“We in the United States live in a deathly social context that’s marked by consumerism and militarism and the loss of the common good… [This] ideological system causes us to be very afraid, to regard other people as competitors, or as threats, or as rivals. It causes us to think of the world in very frightened and privatistic forms.
“The gospel very much wants us to think in terms of a neighborhood, in terms of being in solidarity with other people, in sharing our resources, and of living out beyond ourselves. The gospel contradicts the dominance values of our system, which encourages self-protection and self-sufficiency at the loss of the common good. The church is in some ways a reflection of those dominant values.” —Walter Brueggemann
I returned to this quote tonight after first seeing it almost two years ago. I love the idea that people might choose to live openhearted and in solidarity with each other, and I also love the challenge that Brueggemann brings to the doors of the Christian community.
I wrote a short article on electoral participation this week, explaining that Christianity is a practical religion, not merely a theoretical one. Given our essential oneness, we share mutual responsibilities with the rest of our world. But how can we make a neighborhood out of a global village of 7 billion people. What if our apartment complex is 2,000 residents large: how do we practice the solidarity Brueggemann writes about here?
An answer came to me from a long-ago post. Just as birds flock by attending to the birds on either side of or ahead of them, mass action is about aggregated local action. We progress not by steering our entire community at once, but by adjusting with the units immediately around us as needed.
Explore: What actions could you take this weekend to learn more about your and your immediate neighbors’ needs? What affirms the way you serve them?