Irony of Imperialism
For a Mormon, Orson Scott Card can really write a good book! Ender’s Game is a must-read for anyone who either likes a great sci-fi read OR anyone dealing with child psychology or youth ministry or anything like that. But I’m not writing about Ender’s Game. In Empire, an alternate-future novel, he mentions a really ironic concept that rears its ugly head often in NT studies and preaching.
The irony is that the United States is often castigated for being like Rome, and it is often shouted to anyone who will listen that if the USA doesn’t change, it will fall like Rome. Ironically, all this is hard to support, because the United States is not very much like Rome.
1. America has never transcended its republican phase, while Rome as we think of it today did not exist UNTIL Rome shed the Senatorial system that was woefully inadequate and ineffective at controlling Rome’s far-flung interests.
2. Roman society dominated its world for 500 years BEFORE its fall. After that fall, the conquered societies clung to the trappings of that fallen culture for ANOTHER millenium. 1500 years of power. Many people would suggest that that was a good run. The United States, by contrast, have only BEEN united for a little over 200. Card suggests that, if the USA becomes poor and unarmed, the rest of the world would peel off our cultural influence like a snake shedding its skin.
3. Rome spread its influence with the sandals, shields, and swords of the legionnaires and the intimidation of crucifixion. Despite this ruthless method of “evangelism,” the assorted peoples under Roman rule mourned its passing. The United States seeks invitation into other countries. We influence the world with buying and selling and a bit of bluster. “Can you imagine,” Card writes, “what Rome would do if an ‘ally’ thumbed its nose at Rome the way France and Germany have thumbed their noses at the United States recently?” By contrast, if America responded on the international scene like Rome would have, other nations would treat the United States with far greater respect.
America gets an interesting rap. If dominating your world for 1500 years is a fall, then by all means, let America fall like Rome! How ironic that the USA gets blasted worldwide for its likeness to Rome, precisely because it DOESN’T act like Rome!
Thanks for reading!