Upon Further Reflection… #dmingml

October 3, 2010 — 3 Comments

After reflecting further on my post from earlier today, “You Know What Hope Is?” I decided that I had a little more to say. Rather than revise the orignal post and make it longer, or comment on my own post (which might get missed), I decided to just write a new post. I’m allowed.

I was much more bothered by Heath and Potter than by Hunter’s book To Change the World. It is because, for me, Heath and Potter hit closer to home. I was relatively unruffled by Hunter’s assertions that culture change happens via institutions and elites weilding power. I was unoffended by his deconstruction of the hero myth of American Christian’s individual agency as the means to change. To me, it was all fairly self-evident and made a lot of sense.

Yet I walked away from Part I of this book with a different response. I think it is because it hit closer to home. I am that rebel. I am the one that believes that the small choices that I make are little ways of subverting, and ultimately changing, the system. Not exactly Hunter’s “faithful presence,” but in the ballpark. So, when the authors talked about how only consequences matter, not intent, I was bummed. I buy organic and local because I want to be a part of subverting the corporate food machine. I walk places instead of drive and I suffer summers without A/C in order to reduce my carbon footprint. I engage in all manners of defiant, yet not deviant, behavior in order that I may testify to that which ought to be.

To Heath and Potter, however, my efforts are nothing more than a distraction. They amount to no net change in any of the things I’m protesting against. Other than obvious differences in their views on God and religion, I think that Hunter and Heath/Potter are essentially saying the same thing: if what we want is change, protest and rebellion aren’t the way to go about it. I’m sure Part II of this book will get to the heart of what they think will institute change.

Anderson Campbell

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  • ChrisMarshall_

    Intent vs. actual. The debates are in what is “actually” changing the world, if we could know for sure, we would really like to be doing it. It appears to be a matter of debate as we continue to roll out the theses in these books. But I want to defend at the very least what we do know, and that is that your intent in your actions and behaviors is that you care about your world, that you are fully invested here (therefore not a dualist) and that you are a practitioner, a doer. Your faith has feet and they walk when they can. In the James 2 sense, of the companionship of faith and works, you’re bought in. Intent is one of the measures of faitfulness, I think. Of course in the Kingdom, the heart matters. May our readings continue to enlighten our minds so that our hearts and our lives can follow.

  • Bill Westfall

    Right on, Chris! Without intentions, we won’t even work toward making steps in the right direction. And maybe “protest and rebellion” are not the answers by themselves, but as a part of a greater plan to work with others to sincerely seek, and act toward, the good of those in society who are “disadvantaged,” such activities may indeed remain appropriate. Perhaps our “PROtests” need to be positively good in nature? And maybe our “rebellion” should be viewed as a turning toward what is right, rather than a refusal of what is wrong?

  • Anderson Campbell

    “PROtests” I like the emphasis here, Bill. It harkens back to the discussion on Ressentiment from Hunter’s book. Our protests and rebellions, instead of focusing only on what is wrong, should at the same time be vividly illustrating shalom. In that way, protests can escape the narrative of injury and move into glimpsing the Kingdom.