Here we see the representative of empire coming to Israel, making the promise that empire makes: give up your freedom, your independence, your right to your community, your spirituality, and you will get so much. You will get wealth. You will get comfort. You will get numbness to the pain of the world.
In fact he describes them being brought to a promised land of sorts, with water, land, food, and wealth.
Yet the author makes it clear the offer empire gives us is a lie.
It is a lie for no amount of wealth can replace the twisting our soul takes under imposition of control over our freedom. It is a lie because land, food, and wealth is meaningless when devoid of community, enriching relationships. It is a lie because what is described as peace is in fact numbness and blindness, becoming inoculated against seeing the suffering of others all around us and losing touch with our connection with each other & the earth.
This text is challenging to me. To be honest, I know in many ways I buy the lies of empire all the time.
I sure do love my air conditioning, my internet, my electricity, and I do let it numb me to the experience of those without a roof over their head, those forced to work tirelessly in the fields in the heat so I can have my morning coffee, those whose hands are burned and scarred from working in sweatshops to build my IPhone.
I do love the freedom my car, my internet, my cell phone gives me and some days the bright lights of those devices sure do make it easy to numb myself to the yearning emptiness that emerges as I let them pull me away from real face-to-face relationships and community with others.
I am finding I have to intentionally say “no” to these temptations. Though I cannot leave the empire of the American capitalist-industrialist system in which I am a part, I can change how I relate to it. I can pull back from the anesthetizing effects on me, changing my relationship to the constant noise and to the ways technology tempt me out of real relationship. I also can think of ways that my purchasing can be more mindful, my eating more just, and my ways of interacting with life ways that connect more to other people and more to this good earth. I can also raise my awareness about the experience of those our American empire leaves out, and explore what I can do to be a part of changing that.
I am not there yet. But I am learning.
How have you learned to see the ways you buy into the lies of empire? How are you beginning to say no to them?
Your progressive redneck preacher,