I just started reading Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire, and wanted to share one of the many things that have jumped out at me. The authors, Brian J. Walsh and Sylvia C. Keesmaat, give a summary of the book:
The epistle to the Colossians, we are arguing, was an explosive and subversive tract in the context of the
Roman empire, and it can be and ought to function in an analogous way in the imperial realities of our time. This letter proclaimed an alternative reality, animating a way of life that was subversive to the ethos of the Roman empire. (8)
Walsh and Keesmaat dialogue with a postmodern young person named William, who was raised in a Christian home but later left the faith. Having dabbled in international finance, William is now jaded and looking for something more, something beyond our consumerist McWorld, beyond our current-day empire of militarism and global capitalism.
William may want God, but the question is, which god does he want? And on whose terms will he accept this god? You see, the danger of wanting a god, without being willing to allow this god to speak in a voice that is radically other to our own voice, is that the god we end up with is like any other consumer product we take off the shelf. We would never be accountable before such a god, precisely because we never allow this god a voice that would actually call us to account. This consumer-friendly god, this god of postmodern construction, this generic off-the-shelf god would be no God at all. Rather, it would be an idol. And before idols like this the empire has nothing to fear, because ultimately such idols—such gods—are in the service of the empire. (34).
I’m excited to see the direction that Walsh and Keesmaat take with this, since I struggle with what it means to live Christianly in the confines of this American/global empire. I wonder how to truly listen to the voice that isn’t my construction or a result of my consumer choices. I wonder how to discern how much we know of God is a convenient creation that justifies our existence as citizens of an empire. How much have we rendered powerless the Gospel since it would force us to make difficult choices in our context of a powerful military and accumulation of wealth?