Thursday, May 12, 2016

An American History Ch. 9: Fugitives from the Empire

The following is from a work-in-progress called An American History.  It's a novel.
This afternoon, exhausted, I fell asleep.
I dreamed I was rollerblading around with a friend, and it was like we were fugitives, or outlaws.  Most of the rollerblading was downhill, so we were going really fast.  At one point, we came upon all these people watching a play.  It seemed to be set during the Roman Empire days, because there were Roman soldiers with those funny centurian mohawk-hats.  But the play itself wasn’t funny.  The soldiers were rounding people up, arresting them.  Maybe it was in the days of the early Christian church when Christians were often seen as subversives and outlaws, before Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, and the situation flipped.

Toward the end of the dream, my friend and I got caught by some authorities around this big garbage dump.  For some reason, in the dream, I had the sense that our situation mirrored the play—we were like the subversive Christians being captured by some larger force of empire.  As I stood there amidst the garbage, I remember trying to give a kind of impassioned speech, denouncing the crimes of the empire, but I could barely speak.  It felt like those dreams where you are trying to run away from some monster, but you can only run in slow motion.  I was really struggling to get my words out, but some larger invisible force was trying to silence me.  And then I woke up.

My therapist Lisa often said it’s good to write about your dreams, to explore what they might mean. Thinking about the dream, I realized it was probably inspired by this book I’d just finished called Liberation Theology, about this Catholic movement in Latin America in the 1960s, when priests started speaking out against the crimes of their governments and American imperialism.  These Christ-following priests took the side of the exploited poor instead of the rich and powerful.  Consequently, lots of priests in countries like Brazil, El Salvador, Chile, and Guatemala were killed, tortured, and disappeared.  It was this really fascinating moment in modern history when some Christians actively took the side of the poor and oppressed, just like in the days of the Roman Empire.

I think my nap dream this afternoon was inspired by Latin American liberation theology.

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