Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Well we may be in the worst economic downturn since 1983, but things are looking up… at least for the new “Chia-Pet” Obama head! Too

For an interesting article about this in the Chicago Tribune see here. I am totally going to get a Chia Obama on my desk. Too bad his hair doesn’t grow nearly as fast as the national deficit.


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With the recent accession of the new President, the world watched as the new emperor ascended the throne. The praise rang out in the streets, peoples all over the empire watched as their new leader came to power. Indeed, millions around the world tuned in to watch. The festivities included many banquets, a tour symbolically re-actualizing parts of American history as Obama made his way to Washington by train. Then the grand festival took place, the former rulers gathered, the new ruler was crowned, and he proclaimed the good news of his rule, in the name of justice and mercy. Millions crowded the streets, crying, singing, with great joy at the monumental greatness of their new emperor. Songs were sung, poems were read, priests invoked the gods, and the new emperor was enthroned. Then the emperor was lead through the streets as the cheering denizens waved so they could catch a glimmer of his greatness and beauty. In the evening multitudes of banquets were held to honor the new emperor, gifts were bestowed upon him, and he was extolled.

One woman spoke of the Benefactor as follows:

In an age in which millions of Americans are financially crippled and struggling to pay their bills, we spent more than 80 million dollars for the inaugural festivities, the most expensive inauguration in American history. How is this financially responsible? How is this doing the “hard thing”? How is this change? I am very hopeful that our standing in the world will improve and some of our injustices may well recede with this new emperor, but I fail to see that this new ruler will actually change the shape of our empire in a significant way. And moreover, I am perpetually concerned that our present practices, seemingly so “secular” and “political” or “patriotic,” do not have a greater significance religiously, and do not resemble with both aspects of similarity and dissimilarity the Roman Empire during the Julio-Claudian dynasty.

An imperial critical perspective of the inauguration would be sensitive, despite one’s own personal stake and hope in the change of political rulers, to the praxis of the empire in these festivities. There is a fine line between where religious affections border on what appears to be simply nationalism. Can politics be bifurcated from religious affection? It was not in the ancient world, and I question whether such a distinction itself isn’t an imperial construct to perpetuate the imperial religion alongside alternative religious expressions in order to appear unrelated and thereby logically consistent to hold simultaneously. Just a thought.

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Could the Evangelical political paradigm have shifted? I would say so, Darrell Bock outs himself in Newsweek Magazine as a Christian conservative who voted for Obama. Who could ask for a better mentor and friend for inspiration, seriously?

In the article, “A Post-Evangelical America: The religious building blocks of Obama’s victory” by Lisa Miller at Newsweek.com the following is stated:

Darrell Bock is a professor at [sic] New Testament Studies at the Dallas Theological Seminary who voted for Obama. For Christians like him, social issues such as abortion and gay marriage were not litmus tests this year. If Christians were concerned about “the economy, competence, our role in the world, the way we’ve prosecuted the war on terrorism—then they switched their vote and made the middle group larger.” George Bush came to power telling an evangelical story that appealed to his base, a story of sin and redemption, of simple faith, of good and evil. This familiar story—and stories like it—has overshadowed every other religious theme in America for 40 years. Obama—his deep religious faith and his peripatetic spiritual biography—shines a light on all other religious paths in America, various as they are, and infinite.

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Unfortunately, neither party it seems cares about the peasantry. Ever wondered what political theology is? What are the hermeneutics of empire? I would argue whatever the hermeneutics of empire are–certainly, in practice it looks something like this… a congress person interpreting a hurricane that will potentially kill and certainly destroy thousands of the poor and ethnic minorities by claiming that “God is giving his party victory!”

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A recently released book out by Cascade Books is entitled Electing Not to Vote: Christian Reflections on Reasons for Not Voting (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2008). What is a Christian to do? Anyone sensitive to the Imperial nature of Americanism is rightly reticent to participate in the enthronement of yet another quasi-Caesar figure. Conversely, is electing not vote tantamount to the retreat of fundamentalism into the “holy huddle?” Why or why not?

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I was flattered that a free and critical thinker such as N. T. Wrong would read, much less comment, on my blog. However, he asked a penetrating question to my rather shallow, generalization concerning the possibility of identifying socialist modes in the ancient Near East. Admitting at the outset that whatever I offer here should not be understood as any type of coherent argument for such existing in the ancient world. Yet, I will try to pull together some of what I was considering (with the caveat that presently I have about 35 books opened and stacked on my desk with another 40 arranged around my little scholarly cubby-hole in the only space my infant daughter and wife will permit me to have as “office space;” the importance of this fact being that I have slept since I had those thoughts cross my mind and I don’t know if I will be able to find again the tidbits I read in various sources giving birth to those ideas). Now after dancing with nuance to divert you from the fact that I have said nothing substantive yet, let us proceed.

I think the first thought occurred to me as I was researching the Neo-Assyrian rise followed by the rise of Neo-Babylon. Primarily, I was working in the history and religious inscriptions (that is translations of them [e.g. ANET, COS, et al.]), when in D. S. Vanderhooft’s published Harvard dissertation I gleaned upon his section concorning Babylonian economic “geography” (The Neo-Babylonian Empire and Babylon in the Latter Prophets [Harvard Semitics Monographs; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1999], 110-14). Again, with a rough notion of socialism that is a system in which basic goods are “distributed through a system of political allocation” (M. Novak ed., Capitalism and Socialism: A Theological Inquiry [Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute, 1979], 85-6). In the midst of Vanderhooft’s discussion of Oppenheim he notes that there is some evidence for both privately and royally sponsored merchant trade both domestically and internationally. Again the situation is certainly not “socialism” tightly defined in our present world. Rather, the function of goods, royal tribute, taxation, and the distribution of goods throughout the empire are issues in play. Further, what we see is a fundamental failure because as with the capitalist motif, our old friend Empire was the driving force. Thus, Neo-Babylon and her monarchical fascism. Thus, socialism as defined by the locus of authority resting among the society or community in terms of goods and trade is not exactly there; rather what we (I) see, or thought I was seeing, was the possibility of conflictual forces in play among some ancient societies. Ergo, could there have been a postcoloniality or postcolonial space wherein the fascism of the royal ruler met other forces driving mechanisms of goods distribution that was populist oriented? To this, I answer… I don’t know. I’m not a sociologist, and I certainly don’t claim to have read enough economic theory to say anything. So, Bishop Wrong, I trust I have thoroughly failed to present substantive data, but hopefully that shows your some of the forces at work in my thought that day.

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