God's Politics

God's Politics


Shane Claiborne: Questions for an Empire’s Candidates

posted by gp_intern

As announced on CNN last night, we’re hosting a forum of the leading Democratic presidential candidates at our Pentecost 2007 event (Shane will also be speaking at the conference). We’ve invited several of our bloggers to discuss their questions for the candidates, but we’re also asking our readers to submit their questions, and will let YOU vote on the ones we should use!
+ Click here to submit your questions

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Don’t let anyone make you think that God has chosen America as [God’s] divine messianic force to be reckoned with.” There are compelling voices who claim that God has chosen America (not the church) as a special embodiment of hope for the world, and then there are times (perhaps in more recent history) when it seems America embodies an antithesis of what God hopes for. U.S. flags colonize the altars and the money is branded “In God We Trust,” but the economy is an eerie reflection of the seven deadly sins listed in scripture, with a culture dangerously close to the sins of Sodom, a culture the prophet Ezekiel describes as “arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned.” Given the fact that America and God’s kingdom are not the same – and are often at odds – how do we resist the temptation of thinking that America, rather than God or God’s church, is the hope of the world?

Perhaps reflect on the following words from George W. Bush: “The ideal of America is the hope of all mankind … That hope still lights our way. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” And the recent words of Barack Obama on the Late Show with David Letterman, “This country is still the last best hope on earth.” As Christians, how do we reconcile where our ultimate faith lies, especially within an empire as mesmerizing as Rome or America?


Shane Claiborne is a Red Letter Christian, author of The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical, and a founding partner of the Simple Way community, a radical faith community that lives among and serves the homeless in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia.



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HASH(0x1194bf1c)

posted May 16, 2007 at 5:28 pm


Have you stopped beating your wife?



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jesse

posted May 16, 2007 at 5:34 pm


That comment was very inappropriate.But I am struggling to find the question here.



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jesse

posted May 16, 2007 at 5:38 pm


Oh, wait…I get it. The question on top was meant to be analogous to Shane’s question, which was like saying “America really sucks…don’t you agree?”



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HASH(0x1194f594)

posted May 16, 2007 at 5:38 pm


One loaded question deserves another.



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HASH(0x1194e38c)

posted May 16, 2007 at 5:39 pm


Oh, wait…I get it. The question on top was meant to be analogous to Shane’s question, which was like saying “America really sucks…don’t you agree?” Exactly.



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Justin

posted May 16, 2007 at 5:51 pm


As far as a question goes, Shane’s ultimate question, I think, can be summed up with, “How can you, as a christian, make the claim that America is the world’s light and hope, when that rests Biblically in Christ?” Secondly, if you can say America is the world’s light and hope, what is Christ? Maybe a loaded question, but the idea is valid. In fact, I would question the faith of anyone who claims or acts on the belief that America is the world’s savior…



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Wolverine

posted May 16, 2007 at 6:00 pm


Perhaps the question was something like: How would you describe America’s role in the world? Is it the shining city on the hill and the last best hope of mankind, or is it just one of many nations under God’s judgment? Or somewhere in between? Wolverine



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jesse

posted May 16, 2007 at 6:04 pm


If Bush’s and Obama’s statements are understood correctly, they mean that many of America’s values, such as democracy, freedom of speech and religion, etc…are what all mankind hopes for. Both Bush and Obama claim to be Christians and neither would say that America takes the place of Jesus as the Ultimate Hope.But the real problem that Shane and others have with such comments is they make America look good, and they see America as the source of most of the problems in the world. That’s their right to believe that.



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Don

posted May 16, 2007 at 6:29 pm


“But the real problem that Shane and others have with such comments is they make America look good, and they see America as the source of most of the problems in the world.” That’s an overgeneralization at best, untrue at worst, and it totally fails to grasp the essence of what Shane is saying. He’s not saying anything about what America’s relationship to the world’s problems is. His point is rather that American Christians should pause and consider what their relationship to America and American nationalism should be. America has always had a messianic streak, going back to colonial times. We were the New Canaan, the promised land. There’s even a famous “primitive” painting that depicts the two spies from Joshua carrying a pole with the huge cluster of grapes hanging from it. The background landscape is obviously American. During the 19th century, America’s messianic ideas were summed up in “manifest destiny,” the notion that God had destined the nation to expand to the Pacific. Our war against Mexico in the 1840s was largely an effort to assure that territorial expansion. Shane’s concern, I think is summed up in his statement, “U.S. flags colonize the altars.” In other words, Christians in America tend to blend nationalism with biblical Christianity. God’s Kingdom and America are not synomymous, contrary to what many apparently assume, based on their actions. To whom do we owe primary allegiance? What is our first love? These are the questions Shane is asking. Peace,



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splinterlog

posted May 16, 2007 at 6:52 pm


I find this American nationalism/messianism very interesting in light of the similar Jewish Second Temple messianism. In both cases there is the (correct) awareness that there is something revolutionary and redemptive brewing in an environment that they perceived to be unique, perhaps even God-chosen, but in both cases they are looking in all of the wrong places for this.



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bryan

posted May 16, 2007 at 6:53 pm


I’m new to this site, so I might have some misunderstandings. But if I read Shane to say that “America” is not the chosen people, then I agree. We set many, many bad examples both as a gov’t and as a people around the world. Pop culture (television, music, clothing fashion, etc.) is fed by money, not the body of Christ. I believe until we can begin to minimize the effects of pop culture in America, we will continue to slip down the slope of less Christ, more pop culture. I wonder if a survey of the world’s inhabitants asked what word is most closely associated with America, “money” would be at or near the top. And if this is Shane’s point, and not just mine, (grinning) then God bless Shane.



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Sarasotakid

posted May 16, 2007 at 6:59 pm


The post is provacative. The writing style is obtuse.



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HASH(0x11958e50)

posted May 16, 2007 at 7:34 pm


The photoshop is downright lame.



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moderatelad

posted May 16, 2007 at 7:40 pm


Dear Gussie -Love the face imposed on the statue – bet that took some brain matter to but that together – NOT!Seems like most of the writes of the articles on this site take great glee in dissing the current admin. any way they can. Issues are secondary as long as SOJO can have fun attacking Bush. (must have been desperatly dull during the former Pres. admin…) really not interested in talking about this one as supporting or defending is worthless on this site. Not really interested in this author or what most have to say about it. You have the right to say what you want as the US (as bad as some will say it is) still allows freedom of speach etc. Don’t think you can get away with this kind of an article in Cuba. Yes – they have freedom of speech – just not always freedom after speech. Whatever – .



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jesse

posted May 16, 2007 at 8:02 pm


Don, I may have been overstating the matter by saying that Shane thinks America is responsible for most of the world’s ills, but I’m quite certain he thinks that the US has a very negative impact on the world. That is his real problem with these statements about America and American ideals. He is opposed to them. And he also very much understands that Bush and Obama do not believe we should have allegiance to God over country, though he intentionally misinterprets their statements to suggest so.



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Kristopher

posted May 16, 2007 at 8:14 pm


How can we not attribute the successes of this country to the blessings of Christ? Of course Christ is in control, and is the best hope for the world, but how can we deny that when compared to other countries, America is the one country that is the “last best hope”? Why are we confusing patriotism with blaspheme?



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Payshun

posted May 16, 2007 at 8:18 pm


The notion that they make America look bad is naive at best and foolish at worst. America does stuff all on it’s own that manages to piss off most of the world. That makes America look bad, not Shane’s post. p



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Payshun

posted May 16, 2007 at 8:26 pm


Oh and no where is Shane saying that America sucks. he is saying our culture is fat, overfed and broken. That’s actually accurate. So if you read something into his post that is not said then go ahead but you would be ignoring what he actually wrote and putting in metamessages that don’t exist. p



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jesse

posted May 16, 2007 at 8:34 pm


Payshun, My conclusion was based on the present column, an interview I’ve read with him, and past columns. He very much believes that the US is generally a very negative force in the world. I don’t think it is a stretch to say this…and that’s fine…as I said, he’s entitled to his opinion. There are plenty of people who say this. And I think the US has a lot of problems, too.



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kevin s.

posted May 16, 2007 at 8:57 pm


“Why are we confusing patriotism with blaspheme?” I agree that this is a false choice. I follow the Detroit Pistons. I get very upset when they lose. I hope they get the right personnel to make a run at the championship. I am not always happy with their effort (nice game 5, guys)…Of course, what happens to my country effects me, and a whole lot of other people. Therefore, I have all the more incentive to root for it, and hope we do well…All of which is to say I see a lot of similarities between Iran and the San Antonio Spurs.



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moderatelad

posted May 16, 2007 at 8:58 pm


Yes – the US has problems. But if we are so bad…why are so many trying to gain enterance to this country and not others. Floating across from Cuba, tunneling under the boarder from Mexico, hiding in shipping containers. When others around the world are experiencing difficulties whatever they may be…yes, they do go to the UN – but the also come to the US because we can get things done faster. (why go to the UN when it will be US money anyway and the UN is going to take their cut – legal or not) The US in the hope of the world in so many ways. Have a blessed day! .



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Carl Copas

posted May 16, 2007 at 9:15 pm


Shane, thank you for calling attention to one of our time’s most important questions facing American Christians. Falwell’s death provides a logical opportunity for a discussion. Relevant reading: Chris Hedges, American Fascists; Kevin Phillips, American Theocracy; Gregory Boyd, Myth of a Christian Nation; Randall Balmer, Thy Kingdom Come; Apostle Paul, Book of Romans passim; the Synoptic Gospels passim.



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Payshun

posted May 16, 2007 at 9:48 pm


Jesse: My conclusion was based on the present column, an interview I’ve read with him, and past columns. He very much believes that the US is generally a very negative force in the world. I don’t think it is a stretch to say this…and that’s fine…as I said, he’s entitled to his opinion. There are plenty of people who say this. And I think the US has a lot of problems, too. Me: Like what? I would love to hear your critique. THat would actually help this discussion along. Kevin I have been a diehard Raiders fan for over 20 years. I love em. THey are my favorite team, they will always be that but that doesn’t mean that I think they are good right now. As a matter of fact I think they suck right now. THat doesn’t mean I am not rooting for them it just means that I can actually critique them. I would love to hear your critique of the strengths and weaknesses of this country instead of blind faith in a country that we really should not have faith in the first place…. Now mind you ah never mind more soon.p



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nad2

posted May 16, 2007 at 10:37 pm


anyone ever read any of dom crossan’s books, specifically ‘in search of paul,’ ‘god and empire,’ or ‘the last week?’ he has a very thoughtful and strongly considered view of our faith tradition’s stance that the Kindgom of God and the empires of our world are usually at odds with one another, and that america, in using its political & military force to coerce outcomes around the world in its interest, has become the empire of our time.



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jesse

posted May 16, 2007 at 10:49 pm


Payshun, So, here goes…I think the US suffers from a culture of self-indulgence and materialism. It’s hypersexual and violent. And the prevalence of abortion (the highest rate in the West) is certainly not anything to brag about. Hollywood is also not doing us any favors abroad. Mind you, all of these things are basically just as bad in many other parts of the world (e.g., Europe). Though most other countries don’t worship celebrities as much as we do. The therapeutic culture in the US is also very unique.Only the other hand, I think the US is one of the most charitable countries in the world. Relatively speaking, Americans are generally very friendly, too. Lastly, I think American ingenuity and business has been a major help to the rest of the world.



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butch

posted May 16, 2007 at 11:21 pm


To whom do we owe primary allegiance? What is our first love? These are the questions Shane is asking. Peace,Don Your take is always on point, we need to separate state and church in allegiance and look at the state very critically and honestly. If our behavior as a nation is inconsistent with our faith then we need to change our behavior not be a pep rally for politicians.I don t want to reduce this to America bashing but here is a list of bad guys we ve put in power or supported them. The question is do we want more of this behavior or does Christ ask us to do better. And this is not a complete list. Dictators Supported by the U.S. Government General Sani Abacha, Nigeria Idi Amin, Uganda Colonel Hugo Banzer, Bolivia Fulgencio Batista, Cuba Sir Hassanal Bolkiah, Brunei P.W. Botha, South Africa General Humberto Branco, Brazil Raoul Cedras, Haiti Vinicio Cerezo, Guatemala Chiang Kai-Shek, Taiwan Roberto Suazo Cordova, Honduras Alfredo Christiani, El Salvador Ngo Dihn Diem, Vietnam General Samuel Doe, Liberia Francois Duvalier, Haiti Jean Claude Duvalier, Haiti King Fahd bin’Abdul-‘Aziz, Saudi Arabia General Francisco Franco, Spain Hassan II Morocco Ferdinand Marcos, Philippines General Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez, El Salvador Mobutu Sese Seko, Zaire General Efrain Rios Montt, Guatemala General Manuel Noriega, Panama Turgut Ozal, Turkey Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi, Iran George Papadopoulos, Greece Park Chung Hee, South Korea General Augusto Pinochet, Chile Pol Pot, Cambodia General Sitiveni Rabuka, Fiji General Efrain Rios Montt, Guatemala Halie Salassie, Ethiopia Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, Portugal Anastasio Somoza Jr., Nicaragua Anastasio Somoza Sr., Nicaragua Ian Smith, Rhodesia Alfredo Stroessner, Paraguay General Suharto, Indonesia Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, Dominican Republic General Jorge Rafael Videla, Argentina Mohammed Zia Ul-Haq, Pakistan Saddam Hussian Iraq http://www.omnicenter.org/warpea…n/ dictators.htm



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Don

posted May 17, 2007 at 12:48 am


“Why are we confusing patriotism with blaspheme [sic]?” This misrepresents what I wrote. I said nothing about blasphemy. I didn’t even use the word. And I didn’t use the word ‘patriotism’ but rather ‘nationalism.’ They’re not the same thing; look them up in your Websters. So indeed this is a false choice, but it was not a choice I offered up. I have no problem with patriotism by itself, except that patriotism uncircumscribed can lead to nationalism; it’s nationalism that is my concern here. In fact, I offered up no choice. Rather, I wrote that we sometimes see American christians mixing America’s (unique brand of) messianic nationalism with Christianity. And then I asked us to consider our primary allegiance. Butch and Payshun both represented and expanded on my thoughts in the same spirit with which I offered them. Peace,



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butch

posted May 17, 2007 at 1:02 am


Don I really like your take, now what can we do to do the right thing and I also think it must be pratical or it won’t get past the politicians. Of course if it devolves to left/right crossfire type debate we will waste our time.



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Kristi

posted May 17, 2007 at 1:11 am


To Don:Amen to all your posts on this subject. I am constantly frustrated by the fact that if I voice my opinions against the war or any other thing that I don’t agree with our government on, I get lambasted as being unpatriotic. “Patriotism and Nationalism—not the same thing—look them up in your Webster’s”, EXACTLY! And I also agree that America’s particular brand of nationalism is messianic, and that many Christians confuse loyalty to state and loyalty to Christ. I adore my country and I am proud to be an American, but I adore my husband and am proud to be his wife, however I don’t think he is right about everything 100% of the time, and I certainly tell him when I think he is full of it, even though nobody dies when he makes poor decisions!



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butch

posted May 17, 2007 at 1:32 am


I get lambasted as being unpatriotic. Kristi When you don’t understand something it may be because you don’t have enough information. So, if there are some who are paid to attack any line of thought that causes the current administrations path. There are republican think tanks that study every issue and have ready talking points to counteract any disagreement with administration policy. Others are just so partisan that anything that criticizes republicans will be attacked, discredited or the subject will be changed. Notice how often the subject is changed.



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Mike Hayes

posted May 17, 2007 at 1:40 am


Butch, Thanks for this. The link has apparently been relocated… do you know where the list is now located? Mike



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Mike Hayes

posted May 17, 2007 at 1:44 am


Butch, Here is the link: http://www.omnicenter.org/warpeacecollection/dictators.htm Thanks for this. Mike



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letjusticerolldown

posted May 17, 2007 at 2:00 am


“There is a time and a place for everything….” Including expansive, elevating language about one’s nation; and including prophetic calls to have only one allegiance. To believe my nation, my city, my church, my family or my life has a particular calling or purpose in God’s redemptive purposes is to say nothing about the relative value of another nation or person. But we very easily turn that which is created, that with which we have been blessed, and that which we have been called to–into an object of worship, a source of pride, and a weapon with which to dominate another. To not align the purposes of the state with any higher values/purposes does not close the door to idolatry. In fact it opens the door to the state becoming the object of worship. Truth be told, there is likely no language that can fully express the highest, sacred, holy purposes of this nation; and there is no language that can fully express the bleak darkness, cruelty and evil of our rebellion against God. I think Martin Luther King wonderfully modeled the capacity to use language that elevated high purposes of the nation, while illuminating our rebellious evil, being willing to step into the gap to absorb what evil might deliver and respond with love. ya’ know my life is so filled with contradictions–the good, the bad, the ugly. The indiginous peoples of America had the good, the bad, and the ugly. The newcomers at Jamestown had the good, the bad and the ugly. We cannot be Christ’s Body without letting in the good the bad and the ugly and walking together in a way where our unique giftedness, callings, experiences, etc. allows us to be and learn so much more than we would in our own little closets. In an obedient journey together towards shalom we can express a glimpse of Jesus’–The Truth.



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butch

posted May 17, 2007 at 2:45 am


letjustice, well said, in fact very well said. Now what should we do specificly about any issue you feel is important that is workable in the realities of current politics?



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Greg

posted May 17, 2007 at 3:12 am


Why are there no Republican candidates?



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jesse

posted May 17, 2007 at 3:37 am


Sarasotakid, Are you trying to be insulting? Why do you have to go there?



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Sarasotakid

posted May 17, 2007 at 4:01 am


Go where, Jesse?



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Kristi

posted May 17, 2007 at 4:09 am


Hey lets keep it civil out there, guys. Everyone IS entitled to their opinion on an American and CHRISTIAN blog—we need everybody giving their honest opinion, whether we agree with them or not. After all if we all agree and are all saying the same thing, what’s the point? In the land of freedom of speech, and the movement of Christian liberty, shouldn’t we all be allowed to disagree or agree with each other? HOWEVER remember, those who are picking out the splinters of insult…well just make sure you aren’t looking through any two by fours of your own.



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kevin s.

posted May 17, 2007 at 5:42 am


“Why are we confusing patriotism with blaspheme [sic]?” Is the [sic] really necessary here?”This misrepresents what I wrote. I said nothing about blasphemy.” What you wrote about was blasphemy. Loving country over God is certainly that. You can argue that you weren’t comparing the anecdotes you utilized to patriotism, if you want. “I have no problem with patriotism by itself, except that patriotism uncircumscribed [sic] can lead to nationalism; it’s nationalism that is my concern here.” Okay, let’s do away with it, then.



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HASH(0x11972f54)

posted May 17, 2007 at 5:49 am


“I am constantly frustrated by the fact that if I voice my opinions against the war or any other thing that I don’t agree with our government on, I get lambasted as being unpatriotic.” Kristi, I know what you mean. I am constantly frustrated by the fact that if I voice my opinions supporting the war or any other thing that I agree with our government on, I get lambasted as being a Republi-Nazi of the American Empire.



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canucklehead

posted May 17, 2007 at 6:34 am


“Perhaps reflect on the following words from George W. Bush: The ideal of America is the hope of all mankind … That hope still lights our way. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Shane C. This statement may be true for that portion of the world’s population which thinks like Americans. Unfortunately, as the Iraq fiasco is proving to W, a good portion of the world’s population not only doesn’t think like Americans, they apparently have very little interest in thinking like Americans any time soon.



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canucklehead

posted May 17, 2007 at 6:50 am


“I adore my country and I am proud to be an American, but I adore my husband and am proud to be his wife, however I don’t think he is right about everything 100% of the time, and I certainly tell him when I think he is full of it…” Kristi Kristi, I’m apalled. See 1 Cor 63:12-36 and memorize it. In Greek. And Farsi. Promise Keepers was started to rout out closet women-libbers like you. :) On a serious note, I’m enjoying reading this thread and thank Shane for stirring the pot(ty) on this. For years, I’ve watched what goes on south of the 49th and the implicit (and a few explicit, I think) claim that America is the new Israel and kind of shuddered at the arrogance. In her latest book, Grace (Eventually), Anne Lamott makes the observation something to the effect that most of us would do well to remind me ourselves several times a day that it’s really not about us, in fact, it’s only one sixth-billionth about us. Do the math and I respectfully suggest to my American friends whom I love and respect that all of us (individually and nationally) should take that to heart.



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canucklehead

posted May 17, 2007 at 6:52 am


P.S. Go, Bulls, Go. And add Stephen Harper, Canada, to that lengthy list of dictators you guys have supported over the years.



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Kristi

posted May 17, 2007 at 7:16 am


Hey Canucklehead- I have a life so I can learn that passage in Greek, but Farsi will have to wait until next year :)!



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Payshun

posted May 17, 2007 at 9:01 am


Jesse, Thank you for your response I share your critique, both the good and the bad. I think that’s what we are united on as conservative and liberal, hippy and not. Kevin, what about you what’s your critique about this country? p



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Ms. Cynthia

posted May 17, 2007 at 10:24 am


Dear Shane: I have been meaning for a long time to tell you that every time I read one of your essays it nails the document to the church doors for me. It always speaks to the music in my heart on the same issues. I long for someone to change the nature of the questions rather than argue over the same distorted answers. This evening I am watching the second night of the PBS Special on the Inquisition as I type this. It is a frightening reminder of what can go wrong when we try to fuse together government and religious institutions. My spiritual and genetic ancestors ran from an old world that still couldn’t get this equation right. The evening before I was watching another documentary about how the NSA has the technology to vacuum up information about our personal lives. I type this knowing that AT&T has pipelines of cables able to do that very thing as I type this. We are living in times when the inability of those in power to make appropriate judgment calls about our beliefs and patriotism could have a devastating impact on our society. It requires that our leaders not only follow the letter of the law but fully respect the spirit of the laws that keep our loyalty to America as a nation from being confused with our religious passions. In an age when an invisible Inquisitor has so much unspeakable and secret power at his disposal how can simple everyday people like you and I find clarity for our defense? Something within me is outraged that we should have so much reason for paranoia imposed on us as a society. My ancestors had a literal New World to escape to from such torments but now there is nowhere we can run to. (I recognize that we were the invaders) If there is to be a New World it is to be recreated in the physical location we see before us in this world. I could not help but think of the convictions you shared when you wrote about the execution of Saddam Husein while I watching the history of the Inquisition. In our inability to see one of God’s children in every person, even those who have done harm to others we fail to recognize ourselves. I am not above feeling out rage at those who offend my sense of democracy. I recognize that the Inquisitors persecuted others because they could not forgive themselves for their own lack of faith. They were the control freaks of their age. When I was a child I personally observed the power of such a political control freak who’s name was J.E. Hoover. In a moment of weakness one of his Regional Directors attempted to persuade a leader of a religious organization (which was providing bail funds for civil rights workers) to destroy Martin Luther King’s reputation. Fortunately this proposal was rejected. But what affects me every time someone speaks of Rev. Martin, is that someone as powerful as the Director of the FBI would approach a religious leader with the intention of injecting a religious community with their own political agenda. When George Bush says the things that pop out of his mouth with religiosity it rattles me. It makes me think that Hoover has somehow managed to spawn the Chameleon that he always wanted to create. I find myself longing for a politician who is too apathetic to be interested in religion. It would be so much easier to criticize someone who does not imply having his political agenda being spiritually inspired. It would be a far less confusing if the devil did not also wear a halo with his horns. I say this knowing that as progressive as I perceive myself to be, I am the descendant of a people who have such passionate convictions about faith that they were quite capable of imposing them on others. Like Obama I would like to think that something happened here in America that can’t happen anywhere else. But I am also learning that when you are busy doing good in the world you are also at risk of getting mud on your feet. It is very easy to forget that even though some things we tried to escape from followed us across the ocean, some of the good things that were brought to America can still be found in the places where they originally came from. If we are going to create that New World we need to keep looking for them in the hearts and faces of those that live on the rest of the planet. That means spending less time chasing the enemy out in the world and more tme finding the courage to have the compassion needed for healing the enemy with in ourselves. Perhaps then we will have more luck recognizing and bringing out the better angels in others. Dear Shane, Please keep sharing those observations that cause me to reflect on the wonderful potential and the terrible power of our spiritual choices.



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Don

posted May 17, 2007 at 1:57 pm


Thank you, Cynthia.



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nad2

posted May 17, 2007 at 4:24 pm


when the president starts quoting scripture substituting america in for jesus, particularly as being the light of the world, we’ve got a problem, likewise for substituting ‘the american people’ for ‘the blood of the lamb’ from an old hymn. what’s worse is the reception it receives from our citizenry. sounds like empire theology to me.



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Anon

posted May 17, 2007 at 4:45 pm


“what’s worse is the reception it receives from our citizenry. sounds like empire theology to me.” He who has ears let him hear



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kevin s.

posted May 17, 2007 at 4:51 pm


“Kevin, what about you what’s your critique about this country?” Here are some. 1) In spite of the fact that we have a judicial branch that is designated to be free and independent of the elected branches of government, our leaders treat it as though it is an elected body. It has respponded in kind, which could has grave implications down the road. 2) The political homogeny of our city centers has led to unaccountable, corrupt leadership in many of our large metropolises (metropoli?).3) We have handed the keys of one of our most important governmental services, the public school system, to a worker’s union. The results speak for themselves. 4) Not only do we permit the destruction of unborn children, one of our two major political parties holds the legality of the act as sacrosanct, to the detriment of every other issue on their agenda. One of the reasons that Democrats acquisced on Iraq was that they were saving their political capital for a Supreme Court fight (which brings me back to #1).5) A large swath of our population “isn’t into politics”, but votes anyway. 6) Our tort system is a tragic mess. 7) Decades ago, we instituted a mandatory retirement fund that has since been rendered obsolete and which was dependent on unrealistic population projections. Even so, any attempt to meaningfully reform the system are rejected outright. At present, I am operating under the assumption that I won’t see a dime of what is taken out of my check.



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kevin s.

posted May 17, 2007 at 4:54 pm


It’s only empire theology if Bush truly meant that we were a substitute for the light of Christ. If you asked, I doubt he would say that is what he meant. I have no problem with quoting scripture metaphorically in these instances, though I can see the case for why it is inappropriate.



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Payshun

posted May 17, 2007 at 5:41 pm


Ms. Cynthia that was beautiful.Thank you Kevin. That was not too hard was it? LOL p



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Donny

posted May 17, 2007 at 5:52 pm


Just think of Progressives (in their Democrat disguises) as Re-Romans. It all makes sense from there. Or then again, you could go with Ezekiel’s label. Both apply to the sexuality and morality of the Left.



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Don

posted May 17, 2007 at 6:55 pm


“Just think of Progressives (in their Democrat disguises) as Re-Romans.” Yeah, Donny, sure. I can just see Ted Kennedy wearing a toga! (Then again, I don’t think I really would want to.) ;-)



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Don

posted May 17, 2007 at 7:06 pm


“1) In spite of the fact that we have a judicial branch that is designated to be free and independent of the elected branches of government, our leaders treat it as though it is an elected body. It has respponded in kind, which could has grave implications down the road.” Does this in-kind response on the part of the judicial extend, in your opinion, to Bush v. Gore? IMO, that was one of the most egregious examples of judicial activism–and I say that as one who voted for Bush in 2000 and wished at the time that Gore would just concede. Later,



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God's Politics Moderator

posted May 17, 2007 at 7:53 pm


“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29) This message thread has been visited by a God’s Politics Blog moderator for the purpose of removing inappropriate posts. Click here for a detailed explanation of the Beliefnet Rules of Conduct: http://www.beliefnet.com/about/rules.asp which includes: Courtesy and Respect: You agree that you will be courteous to every Beliefnet member, even those whose beliefs you think are false or objectionable. When debating, express your opinion about a person’s ideas, not about them personally. You agree not to make negative personal remarks about other Beliefnet members. You agree not to engage in derogatory name-calling, including calling anyone evil, a liar, Satanic, demonic, antichrist, a Nazi, or other inflammatory comparisons. Disruptive behavior: You agree not to disrupt or interfere with discussions, forums, or other community functions. Disruptive behavior may include creating a disproportionate number of posts or discussions to disrupt conversation; creating off-topic posts; making statements that are deliberately inflammatory; expanding a disagreement from one discussion to another; or any behavior that interferes with conversations or inhibits the ability of others to use and enjoy this website for its intended purposes. Vulgarity: You agree not to display words, information, or images that are vulgar, obscene, graphically violent, graphically sexual, harm minors in any way, exploit images of children, or are otherwise objectionable. Copying Content: Beliefnet discussions are intended for interactive conversation; members are encouraged to express their own ideas in their own words, not to parrot the words of others. You agree not to create posts that consist substantially of material copied from another source. Help us keep the conversation civil and respectful by reporting inappropriate posts to: community@staff.beliefnet.com



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Carl Copas

posted May 17, 2007 at 8:39 pm


Nad2 mentioned Dominic Crossan’s book on God and empire. A very powerful work. Would love to join a blog that would address such issues.



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nad2

posted May 17, 2007 at 9:25 pm


http://www.calvaryjc.org/news/lps2007audio.htm carl, as would i, though i have not read god & empire (it is in my amazon shopping cart as we speak waiting to be bought) but i think i am familiar enough w/ the concepts through is others works that i could chime in. crossan spoke at the calvary lenten preaching series a few months back in memphis, you can access his pair of sermons (they go together) at the link above, it is wonderful, as are so many of the people they got to come do this. both days have a goodly bit about jesus (& john the baptist) & empire.



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Joy

posted May 17, 2007 at 11:50 pm


I think the late Rev. William Sloane Coffin said it best. “God-n-country are not one word.”



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Tyler

posted May 18, 2007 at 3:36 pm


The US of A has been handed one of the batons to carry the message of Jesus to the ends of the world. I don’t know if there is another country in the world who is more capable, who has more resources, who has more freedom, to do so. Yet I feel that we have either dropped the baton, or maybe even still carrying the baton but not on the track. Maybe, rather than the race that God encouraged us to run by speaking through His servant Paul, we’ve decided to start running another race, one that is masked with the name of Christ but has very little resemblance. Has America and its “dream” usurped The Ultimate Message of Love and Peace, with its advocates forcefully advancing this temporary, flawed, hypocritical kingdom instead of the one that has stood and will continue to stand the test of time? I shudder to think it has.



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Mark Sherman

posted May 18, 2007 at 7:34 pm


I am told that democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich was “specifically excluded from the program by the organizers.” I wonder why the one candidate who actually questions the goals of the empire and promotes peace was left out of the discussion. Perhaps Rev. Wallis could offer an explanation for the readers?



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Anonymous

posted May 21, 2007 at 1:12 pm


As a foreigner, I look at these issues from afar and in a distant perspective. I may not understand all that is involved in the ideas (or feelings) put forward in all the comments. BUT, it is clear to me that, despite the many wrong doings of American politics, the nation is imbued with the ideas of the Founding Fathers. There will be HOPE in men as long as one can tell TRUE from False: the fact of quoting the Scriptures to kind of justify wrong actions is dangerous. Remember, Hitler called on patriotism and ideals and convinced many that he was right… Jesus is the Light of God in this world and He did care for the people and the politics that oppressed them, offering them hope – to resist and do better, telling them simple stories to illustrate His meaning. It is not acceptable to use His name noy only in vain, but to keep things going wrong – and profitable. The world has enough resources to provide for the hungry, for health care and education. But as in Jesus’s time the distance between rich and poor seems to grow larger. Peace is possible only with justice. I hope humans of sensible minds will see the benefits of achieving this. I add Dignity to hope. “Looking at the sandals of Christ”.



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Anonymous

posted June 26, 2007 at 11:24 am


“Yes – the US has problems. But if we are so bad…why are so many trying to gain enterance to this country and not others.” There are several reasons.
One is the power of propaganda, the same thing that drew so many immigrants to the old Soviet Union (a little secret generally kept out of the US news media), only to leave again. We seldom hear about the percentage of immigrants who do leave, once they see just how difficult things here can be. We still hear that this is a golden land of boundless opportunity. It’s not. To get a family supporting job, one must have a college education (sorry, but today’s reality is that the reward of hard work is exhaustion). It’s interesting to note how many of these immigrants then returned to their own homelands. Only a tiny sliver of the population can afford college, or for that matter, manage to go through college while working (yes, some do it—my own daughter did it—but not many people can physically manage the intensely rigorous schedules, etc.)
Companies (like Microsoft) look for foreign labor because it saves them the costs of educating and training American workers. These people have a powerful advantage in having governments that realize it is in their own best interests to make higher education available to all—even the poor.
If you don’t have a high level of specialized skills, you are increasingly confined to the bottom-wage “service economy”.
When it comes to Mexican workers—which comes to mind first, for most people—they aren’t flooding America out of a love for our government. Families come here for a few months, pool their resources (several families to one apartment, etc.), then return home. The low wages earned here can go very far in Mexico. The cost of one month’s rent for a US apartment can buy a house, maybe some land, etc., elsewhere.
With the acception of cheap/exploitable Mexican workers, America accepts (as citizens) only the wealthy, skilled immigrant, not working class people. We’re almost as exclusive as a country club. If you encounter financial distress—say, become ill, or your job is outsourced, etc.—tough.There is nothing to fall back on. Humanitarian aid to Americans (i.e., welfare) was replaced with a punitive bottom-wage labor system that keeps people locked into poverty, denied the very programs, options and opportunities provided to (for example) prison inmates.
This is a hostile and violent nation. We are in desperate competition with each other. You can stamp your feet and yell “anti-American” all you want, but it won’t change the fact that this has become an appallingly arrogant country, with a solid economic caste system.
Note, too, that we are one of the very few nations to refuse to adopt/ratify international human rights standards—with good reason. We have a system that governs strictly for the benefit of the rich/corporations. We have one of the worst health care systems among modern nations; great medical care, but unavailable to most. We have one of the worst prison systems in the Western world, with the highest rate of imprisonment, and almost no legitimate legal aid available to the poor.
And on and on. So much has deteriorated in this country over the past quarter century, putting us well behind much of the world. We have a choice: we can stomp our feet in anger whenever someone dares to point out the problems, calling them anti-American, or we can begin meeting these problems head-on, studying and resolving them.



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