Last night at Journey we looked at the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand and I talked about the contrast between the bread of heaven (read: not heaven as in far away, “no consequence as long as I get there” heaven but heaven as the realm of God’s household, the Kingdom) and the bread of Rome. Rome as an empire was quite good at feeding people (which is more than I can say sometimes about our American empire) but they did so as a means of silencing opposition. Keep people fed and they may overlook all our injustices. Circuses, of course, allude to the Roman amphitheatres where gladiators would fight to the death and slaves were fed to angry wild animals. Keep people fed AND entertained, and you’ll dull their senses so much they won’t think past the end of their noses, much less about working for a more just Empire. Rome knew this lesson well- to keep people blindly content, all you need are bread and circuses.
I can’t help but see so many parallels between then and now. Our own robust entertainment industry keeps us all so distracted that we don’t have time any longer for what is important. We can’t volunteer anywhere, or write letters to companies and congresspeople. We have to catch up on our Tivo watching before this week’s shows start. We have stuffed ourselves so fully with American convenience that we have no appetite for justice any longer. We need to fast and make some room for what really matters.
I wonder what we can do this week with our time other than finding endless hours of distractions in the Circus?