Our economy was only ever as good as its ability to get bigger and faster. To what can we compare it? There is nothing so precarious as an elite athlete. Capitalism is the structure of elite competition. In such a structure there is a necessary majority of losers. There is the inevitable wreckage of bodies permanently sidelined and discarded by injury. Within the structure those who ‘benefit’ are those are in service of the victors or at least the competitive. This includes the direct losers (one still needs competition to be able to win), the trainers, statisticians, coaches, owners, infrastructure, merchandise, etc. They only have worth to the extent that the athlete is at the very least competitive. The lives of athletes are fully in the service of improvement, of growth. Every moment is accounted for including rest which some athletes schedule in as ‘meetings’. Coaches know this precarity and caught between their ego and the pressure of investors tend to abusive behavior as a means of controlling the athlete and their performance. The elite athlete is not conditioned to be healthy but to be improving at an appropriate rate or be discarded.
Speaking on the topic of Christian faith formation Andrew Root, with Charles Taylor as his guide, charted the trajectories of secularism from the medieval period to the present. Prior to the formations of the secular Root said that the church really did not need to think of formation because all of life and culture was shaped by a Christian imaginary. As Christendom shifted through the Enlightenment to secular modernity Christian beliefs became contested and in time all beliefs (including unbelief) became contested leaving personal (un)belief precarious and fragile in our present age.
The first part of this series was an attempt to situate the current theological state of Mennonite Church Canada. The commitment I would like to nurture is a moral commitment to remain attentive to those suffering and struggling in the midst of our churches and cultures. I hope that this commitment will also help us to open up some of our broader theological commitments.
In the next two parts I will look at the two dominant theological forms at work in Mennonite Church Canada. My accounts are neither complete nor exclusive to other influences at work. However, the terms liberal and conservative get thrown around so much that is worth paying attention to them and clarifying their insufficiency in relation to a gospel drawing our unity and attention to the realities of suffering and injustice. After these next two critical sections I will try and offer some more constructive pieces in moving forward (Hint: It’s not a ‘third-way’!).
Since it will come as no surprise to those who know me I am critical of conservative/patriarchal theology instead I thought I would begin with my still developing understanding and critique of liberalism.