Thoughts prompted by today’s mail, for the perusal of whatever readers I have left after being such a slacker on my site (and on the other blogs I read) this summer…

Augustus PrincepsA while back I commented on whether the Democratic presidential candidates have been “getting religion” in preparation for the 2008 Election, underscoring that I expect the 2008 vote to be historic in terms of reconfiguring the perception of the relationship between religion and the state. That hasn’t changed, as evidenced by candidates Clinton, Obama, and Edwards in numerous public speeches, and especially in their comments and discussions in this year’s Pentecost conference. Meanwhile, today I received in my mail a flyer encouraging me to vote for candidate Giuliani and his “Strong Leadership” and “Proven Results.” Nothing overtly “religious” or “Christian” or anything about the candidate’s religious stance or any other appeal to religious special interest groups. But, the flyer quotes Time Magazine’s recognition of Giuliani as the Person of the Year from Dec. 31, 2001:

“… for having more faith in us than we had in ourselves, for being brave when required and rude where appropriate and tender without being trite, for not sleeping and not quitting and not shrinking from the pain all around him, Rudy Giuliani, Mayor of the World…”

This kind of rhetoric isn’t anything new, but in an election where it looks like religion will be a factor in possibly more than any previous Presidential race, to cite this endorsement (or, perhaps better, this ordination) makes Giuliani look positively Messianic. Which is precisely the point. It’s interesting to me that there are dozens of parallels to this kind of messianic rhetoric from Roman Empire, where the ascension of Augustus occasioned the official sponsoring of the messianic imperial propaganda of the Emperor as “savior” and “ruler of the world” and so forth.

I guess Empire is the same yesterday, today, and forever.