Romans, Home and Empire

Romans, Home and Empire

by Brian Walsh

Some months ago I got to thinking about Paul’s letter to the Romans and the problems of homelessness. Essentially my question was, what happens if I take the work that I’ve done on the dynamics of home, homelessness and homecoming with Steve Bouma-Prediger in Beyond Homelessness and integrate it with the work I’m doing with Sylvia Keesmaat on “disarming Romans.”

And the results are kind of interesting. So this week I employed these themes in a sermon for the Wine Before Breakfast community at the University of Toronto. The service opened with Empire Remixer Dave Krause performing Bruce Cockburn’s “Santiago Dawn” and the reading of Romans 4.1-25. That is the passage that talks about Abraham’s faith and how all of us are children of Abraham. Storytelling and questions of the family tree – this is the stuff of which home is made.

So setting the stage with a summary of Romans 1-3 from the perspective of home I then went on to reflect on what it means to have Abraham as our father. Here’s what I came up with.

Brian Walsh
Brian is an activist theologian, a retired CRC campus minister, the founder of the Wine Before Breakfast community, and farms with Sylvia Keesmaat at Russet House Farm.He engages issues of theology and culture, and has written a couple of books you might want to check out. His most recent offering is cowritten with Sylvia Keesmaat and entitled Romans Disarmed: Resisting Empire, Demanding Justice.

3 Responses to “Romans, Home and Empire”

  1. Randy Gabrielse

    Yesterday was an interesting day to receive Brian’s reflection on Romans, Home and Empire.
    Yesterday, here in the center of 21st century empire, National Public Radio ran a story about American Girl releasing a new doll whose story is that she is homeless. I have no great love or desire or kudos for American Girl. Their homeless doll, after all, costs $95.

    But the reaction to it was interesting. At least if you believe the sample of women questioned at NYC’s American Girl store, Americans seem far too concerned that the very idea of homelessness might be “too traumatic” or “too disturbing” for their children. Better to keep homelessness out of sight, and so keep the homeless from disturbing our meals or sleep than seriously consider them. Better not to consider that there are homeless at the heart of the empire, which consumes so much of the world’s resources and wealth, and then spits out litter and pollution to poison it as well.

    This is why I find messages like Brian’s absolutely essential and a deep blessing to those with ears to hear.

    Randy Gabrielse

  2. Dave King

    Quite enjoyed that. Used it as a responsive reading for our house church on Sunday, starting before the meal.

    – Peace

  3. Brian Walsh

    Randy … very disturbing.
    Dave … very cool.

    Thanks for responding.



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