As we walked the stairs and passage ways of Oxford University we could hear echoes. We could hear the echo of our own footsteps and perhaps an echo of the voice of Harry Potter. But far more importantly we could and can hear the echoes of history. The walls and halls of Oxford in general, and Christ Church in particular, are dripping with the sense of a long and rich history of intellectual pursuits and education.
And as we travel from that world back to our own we read The Silk Roads: A New History of the World by Peter Frankopan, himself an Oxford historian. Once more we hear echoes.
We hear echoes of books previously read in our D. Min. studies, as we were exposed last year to the development of capitalism and world markets. We hear echoes of globalization. We hear echoes of the development of intellectual thought.
As I read The Silk Roads, the new reflective thought for me is that globalization does not just reach around the world, it also reaches through time. The effects of the spread of nations, commerce, and religion from nearly two millennia ago still touch and affect us today. The degree to which we are globalized in 2016 doesn’t just reflect the influence of the cultures of today, it reflects cultures from different epochs and eras.
These echoes keep us humble. We might want to think that our culture, or cultures to which we are closely related (like in England) helped lay the foundations for civilized living. But Dr. Frankopan spends many pages convincing us that much of civilization was conceived and birthed between Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and China.
“Libraries, places of worship, churches and observatories of immense scale and cultural influence dotted the region, connecting Constantinople to Damascus, Isfahan, Samarkand, Kabul and Kashgar. Cities such as these became home to brilliant scholars who advanced the frontiers of their subjects.” 
As nations spread, their commerce and coinage in hand, “The form of these coins became standardised: an image of the current ruler on the observe with ringlets held by a diadem, and invariably looking to the right as Alexander had done, with an image of Apollo on the reverse, identified by Greek letters.” 
So it seems that even Jesus ministered in a globalized Israel, since He said to render Caesar’s coins to him, which reflects this common practice of the image of national leaders being inscribed on coins.
“It was not only goods that flowed along the arteries that linked the Pacific, Central Asia, India, the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean in antiquity; so did ideas.” 
“It was important for a ruling dynasty that was not native to the region to create a justification for their pre-eminence. To do so, ideas were blended together from a range of sources to form a lowest common denominator that would appeal to as many as possible.”  This is syncretism. How vigilant we must be, in the midst of increasing globalization.
We can hear here an echo of the post Pentecost persecution and diaspora in and from Jerusalem, and the resulting spread of the Gospel.“Christian thought and ideas brought by merchants and by prisoners resettled in Persian territory after being deported from Syria.” 
In this volume we also read of a great echo of the work of the Christian William Wilberforce, who worked for decades to rid England of the scourge of slavery. The Christian efforts for the sanctify of life today echo yet again through pregnancy care centers that help young women choose not to have abortions. “Gladiator fights…were abolished as a result of Christian revulsion at displays that so devalued the sanctity of life.” 
Dr. Frankopan wrote of a great danger with globalization. “…as disaster spread along the communication and trade networks, devastating cities in the Persian Mesopotamia and eventually reaching China. Bubonic plague brought catastrophe, despair and death.” 
This echo was heard in the most recent summer Olympics in Rio, as the travel to and from Rio carried the threat of the spread of the Zika virus. Not in weeks or days, but in a matter of hours at the speed of today’s globalization, significant sickness can spread.
Frankopan offers a number of examples of religious conflict along these Silk Roads. Ironically the globalization of Islam was at one time aided by Judaism and Christianity. “…in the early years of their coexistence relations were not so much pacific as warmly encouraging…The support of the Jews in the Middle East was vital for the propagation and spread of the word of Muhammad.” 
Current events demonstrate quite the opposite. One must wonder regarding the historical roots of continually degrading relationships between Muslims and other world religions. Has the thoroughness of modern globalization, and the increased contact between religious groups contributed? There may be a doctoral dissertation to be written to answer this question. At this point in history it’s difficult to imagine that “…followers of both religions [Islam and Judaism] pledged to defend each other in the event that either was attacked by any third party.” 
Finally, I hear an echo of the Kingdom of God. Dr. George Eldon Ladd wrote prolifically about the “presence of the future:” that the Kingdom of God is present now, and will be fulfilled in the future. Just as globalization reaches through time, so also the Kingdom of God. The reach of God in Christ touched lives two thousand years ago, touches lives today, and will touch lives tomorrow. The ultimate “global” reach through both time and space is the spread of the Kingdom of God, and it is our priceless treasure to be a part of that reach.
 Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the world, (New York: Penguin, 2015), Kindle Location 185
 Ibid., Location 354
 Ibid., Kindle Location 791
 Ibid., Kindle Location 822
 Ibid., Kindle Location 962
 Ibid., Kindle Location 1073
 Ibid., Kindle Location 1526
 Ibid., Kindle Location 1874
 Ibid., Kindle Location 1887