Empire and the Theology of Despair
In my interview with Marcus Borg, we talked about the conditions under which the Great Religions might become sources of great evil and justifications for inflicting misery, rather than sources of truth, beauty, and goodness. Dr. Borg argues that one of the key moments in the process toward becoming evil is when religion gets intertwined with "empire" or, in other words, with state power. For instance, when Christianity became the official religion under the Emperor Constantine, then state actions (such as using military force) could be justified with appeal to theology. For Dr. Borg, up until this point, Christianity had a very anti-imperialist message in the teachings of Jesus.
In his work with Dominic Crossen, The Last Week, Dr. Borg examines this view of Jesus as a revolutionary, persecuted for his teaching against Roman authority.
Reporter Chris Hedges adds a new twist. In this article, he argues that evangelical Christianity has become a theology of despair that is being used to underpin the gutting of the social welfare state in the United States and to promote a vision of "end times" for our foreign policy.
Is there a way of appreciating the sacred that does not become corrupt in its relationship with "empire"?