Still reading Cornel West's Democracy Matters. Anyone else reading it?
Here's what he says about christianity [on page 150]:
Most American Constantinian Christians [read - most christians] are unaware of their imperialisitic identity becuase they do not see the parallel between the Roman empire that put Jesus to death and the American empire that they celebrate. As long as they can worship freely and pursue the American dream, they see the American governemnt as a force for good and American imperialism as a desirable force for spreading that good. They prouldy profess their allegiance to the flag and the cross not realizing that just as the cross was a bloody indictment of the Roman empire, it is a powerful critique of the American empire, and they fail to acknowledge that the cozy relation between their Christian leaders and imperial American rulers may mirror the intimate ties between the religious leaders and imperial Roman rulers who cricified their Savior.
I have no doubt that most of these American Constantinian Christians are sincere in their faith and pious in their actions. But they are relatively ignorant of the crucial role they play in sponsoring American imperial ends. Their understanding of American history is thin and their grasp of Chrisitan history is spotty, which leaves them vulnerable to manipulation by Christian leaders and minsinformation by imperial rulers.
[and on to page 151] In short, they sell their precious souls for a mess of imperial pottage based on the false belief that they are simply being true to the flag and the cross. The very notion that the prophetic legacy of the grand victim of the Roman empire - Jesus Christ - requires critique of and resistance to American imperial power hardly occurs to them.
[lastly, on to page 167] It now sometime seems that all Christians speak in one voice when in fact it is only that the loudness of hte Constantinian element of American Christianity has so totally drowned out the prophetic voices. Imperial Christianity, market spirituality, money-obsessed churches, gospels of prosperity, prayers of let's-make-a-deal with God or help me turn my wheel of fortune have become the prevailing voice of American Christianity. In this version of Christianity the precious blood at the foot of the cross becomes Kool-Aid to refresh eager upwardly mobile aspirants in the nihilistic American game of power and might. And there is hardly a mumbling word heard about social justice, resistance to institutional evil, or courage to confront the powers that be - with the glaring exception of abortion.
There is a lot of substance to think about in West's words. Later in the chapter, he confessess to his own Christian background, thus his words ring loudly and the dull knife digs deep into this notion of "good" Christian flesh.
I'll let the world think on this one for a bit as we are headed out of town for the weekend. Won't be on line for a bit.