According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future
aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater
Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma
It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds
assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

Saturday, October 3, 2020

CosmoEcological Civlizations - PostCapitalistic Economies & Politics, Part 1b

 



CosmoEcological Civlizations - PostCapitalistic
Economies & Politics, Part 1b

by R.E. Slater
September 5, 2020

I hope to cover the basics of political/economic ideologies simply using relevant videos and standard Wikipedia articles to help frame out a futuristic look at where a Christian-based political economic might go. Generally I will use the idea of an ecological society for this near-term futuristic vision. I find it attainable, and if done right, reflective of human and environmental justice and equality. This then would also lead us into a some kind of mutually beneficial post-capitalistic paradigm again, reflective of Christian teachings related to God's Love, Jesus' practices and teachings, and the new kingdom ethic summarized on the Sermon on the Mount  in Matthew 5 (see NASB text here)

[The] Sermon on the Mount [is] a biblical collection of religious teachings and ethical sayings of Jesus of Nazareth, as found in Matthew, chapters 5–7. The sermon was addressed to disciples and a large crowd of listeners to guide them in a life of discipline based on a new law of love, even to enemies, as opposed to the old law of retribution. In the Sermon on the Mount are found many of the most familiar Christian homilies and sayings, including the Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer (qq.v.). - Encyc Britannica

Part 1 will cover the basics of political economies. Initially I thought to ex-clude "libertarianism" for the simple reason that complex governments are here to stay and will require complex governmental solutions for poly-plural multi-ethnic societies. Libertarianism proposes small governments with less footprint which I find impractical, if not pure fantasy. However, locality (and meta-localities) will drive ecological societies and for this reason, along with the fact that libertarianism is a popular ideology I will lead off with it first after a general introductory video.

Part 2 will cover the basics of cultural philosophies such as modernism et al and where these cultural movements might be taking us. Having spent a large amount of time earlier this year speaking to the fundamentals of the universe using process philosophy the principles therewith will be used to help guide us toward a process-based futurism.

And finally, in Part 3, I will attempt to describe what future ecological civilizations may look like under a whole new kind of political-economic schema.

Soooo, here we go....


Topics to be Covered

Part 1
  • Libertarianism
  • (Classic, Enlightenment) Liberalism
  • (Americanized) Modern Liberalism
  • Social Liberalism
  • Neo-Conservatism
  • Conservatism
  • Neo-Liberalism
  • Summary 1 - Post-Capitalist Protestant View
  • Summary 2 - Post-Capitalist Catholic View
Part 2
  • Modernism
  • Postmodernism
  • Post-Postmodernism
  • Hypermodernism
  • Transmodernism
  • Metamodernism
Part 3
  • Post-Capitalism Economies
  • CcosmoEcological Civilizations






* * * * * * * * *


SUMMARY 1 -
Post-Capitalist Protestant View


Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash
Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash


Whatever Happened to the Common Good?

by Jay McDaniel, Open Horizons
October 1, 2020


Three sins killed it.  Or at least our awareness of it.

1 - ​Meritocracy: It's all about individual upward mobility.
       (as clarified by Michael Sandel in his critique of meritocracy)

2 - Throwaway Culture: It's all about what is convenient or useful.
      (as clarified by Pope Francis in his critique of throwaway culture)

3 - Folk Libertarianism: It's all about me and my right to happiness.
      (​as clarified by Russ Douthat of NY Times)

We don't choose these sins; we are born into them as part of our culture. In this sense they are original sins: that is, inherited sins. Still, our only hope is to grow past them by allowing our hearts to be drawn by deeper, higher, more life-nourishing values, like love and community and justice.




Folk Libertarianism

"The first thing you see is that some failures in the American response are less about the president’s specific faults and more about a debilitating pre-existing condition in his coalition — a folk-libertarian hostility to all federal policymaking, a reflexive individualism disconnected from the common good." What I’m calling folk libertarianism (to distinguish it from the more academic sort) is deeply American, not just conservative,

(Russ Douthat, NY Times, What Isn't Trump's Fault, Sept. 12, 2020)




Meritocracy

I do not want the word rubbish to have the last word.  I want the words 'love' and 'community' and 'humility' to have the last word.  And phrases like 'the dignity of each person' and "respect and care for the community of life."  I am inspired by a man in whose footsteps I seek to walk who, some twenty centuries ago, called his own people toward a new way of living based in love. 

​But I do believe that primary obstacle to the kind of world we need -- a network of compassionate communities -- is the culture of merit.  This culture carries a mindset that valorizes something called 'productivity' and thinks of life as a complex of economic transactions.  Those of us who are trapped by this mindset have little sense of the common good.  Its ideal is 'the self-made individual' who 'plays by the rules' and 'climbs a ladder of upward mobility' in order to become a 'success.'   Liberals no less than conservatives, and sometimes more than conservatives, can valorize this ideal in their appeals to a level playing field.  Their assumption is that, if the playing field is level (which it never is) people can 'rise' on the basis of their merits.  The problem lies in thinking that 'merit' is and should be the proper organizing principle for our lives.  Such is, as the philosopher Michael Sandel puts it, The Tyranny of Merit: What's Become of the Common Good.


The tyranny of merit | Michael Sandel






Throwaway Culture

An excerpt from Resisting Throwaway Culture: How a Consistent Life Ethic Can Unite a Fractured Nation Pope presenting Pope Francis' critique of a Throwaway Culture that treats everything as something to be bought, sold, or used and that considers people irrelevant and disposable if unproductive.
"Throwaway Culture Pope Francis uses “throwaway culture” to name the opposite of what the CLE [consistent ethic of life] seeks to affirm. This culture fosters “a mentality in which everything has a price, everything can be bought, everything is negotiable. This way of thinking has room only for a select few, while it discards all those who are unproductive.”

It reduces everything—including people—into mere things whose worth consists only in being bought, sold, or used, and which are then discarded when their market value has been exhausted. Human beings have inherent, irreducible value, but when a throwaway culture finds them inconvenient it deems them “inefficient” or “burdensome” and they are ignored, rejected, or even disposed of.

The pope responds to such a culture by defending the universal dignity of every person without exception. By upholding the “internal consistency” of such dignity across a host of different issues, Francis undermines the throwaway culture. In reducing the person to a mere product in a marketplace—one that can be used and then thrown away—our culture makes what philosophers call a category mistake. Persons are ends in themselves, with inherent and irreducible value, and must never be put into the category of things that can be merely discarded as so much trash. The most serious and obvious example of reducing a person’s inherent value to that of a mere thing is their being violently discarded and killed. Christians especially are called to resist this violence because Jesus commanded them to do so. Throughout his life he took pains to call out deadly violence and instructed his followers to “love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).

​Pope Francis resists a throwaway culture that employs violent and (often) state-sponsored practices like war, genocide, terrorism, and the death penalty. But he also argues that this same violent culture includes practices like abortion (which discards a child as inconvenient and euthanasia (which treats the elderly like “baggage” to be discarded. Francis also has concern for what violence does to the perpetrator. In his address to Congress, for instance, he said that when we are repeatedly violent we become a “prisoner” who is “trapped” by our own violent habits. We ourselves become murderers and tyrants, Francis warns, when we imitate their violent practices 

But the CLE is concerned not only with explicit violence such as killing, but also violence within the structure of our societies. In Amoris laetitia Francis echoes John Paul II in saying that the dignity of the person “has an inherent social dimension.” That is, respecting life cannot be about simply resisting the aggressive violence of throwaway culture, but also the violence within its social structures. Francis insists that the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” applies clearly to our culture’s “economy of exclusion.” In the pope’s view, “Such an economy kills. The exclusion with which Francis is concerned need not be conscious exploitation and oppression. It can be unconscious practices that lead to certain people becoming “outcasts” or “leftovers.” The pope uses particularly harsh language in condemning theories of economic growth that ignore or discard human beings if they are deemed a net drag on such growth. The homeless person who dies of exposure; the child without adequate health care who dies of an easily-treatable disease; island-dwelling peoples threatened by climate change.

What Francis calls “a globalization of indifference” considers such people as mere afterthoughts. The dignity of these vulnerable people is inconvenient for those who benefit from a global consumerist culture, so we ignore the poor and marginalized, gradually becoming “deadened” to their cries. The love of money (something Francis calls “the dung of the devil”) supplants the primacy of the human person, and the logic of consumerism exercises dominion over us and our culture.

Those thrown away in the process do not matter. A primary value in throwaway culture is maintaining a consumerist lifestyle, but to cease caring about who is being discarded, most of us must find a way to no longer acknowledge their inherent dignity. Instead of language that affirms and highlights the value of every human being, throwaway culture requires language that deadens our capacity for moral concern toward those who most need it. Rehumanize International, a CLE activist group, has researched how this works (both historically and today) with different populations including racial minorities, the elderly and disabled, prenatal children, immigrants and refugees, enemy combatants, and incarcerated inmates. Patterns develop whereby these populations have been or are named as non-persons, sub-humans, defective humans, parasites, and objects, things, or products."
 
Camosy, Charles Christopher. Resisting Throwaway Culture: How a Consistent Life Ethic Can Unite a Fractured People (pp. 31-32). New City Press. Kindle Edition.




John Cobb on Pope Francis 

Fortunately, in 2015, Pope Francis offered the world in “Laudato Si” a holistic and unified way ahead.  He called it “integral ecology.”  It recognizes that all parts of the system of life are interdependent with one another and with the inanimate world.  Also, humans are an important part of this integrated system.  We humans have been disrupting the whole process, but we still have the ability to adopt a constructive role.

“Laudato Si” deals at once with the problems of the ocean, the land, and the atmosphere, and, also, of human society.  Francis’ encyclical is at once Roman Catholic teaching, general Christian teaching, and universal human teaching.  If humanity would orient its education and research, its economics and its politics, its agriculture, and its human culture, by the wisdom of this encyclical, hope for the future could be greatly expanded.

I have been struck not only by the remarkable connection between this pope and Francis of Assissi, but also by the parallels with Jesus of Nazareth.  It is widely recognized that Jesus’ message was the coming of the Basileia Theou, which for reasons explained in this text, I translate as “divine Commonwealth”. I believe that Jesus saw what he was proposing, in all its radicality, as the best hope for the salvation of Israel.  He believed the Jewish people could avoid destruction by Rome and expulsion from their land, precisely by being deeply faithful to their prophetic heritage.  He was not successful.  Jerusalem was destroyed, and the Jews were expelled from their country.

​The pope today is proposing a radically different world from the one we now have.  He gives us an account of what would be possible instead of the destruction toward which we are otherwise headed.  In short, what he calls “integral ecology” is today’s “divine Commonwealth.”




Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash


My friend Don, the Real Estate Developer

My friend Don is a real estate developer.  He sees almost everything as property to be bought and sold in the marketplace.  He thinks making money is what life is all about.  Everything is what he calls a deal.  A deal is an economic transaction,  An exchange. He wants to make an art of it.

I think of life a little differently.  I think everything is a relationship and that 'deals' are a very shallow kind of relationship.  The most valuable relationships are love.  But I'm a little biased here.  A young Jew from Nazareth distorted my perspective.

I once asked Don what the purpose of life is and he said "to be rich and powerful and famous."  I thought he was kidding, but he was serious.  He was taught to think this way by his father but also by his culture.  He grew up ion an environment where everything was about wealth and conspicuous show.  I asked him if he believed in cooperation and forgiveness and helping out others, and he said: "That's for losers." 

Don uses the word "losers" a lot to name people whom he thinks are below him.  He also speaks of some people as "garbage."  Don sees life on the analogy of a battleground where people must compete to be king of the mountain.  He wants to be king.  And he wants the rubbish to be eliminated from the mountain altogether.  He doesn't like to shake hands with people, especially for those whom he finds, in his words, disgusting.  He has a thing for germs. 

I have some friends who think Don is himself rubbish.  Some of them are Christian and know that Jesus taught that we should love our enemies, but this doesn't seem to apply to Don.  One of them said: "But Jesus didn't know Don."  I understand their rancor toward him, but I think it helps to remember that Don himself is a victim of his upbringing and culture. 

The culture is an atmosphere, a set of attitudes and values, into which we are born, and it affects us without our even choosing it.  If 'original sin' is a name for sins we inherit which originate before we are born, these these three are among America's original sins.  They are the idea that (1) everything must be measures by merit, (2) some things are rubbish, and (3) individual happiness, not the common good, is what fulfills human life.
These three sins are connected.  You can start with any of them and end up with the others.  For example, if you start with meritocracy, with its sin of taking 'merit' as the organizing principle of life, you end up treating some people as disposable because they are 'unproductive.'  You forget that you depend on the common good and that your deeper calling is to contribute to that good.  You see the world as a collection of objects not a communion of subjects and you see your own life as a series of 'achievements.'

The alternative to these three sins is what Pope Francis calls a 'consistent ethic of life' (see below).  This ethic can be nourished by a sense that life itself is a community and that we find our purpose and delight in playing our humble yet creative role in being part of an adventure greater than ourselves. 

Process thinkers such as John Cobb and Catherine Keller, Bradley Artson and Farhan Shah, Thomas Oord and Patricia Adams Farmer, Zhihe Wang and Meijun Fan -- and so many others -- help us see that an organic worldview can help cultivate this sense.  They call it "open and relational" thinking or "process" thinking. 

In Choosing Life: Ecological Civilization as the World's Best Hope, John Cobb and I develop this process point of view.  We propose that ecological civilization, with its focus on 'creative localization' in compassionate communities, is our best hope.  But we recognize that this hope has little if any chance of being approximated unless, first, we don't acknowledge the three cultural sins.  In the spiritual alphabet developed by Mary Ann and Frederic Brussat of Spirituality and Practice, and often utilized by the Cobb Institute, "S" is for Shadow.  These three sins are among our most pernicious shadows.