Perhaps the most encouraging piece I read this week as I was writing was from a recent book put out by Peter Block, Walter Brueggemann and John McKnight, An Other Kingdom. If you know anything about these three, they come from dramatically different backgrounds, Block being an organizational development expert from a Jewish background, Brueggemann an Old Testament scholar and McKnight a community organizer most well-known for having developed with Jody Kretzmann the movement ABCD (Asset-Based Community Development). While Block and McKnight have been writing together since 2010 (The Abundant Community), somehow Brueggemann joined the team just recently, and my mind pretty much exploded. For NBA fans, understand that in the world of community development and those who see the handprints of the Bible all over the ideas behind ABCD, Brueggemann joining the team of Block and McKnight is more explosive and wonderful than Kevin Durant joining Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and the Mighty Mighty Warriors! : )
Block, Brueggemann and McKnight cast a vision for growth towards peace and abundance built on what they call a Neighborly Covenant. What if the place of transformation and reversing the evils of our consumer society were not so much in the place of national elections and consumer politics? What if Hunter's idea of "faithful presence" in our vocational spheres and neighborhoods was truly the way to at least hope for a flourishing society? (To Change the World) or as D.G. Hart wrote a few years ago that perhaps the greatest way to impacting society's welfare was to coach little league over and above getting too involved with national politics? (From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin). I must confess that living in Canada I have not been all-too-motivated getting my voter registration in order since I am quite ambivalent to our choices. Maybe I will. Maybe I won't. But I will get my boys to football practice this week, and I will continue to work towards building better neighborhoods in my community.
So, my apologies for adding another somewhat meaningless post to mostly meaningless posts about the election cycle. Enjoy.
"Our task is to imagine a culture ordered differently. Imagine the human benefit of an alternative to the market ideology that defines our culture. We call this the Neighborly Covenant because it enlivens and humanizes the social order.
The Neighborly Covenant is an alternative to a market ideology that has reached its limits, no matter how high the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbs. The map we have really isn't working. It is visibly flawed. We see in every political campaign a rhetoric designed solely for marketing the candidate, not for meaning. We force all politicians into promising what they can't deliver. It becomes a concentrated version of the consumer ideology. Citizen as consumer, candidate as supplier. And so we campaign and vote on marketing slogans: liberal, conservative, values, democracy, end poverty, maintain standard of living, jobs, education, marriage this, guns that. These catchphrases are just code words, like advertising, that exploit people's needs and anxiety for the sake of candidate market share, namely winning their votes. This language is another subversion of the common good and the longing for public servants. We think the wish for an alternative culture will be fulfilled in the ballot box.
What we are proposing is language for alternative ways to a covenantal culture. The free market consumer ideology has defined the dominant codes, that particular way of talking about our culture. This is what has led us to stalemate. Our work is to create another set of code words–ones that are active beyond election years and have different substance in defining our communal identity. This is the departure."
An Other Kingdom: Departing the Consumer Culture, pp. xxii-xxiii