BUT FIRST, THIS:
Actor Anthony Hopkins has written a screenplay in which he suggests that God is time. Does that mean that if the devil is in the details, God is in the minute details?
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A year-plus ago, I wrote a piece for the Faith section of The Kansas City Star describing the work that Warren Carter (pictured here) and other theologians and scholars are doing on the subject of empire.
Last Sunday, Warren spoke at my church about all of this (and will again this coming Sunday), and it reminded me again of how relevant the subject is to the lives of Americans today.
Warren, a professor of New Testament at St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, is a noted expert on the book of Matthew. He has taken that interest and sought to understand how people at the time of Jesus lived under the oppression of the Roman Empire, which was at its peak of power and geography in those days.
But then he has challenged American Christians to understand what all that can mean for us today.
"We follow one who was not welcomed by empire," he said last Sunday. "The question is what it means to be a follower of someone crucified by an empire while we live in the center of the most powerful empire ever."
One of this conclusions: "Living in times of empire is very difficult."
When Jesus began his ministry, Warren said, he challenged the empire that kept the peace but also kept 97 percent of the people poor and uneducated. What Jesus said, in effect, by declaring that the kingdom of God was at hand was that life "doesn't have to be this way," and to leaders of an empire, that is the most scary thing anyone can tell oppressed people.
If you missed the piece I wrote about Warren Carter and other scholars focusing on questions about empire, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send you a copy.
To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here. (By the way, my column tomorrow will celebrate one of my heroes, Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German martyr hanged by the Nazis. The 100th anniversary of his birth will be Feb. 4.)