Posted by: Dan | November 26, 2007

The Church and Capitalism: IV-IV.1

IV. On the Way to a Christian Political Economics

The final question remaining is “what does this look like?” This section begins to answer that question by exploring the Church as a pilgrim people defined by her attachment to ‘nonsensical’ charity, and ‘nonsensical’ vulnerability.

IV.1 – The Church as a Pilgrim People

When exploring the question of “what does this [a Christian political economics] look like?” it is important to recover the notion of the Church as the pilgrim people of God.[162] This means that the Church is constantly in motion – she is akin to Israel, moving through the wilderness toward the Promised Land. Consequently, when approaching the issue of political economics, rather than attempting to formulate, and then enact, a perfect model, the Church should approach this as the pursuit of a particular trajectory. This means that a Christian response to neoclassicism will be dynamic, not static, a “viator economics” practiced by those on The Way.[163] Consequently, rather than attempting to find universal solutions for all the problems related to neoclassicism (and thereby going nowhere because it seems impossible to find universal solutions to all these problems), the Church must begin by embodying particular solutions to particular problems with the hope that, as she journeys on The Way, further solutions, further actions, and the next step, will become clear. What Marcos says of the Zapatista movement is just as applicable to the Church: “We aren’t proposing a new world, but something preceding a new world: an antechamber.”[164]

This means that the validity and sensibility of Christian responses to neoclassicism come down to the lived life of the Church and the way in which she performs her faith.[165] Ultimately, what is important is not what the Church feels, or thinks (or even says) but what the Church does – and what the Church does will be discovered, deepened, and constantly expanded in a process of embodiment, enacting, and ad-libbing.[166] What follows, then, are some suggestions for this process, premised upon Maurin’s suggestion that “[t]he basis for a Christian economy is genuine charity and voluntary poverty.”[167]
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[162] A notion that became prominent after the Second Vatican Council (cf. “Lumen Gentium”, in The Documents of Vatican II, ed. by Walter M. Abbott, S.J. trans. by Very Rev. Msgr. Joseph Gallagher [New York: Guild Press, 1966], 78-85).
[163] Cf. Johnson, 5-6, 208-209, 215; N. T. Wright, The Crown and the Fire, 108. Similarly, Deleuze and Guattari propose that an unceasing “nomadism” is necessary in order to escape from fascism (A Thousand Plateaus, 159).
[164] Marcos, 46.
[165] Cf. Hauerwas, Performing the Faith, 76-78; With the Grain of the Universe: The Church’s Witness and Natural Theology (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2001), 199-212; Lindbeck, 51, 65; Wallis, The Call to Conversion, 132; Jacques Ellul, The Subversion of Christianity, trans. by Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 7; Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, trans. by R. H. Fuller and Irmgard Booth (London: SCM Press Ltd., 1959), 54-55; N. T. Wright, New Tasks for a Renewed Church, 146.
[166] Cf. Christopher Wright, 167-68; Eagleton, After Theory, 146; Maurin, 180. Again, this parallels the suggestion of Deleuze, and Guattari, who argue that one must engage in a “schizophrenic” process of inventive connection in order to break free from the fascist powers (Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, 7, 15, 53).
[167] Maurin, 30.

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