Monday, 12 May 2008

A vision for Engage!

Having chatted with Schof, here is a bit of an idea of what our vision for engage might be.

Here's the thing:

There's a couple of ways of being a Christian that have never seemed quite right to me - one is the 'meaningless babble' version. This is where Christians talk endlessly about abstract ideas that don't seem to relate to the real world. I must confess to having a certain penchant for pointless babble myself (as anyone who has ever chatted to me will know) and yet, not only is it unconnected to my world, it also doesn't quite fit with all that stuff in the Bible about justice flowing like rivers and taking up your cross and caring for the orphan and widow etc. There are people dying in Burma. There is poverty in my own city. There are people excluded. There is injustice. I can't change the world, I can't change very much, but being a follower of Jesus somehow must make me someone who is involved in doing stuff for the deprived and destitute.

But this just leads me to the other way of being a Christian that doesn't seem quite right - the social activist kind. They work with other Christian and non-Christian organisations to bring about change. They stand shoulder to shoulder with communists and anarchists and ecologists and social reformers. And all this is great, but soon biblical and theological language is forsaken and in its place is the language of class warfare or the language of sociology - sometimes with a Christian veneer, sometimes without it. Herein lies the problem : we become no different to all these other very worthy groups. And one has to wonder how being a Christian makes us any different or what God's got to do with it. I can engage in social justice without God very easily.

The vision is to bring together biblical reflection and radical action. It is about doing biblical reflection and worship and spirituality from the vantage point of those doing the practical justice-making. This spirituality both informs our justice-making and is formed by it.

Thus, it is absolutely practical. But it is also absolutely Christian. I may be wrong, but I'm sure this is what Christianity is all about - radical action for the sake of the poor and for justice, but distinctively arising out of our spirituality - a spirituality that feeds action and action that feeds spirituality.

Who's up for a bit of spirituality-fed action and some activity-fed spirituality?

Now, I know there are a lot of practical problems with this. What practical action are we going to do? We are a tiny group, surely we need more people? Aren't we in danger of just becoming a talking shop? These questions are answered in my next blog: "Getting down to it."

1 comment:

DS said...

Thanks Mark for getting your thoughts down

It's a really helpful reflection. I really like the phrase -

'spirituality-fed (led, inspired, informed, shaped etc) action and activity-fed (") spirituality?'

I am reading 'Embracing Grace - a Gospel for All of us' by Scot McKnight. Not sure of my overall response to it yet but I do like his central premise that the gospel is BIG and all 'embracing'

Here's how he attempts to wrap his arms round what the gospel is about (and he then goes into more detail to flesh out each element) -

"restoring humans to union with God and communion with others, in the context of community for the good of others and the world"

(Its an interesting paragraph to play with and I invite you to have a go in your responses - I might join in)

At least in there, like Marks phrase, you have the spirituality (for me engage is potentially an increasingly important arena for this) and the interplay and outworking of that spirituality for the benefit of others/the 'world'

The scope and vision of the 'good news' is surely that which shapes our engage scope/vision. So as per later posts its what we realistically be/do in response to that...

Perhaps some more communal definition is in order though as well - informing, during and flowing from that real lived response