ISBN 978-0-334-04116-0. Michael Northcott’s “An Angel Directs the Storm – Apocalyptic Religion & American Empire”. Published in 2007 by SCM Press. The Author is a Theologian from the University of Edinburgh who has previously written on matters of the Environment and Third World Debt in relation to Christianity. The Independent called him “The thinking-man’s Michael Moore” (front cover) however I thought that accolade was reserved for Noam Chomsky. No matter – what you have here is not quite what it may seem. You do get a fascinating insight into how the originally “subversive” message of Christ (passive resistance and peace) was co-opted by the Roman Empire to become its violent Imperial Cult 1700 years ago. But often this reads as a historical text rather than a critique of current affairs. The parallels with modern history and the Roman Empire are enlightening and Northcott draws you through the evolving history of Christianity in North American from Christopher Columbus to today’s evangelical right wing neo-conservatives. However, it would be wrong to say this is an insightful dissection of George Bush or the internal machinations of the US faith system, the Whitehouse or the Pentagon. For that you will need to read Chomsky. Instead Northcott prefers analysing the figureheads of Empire at extreme arms length. Most of his writings on Bush relate to his speeches only and no more. So you get no insider’s view of how these people think – only a wider historical context. Although this is just slightly disappointing I think the major criticism here is that Northcott seems to draw little moral or ethical outrage from the utter hypocrisy of American Empire. Despite proving how it has so corrupted Christianity into a Cult, for its own ends, he seems to be only disappointed that this gives Christians bad PR! He is very aware that this is tearing the people of this planet apart. But there is no passion! There is no anger. It is completely cold and detached from the resulting suffering. This is an academic work leaving few lessons or pathways for how Christians should be reacting to the atrocities of American Empire. The latter half of the books does descend into a deep and meaningful plough through obscure Bible texts – although pertinent to a Theologian’s line of reasoning this will leave many readers rolling their eyes. He well shows how, in his opinion, the pre-millennialism view of the Bible is an utter distortion and a recent invention. He claims we actually live in a post-millennialism time. The apocalypse was not a future event but the unveiling of Christ’s passion upon the cross. The events of Revelation referred to actual events that happened within the lifetime of Jesus’ own followers. This is not meant to be taken as a prediction of our future and the Bible warns that mankind cannot direct history. Hence the establishment of Israel cannot be the fulfilling of biblical prophesy and cannot bring on the ‘end of days’… The ‘End of Days’ has already happened. However, we are just left with one theologian’s opinion on the matter. Unless you are a Christian, who has studied the bible to this level of depth, then the arguments one way or the other will be of academic interest only. Since 40% of Americans believe the opposite of what Northcott tells us what are we to believe? A useful piece of work but it could have had more practical day-to-day relevance to our lives.