While the questions set before religious judges are often rather inward-facing, the nature of such questions, which can determine the fate of someone’s immortal soul, can have major impacts on the political and economic life of believers outside the walls of the Church.
We are not certain where the brilliant minds of yesteryear gather to discuss critical matters of concern for present-day mortals, but they are certain to be in Valhalla, Olympus, or Elysium and decidedly not in Hades. The conversation below is just one of many they are having about the increasingly dangerous crisis before the United States at this time.
The same companies that house prisoners are also paid by the government to house immigrants, creating a problem that sits at the intersection of race and capitalism. The logic behind this is simple. Private companies exist to make money. When you operate a prison, the best way to make money is to make sure that the prison is full.
Trump, akin to Trimalchio, no doubt imagines a glorious political end for himself—long down the road, since he is already campaigning for his next election. But will he leave the White House with the accolades and groans due to an effective senior statesman? If Trump insists on playing Trimalchio, consuming all political attention and agency, leaving little room at his table for anyone with an independent mind, and bullying those he feels beneath him, Petronius would hint no.
A few months ago I had the opportunity to experience a bit of life from a perspective I’m not accustomed to: the inside of a jail cell. I was left with a kind of insight that an academic like me doesn’t always achieve, an experiential insight. And I thought it would be worth communicating my impressions, if only to play some tiny part in giving a voice to the “voiceless.”