Living Within the System and Non-violence
November 30th, 2007 by Sonja

In an earlier post I was pondering the socio-economic system within which we live and how it forces us to make choices that go against the grain of our faith on many occasions. There is a rather large gap between how we are able to live and the standard set forth for us by Jesus. We all have choices that we make on a moment by moment basis for how each us might close that gap, but the truth of the matter is that we will never close it. Not in our current system. I’m not talking here about that abominable chasm illustrated insufferably by the Four Spiritual Laws. I’m simply sayin’ … with the way things are in capitalism, or socialism, or any other socio-economic system that we’ve got at the moment there is a tension between what we want to be able to do and the limits on what we are able to do. All of us make different choices with how we will live within those boundaries. Some of those choices seem nonsensical to others, illogical, even ironical at times.

In the comments of that post Patrick wrote deeply about the circle of giving and I wanted to quote him here:

Giving is a profound spiritual act of faith, not just in terms of money or tithing, but in what we have. If really done as a community then there is a sharing, a mutuality, in which it might not look terribly different except underneath the surface. Meaning someone who has money gives, say for good words written by someone who had to forsake pursuing money for a time to write them, or music by someone who ponders something deeply, or a service, or some other way of participating in the life of another.

If we are all giving then it seems like we are also receiving from each other, a circle, but not a circle in which we look out for ourselves but a circle in which we fall into the arms of each other trusting them for, maybe, even our daily bread. We empty what we have, and are filled by anothers emptying.

I love this image of the circle. That’s really beautiful and moves the conversation in a helpful direction. It’s a direction that talks about how we can both live within the system and close the gap that exists.  How we can begin to imagine living both in the world but not of it and bringing the Kingdom a little bit closer.

I was a little bit worried that some would see my post as a critique for any of us for participating in the system. We all do and we all must because we are in it. We cannot “get out of it”, we cannot excise ourselves from it as if we were teeth.  We mustn’t point fingers at one another saying that one is better than another. Or that one choice is better than another. Nor should the musings, ponderings and reflections of others be taken as criticisms or advocating wholesale change in one’s life. We are all doing the best we can with what we have. The people I know who are following Jesus are doing their best to follow him with their whole heart. In every person that looks different. Not everyone eschews commercialism because not every person is called to it. But not every person is called to be a finger, or a liver or a rib. We are each called to different things and different acts of contrition, faith, mercy, kindness and grace … and the world is healthier, more whole and better for it.

3 Responses  
  • kievasfargo writes:
    December 1st, 20075:55 pmat

    Good thoughts…thanks!

  • Patrick writes:
    December 2nd, 200710:55 amat

    One thing I like about this direction of thinking is that it makes us look at ourselves more than others. So much of pastoral thought today is attacking and blaming people for particular attitudes. If the emphasis is placed on giving then it becomes what I can do, rather than what someone else is doing. It also becomes a positive, “I should give”, rather than a negative, “I should stop taking”.

    What I’ve also noticed in my life is that when I take up this attitude I run into a curious little theological realization. The argument against something like giving in a circle is that someone else will fail, so that I will give but someone won’t give to me, thus leading to possible frustration. Only the problem is when I feel that frustration I am faced with the question about whether or not God is enough for me, and whether he is able to satisfy what I need. So instead of blaming another I’m pushed to deepen my faith.

    Consumerism is so human focused, almost works based, while giving drives a person looking at God.

    Now, there’s only for me to get better at it, and learn how to really trust God.

  • Calacirian » Best of 2007 - My Personal Favorites writes:
    January 1st, 20089:24 amat

    […] what’s love got to do with it? On Creating Space – what do hockey and church have in common? Living Within The System and Non-Violence – a look at living in the world but not being of it. Good Gifts – every parent desires to give good […]

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