Posted by: rogermitchell | August 2, 2014

The new politics


I’ve been giving papers at conferences related to a “new politics” in some interesting places lately.
Such as the Chester University conference Missio Dei: Evangelicalism and the New Politics back in June and the Manchester University conference in July on Postliberalism, Individualism and Society.
So what do these ‘new politics’ refer to and what do they look like? Chris Baker, one of the convenors of the Chester event described them to me as the space identified by ‘all the posts’: such as post-secular, post-Christian (or post-Christendom), and post-political. Graham Ward in his splendid The Politics of Discipleship (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2009) adds the postmodern and post-material. So there are a lot of posts! By this account the new politics really refers to space for a new politics, rather than the content of such politics. The title of the forthcoming William Temple Foundation 70th anniversary event Reclaiming the Public Space, this November, bears this out. Come if you can: http://williamtemplefoundation.org.uk/conference2014/

So is there really space for a new politics opening up?
While there is certainly a need for it in the face of the ‘tame’ xenophobia of UKIP or the brutal violence in Gaza, the lack of reasoned response or diplomatic will in both cases looks like more of the same old destructive recipe of peace through sovereign power. Victimisation and violence continues to rule the day despite the lessons of the hundred years since the war to end all wars http://www.theguardian.com/world/firstworldwar. But another way of seeing the current xenophobia and brutality is as evidence that the old politics is overreaching itself and plumbing the depths that a new politics must encompass to embrace the stranger and love the enemy. For those with eyes to see and ears to hear there is always evidence of the triumph of love http://www.wagingnonviolence.org/2014/07/now-jewish-american-peace-activists-organize-oppose-war-gaza/; Salim Munayer and Lisa Loden’s groundbreaking book Through My Enemy’s Eyes (Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2014) https://twitter.com/PaternosterBks. Nevertheless we cannot possibly minimize the challenge that achieving mindset change on a societal and global level demands.

However, if the ekklesia truly is the life-laying-down, enemy-loving, body of Christ, then people of faith can expect the move of the Spirit to renew its role.
Despite the horrific record of the subversion of the church and gospel by imperial power, there is real evidence that a significant section of the church is right now repositioning feet-first into the new political space, as I argue in the previous post of April 3rd. Now we need to do all we can to catalyse the mindset change that must follow. In the meantime we thank God for the body of those who despite, or in reaction to, the corruption of the church, are finding their way to the new politics without us, although not without God, whether they know it or not. Kenarchy offers some of the tools for both bodies to find their way to becoming friend to the ethnic other and lovers of their enemies as the soon-coming Discovering Kenarchy (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock, Autumn 2014) attempts to set out.

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  1. […] old friend Roger Haydon Mitchell has been working on these themes and calls them the politics of […]


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