I’m currently in the midst of extensive study in the book of Colossians, which is the book that I will be doing about a 7-8 week series for my college group in the next few months. And as you can see from the left sidebar I have been pulling material from a variety of resources, from the text to commentaries. One of the commentaries that I have decided to use is one that I was reading a lot about online from other bloggers. It is Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire. In fact, the authors, Brian J. Walsh and Sylvia C. Keesmat, who are married, call this book an “anti-commentary”, as they have chosen, as Biblical scholars to write a commentary that is less technical than your average commentary, hoping to open the door for lay people to read it. It is also a very different commentary in the sense that they are spending the majority of the time looking at the text of Colossians, and placing it into the modern context. They do this through a variety of means that are very intriguing.
The authors contend:
Colossians is a subversive tract for subversive living, and it insists that such an alternative imagination and alternative way of life is formed and sustained in the context of community. So while this book began in our community with each other and with our friend Tom Wright, it immediately encompasses a larger community. pp. 9
They spend a great deal of time in the beginning looking at the dominant Roman Empire, and the effects that had on the culture, specifically the Christians. They then move to the present and address the issues of globalization and postmodernity, and the effects that they have had on Christians and their culture. One of the things that really intrigues me is this statement:
When a religion aggressively proselytizes and seeks to tranform the world, its most important resource is its images. It is image that transforms the imagination, and it is imagination that engenders a lifestyle. And what globalization does better than anything else is transform the imagination. That is why the entertainment and advertising industries are the first wave of the emerging global consciousness. pp. 29.
It makes me look at our churches and wonder how much they are driven by entertainment and advertising.
With, or without knowing it, it seems as if the Church has succumbed to the emerging global consciousness.
It seems to me that what the authors are contending is that the Apostle Paul instilled in the Christian community, is an imagination, and an alternative, that did not have to succumb to the dominant culture of the Roman empire. Paul presented a striking, and subversive alternative way of life in the person of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we too, in 2006 are presented with an alternative way to live, that is different than the dominant culture we live in. And that alternative is Jesus Christ.