Posted by: rogermitchell | April 2, 2020

Covid 19 and facing serious personal questions

I recommend this sensitive, loving, necessary input from my much loved friend and NHS Morecambe Bay Director for Population Health Dr Andy Knox.

This is what love does! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePSJTZsowBQ&feature=youtu.be

Posted by: rogermitchell | March 17, 2020

There will be redemption in this

The threat posed by Covid 19 to human life, social interaction and work is unparalleled in recent history. I think that now goes without saying.

But apart from that I have two things to say.

1. The first is that the new political space I have been thinking about, writing about and participating in is upon us. It is likely that the Western biopolitical system will be severely weakened if not mortally wounded by the coming months of lock down. But this provides a moment, an opportunity, an imperative for stopping and thinking, and for many of us there will be plenty of time to do it. This is what it means to exercise our spirit. The apostle Paul put it clearly when he remarked “For who among humans knows the thoughts of a human except the spirit of the human which is in them?” (1Cor 2:11). This is, I think, what Giorgio Agamben describes as inoperativity, a special kind of praxis and potential that gives human beings the capacity to adapt creatively to all sorts of situations (See “What is the Act of Creation?” in Creation and Anarchy: The Work of Art and the Religion of Capitalism. California: Stanford University Press, 2019). This viral crisis is a massive opportunity for us to reflect on the kind of future we wish to be the agents of. No doubt those committed to the current system will be poised to double down ready for a massive resurgence of the exploitation of life itself including the planet, animal and plant life and every aspect of the human condition. Including ways of making the virus itself an opportunity for profit. But at least for a few months, and probably a lot longer, the Western system will be much more precarious and vulnerable to alternatives than it has been for generations, maybe millennia. We need to imagine the alternative!

2. The second is that ironically, despite the requirement for social distancing, this will be a time for horizontal relationships, a time for love and community. If you haven’t listened to my talk on the politics of love yet, this could be a good use of your excess time! https://reimagininghealth.com/love-politics-part-3-roger-michell/ Already people who care – what Jesus calls children of peace, and the ecclesia – are mobilising everywhere. They are imagining and putting into practice myriads of caring initiatives that find a way through the necessary precautions and restrictions aimed at constraining, delaying and preventing the virus from killing the vulnerable. See for example https://covidmutualaid.org/resources/; #viralkindness. This is tapping into what I have described elsewhere as “the love stream” and which has always provided the resource for human flourishing throughout the exigencies of human history (see my academic work Church, Gospel and Empire: How the Politics of Empire Impregnated the West and the more accessible The Fall of the Church. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock 2011 & 2013; also Discovering Kenarchy. Wipf & Stock, 2014, which I co-edited with Julie Tomlin Arram). The flow is still with us and will beyond doubt survive and replenish humanity going forward. These are exciting, as well as distressing times.

Posted by: rogermitchell | March 14, 2020

Corona Virus

Great advice from my friend Dr Andy Knox, director of population health here in Morecambe Bay and one of the NHS leads on the corona virus here

https://reimagininghealth.com/corona-virus-advice-time-to-be-serious/

Posted by: rogermitchell | February 29, 2020

An alien at home on the mainland

Here waiting for a train in Frankfurt without the citizenship stolen by Boris Johnson and his supporters, I find myself reflecting once more on the demonic concept of sovereignty. As the German and pro-Nazi philosopher Carl Schmitt so clearly explains, sovereignty involves an enemy that must be othered and dominated if my supremacy and/or that of my family, race or nation in a particular geography is to be maintained or advanced. One would have hoped we had learned that lesson by now. Sovereignty has to be bordered and boundaried and eventually defended violently if necessary, particularly when it encounters a seemingly competing sovereignty. This is why the EU is so much more preferable than Brexit Britain because the EU dissipates and diversifies sovereignty by encompassing many national geographical goups in broad agreement. It is also why the UN has such wonderful potential for advancing the kingdom of God. But little Britain and its supporters foolishly imagine we will somehow benefit from pulling up the drawbridge. We won’t.

People tell me that open borders are idealistic and let in criminals and terrorists. Of course they do, and I am not advocating borders with absolutely no checks for weapons, toxins and the like. I know that criminals and terrorists used the opportunity provided by the continental freedom of movement that was our past inheritance within the EU. County lines and terrorist atrocities ensued. But I would argue that the loving risk of open borders is not only an intrinsic good of a loving society but pragmatically less destructive to human life and wellbeing than the wars, armies, weapons and deterrents required to defend sovereignty. The threats of terror acts toward our families and friends or criminal seduction of our poor or vulnerable youth need to be resolved by continuing to work together for a radically loving society not by strengthening the domination of rich and powerful sovereign elites. Of course the coronavirus is giving a further excuse to close borders, and where there is a specific local outbreak, temporary quarantines makes sense. But we must beware of fear induced arguments for asserting our sovereignty to preserve our health. Once again the argument must be to have reasonable precautions in the attempt to preserve public health, but never at the expense of love and freedom.

I need to catch my train to Brussels! More another day!

Posted by: rogermitchell | January 31, 2020

A dystopian present

Today, as I write, Britain turns its back on a generation of peace, collaboration and friendship with its European neighbours.

This was not something that a majority of the people voted for, not even a majority of those of voting age. A backward turn that is evidence of both our dystopian present and likely dystopian future. This at a time of climate and planetary crisis that calls for greater solidarity between nations, not less. While the mainstream media in the hands of the rich and powerful bamboozled many, the deeper problem lies with the age-old deception of peace through sovereign power that darkens all our perceptions. This deception has so deeply infused, colonised and subsumed our mindsets with the toxins of empire that is nearly impossible to penetrate such darkness with ordinary language.

I recently discovered Terry Brooks’ Shannara fantasies which I’m appreciating immensely.

For the unitiated, they explore a not unlikely dystopian future through the genre of fantasy and faerie. I have long engaged with Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy, Tolkien’s Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, and I think I’ve read pretty much everything Stephen Lawhead has written. So unsurprisingly I am an avid fan of their earlier extraordinary muse, the ineffable George Macdonald. My hope is to make the next iteration of my political theology of love somewhere between faerie, fantasy, bibliography and historical novel. Nothing pretentious then!

There are at least two reasons why I like this genre:

1. The present is much more dystopian than we know

My research investigates and attempts with some success to explain how far the human race and history have strayed from love’s origins, at least in the history and backstory of the West. If you are unfamiliar with my work so far, please investigate my seminal academic work Church, Gospel and Empire: How the Politics of Sovereignty Impregnated the West; Wipf & Stock, 2011, or the shorter, easier The Fall of the Church; Wipf & Stock, 2013. https://wordery.com/search?term=Church%2C+Gospel+and+Empire; https://wordery.com/search?term=Mitchell%3A+The+Fall+of+the+Church. So much has been lost and so much that seems normal and natural for us is truly abnormal, unjust and inhumane.

2. Making sense is much more complex than it appears

So-called plain speaking, literal, rational, truth-telling are all too often the communications of blind leaders of the blind and the sounds of those with no ears to hear. Our failed social constructs, jig-saw puzzle-like mathēses or what Giorgio Agamben calls the Apparatus of our world, conceal the deep structural configuration of our shared being. For those with eyes to see and ears to hear this veil was pierced long ago with the incarnational language of soul and spirit that Jesus and his parables typified. I have for long used theological and academic language as an enlightening, unlocking toolset for those with the inclination, perseverance and skill set to understand. Some have grasped what I’m attempting to communicate, some have not. Now I’m hoping to provide another alternative. I will write some faerie stories. It will take some time to evolve, but I sense that the continuing new political space is calling for it.

Posted by: rogermitchell | January 5, 2020

NEW YEAR’S PRAYER

Here’s a poem for reflection as we take our leave of the first decade of the 21st century from my friend David Benjamin Blower, posted by permission.

For all the days and nights been and gone
This last orbit around our star 93 millions miles
And about it all are the everlasting arms
Arms to hold
Not to control
Though we sometimes prayed that they would  

For every step taken on this turning sphere
On soil, rock, grass and composting life
Over concrete and tar-mac,
Amidst the discarded packaging for expired mis-creations
Across Lino and mundane patterned carpets, and buzzing appliances
With purpose and misgivings, contentment and want, thrill and boredom
Wherever we have placed our feet
We stand on the horizon in the eyes of some far-away other
and beneath us and them are the everlasting arms  

For the gentle tasks of being
The cleaning, washing, sweeping and clipping back
And putting things from here to there
The lighting of fires and the warming of ovens
Cutting and measuring and folding with singing 
Or silence
Or the recorded voices of others somewhere and sometime else
With many thoughts and cares
Or with spacious hearts open to the merry wind
Amidst all these – and they are a dance 
Amidst all these are the everlasting arms  

For all the struggling and rushing against time
And bags, and keys and tasks
From necessity, or from the wearying chain of command,
Or from the restlessness of gut and heart
In Sysyphan futility with aching bones
With no margin between work and sleep
And sleep and work
Because, why?
And Why? Because
And ever present to the often hollow beating drum are the everlasting arms  

For every moment we looked up at the day lit sky
To be with its plain light
To stop time for a moment and to be in all of it at once
By being out of it all for a moment
For all the silent drifting clouds, that say nothing, but know
For all that birds that flew by, knowing nothing, but were just were
For all the trees reaching upwards, truthful and content
Through them all are the everlasting arms  

For all the talk and noise around tables and desks 
And smoke and drink
Shouting against road traffic
Into phones and screens 
Stood with coffees in old halls
Sideways amidst sounds and voices and infants
Talking and shifting weight between the many threads of it all
Musical, joyous, noisy, saturating, ringing and tiring
 
For all the words shared with the other with care and thought
eyes into eyes and silences held
Shoulder to shoulder 
Guts uncoiled into landscapes
and breathing to the slow core
Bread broken and drink taken
Here too are the everlasting arms  

For every one of our given thoughts and gestures thrown back to us
Or passed by as a nothingness, unheard
For the closed down spaces and thoughtless encroachments
Or the outright theft of place and presence by belligerent will 
Who knew what they were doing
Or did not know
Or both somehow at once
Amidst all of this are the everlasting arms  

For every careless mark we made
And every dent we left behind us
For the ones we left feeling heavier than when we found them
left lighter headed and ringing with the sound of us
For when we knew it, and when we wandered off unaware and hapless
Present to all these are the everlasting arms  

For the numbing hollow granite gut
The heart gone hard and cold, the knot
The breath that goes in and out from some hellish nowhere
Where nothing has its mooring
And everything calls to nothing and stares vacantly
Here in hell too, weak, immoveably present, are the everlasting arms

For every room we closed the door
And slid backs down it to the ground
To place heads in hands and fall apart unseen
For the rare howl and bellow into pillows
Into the nights, the earth, the elements
Faces lodged in elbow crooks to calm
And gentle about us always the everlasting arms  

For the days and the times when we have
Sailed our broken boats close to the edge of the world
Because, so the wind lead us, and we needed to feel and to know it
Dubious, fey, mad,
Gambling with God, who seems also to gamble madly everyday
And when we went over the edge into oblivion and dread 
And into new worlds beyond where there are healing tears
Here also are the everlasting arms  

For the moments we rested our attention on the stars
And were held by their wonder
Are they there for us, or are they just there?
We are lit by them either way
And they suspend the sound and the fury, 
And hold us for a time in deep time  

For all the days and nights been and gone
This last orbit around our star 
And the 93 millions miles next to come
And about all of this are the everlasting arms
Arms to hold
Not to control
Though we sometimes pray that they would
And yet, it is said, all things work somehow for the good.

Love, laughter and Wonder
DBB   
 
Posted by: rogermitchell | November 25, 2019

Climate Change and Assembly

My friend David Benjamin Blower is one of the most awake and insightful people I know. The latest piece from his Soil Journal [ https://tinyurl.com/voxqj5d ] is so relevant that I asked if I could include it as a guest blog here. Please reflect and comment:

THE ASSEMBLY 

Last week I spoke to the climate scientist Kevin Anderson. I asked him about the balance between making changes in our personal lives and calling for change from power. He responded by saying that the two are connected. He said top down and bottom up power are two sides of the same coin in the bigger vision. And he went on to describe the thready and echoey world that connects the two. 

The changes most of us can make in our lives are hardly significant in terms of carbon emissions, but, he said, we have to open up space for local dialogue. All the studies show that those conversations go nowhere if those having them aren’t practicing what they’re talking about. Everyone knows, if you’re not doing it you don’t really care.

Crucially, he said, dialogue about change must happen across social boundaries. Different groups and cultures need to find their way into the same room to talk and listen and imagine: the old with the young, the privileged with the powerless, the religious and the not-religious, this religion and that one. These are rare scenarios. We need gatherings. We need assemblies.

A few days earlier, I’d been hosting a conversation near Hastings about the ekklesia. This greek word means assembly or gathering. From about 600BC there was a regular ekklesia in Athens. Male citizens would gather to discuss and vote on matters of the city. The first century messianics adopted the term for their own gatherings, but they radicalised it: here the ekklesia was opened up to include women, slaves, immigrants, religious difference… everyone. And they kept the practice of all eating round the same table a meal of rememberence for a murdered peasant messiah. This was a way of recognising the seeds of hope, not among the powerful, but among the oppressed.

Their ekklesia was a diverse assembly, gathered around the suffering of the world, in order to reimagine a different kind of future.

In the New Testament the word ekklesia is translated church. I don’t think this is quite the right word. The etymology of church goes back to the greek Kyriakon, which means House of the Lord. So while ekklesia is civic, kyriakon is religious. While ekklesia is the language of dialogue where the collective understanding of the people is expressed through the voice and participation of all, kyriakon is the language of temple, where the way is expressed through its priesthood, to the people. Ekklesia is a sort of pop-up flash-mob phenomenon, made up of people who gather and then disperse. Kyriakon is an unmoving object, a house, a building. Crucially, kyriakon is a place, but ekklesia is a space.

I’m oddly enthusiastic about churches, temples and religion, actually. Ekklesia might even happen in such places. But these two ideas are not quite the same thing. Today we need the ekklesia, like never before: diverse assemblies, gathered around the suffering of the world, in order to reimagine a different kind of future.

I’ll resist making a lot of defensive clarifications (as we always want to when prodding religious language). You can email me if you want them. I also want to hear about the unexpected places you’ve encountered these kinds of ekklesia spaces.

Posted by: rogermitchell | November 6, 2019

Economics at the end of Christendom

Today a visitor to my blog found this post that I wrote eight years ago in the early stages of the current crisis of the Western system. On reading it I have decided to reblog it. It struck a chord then, and I have a feeling that it will continue to do so even more loudly now that austerity, Brexit and Trump’s America have ensued. It was written specifically with the Christian faith community in mind, depite the fact that as my research shows the wrong turns taken by that community in its history are hugely responsible for the negative direction taken by the Western economic system. Those with the greatest culpability, by my understanding, have the greatest responsibility to change direction and work alongside those who have the overall wellbeing of the family of humanity in view. We need to inseminate the economics of our cities and regions with the politics of love as the nation state and the Western political system continues its terminal decline. This what I and many of my love-activist friends are now up to our eyes in.* And a well as informing this, this repeated post will hopefully concentrate our minds as we approach the coming election.

I am not an economist, but my research** does have profound implications for our contemporary Western economic system. These are both negative and positive. Negative in the sense that it reveals that the origin of Western capitalism, whether or not tempered by social justice considerations, lies in the church’s erroneous embrace of sovereign power as the means to the promised kingdom of God. As a result it is primarily about preserving the power of the powerful. Positive in the sense that an economics  reconfigured on the testimony of Jesus, or what I term kenarchy, rejects the power of profit and makes love and gift the motive for the utilisation of human and natural resources in business and industry. These can, and in some cases already do, grow up alongside the decomposing Western system.

I suggest that four things follow in each case:

Negatively

(i) Money as we now have it is actually a device invented in the seventeenth century when actual gold and silver were lent to the newly emerging nation state in order to pay for war, under cover of which promissory notes for the same amount were printed and used as currency to lend to entrepreneurs.

(ii) The currency that this produced is not actual money but the token of a promise to pay off the debt for the amount written on it. It follows that when this money is again borrowed, it is really debt that is being borrowed. The shift to electronic transactions has further obscured this, but has not altered it.

(iii) All this debt is secured against the necessary profitability of the nation state and the tax returns from the business it facilitates. This, in turn, is based solely on the profits obtained from exploiting the labour skills of human life, or biopower, combined together with the diminishing finite resources of the planet.

(iv) This economic system is coming to an end as the nation state, created by the partnership of church and empire, is increasingly breaking down under the strain of securing the debt. At the same time the planet is less and less able to endure the resultant exploitation and the consumption of human life is becoming increasingly unbearable.

Positively

(i) The primary purpose of business and industry is to supply the needs of the multitude by and for love and gift, not to make a profit in order to hold on to or acquire power.

ii) The implication of the incarnation, affirmed by the resurrection, is that the gifts of human life and creation, applied by faith, can supply the needs of the multitude.

(iii) The current decaying and imploding Western economic system needs to be fully exposed and a new way of life seeded alongside the weeds of capitalism by acts of love and gift. The resurrection of Jesus is the first fruit and clarion call for this.

(iv) It is time to be intensely practical. My research considers past attempts at economic alternatives from the developing Western system in its past history. These include the bold innovations of Joachim of Fiore and Francis of Assisi in the 12th and 13th centuries, and the reappropriation of land by Gerard Winstanley and William Penn’s ‘holy experiment’ in what became Pennsylvania in the 17th century. There are many other past initiatives which need to be disclosed and learnt from. More importantly we need to discover, explore and encourage ongoing and new initiatives.

Clearly these positive points need practical development, and I acknowledge that it is sometimes easier to analyse what is wrong than devise practical alternatives. But I believe that we have now arrived at a point when this is now both possible and imperative. It is part of the purpose of the last three generations of renewal and is the intercessory political action that forerunners are called to right now. So discussion, experimentation and the evaluation of existing attempts to initiate an economics of love and gift is all part of the action that this blog is calling for. Please interact!

*If you have time, take look at some of the Love Economics material from our recent Morecambe By Conversations on a culture of love and kindness https://reimagininghealth.com/love-economics-part-1/ ; https://reimagininghealth.com/love-economics-part-2/ https://reimagininghealth.com/love-economics-part-4/

**For those unfamiliar with my research, the academic thesis is published as Church, Gospel and Empire: How the Politics of Sovereignty Impregnated the West. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 2011. https://wordery.com/search?term=Roger+Haydon+Mitchell%3A+Church%2C+Gospel+and+Empire

A more accessible shorter presentation can be found in The Fall of The Church. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 2012.https://wordery.com/search?term=Roger+Haydon+Mitchell%3A+The+Fall+of+the+Church

Posted by: rogermitchell | October 25, 2019

Love and Democracy (4): Anglican Political Theology

Thank you for patiently waiting for me to return to my work on Luke Bretherton’s extraordinary book Christ and the Common Life: Political Theology and the Case for Democracy.

Chapter Six on Anglicanism is, in my view, a very important one. It demonstrates that Anglicanism, and particularly the Church of England, is a contemporary example of how God works within the fallen partnership of the people of God and empire. God does not give up on his people but works with them, partnering with their gifts and abilities to redeem their foolish mistakes from within the mishapen, broken and judged systems that they make for themselves. This, as I have argued over and again on this blog and in my various publications, is the story of the human race, the story of Israel and the story of the Western Church since the 4th century CE. Bretherton recognises that this is also true for Anglicanism in his introduction to the chapter when he states clearly that in contrast to Black Power and Pentecostalism, Anglican political theology “assumes the possession of power”. What he doesn’t say explicitly is that this is imperial power rather than kenotic power, but clearly it is. In this context Anglican political theology is positioned from the sixteenth century onwards as a response to the enlightenment and modernity and its rationalistic challenge to the entitled establishment that Christendom constituted and the Anglican Church maintained. Bretherton lists poets and novelists such as George Herbert, Jonathan Swift, Anthony Trollope, and Dorothy Sayers alongside historians such as Thomas Macaulay, R.H. Tawney and Maurice Cowling as exemplars of Anglican political theology with Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s work as particularly so and theologian Richard Hooker a key founding figure.

Luke summarises Anglican political theology as a contemplative pragmatism holding together the tension between continuity and change, focusing on sociality and plurality, to provide a modern social imaginary based on a particular understanding of God’s benovolent action in history.

It seems to me that this tension is key to understanding the unique contribution of Anglican political theology because it is a kind of double tension. Continuity is necessary both to hold onto the past reality of the Jesus story while maintaining the power base of the empire partnership. Similarly, change is necessary both to maintain the imperial power base despite the modernization happening around it but also to embody and promote the radical change that is essential to the coming fulness of the kingdom of God. For me, as someone relatively unfamiliar with Anglican liturgy, this crucial tension became vividly apparent at the colloquium I attended at Lambeth Palace to celebrate and promote the publication of Luke’s book. At the end of the day the participants had the opportunity to attend evening prayer together at the palace. The palace’s grandeur was the setting for the Anglican liturgy of Evensong and marked the extreme tension between the prayer for the Queen and the established authorities and the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer and the Magnificat. A totally different kind of kingdom to the United Kingdom was prayed for and the displacement of the mighty from their thrones and the elevation of the humble was announced. It brought home to me very powerfully the tension inherent in the Church of England’s assertion of the sovereign power of the Queen and governmental authorities while daily moving for the emptying out of sovereign power and the paradoxical intercessory insertion of the kingdom of God! Anglicanism is both wonderful and awful! For those of us who work outside Anglicanism but in the inevitability of other fallen systems this tension is a crucial one to practice. I have described something like this as the rhythm of kenarchy in Discovering Kenarchy: Contemporary Resources for the Politics of Love. (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 2014).

In the blog piece I wrote for AltVisions earlier this year I spelt out the necessary task of emptying out sovereignty from within: katargēsing law, monarchy and temple and reconfiguring the mythology of incarnation and trinity (Inseminating Love. http://altvisions.org/inseminating-love-recovering-christian-myths-for-deep-structural-political-interventions). It seems to me that the task of emptying out sovereign power from within the sovereignty system and inseminating the kenotic kingdom of God instead is the Church of England’s primary calling right now, and its increasingly marginalised role will make it easier not harder. Hopefully Anthony Reddie’s work on Theologising Brexit that I have explored in the previous two posts and my review of which has been published today on the William Temple Foundation blog will help encourage this! https://williamtemplefoundation.org.uk/blog-theologising-brexit/

Posted by: rogermitchell | September 21, 2019

Theologising Brexit (2)

In the previous post I gave an overview of the first five chapters of Professor Anthony Reddie’s book Theologising Brexit which provides a new window through which to view the apparently binary national division that the 2016 EU referendum has exposed.

Here we look at the five chapters which make up parts two and three of Reddy’s prophetic book, entitled “Responding to the Challenge” and “The Critical Challenge of the Other.” By presenting a Black liberationist theological perspective from the Windrush generation of African-Caribbean English he shows how White British patriarchy not only undergirds the Brexit vote but a great deal of our culture and identity. He is, as he concludes, benignly ambivalent about the European Union, but is convinced that Brexit has exposed the racist and xenophobic underbelly of Britain and particularly the English. As he puts it, “This text is a radical challenge to White Christianity to do and be better! It is a challenge to live out the radical, egalitarian dimensions of the trans-national identity of the gospel of Jesus Christ that calls us to love our neighbours as we ourselves would want to be loved.”

Responding to the Challenge

In Chapter Six he tackles head on the hermeneutical problems associated with systemic frameworks that assert particular practices and ideas as normative. This involves a very interesting and clear overview of Black Christianity and the Bible in Britain. He notes the way that many Black majority churches remain wedded to a form of nineteenth century White evangelical biblicism. This is of course, as he recognises, equally true of swathes of contemporary evangelical, charismatic and pentecostal churches generally. Those familiar with my own work will know how unhelpful I also find this approach, bringing as it does unconscious perspectives on God, the church and the world which are rooted in the Christendom partnership of Church and empire. Reddie’s alternative to this is a two-fold hermeneutic in which the sacredness of Black bodies and the realities of Black suffering and struggle provide the lens through which to exegete the scriptures. I would wish to root this in a specifically Jesus hermeneutic, of course, but it provides a crucial supplement. Chapter Seven demonstrates the attempt by Black theology to offer transformative methods of education such as Paulo Freire’s concept of conscientization through which poor and oppressed people become politically aware of the dehumanising circumstance in which they live. As Reddie puts it, “it is essential to critique the overarching power of White top-down knowledge that underpinned the Brexit process.” He also outlines a variety of games and role play which can be used to expose the belief that Britain is a de facto White nation that constructs identity on Whiteness. “When politicians speak of effecting good ‘race -relations’, that is always predicated on the basis that the number of non-White people needs to be controlled and non-White immigration into the country neds to be limited. In effect, good race-relations always means less Black people, Asian people and others who can be readily identified as ‘not one of us.'”

The Critical Challenge of the Other

Chapter Eight offers three critiques of normative White British culture; Rastafari theology, Black theology and Womanist theology. Whatever we ultimately make of these, can I emphasise right away that alternative lenses of an honourable ‘Other’ can only help us forward toward overall wellbeing. We need help to undo what for many of us is a still persisting subconscious or unconscious patriarchal, White majority expectation of our national future. Just as Luke Bretherton’s draw on Black Power as a source for democratic common life that we looked at in the previous posts on Christ and the Common Life gave us important insights, the same is the case with Reddie’s recourse to Rastafari. While clearly distinct from mainstream Christianity because of its central revelation based on the association of the coronation of the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie with the second coming of Christ, it represents a significant form of Black religio-cultural resistance to British Nationalism and White supremacy in the United Kingdom. Reddie sees this form of resistance as complementary to Black theology which while more focused on Jesus specifically interprets the meaning of the incarnation through the experiences and activity of Black people in contemporary Britain. This is substantially complemented by Black Womanist theology which uses the experience of Black women as a further lens to challenge the contemporary tripartite ills of racism, sexism and classism.

Chapter Nine is one of the most innovative chapters of the book, bringing together as it does Caribbean theology with cricket and the socialism of Fidel Castro. This is of course extremely topical in the light of the oppression and deportation of some of the original British Caribbean elders since the EU referendum. Entitled “Doing It Our Way” the chapter is a wonderful demonstration of the gift of the Windrush generation to British life and culture. It combines the post-colonial focus of Caribbean theology with the ability of Caribbean cricketing legends to act creatively outside the box and the inspiration of Castro’s socialism. The impact is to provide a transnational, Black Atlantic, anti-Brexit focused theological rationale for empowering those who are othered in the body politic of postcolonial Britain. Finally, Chapter Ten, entitled “Telling the Truth and Shaming the Devil” outlines the way in which the complex identities of diasporan African peoples in Britain, informed by postcolonial theologies, can give rise to hermeneutical tools for prophetic truth telling. Drawing on the anecdotal wisdom and story telling of an earlier generation of Caribbean grandmothers and its interface with the existential threat of the oppressive and retributive power of English colonialism and empire, it provides a splendid context to the recent prophetic sense that the redemptive gift of Britain to the rest of Europe and the world is as an edgy grandmother!

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