Two questions stand out: Why was Michael Brown killed and why are police units increasingly militarized so that they resemble soldiers in a war zone more than cops on a beat? The answers to these questions do indeed lead back to government–not simply to “big government,” but to a bureaucracy directed to wage war on a class of its citizens, driven by a political culture that ironically champions law and order.
The editors of Political Theology are pleased to announce that the latest issue is now available on the web. Issue 15.3 (May 2014) features a discussion of William F. May’s Testing the National Covenant: Fears and Appetites in American Politics. Below is a full listing of the issue contents as well as a selection from Andrew Murphy’s editorial, “Complicating Covenantalism.”
…My list focuses on the other conversation, religious voices or theologians, whether practical or professional, immersed in the concrete or engaged in theorizing. My aim is to suggest the kind of reconciling work that Vincent calls for between theology and critical humanities. Such a move makes profound sense to me—emerging as it does out of the tensions within my own biography.
We don’t expect our politicians to say much about the poor, but what about the church? When was the last time you preached or heard a sermon on the poor? Not poverty, but the poor, and not as an illustration, but as a focal point. (We might ask the same thing about a college or seminary class that purports to be about the cultivation of wisdom or faith.) The readings from Proverbs and James (see below) refer to the poor directly. Both passages are striking because they go further than a soft paternalism that might urge us to care for the poor. James and Proverbs offer not an appeal to our altruism, the work of charity, or a political agenda or campaign. They are not looking for votes or a clear conscience. They see the poor as part of the community and concern for the poor as an integral part of the life of faith and wisdom….
Samuel speaks of God as working in and through the events to deliver “ruin on Absalom.” This is not simply God with us. It is God against us–whenever we treat our “kingdom” as if it was ours and ours alone. Both David and Absalom acted as if their people, the Kingdom of Israel, were their own plaything.
This week’s lectionary reminds us that power comes and goes. Today the church is tempted to resent its lack of influence, but Mark’s story of Jesus and the words of Paul remind us that even spiritual power has its limits….
In the case of Iran, deterrence looks less like realism and more like nostalgia for another era. The limits of nuclear deterrence push us to reconsider how to limit war and act responsibly in a world given to episodes of madness….
Opponents and supporters of same-sex marriage share the belief that not all relationships are moral or faithful, and that part of the church’s mission is to encourage and bless faithful expressions of covenantal union.