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Imperial Theologies

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IMPERIAL DESIGNSTheological Ethics and the Ideologies of International Politicsby Gary DorrienQuote:Most importantly, the heart of any Christian, Jewish, or Muslim approach to world politics must consist of a strong presumption against war and a predisposition to view the world from the perspectives of the poor, the excluded, and the vulnerable. Anti-interventionist movements are strong on peacemaking, but often weak on the biblical option for the poor. Speaking as a Christian, the church must be a movement that practices the nonviolent way of Christ and that asks at all times, "How does this policy affect oppressed or vulnerable people?" The church is the kingdom-bearing body of Christ that shows the peaceable and justice-making way of Christ. I believe in an integrative perspective that does not equate Christianity with ethical absolutism; at the same time, the presumption against war must be very strong for an ethic to be Christian, and it must see the face of Christ in the faces of the world's disinherited.We need new forms of community that arise out of but transcend religious affiliation and culture and nation. If those of us who are Caucasian fail to interrogate whiteness and its privileges, we will resist any recognition of our own racism. If those of us who are male fail to interrogate our complicity in sexism, we will perpetuate it. If those of us who are middle class guard our class privileges, we will be oppressors. If we swear our highest loyalty to our nation, we will share in the guilt of our nation's international bullying. We need a wider community of the divine good. No one can know whether any of our efforts will succeed, but the necessity of struggling for the divine good is certain.For months leading up to the war, the Vatican, the World Council of Churches, and many other religious communities pleaded against invading Iraq. Pope John Paul II declared that the future of humanity depends on the courage of the earth's peoples and their leaders to reject "the logic of war." The Vatican mouthpiece Civilta Cattolica described the war as "a wound and a humiliation for the entire Islamic world" that was bound to fuel acts of revenge for many years to come. Virtually all of the ecumenical statements emphasized the gospel presumption against war, international law, international cooperation, and collective security.The case for international community has a realistic basis: that the benefits of multilateral cooperation outweigh the costs and risks of not working together. A superpower that insists on absolute security for itself makes all other nations insecure. All parties are better off when the most powerful nations agree not to do everything that is in their power and nations work together to create new forms of collective security. In an increasingly interdependent world, single nation-states have to cooperate with each other to address security issues that transcend national boundaries.
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