Thursday, May 31, 2007

Alternative Social Ethic

Alternative Social Ethic--This is a phrase used by the authors of Colossians: remixed to describe one lens through which to view the bible. That is to say, a calling toward an alternative social ethic is one of the recurring themes present from the creation account, to Jesus' birth to birth of the first christian communities. This represents a call away from securing peace and prosperity, or as Walsh and Keesmat write, "fruitfulness and Shalom," through military and economic conquest. On a personal level, this means, not giving into the notion that the source of peace and prosperity is the empire; Rome, Washington, Wall Street, the mall.

So how do we live within the empire and yet not be shaped by it? Better yet how do we go about implementing an alternative social ethic? What does the concept of an alternative social ethic do to our relationships, our calendars and our checkbooks?



4 comments:

EGillespie said...

Some deep thoughts TK. When I think of the "alternative social ethic" I don't think of it as an "in or out"... but more of a path along a slope. Some people are climbing up, others sliding down. Most, probably, hanging on tightly to whatever they define as their values -- trying to keep in one place. The challenge, then is to keep on climbing -- and take as many with you as you can.

One of the challenges I have as one living in the empire as a citizen, a father, a Christian, a co-worker, etc... trying to build relationships... when do you express love with a hug... and when by using a big stick? Any thoughs?

wilsonian said...

This, to me, is the largest issue that our generation of Jesus-followers need to get a handle on. Just a few quick thoughts...
-I think we need to remember that we are citizens of Kingdom first (and our countries of nationality second), and if we ever need to choose loyalties, Kingdom comes over country.
-Every purchase is an investment. Either into a multi-national, or a family; earth-killing or earth-mending; etc. I know this is simplistic, but if most families invest 30-60 grand into the economy, intentional purchasing (and not purchasing) can have an impact.
-living in solidarity with those on the margins...

I think I need to get this book :)

Steve F. said...

What my friend Erin said, and then some...

"Alternative social ethic," to me, means looking at the Book and just "reading the black parts" (as opposed to finding meaning between the lines) when it comes to feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, caring for widows and orphans, and visiting those in prison. You know, all the nonsense that yo-yo Matthew wrote, rounds about the 25th chapter or so...?

Caring for each other - and even acting like Christ toward our non-Christian neighbors - is so counter-cultural that most Churchian/Christendom-folk can't even conceive it.

We've spent at least 1600 years (depending on whose calendar you use) building walls and bridges, separating the body of Christ into "us" (and those acceptable to us) and "them" (those beyond the pale, of course) that the idea of an open, welcoming, inclusive servant church is almost inconceivable.

The hard part is getting the so-called Church to buy into what Jesus told us to do, and letting go of what the Church (in all her iterations) has declared holy and righteous and to-be-protected over the years...

Of course, I know you know this, brother - but so many people I know hear "alternative social ethic" and react like it's something new. Something that someone like Brian McLaren would pull out of context from the Gospels just to be controversial... (sigh)

As a friend of mine says, "'Dis ain't rocket science, people..."

TK said...

"Dis aint rocket science, people"
Amen to that.