Posted by: rogermitchell | August 2, 2010

the cutting edge of ecclesial identity

I’ve missed out on blogging as often as intended over the last ten days because I have been busy writing up a core chapter of my thesis that looks at the painful contradiction between the century of biopower in which the empire of capital has been busily devouring everything through the saving power of information, war and debt, and what Vincent Synan in the title of his book calls the century of the Holy Spirit. If it indeed has been the century of the Spirit then we had better make sure that we collaborate together to see it climax in the political liberation of the ecclesia to be the catalysts of kenotic giving in and through the whole universe of existence. There is no other way to resist the commodification of everything for the purposes of maximum realiseable power for everybody that is really the seeds of hell on earth. It is this political identity that has to be the cutting edge for truly Holy Spirit believers throughout every aspect of the creation and the nature of the seeds of change for the season of harvest that Jesus is working for.

I hope to develop this some more with the help of any comments and then add it to the the seeds of change page over the next few days as promised.



  1. Back in 1957 Polanyi in his book the Great Transformation raised concerns about the commodification of everything and had this to say about the self-regulating market that it

    “.. .was economic in a different and distinctive sense, for it chose to base itself on a motive only rarely acknowledged as valid in the history of human societies, and certainly never before raised to the level of a justification of action and behavior in everyday life, namely, gain.”
    (Polanyi, 1957, p.30)

    Even back then he didn’t see the system lasting

  2. Roger: if you check Martin Scott’s blog you will see that yesterday I posted an interview on the UN resolution that access to water is a human right. And I noted the nations that passively opposed that resolution (they abstained). The person commenting in the interview believes they did so because of the market. Nations like Canada, USA, UK hope to privatise and market water. Bolivia (the initiator of this resolution) and other nations that face severe shortages, even now, want water to be community owned and to be considered a human right. Yes, commodifying everything truly does make for hell on earth – hot and thirsty. c.

  3. I read your post and interview. I would want to go much further than suggesting that water is a right. We need to start from the recognition that everything is a gift. On this basis there is no such thing as private property, only stewardship. So those who find themselves in possession of water have the responsibility of stewarding it as a gift for the world. I don’t see it as wrong to charge for stewardship, but this is in no way the same as making profit a priority. We need to get this stuff out into the open, otherwise objections to the negative implications of rights get shoved together with capitalism. However the concept of water as a right could in practice be used by those claiming People power to justify their personal power and control. I guess I tend to be as uneasy about the leaders of socialist governments, NGO’s and the UN as I am about western representative democracy and global corporations.

  4. I hear you. I do think that the intent behind the work of folks like Maude Barlow is for stewardship. I suspect that is what the Bolivians are hoping for too. The trouble for many is that the word ‘stewardship’ is connected to Christianity and therefore suspect.

    I do agree that all is ‘gift’ and the kingdom is built on ‘sharing’, as is, community. So yes, let’s take the model somewhere different and where it really needs to go. In the meantime we need to resist the drive to turn eveything into a commodity.

    As I reflect on that I find the whole state of affairs so weird. 6 corporations control almost all of the food in the world, in that they buy it and process and ship it to the stores. To me, from a nationstate perspective that has to be a security issue. If a couple of those corporations choose to turn off the food tap your population goes hungry. So too with water. Why would a nationstate give over control of such an essential resource to a corporation who does not care for their land or their people. Very bizarre.

    So I’m with you on stewardship but I think that is going to take us back to ‘relational economics’, a theme God has really been pushing on me. Lots of thinking to do there about scales of economics and right human relationships.

  5. I like the sound of relational economics and would love to be part of the thinking on this. I’m reckoning that a town or city and its hinterland is probably the largest practical area for this, and then towns having relational links between each other. Having said that, in my experience to work towards such a revolutionary approach needs to begin with translocal relationships of subversives which is what the narrative of Jesus indicates. Blogging and social networking is clearly one contemporary way of paralleling that. So I guess we are already setting out on the journey!

  6. There is lots in this and I’m currently developing the idea of gift and economics as the core theoretical strand of my dissertation. Gift is what gives economy its chance of justice and therefore part of what orients it towards the ‘to come’.

    While i think we should practice alternative economics, I’m sceptical of alternative economies… because I am sceptical of exclusivity (which should be fended off as far as possible?).

  7. I suspect that your concern about exclusivity and my concern about matheses are similar. I want to emphasise relationship over mental agreement and you want to emphasise relationship over behavioural agreement, or something like that. Let’s agree that the good news is that God prizes relationship above everything else and the cross proves it. I doubt if Cheryl was suggesting setting up exclusive economies, I hadn’t even thought that through yet. But for sure, open circles of relationship are what it’s all about.

  8. Cool. I was trying to agree with you both while identifying a potential pitfall. I guess I’m referencing the many attempts that have been made to enact alternative economies: this is all the rage among activist types at the moment… Time banking etc. I’ve been relatively unconvinced about it because I don’t think being alternative is a value in itself. I’m interested in this relational economics because it might reach beyond all that clutter. I think gift is to economy what leaven is to 3 baskets.

    Suspect the things we are resisting (mathesis and exclusivity) reflect things in our inheritance that seem particularly hard to shift. In truth, I think both need to.

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