We Mennonites should spend more time learning from the book of Daniel. More than most books of the Bible, Daniel gives us ideas for living and working in an empire. How can we be faithful to God while living in an empire that does not share our vision or our values? That is the overarching question in this book. For Daniel, the context is first the Babylonian empire and then the Persian empire. For us, the context is what some people call the American empire. We live in the strongest, wealthiest country of the world; and even though the American form of government is a democracy rather than a monarchy, this country has sometimes thrown its weight around in world much like empires did in the past. One afternoon while walking down a street in Comayagua, Honduras, I was accosted by a slightly drunk Honduran man who demanded to know if I was American. When I admitted I was, he launched into long tirade against America, complaining about all the evil things the U.S. had done to his country. Even though he was slightly drunk, he made a lot of sense. He was merely reciting the kinds of complaints that oppressed peoples have had about empires ever since empires began.
Unlike the Honduran man on that street, most of us in this room benefit from living in the American empire. Like Daniel, we have access to the empire’s world-wide economic reach. In our case, our toys and t-shirts come from China, our grapes from Chile, our flowers from Colombia, and our farm-raised fish from Thailand. Like Daniel, we sometimes also work in positions of power and influence. In terms of our access to economic resources, educational resources, and vocational resources, we have much in common with Daniel the man. In a sense Daniel symbolizes us.
- Daniel 10:2 - 6
- Daniel 10:11 - 14
- Daniel 10:18 - 21