Last night was a lively discussion. We have finally reached that, "How am I implicated in this?" stage. Nice. That's what I hoped this book would bring.
We discussed the notion of empire and the parallels between the Roman empire and the empires we see around us, expressed in Pax Americana (mind you this was an actual phrase used by our government months ago) and also expressed in Corporate Capitalism.
Power and Wealth... that was the simplest definition we could think of as far as establish what was empire.
We talked about how not all things in the empire are always bad. However, this hope of following this Jesus was a re-evaluation of how things really work in this world. A sort of pulling back of the curtains to see what is really going on. Remember that on the Roman coin was Pax (goddess of peace) on one side and military arms on the other side, saying that this 'peace' that is happening was brought by violence... and this is not the way of Jesus.
Ben brought up some good points regarding the redemptive side of the "American Dream", namely stories of immigrants who have left oppresive lands to seek a better life in America. America is in some ways a place where anyone can be anything... sort of.
I said that much of that was the myth of capitalism that seems to be true for only a fraction of a fraction of people, but his point still stands. This place might be a bit better (at least) than other places.
Martin brought up a good point that in so many ways, the US has this thought that our standard of living is the standard of living... or ought to be. So people come out here, buying into this myth, leaving behind the family farm (where they were fine to begin with) and searching for riches in the good ole US of A.
This is made possible not by holding guns to peoples heads (usually) and saying buy these products and live this life! No, it is much more subversive Ben pointed out. It is simply the lure that is on that TV set. Those things they think they need... those things we think we need. Products, stuff, a "better way of life" where you can consume all you want and not be happy (just like most wealthy Americans, Heath added). Oh, and have I mentioned that America is the most heavily medicated nation in the world with regards to mood-altering drugs? Has this stuff proven effective for us?
Okay, slow down Ryan. I am getting going like I was last night.
The last half hour was implications for us as individuals, families, community, etc. How then shall we live? Stop shopping at places? Will that really make a difference? Help support organizations that are helping to solve these problems? Is money the answer? Time? Lobbying congress like Bono? Divesting monies from our government that has caused so much bloodshed?
More on that soon. I have already said too much.