Citizens and Exiles - Kingdom vs. Empire [Ryan Ashley]
“If you want to follow Jesus prepare to be misunderstood. Our culture has no place for people who don’t swallow cultural narratives whole.”
“The empires of the future will be empires of the mind.”
4 Thought on Empire
1. America is an Empire
1. The highest good is individual freedom, happiness, self-definition, and self-expression.
2. Traditions, religions, received wisdom, regulations, and social ties that restrict individual freedom, happiness, self-definition, and self-expression must be reshaped, deconstructed, or destroyed.
3. The world will inevitably improve as the scope of individual freedom grows. Technology, in particular the Internet, will motor this progression toward utopia.
4. The primary social ethic is tolerance of everyone’s self-defined quest for individual freedom and self-expression. Any deviation form the ethic of tolerance is dangerous and must not be tolerated. Therefore social justice is less about economic or class inequality, and more about issues of equality relating to individual identity, self-expression, and personal autonomy.
5. Humans are inherently good.
6. Large-scale structures and institutions are suspicious at best and evil at worst.
7. Forms of external authority are rejected and personal authenticity is lauded.
“These beliefs have not so much been argued as assumed. They are not enforced; rather they are imbibed. We do not receive them as intellectual propaganda that has to be obeyed. Instead they are communicated to us at almost a subconscious level through the high-priest of advertising and the techno prophets of silicon valley a new cultural mood becomes all the more powerful as the good is reduced to mere individual happiness
We can no longer see beyond ourselves, to learn from history or be concerned about the future. “The result is an amnesia about everything except the immediate, the instant, the now, and the me,” The future is not left to God, but rather a kind of implicit, fuzzy faith that things will simply move to get better. Somehow society will get better. My life will bet better.”
2. Empires are a Mixed Bag of Good and Bad!
3. All Empires Come and Go
“The West has already gone far down the road of abandoning the Judeo-Christian principles of the sanctity of life and the sacred covenant of marriage. Instead, it places its faith in a series of institutions, none of which can bear the weight of moral guidance: science, technology, the state, the market, and evolutionary biology. Science tells us what is, not what ought to be. Technology gives us power but cannot tell us how to use that power. The liberal democratic state, as a matter of principle, does not make moral judgments. The market gives us choices but does not tell us which choices to make. Evolutionary biology tells us why we have certain desires, but not which desires we should seek to satisfy and which not. It does not explain the unique human ability to make second-order evaluations.
The results lie all around us: the collapse of marriage, the fracturing of the family, the fraying of the social bond, the partisanship of politics at a time when national interest demands something larger, the loss of trust in public institutions, the buildup of debt whose burden will fall on future generations, and the failure of a shared morality to lift us out of the morass of individualism, hedonism, consumerism, and relativism. We know these things, yet we seem collectively powerless to move beyond them. We have reached the stage described by Livy, in his description of ancient Rome, where we can bear neither our vices nor their cure.”
4. In the End God will judge all of the Empires and set up his Kingdom on Earth. In the meantime, we are called to seek the peace and prosperity of our city!
Be an Artist: Critique the Bad & Call out the Good
Be a Citizen: Live Into Your Dual Citizenship
Be a Philosopher: Discern what is good, beautiful and true – to bring the wisdom of God to bear on our lives!