Rock n' Roll Doggie
Join Date: Jul 2000
Local Time: 09:47 PM
It is interesting to see the parallels between the British Empire and the current American one. Recently, I was listening to an audiobook version of Simon Schama's excellent "History of Britain" series and I was struck with the similarities.
Along similar lines, this is an interesting article that expresses a lot of what I have often thought.
Give Me That Oldtime Oppression
by Rev. Rich Gamble
As a pastor of a Christian church, I have a visceral reaction to all those people who want the United States to embrace its role as imperial power. Take for example, a Friday guest column by professor Michael Babcock, "If this be imperialism ... ."
Babcock proclaims his admiration for the Roman Empire, for its gifts to the world of "political stability, rule of law, the virtues of political enfranchisement, the preservation of learning and the arts, and the respect for other cultures and religions." Certainly, the Roman elite believed this about themselves, but seen from the perspective of the poor, Rome was a menace.
As a Christian, I claim a particular historical perspective, namely that handed down by the Bible. The Bible stands as the most anti-imperial tome in human history. It is the story of a people at odds with empire from its inception. The Bible gives us a look at empire from the perspective of the victims. The Jewish people experienced slavery, slaughter, exile and occupation at the hands of various empires.
In his critique of economic practices that allowed the rich to get richer while the poor starved, Jesus was undermining the very foundation of the exploitative Roman economic system. In his opposition the puppet government of the Temple, Jesus was denouncing Roman political repression. In his denial of the use of violence, Jesus was de-legitimizing the most important tool of imperial repression.
Jesus was legally crucified for his actions (a demonstration of that famed Roman rule of law). Christians, along with the Jews, remember that it was Rome that laid waste to Judea (Roman political enfranchisement), slaughtered thousands, took thousands more as slaves, destroyed the Temple (a taste of Roman religious tolerance), and basically shattered the Jewish nation so thoroughly that it took it more than 18 centuries to reconstitute itself.
It was the Roman Empire that on several occasions tortured and killed people in the most brutal way, merely for professing their Christian faith. And after Christianity became the official religion of the empire, it was Rome that began the repression of Jews and other non-Christian faiths.
All of this history, not to mention our own nation's rejection of the British empire, should be enough to dissuade supposedly learned men such as Babcock from embracing the lure of empire. Even more so, since Babcock hails from Liberty University, that overtly Christian University founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell. Falwell was the man who recently demonstrated his discriminatory memory of scripture by proclaiming, "God is pro-war."
The selective memories of Babcock and Falwell are now applied in support of the imperial policies of our nation. They, like fellow fundamentalist Christian George W. Bush, believe that the United States as empire has the right to ignore the United Nations, break international law, invade nations, imprison and torture at will, and lay claim the resources of weaker nations and poor people. This is a very Roman perspective on proper national behavior.
We, as the citizens of this nation, should say clearly that we do not want the policies and practices of empire. For all their haughty claims, empires exist for one reason only -- to take resources from the weak and funnel them to the mighty. This stands in utter contradiction to faith of Moses and the witness of Jesus. By their words and actions Babcock, Falwell and the president dishonor this nation, and mock the faith the president and Falwell so ardently proclaim.
original article here
"I can't change the world, but I can change the world in me." - Bono