"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Crucify Him!

The more I read about the so-called justice system in the United States (the influence of which is spreading around the world in unhelpful ways), the more the problems become evident--problems whose seriousness is only magnified incalculably when the death penalty is on the table. What are Christians of all traditions doing to challenge the state and reform its penal processes in a humane way? Friends who have been involved in prison chaplaincy tell me that the Christian presence in too many penitentiaries in this country is virtually non-existent, which is a great shame on the Church.

Too often it seems we lock people away and forget about them, entrusting them to the tender mercies of the nation-state. That Christians today are willing to give obeisance to an all-powerful state and its organs is a shocking form of borderline idolatry, as William Cavanaugh, Stanley Hauerwas, Alasdair MacIntyre and others have been arguing for thirty years. A book coming out in November challenges Christian anew in this regard: Mark Lewis Taylor, The Executed God: The Way of the Cross in Lockdown America (Fortress Press, 2015), 320pp.

About this updated version the publisher tells us:
The new edition of Mark Lewis Taylor's award-winning The Executed God is both a searing indictment of the structures of "Lockdown America" and a visionary statement of hope. It is also a call for action to Jesus followers to resist US imperial projects and power. Outlining a "theatrics of state terror," Taylor identifies and analyzes its instruments—mass incarceration, militarized police tactics, surveillance, torture, immigrant repression, and capital punishment—through which a racist and corporatized Lockdown America enforces in the US a global neoliberal economic and political imperialism. Against this, The Executed God proposes a "counter-theatrics to state terror," a declamation of the way of the cross for Jesus followers that unmasks the powers of US state domination and enacts an adversarial politics of resistance, artful dramatic actions, and the building of peoples' movements. These are all intrinsic to a Christian politics of remembrance of the Jesus executed by empire. Heralded in its first edition, this new edition is thoroughly revised, updated, and expanded, offering a demanding rethinking and recreating of what being a Christian is and of how Christianity should dream, hope, mobilize, and act to bring about what Taylor terms "a liberating material spirituality" to unseat the state that kills.

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