Easter Faith and Empire: Recovering the Prophetic Tradition on the Emmaus Road

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Date: 
Sunday, 1 January 2006

In Getting on Message: Challenging the Christian Right from the Heart of the Gospel, ed. by Peter Laarman, Boston:Beacon Press, 2006, pp. 51-67. 9 pp

In the first-century Pax Romana, Christians had the difficult and demanding task of discerning how to cling to a radical ethos of life - symbolized preeminently by their stubborn belief in the Resurrection of Jesus - while living under the chilling shadow of an imperial culture of domination and death. Today, in the twenty-first-century Pax Americana, U.S. Christians are faced with the same challenge: to celebrate Easter faith in the teeth of empire and its discontents.

"The words empire and imperialism enjoy no easy hospitality in the minds and hearts of most contemporary Americans," wrote the great historian William Appleman Williams a quarter century ago in his brilliant rereading of U.S. history. Yet today, because of the ascendancy of the New Right's ideological project (whose intellectual architecture is typified by the Project for a New American Century), the words are increasingly used approvingly in regard to U.S. policy. We are indeed well down the road of imperial unilateralism, and are seeing clearly that this means a world held hostage to wars and rumors of war. The conquest and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq have had an enormous human and political cost. Meanwhile, the Unites States has military bases on every continent and some form of military presence in almost two-thirds of the 189 member states in the United Nations.

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by Ched Myers

All articles on this site were written by Ched Myers unless otherwise specified.