Right or left?

Elizabeth Warren is someone that I have admired. I have admired her clarity and doggedness. Of course I do not know her personally, but her recent speech in Washington is worth a watch.

Just a thought in the wider picture: what is very interesting is that we might be seeing a new kind of politics emerging. Maybe the old left / right definitions are no longer so appropriate (of course in most places it can be argued that we tend to now have a slight variety of two right-leaning parties as our only option!!). She holds that neither Democrats nor Republicans want the bailouts and positioned the issue as being really between pro-corporate and anti-corporate.

The concentration of power – and not just economic power – but how it (the corporates) has bought political power is what seems to have de-railed democracy. Here in Spain we have an-ever encroaching ‘conservative’ politics that seems intent on silencing all dissenting voices. Would that all change if it swung to the left? At every level we need those who cannot be bought, who are not driven by success. In the political world no big names. And if the church is to lead… have we sown the seeds that we are now reaping? Just a thought as we get ever closer to the celebration of peace on earth that brings our focus to the fragile way in which God entered the fray.

Discovering Kenarchy

kenarchy empties out sovereign power and replaces it with a love measured by the readiness to die for “the other”, even one’s enemies (discovering Kenarchy, p.8).

discover_kenarchyGayle and I finished reading this a few days ago, reading and reflecting. This book is clear, significantly-narrative based and hugely provocative. I was privileged to write a chapter, but had not had opportunity to read the other chapters until I received the finished publication. For anyone who has wondered what on earth ‘kenarchy’, or Roger’s larger thesis as to ‘How the Politics of Sovereignty impregnated the West’, is about, the opening Introduction and Chapter (The Heart of Love) lays it out so clearly. Roger explains with respect to language:

to subsume a thing is to hollow it out and to fill it up with a different meaning and purpose so that the original function is lost and replaced with something else. It is a form of colonization, but applied to the deep structures of language and politics.

The book in keeping with ‘kenarchy is not a system or program but a journey’ explores chapter by chapter through narrative and imagination what a kenarchic response looks like. These are not stories of ‘triumph’ but also include stories of pain, and inner turmoil. I am not sure how it can be otherwise, for ‘kenarchy empties out sovereign power and replaces it with a love measured by the readiness to die for “the other”, even one’s enemies’.

The chapters that follow after Roger’s own chapter are deeply practical, not in the sense of ‘this is how to do it’, but they effectively expose the issue of sovereign power(s) into the fields of women (Julie Tomlin Arram & Sue Mitchell), Criminal Justice with reference to the margins (Peter McKinney), Gift as opposed to transaction (Stephen Rusk), Healthcare (Andy Knox), and the in situ work of Together for Peace in the diverse city of Leeds (Mike Love). Having just finished reading Mike’s chapter it is still fresh in my mind. He shows how the deep soil of our communities lie in the increasing diversities (full of incredible richness), the top soil is where division manifests resulting in, above the surface, visible conflict. Just think for a moment about some of the racial conflicted scenarios that are hitting our screens – and streets – and how the deep embrace of the other would result in a different fruit in society. We are threatened by diversity, and there will be votes in the 2015 UK election that will reflect this fear and distrust, yet the embrace of ‘the other’ can result in such a richness that we have never yet experienced. This is the heart of the Gospel with ‘while we were enemies’ (totally the other) we were embraced.

I could pull out material from each chapter, but the book deserves to be read not reviewed. We certainly found it helpful to read it a chapter at a time and to reflect.

The book is not the ‘answer’. It will raise even more questions of ‘then what are we to do?’. It will provoke theologically, and not just at the ‘sovereignty’ level, but at the ecclesiastical level. What part does a discipling community have in this? Or if we are concerned about recovering a Pauline Gospel we might ask what a Pauline approach was in the outworking of all this. His Gospel was political but how did he see the boundary of those ‘in Christ’ and ‘those not in Christ’ within this wider framework? No book can cover everything, but I see even the questions of practice and theology as potentially being also one of its strength, as this book is far from prescriptive, but a call to engagement. All those who read will benefit, and I hope that many who are not ‘believers’ in Jesus will read it, but it behoves the Christian community to read and to examine what it means to ‘believe’ in Jesus.

In whatever way we were to resolve some of those other issues the desire is to draw on the Jesus-story even if ‘The institutional religion within which the Jesus story has so often been submerged’ has been found complicit in the rule through sovereign power.

A final note on the last chapter, one I wrote on ‘Kenarchy and an Eschatological Hope’. I sought to outline the two dominant eschatologies of the past 100 years or so: Dispensationalism in all its forms, and a Victorious Reconstructionist type of top-down eschatology. I outline them to draw a distinction from both: from the self-preservation of the former and the Christian hope for imposition in the latter (Christianised sharia law). I draw from the ‘true’ nature of humanity as revealed in Jesus, and the permanent (eternal) nature of the Incarnation, with the hope for the same Jesus to return. The building blocks for the future are the kenarchic activity and actions that take place, and this hope can enable us to be submerged-to-the-depths, acting redemptively (and at times embracing compromise) knowing that those are the seeds of an eternal future.

About this site

I am the main contributor to this site, though there are guest writers from time to time. Hopefully, what is presented are perspectives not the final word!

I am currently developing a part of the site with a focus on the 'gates of society'. That section will develop more as a forum with links to other articles, so that it becomes a resource for the future. I will also be looking for other contributors into the various subject-areas.

In my spare time(!!) I enjoy putting together wordpress sites, and also coaching people to make their own - open to hearing from you on that too.

Magazine articles

Just some more blogs? No, of course not, nothing even similar... well maybe very similar indeed, but hopefully you can use them differently. At the foot of this home page you will find 10 more blogs, these ones are grouped together, they will only be replaced every few months with a new set of 10. They can be downloaded as an emagazine, or read here as blogs (click on one and read, or use the 'emagazine' link in the menu above). Here on this site you can also add your comment.

Their core focus will be toward the gates of influence in society. They will not be the final word, hopefully provocative with some practical aspects thrown in.

The first four volumes will be uploaded here in quick succession, after that a breather before the next one. You can access earlier volumes from the emagazine page using the menu at the top of this page.

So you see - nothing like a blog!!

WordPress design

I develop WordPress based web-sites specifically made for your site. This site here is based on WP and uses a theme that I have developed. It can be as simple as a set of posts and some pages, or a few additional elements can be added such as this animated set of tabs that are activated here. I also plan the sites so that they are mobile-friendly, being responsive, they adjust to the device being used to view them.

If interested in a site feel free to make contact. I also have various courses on WP theme development. If interested in taking one of them online, or indeed you would wish to contact me about presenting a course to a small group.

Previous posts

Move on

I have been involved on the edges of prayer and maybe even what could be called ‘prayer movements’ for all-but 20 years. They were exciting days, and I am so grateful for the many changes that can be pointed to as, at least in measure, healing was brought to the land. I remember the revelations […]

You heard what?

A couple of years back I was listening to a certain teacher give a rebuke to a room full of prophets saying that to use such a phrase as ‘The Lord is saying’ was tantamount to taking the name of the Lord in vain. The perspective was certainly not universally agreed with. The sense was […]

Home, sweet home

Today marks 6 years of marriage. Thank you Gayle. Yesterday we arrived home from three full and very beneficial weeks in the UK. A lot of mileage and connecting with some regular connections and some re-connections. Sadly many people we either were not in their vicinity or time simply prohibited in meeting up with. Going […]

Magazine Articles

Editorial Vol 2.1

In this issue there are a number of articles to respond to. Dyfed reviews Roger Mitchell’s thesis Church, Gospel & Empire. Roger’s book is his thesis so we should not expect it to be an easy read, however, with Dyfed’s review I think the book will be accessible for most. In a recent blog Roger […]

When is a Gate not a Gate?

It is a simple question. Should religion be treated as a gateway in the model of the city that we explore on this blog? Martin and I have both, perhaps instinctively, said no. Then Martin invited an article on the topic: then I got to thinking: then, well, you’ll see.

Ownership, stewardship & forgiveness

“So the business leaders of today are not capitalists in the sense in which Arkwright and Rockefeller were capitalists. Modern titans derive their authority and influence from their position in a hierarchy, not their ownership of capital. They have obtained these positions through their skills in organisational politics, in the traditional ways bishops and generals […]

It’s the Economy stupid!

So much talk about the economy, but what is the economy? Is it just pounds and pence? Dollars and Euros and cents? The Cambridge dictionary defines it as “the system of trade and industry by which the wealth of a country is made and used.”

W.I.L.D. voices for the poor and the powerless

For some time I have been wrestling with the issues of money, care for the poor and how our present western economic system seeks to support people in need. As a community at Antioch, Llanelli we have a focus on ‘God’s presence and the poor’ and over many years see the day to day pressures of folks who are increasingly struggling financially in these challenging times.

Church, Gospel & Empire: a review

‘How is it that the best of church experience in both traditional and radical expressions tends to relapse to hierarchical domination and control?’ This is Roger Haydon Mitchell’s chilling question in his introduction to his newly published PhD thesis, Church, Gospel & Empire.

Art shaping culture

It has been received wisdom for a while now that economic power is shifting from the old world to the new world. Continental Europe is faced with tremendous headwinds to do with spiraling social costs and an ageing population that means growth over the next 100 years will be hard to come by. In the developing world on the other hand very low wage rates and high worker motivation are combining to create a compelling long term argument for excess growth rates and wealth creation for those markets.

Values: unelectability

I watched a film recently ‘Ides of March’. A film looking at people on the campaign trail. The governor has sex with the intern (definitely a big ‘no’ in the film)… However, the areas that were far more challenging though were to do with the ethics of winning votes. One example were meetings with fellow politicians to gain their endorsement. Making a deal so that votes could be guaranteed – in return a position in the forthcoming government.

Wealth: redefinitions

Definitions of course have their limitations, but I was provoked and challenged when sitting listening to a Zimbabwean speak. His question to us was to consider what are we were investing into. To help us he used the two phrases of ‘artificial’ and ‘creational’ wealth. One he said was how the (industrialised) West defines wealth, but is illusionary. This he, therefore, termed ‘artificial’.

Come back Christian nation

Abortion, gay marriage, Sunday trading (sorry, strike that one off, as we like that now)… All evidence that we are losing it. The ‘look, once we could see Cathedrals and church spires on the landscape, now Mosques are where churches once stood’ type of statement are all laments about what is disappearing.