Posted by: rogermitchell | March 7, 2011

kenarchic politics (1) make children a priority

A first priority for kenarchic politics has to be the stewardship of our children. Every child and her or his physical, mental and spiritual capacity together make up the true wealth of the world. This applies across the spectrum from those with severe mental or physical disabilities to those with the highest IQs. The provision of the necessary conditions for the release of their full potential to celebrate human life as God’s loving gift is the first call on whatever power and resources the adult populace has at its disposal, and is therefore the responsibility of the ecclesia as the political representatives of the rest.

While the first line of responsibility for this stewardship lies with their parents their children don’t belong to them. Nor does the nuclear family represent the only context for the nurture and development of children. In fact my research suggests that the family in its classic Western formulation as an autonomous unit tends to be a basic control mechanism of empire. The gospels make clear that children are of primary importance to Jesus by describing his incarnation as a baby and his development until his deliberate redefinition as a young adult at twelve. The narratives of his teaching about children state that the kingdom of God belongs to them and that to receive a child properly is to receive Jesus and his kingdom. This is undergirded by the Hebrew prophecies that “a little child shall lead them” and “unto us a child is born.”

Jesus’ own celibacy and recognition of seasons and situations when marriage is not the first means to express his kin[g]dom clearly suggests the extension and supplementation of the traditional family with broader and more collaborative social forms. So it is time to identify and develop other relationships, communities and networks of loving service to our children. This includes attempting to reform and recover where necessary the existing agencies of education and child care. It is obvious that there is much to discuss, pray into and experiment with in working out this guideline. But if we are to be faithful to the primary political role of the ecclesia, this is, I suggest, where we begin.

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Responses

  1. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if for each child the ecclesia would come together and pray over a child and help them to be released into the next stage of life, whether that is through funding, encouragement or support instead of trying to hold onto them. Or maybe that is just me!

  2. see my blog today on Martin Scott’s site. There I note that CBS 60 minutes did a story last night on the rising rate of child poverty in the USA – 20% and rising, expected to hit 25%. Today I watched a short clip of the video where children talk about the effect of hunger on their lives. Terrible.

    I haven’t had a chance to read it yet but researcher Sarah Hrdy wrote a book out in 2008 about alloparenting – that it was the group caring for the children that gave us our capacity for caring. I do intend to read it someday.

    Traditionally adults had one task in their lives – to ensure the survival of the next generation or two. My generation absolved themselves of that task in the pursuit of the good life. Hence destruction of the environment – to the point where the survival of the next generation is threatened was and is still deemed to be okay. Amazing.

    Thanks for putting this as first on your list of political acts.
    c.

  3. I couldn’t agree more Rog, a brilliant place to start. “train a child in the way they should go” has become “control a child to be who you think they should be, or to be what is most useful to the state”……..we have to find a way to recover and rediscover how to parent (and by this I mean wider communities not just biological parents) in a way that is not based on fear and control but on love that releases the future. Kat and I are hugely exercised by this. It would be so great if where ever the ecclesia are, if we have a heart for our communities and cities, to see fresh think tanks emerging on this very issue. New ways for the future. Feels like such a time for dreaming and reimagining the future. It is so alive with possibilities!

  4. I was reminded today of comments made to me by a Mohawk elder. We were in a phone conversation, I think in 2002. He is an architect and had just qualified as a Traditional Elder in the Mohawk tribe. He told me that the elders saw great darkness ahead for the youngest generation and so were moved to give the children extra blessings. When they saw a child or passed near them they would bless the child and try to be extra kind to them in light of what they saw as a very dark future.

    That comment has stayed with me for a number of reasons. First the dark future – certainly all that we know about the state of the environment posits an increasingly dark future for the next generation and further. I trust in God on things and He is greater than that darkness but without God things are looking kind of dire. Second, the blessing- I was taken that the response of the elders, of the older, wiser generation was to bless the children, to be extra kind to them in light of what they foresaw.

    I know the institutional church is often focused on kids these days. There are all sorts of youth groups mainly aimed at keeping kids out of trouble or more normally at recruiting them for the church as they grow up. We call that ‘saving their souls’ but really, and I speak as someone trained as a pastor, it is more about the ongoing institution. Perhaps we need to really focus our Godly energies on blessing children with good housing, medical care, adequate and healthy food, education, a healthy environment etc. Seems to me that is what it means to love and bless a child.

    c.

    P.S. Just to note the direction some places are going in the USA about all of this – the new govenor of Florida just proposed draconian (over 170 billion) cuts to the education system of that state in order to give an equal amount in corporate tax cuts to business. This is just one example of many that are occuring across the US. Children appear to be last in line right now.

    • You rightly see the vital interconnections. I am convinced that the next guideline is care for the creation, and the fourth one involves confronting the established powers where their impact is detrimental to the other guidelines. This will make sense as I proceed with the next few posts. And as you say, the church youth group can become an institution for domination and control, just as the family can.

  5. I think the traditional elders had great insight ,insight that seems to be missing from both the state and the church today.Christ took children and put them at the very center of his kingdom he called on us to look to them,and be inspired by them,children have a great capacity to dream and see a better future.Only for the state and church to come along and seek to control and direct that ability.
    My experience of raising children is one in which without the help input and direction of the wider family and faith community I would have made many more mistakes in my role as a parent.This is a subject close to my heart coming from the root of any calling which God may have on my life.The calling to be a father as the church is already overloaded with teachers.
    I was told recently by a good friend that as far as he could see I was a very liberal father.It turns out he thought this was a weakness in my parenting.In our conversation it became clear that his problem with this was that I gave my children to much freedom.He thought that it was better parenting to keep control and make demands of his children that I could never do of mine.My heart in all of this is to constantly say to my children to follow there dreams and embrace the fullness of life that God has gifted them with.My role in all of this is to support them and encourage them and to love them through the difficult time they will surely face.

    So it is my contention that the role of the people of God is to say to the children they have contact with ,that with God all things are possible.And to then support them as they go about discovering that truth for themselves.It is not our job to control or enforce what we believe to be the way ahead for them ,but to be brave enough to trust them and remember they are at the heart of the kingdom that Jesus gave us.In order to lift the darkness the elders spoke of we must bless what God is putting the hearts of our children


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