Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Onward, Christian Soldiers...

Episode One

"In Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian cohort, as it was called...." Acts 10:1

“This war is the kingdom of God coming… the sunrise of a better day for the Philippines. With Christ in his heart, the New Testament in his pocket, ‘Look up and lift up’ (Badge of Methodist Youth League) on his shirt, and forty rounds of ammunition in his belt, we have sent our first missionary in the family” (Moorehead:155).


I agree with Jane Schaberg who cautions us that Luke is a dangerous piece of literature (275). Together with Acts, these two volumes, I would argue, helps create, rationalize, legitimize, and perpetuate the ideology of Imperial Soldier as model of Christianity. His presentation of the five centurions in Luke-Acts, especially Cornelius, was aimed at convincing his readers that, despite the fact that the Empire executed Jesus, Imperial Officers made the best Christians. Having these officers converted was the first big step toward having a Christian Empire.

Presupposing that imperialism—aside from its many tentacles—is primarily a textual project, I will selectively engage the Lukan narratives with questions I have adopted from Musa Dube (129): (1) Does the text have an explicit stance for or against the political imperialism of its time?; (2) Does the text encourage travel to distant and inhabited lands and how does it justify itself?; (3) How does the text construct difference: Is there dialogue and liberating interdependence, or is there condemnation and replacement of all that is foreign? Is the celebration of difference authentic or mere tokenism?; and (4) Does the text employ representations (gender, divine, etc.) to construct relationships of subordination and domination?

(to be continued)

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