Many, many thanks to Chris Smith at ERB for the opportunity to engage this great text. I hope you take a few moments to look over the review and maybe even read the book yourself.
Looking back at it, I think there are a couple minor points I would adjust, not really change. Essentially I’d want to emphasize a couple of points. And I missed some grammatical goofs. Oops. But, overall, I think my excitement over the text is evident. Here’s the opening to the review.
Not many Americans would list the US among the world’s empires. Why should they? We declared independence from England, went to war to keep that independence, and established a government to avoid a monarchy. We’re a Republic, not an empire.
But that’s a limited understanding of the term empire. An empire is not necessarily just what you read about in the history books on Babylon, Persia, Rome, or China. Empire is more general, having to do with power, control, authority, monopolization of violence, marking out distinct classes of people, and of course, economics. So the term can be applied broadly, especially to large, active, and globally influential governments around the world. We can talk about the American empire, the English empire, Israeli empire; Iraqi, Brazilian, Australian, European, Asian empire; whatever it may be.
Whether or not those empires are good or do good, are just or act in the interest of justice, is constantly up for discussion. While all earthly empires are man-made and therefore tied to the nature of fallen humanity (sinful), there are times we see them doing good, acting justly. In the last few decades there has been an upswing in the number of conversations on the relationship of Christianity to Empire or global empires. There are many who want complete separation from the empires of the world, while others see the need for integration and involvement. Antonio Gonzalez’s recent work, God’s Reign and the End of Empires, is a very timely addition to the discussion. The focus of the book is clear:
When trusting in God’s creative activity in history and building up alternative communities from the grassroots, there is no need to submit to the tyranny of empire. Another world is possible and it begins now, wherever people change the nature of their social relationships and liberate themselves from oppression and violence. (17)
Read the rest of the review at ERB. Let me know what you think, either in the comments there or over here.