In February 1941, Henry Luce, the formidable publisher of Time, Life and Fortune, published one of the most memorable op-eds in the history of American journalism. The article, titled “The American Century,” was aptly inserted in Life between a story on women’s shoe fashions and another on a celebrity heiress.
"Constantinian" has lately been a favored pejorative in
theological circles. The term--an allusion to the fourth-century Roman emperor
whose conversion to Christianity turned a marginal sect into a state religion--has
been used to deplore any alliance between the church and the state or, more
broadly, between the church and the dominant political culture.
There is some high irony in the fact that the United States has come to be commonly recognized as an empire (for good or ill) just as its imperial reach wanes in the face of the rise of China. This book offers, in a journalistic, gossipy style, a defining episode concerning the rise of the U.S.
Empires come and empires go—and their collapse, says financial historian Niall Ferguson, is often precipitous (Foreign Affairs, March/April). For example, the economic and military might of the British Empire was sharply reduced by the time of the Suez Canal crisis in 1956—just a decade after one of the empire’s shining moments, the defeat of the Axis powers.
Have you got good religion? Enslaved Africans in the antebellum South asked this question when they created a spiritual that offers a poignant and penetrating perspective on the state of Western Christianity. The famous line from “Have You Got Good Religion?” is a critique of Americanized Christianity.
For complex historical and religious reasons,Americans have found it easy to view the U.S. as the “new Israel,” the carrier of God’s mandates in the world. This view has led to an expansive notion of the nation’s “manifest destiny” and to all manner of initiatives under the general rubric of America’s exceptional character and mission.
On July 28, delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Boston will nominate John Kerry as their candidate for president. They will also approve the party’s national platform. Gay marriage will be finessed to satisfy Kerry’s cautious approach. Iraq? Bush’s efforts will be condemned; patriotism will be celebrated. God will reemerge as a Democrat. Health care? Democrats can do it better.
While “American imperialism” has been a catchphrase on the left for a long time, people on other parts of the political spectrum are only now beginning to accept the idea that we have entered the age of the American Empire. How well is America prepared to sustain an empire? Not very.