The Executed God: The Way of the Cross in Lockdown America

By Mark Lewis Taylor | Go to book overview

3. way of the cross
as Adversarial Politics

Mark’s story of Jesus’ last days… is an intensely political drama, filled with
conspiratorial backroom deals and covert action, judicial manipulation and
prisoner exchange, torture and summary execution…. And we do well not
to forget that this very narrative of arrest, trial and torture is still lived out
by countless political prisoners around the world today.

—Ched Myers, Binding the Strong Man

What kind of practice is required to redress the agony of our times, in this era when new economic disparities in the United States are reinforced by a strengthened punishment regime? What way ahead is there for survival and flourishing?

Christian groups and communities of faith have often sponsored programs that address issues of economic inequality, the poor, and the imprisoned. But we need a more forceful and dramatic response if we are to take on today’s political theatrics of terror.

Christians today, I argue, must participate in a theatrics of counterterror. From this chapter on to the end of the book, I present the main lines of this needed theatrics, an organized forceful way of acting out our faith. The way of the cross begins with what I present here, in Chapter 3, as an adversarial politics. The way of the cross is especially distinguished, though, by what I will discuss in Chapter 4 as dramatic action and then culminates in the unceasing organizing of peoples’ movements that I present in Chapter 5.

Manifesting such a theatrics of counterterror derives from the very heart of the religion of Jesus. I endorse emphatically Myers’ position, as rendered in the quote given above, that it is the nature of the story of Jesus to be one of contestation and resistance vis-à-vis the punitive ways of empire. I say this with full knowledge that Christendom, established Christianity, has often abdicated its powers to challenge politically enshrined terror. Christianity has long tolerated or made common cause with the terrorizers who build imperial regimes of oppression. This, however, is Christendom’s betrayal of its Jewish teacher, Jesus, one who offered a daily spiritual life—of survival, resistance, and flourishing—to those who suffered indignity and disinheritance in an ethos of empire. As Howard Thurman stressed so well in his book Jesus and the Disinherited, Jesus’ teachings on love, extended even to the enemy, were “hammered out” and forged on “the anvil of the Jewish community’s

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