Once upon a time, there was a large, wealthy and powerful country that wanted to help a smaller, struggling, powerless country find a pathway into a more stable, democratic, freedom-loving and civilized future.
In modern imperialism, race, colonization and Christianity have historically been so intrinsically embedded with one another that the connections between them have seemed natural, and Christian theologians have participated in the geographical and geopolitical construction of this imperialism. Willie James Jennings's book is a genealogy of their participation.
Every contemporary theological interpreter must come to terms with the fact that every interpretation is local and informed by context. Every interpretation carries with it some ideological marking because no interpretation is, finally, disinterested.
Facing strong criticism after saying in Brazil that Christianity was not forced upon the indigenous people of the Americas, Pope Benedict XVI has admitted to “shadows that accompanied the work of evangelization” in Latin America.
If, as John’s Gospel suggests, Jesus went regularly to the annual festivals of his people in Jerusalem, what was so different that last time that it resulted in his execution? If, as Mark’s Gospel suggests, he only went there once, why did he do it then?
Many blame Rumsfeld and the neoconservative idealogues for the disaster in Iraq. But the current foreign-policy crisis vastly exceeds their mistakes. President Bush is still talking about “winning in Iraq” and “fulfilling the mission,” and his administration is still loaded with people who want him to stake his legacy on doing so. The neoconservative ideology of his administration is merely an exaggerated version of the normal politics of American empire. Before a significant change for the better is possible, Americans must reckon with the costs of the nation's perpetual war and military empire.
Add this book to the spate of recent publications that reflect on the new U.S. dominance in the global economy and the political-military muscle that reinforces that dominance. Here is a voice of “critical realism” that sounds like an echo of Henry Kissinger—much more realist than critical.
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.