|Render Unto Bush
by Paul Walker
In the film Life of Brian a leading Jewish revolutionary,
angry at Roman domination, asks the question, "What have the Romans ever
done for us?" There is a pause, after which somebody cries, "Sanitation."
"Aside from sanitation, what have the Romans ever done for us?"
continues the leader. Gradually an enormous list is shouted out including
straight roads, peace, aqueducts and so on.
The Romans brought enormous benefit to the whole world. Their Pax
Romana created a civilisation throughout Europe which, it can easily
be argued, led to the world we live in today.
Yet that civilisation came at enormous cost, most particularly to
individuals who got in the way. One of those was Jesus of Nazareth. The
Romans considered him a troublemaker and executed him by their off-hand,
viscously cruel method of crucifixion. Jesus, like many of his Jewish
contemporaries, did not accept the domination of his country by Romans.
Instead of rule by Caesar he had a vision of a kingdom of God. Traditional
power relationships were to be turned on their head.
As in those days, our world today is dominated by one country. Like
Rome, the USA has brought enormous benefits to the world, not least a
passionate belief in the freedom of the individual. The American
Constitution is rightly seen by many, myself included, as one of the
greatest political documents ever written. Today people even speak of a
And yet this power comes at a high cost to individuals who get in the
way. Many more Afghans died post-September 11th than Americans
in the Twin Towers attack. Today millions of Iraqis find themselves in
more fear for their lives than they did under an evil dictator. Similarly,
global warming accounts for countless famines and droughts. Yet America
refuses even to countenance reducing its carbon dioxide emissions.
Ironically America is one of the most "Christian" nations in the world
- if by "Christian" one means church-going. If we are to keep the message
of Jesus alive we have to ask what his message might be today. Would he
concern himself with the individual salvation of Americans? Or would he
associate himself with poor peasants struggling to survive at the edge of
There is currently a war on terror. We might well want to misquote
Jesus in this:
Render to Bush the things that are Bush�s
and to God the things that are God�s.
People�s lives and livelihoods belong to God and not Bush. Or, as it
says in another document,
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
If these words have any meaning they are as true for the people of Iraq
and the prisoners of Guantanamo Bay as for any American citizen.