pragmatic Nonviolence?
- 5.9 Suu Kyi after 2010: A Look at Her Current Political Life
- 5.10 Summary of the Chapter
- Part III
- Chapter 6 King and Suu Kyi in Dialogue with Walter Wink
- 6.1 Nonviolence and Leadership: A Correlation
- 6.2 Religion: Engaging Buddhism with Christianity
- 6.3 Ethics of Nonviolence: Engaging King and Suu Kyi Via Wink’s Eyes
- 6.3.1 Why Not Violence?
- 6.3.2 Nonviolence and Love: Engaging King’s Agape and Suu Kyi’s Mettā through Wink’s Loving Enemies
- 6.3.3 Principled or Pragmatic?
- 6.3.4 Principles of Nonviolence: King and Suu Kyi Via Wink’s Eyes
- 6.4 What If . . . or Self-Defence?
- 6.5 Nonviolence and the Church
- 6.6 Summary of the Chapter
- Chapter 7 Engaging with the Politics of Myanmar through Wink, King and Suu Kyi
- 7.1 Violence, Power-Struggles, and Buddhism: A Historical Review
- 7.1.1 Monarchical Period
- 7.1.2 Colonial Period
- 7.1.3 Postcolonial Period
- 7.2 Supernaturalism, Politics and Buddhism
- 7.3 Ethnic Diversity and Religion
- 7.4 A Quest for the Spirit of Burmese Politics
- 7.4.1 Understanding Politics in Myanmar
- 7.4.2 General Ne Win as a Resuscitator of the Spirit of the Traditional Myanmar Politics
- 7.4.3 Suu Kyi as an Agent for Political Transformation
- 7.4.4 The Failure of the Four Eights Protest
- 7.4.5 Traditionalism or Transformation?
- 7.5 Summary of the Chapter
- Chapter 8 Conclusion: Political Implications for Christians in Myanmar
- 8.1 Implications of Nonviolence for Christians in Myanmar
- 8.1.1 Theological Implications
- 8.1.2 Ethical Implications
- 8.1.3 Socio-political Implication
- 8.2 How Should Christians in Myanmar Begin to Engage with Politics?