by Andrew Stephens-Rennie
Welcome to all those visiting from Zack Exley’s blog or article over at the Huffington Post. We hope you’ve had a chance to scout out the Litany of Resistance, to poke around at some of the other resources, and to scan through some of the recent blog posts from Brian Walsh and other contributors to this site.
Those of you not arriving by way of Zack’s Revolution in Jesusland blog should probably go check out his first in a series of articles on Shane Claiborne and the upcoming Jesus for President tour. Zack notes:
In Jesus for President, Shane and Chris unambiguously take aim at capitalism and empire; and they are much more explicit that Jesus calls upon his followers to actively resist systems and structures of oppression in ways that will ultimately put you in danger.
I suppose if you were to read through some of our posts, or if you were to ask us directly, we’d say something similar. The scriptures call us to resist oppressors and structures of oppression.
And being that we’re in an Easter frame of mind, it probably wouldn’t be too far off to mention that the scriptures similarly call us to follow Christ in the very same journey of resistance that led him to death on a Roman cross.
How committed are any of us to the fight against oppression? I suppose one test would be to see if we could follow that commitment, even if it meant our own self-sacrifice to find ourselves one step closer to the abiding shalom of a neighbourhood, a city, a country, or the entire world.
He acted as if he were a different kind of ruler altogether, with a ‘kingdom’ that didn’t originate from the present world (otherwise, he said, his servants would fight to rescue him) but instead was meant FOR this present world, to transform and heal it.
The present way we do politics and government is, alas, part of the problem, and he would have challenged it (its huge cost, its pretense of participation which is shamelessly manipulated by the media, its cult of personality, its ignoring, all too often, of the actual needs of the poor, etc. etc.) just as he challenged the power structures of his day.
The real question is, what sort of a cross would today’s system be intent on using to kill him?
And that is indeed an important question. What principalities and powers at work in the world today are working against the good news that Jesus preached and embodied? What systems and structures of oppression would take Jesus to the electric chair, would use him as a pharmaceutical test subject, would send him to Gitmo on trumped up charges?
Those are the kinds of things we’ve been exploring around here at empire.remixed. And if you check out the Jesus for President tour itinerary, you’ll notice that Shane Claiborne, Chris Haw, and the rest of the JFP crew will be joining us in Toronto on June 30, 2008. We’ll be tackling some of these issues there, in a more public and interactive forum. More details of the event will soon be forthcoming.
In the coming weeks we’ll post some commentary on and interviews with Shane and Chris on why and how it might make sense to be talking about “Jesus for President” even in Canada, a nation headed by a Prime Minister, and organised by an altogether different political structure.
We’ll discuss what it might mean to cultivate a theologically-informed political imagination, whether in the heart of Jesusland, or north of the border. And we’ll keep on tackling a variety of issues as they arise and challenge us with what it might mean to live lives of faith in various theological and political contexts.