The American Empire and the Commonwealth of God

[….] towards the religious side of the question, the authors discuss the “overt legitimacy” offered to the empire by Christianity, with the “global hegemony” drawing “its aura of sacrality not only from the warring apocalyptic extremities it provokes,” but also requiring “wave after wave of conquest for Christ.” This leads to the demonizing of the ‘other’, the creation of an ‘axis of evil’ (following on Reagan’s “evil empire’ of the 1980s). The “potent merger of elitist idealism with conservative Christian populism has provided the overarching legitimation of our empire,” justifying and legitimating ultimately the right of preemptive and preventative war.

As this work is ultimately designed for arguments concerning a Christian perspective on the empire, the final discussion on a Social Gospel and Liberation Theology leads to a profound anti-empirical statement. As the ideals of Jesus were distinctly anti-imperial vis a vis the Roman conquerors, and it was initially recognized as such and persecuted before it was pre-empted by the Roman state, a renewal of this original viewpoint is expressed very strongly: “Jesus’ teaching of the commonwealth of God…is the deepest grounds for opposition to the American empire,” as those who are Christians “are called to fan the sparks of the message into a flame that can help reverse the headlong plunge of our nation into the lust for world domination.” Perhaps even more strongly worded “the combination of economic and, increasingly, military power to bring the whole world under U.S. control” is a project “like the Nazi project – as antithetical to Christian faith.”

I found The American Empire and the Commonwealth of God very refreshing after reading so much from the apocalyptic right and seeing and hearing so much of the vanity of invoking ‘God’ and the name of Jesus while killing, torturing, terrorizing, and generally subjugating the global population to the dictates of the American empire. Another strength along this line is the lack of discussion of ‘just war’ rhetoric that only justifies and creates apologetics to sanctify war (as supported by Canada’s ‘just warrior’ Michael Ignatieff). While this work relies on other common secular works that argue against empire, it is a worthwhile read to understand that Christianity has strong currents opposed to the imperial project. Hopefully that view, combined with the secular views against the empire that support their views, will one day prove successful, both requiring “courage” to “denounce and work against the American empire.” read more

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