"We are in Denial"

I haven't been avoiding this blog, but life (and its inevitable drama) and school have been taking an awful lot of time lately.

I'm slowly reading Ched Myers' Who Will Roll Away the Stone? and it's really wrecking me.

Actually, that's not entirely true: reading Myers has been like reading Sweet and McLaren for the first time: exhilarating. After each chapter, I want to go run laps to work off the adrenaline! It's challenging, stretching, frustrating, and in some ways totally tragic.

In Chapter 1 Myers writes:

We are in Denial about our present. Ours is perhaps the most indebted, stratified, and violent society in the world today. As the U.S. empire, unrivaled in its global reach and military strength, has come to full flower in the second half of the twentieth century, our duplicity has become increasingly evident. Evident, that is, to those viewing the world from the killing fields of Guatemala or Mozambique or East Timor, or from the housing projects of south Los Angeles ganglands or the refugee trails through Sonora borderlands or the health clinics in Lakota badlands. It is not evident, however, to those of us who by reason of race, class, and/or gender are inheritors of the imperial system. And it is certainly not evident in our official narratives about ourselves... And yet any suggestions of imperial hubris are ruthlessly dismissed in our public discourse. Has any people ever been as convinced of its own benevolence and innocence? (Myers, p. 7-8, Orbis Books 1994)

This is the kind of book that makes one ask, "How in God's name can I keep living in ways that - both actively and passively - perpetuate empire?" This is a precursor to McLaren's concept of "Suicide Machine" in Everything Must Change.

As Kierkegaard's quotation suggests in my previous post, we've done an awfully good job of distracting ourselves from this question, because it's too painful - too terrifying. What if following Jesus literally means abandoning the Western model of living? Not to the [almost inevitable] lauding of the East, but rather to an alternative that looks like neither. Or perhaps like models that Western Empire has demonized and dismissed for lack of potentially exponential profits.

Trust me, I'm nowhere near praxis, but it's an idea that feels simultaneously liberating, convicting, agonizing and invigorating. Myers asks: "Will our generation face Denial and struggle to bring the imperial Zeitgeist to an end, or will we join the imperial celebration of a new beginning to a very old world order?" (p. 10) Many have already chosen, and many have chosen without choosing...

1 comment:

Al said...

This comes at a moment where I am needing to decide whether I will support an event with the Olympic torch relay. (The winter games torch relay begins here in Victoria in 2 weeks.) For me, the games bear a lot of imperial/colonial/corporate baggage.
So, we need to somehow replace western imperialism with something that isn't eastern imperialism, but is Kingdom. It's not an easy question, but it is necessary.
Thanks (I think!).

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