Truth Remixed: Contested Imaginations – A / Book Discussion Series, Week 5
Chapter 5: “Subversive Poetry and Contested Imagination”
What captures our imagination? Walsh and Keesmaat describe Colossians 1:15-20 as “subversive poetry” because it takes the imagery through which Rome deepened the hold of empire over hearts and minds and attributes it instead to Jesus Christ.
As soon as [Paul] made references to “image of God,” “firstborn” and “first place,” everyone with ears to hear would know that he was contrasting Jesus with Caesar. Remember, in the imperial cult and throughout the empire it was proclaimed that Caesar was “equal to the Beginning of all things.” It was the emperor who “restored order” and was the “beginning of life and vitality.” Moreover, Caesar was the “savior” who had “put an end to war and…set all things in order” and therefore was proclaimed as “god-manifest.” And putting together “head” and “body” would immediately conjure up both Hellenistic ideas of Zeus as the sovereign head of the body of the cosmos and images of Caesar (or Rome) as the head (the sovereign source) of the body politic of empire (89-90).
What are the imperial forces and imagery that seek to captivate our imaginations today? In another targum, the authors suggest the “centralizing of military power in the Pentagon, the imagination industry symbolized by Disney,” and corporations such as Microsoft and AT&T whose “advertising and corporate images seem to epitomize the dynamics of a cybernetically driven corporate capitalism.” What do you think?