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Source: (consider it) Thread: Was Jesus a community organizer?
Fish and Bread
Apprentice
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Link:

https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/simply-spirit/was-jesus-community-organizer

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Ian Climacus

Liturgical Slattern
# 944

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Who knows?

Though I know I find this a strange article...

The mantra-like repeating of "dominator system", the "I believe we are at new moment on our journey into God's just reign" (just like 100s of times before...), the "deep well of Jesus' mysterious Spirit-energy" -- not sure if I'm reading some new age mantra -- and the odd "we may at last see the Gospel in our government" -- I doubt any government has reflected, or will reflect, the Gospel.

Or perhaps I'm just incredibly jaded with politics. And activism to some extent. By all means we need to try and make a difference and stand up for the persecuted, oppressed and forgotten; but it seems to do fuck all at times. And thinking we are ushering in a new age (<sings>of Aquarius</sings>) seems a bit foolish.

[ 29. May 2017, 19:38: Message edited by: Ian Climacus ]

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mousethief

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# 953

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I think that's reading something that exists in our particular type of society back into a society where it just doesn't make sense.

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Ian Climacus:
Who knows?

Though I know I find this a strange article...

The mantra-like repeating of "dominator system", the "I believe we are at new moment on our journey into God's just reign" (just like 100s of times before...), the "deep well of Jesus' mysterious Spirit-energy" -- not sure if I'm reading some new age mantra -- and the odd "we may at last see the Gospel in our government" -- I doubt any government has reflected, or will reflect, the Gospel.

Or perhaps I'm just incredibly jaded with politics. And activism to some extent. By all means we need to try and make a difference and stand up for the persecuted, oppressed and forgotten; but it seems to do fuck all at times. And thinking we are ushering in a new age (<sings>of Aquarius</sings>) seems a bit foolish.

It's not a new age mantra, it's parroting Walter Wink's excellent book (quoted in the article) The Powers that Be but is missing the depth, nuance, and substance. It seems like the author has only done a superficial perusal of the book rather than really taking the time to read and understand Wink's thesis.

I'm a huge fan of Wink's work, which has been very influential in my left-wing evangelical spheres. I would agree with Wink (and the article) about the "domination systems" which are an essential part of the human condition-- not just now, but since the beginning of time. Wink (rightly, I think) identifies this as the "powers that be" in Eph. 6. I would agree with Wink that Jesus is calling us to be "part of the resistance"-- in the power of the Spirit to be working to further God's Kingdom thru non-violent opposition to injustice, oppression, violence, and suffering. But I would agree with Ian Climacus that the article is waaaaay too chirpy about that. Had the author really read Wink, he'd see Wink describing how this resistance may very well lead to our death-- something Wink himself experienced. You don't get a lot of chirpy happy-clappy optimism in Wink's work-- he is quite clear that you are engaging not just human powers, but demonic systems, and that this will be a very very costly battle to be waged only with "the weapons of the Spirit". The author seems to be missing ALL of that nuance.

And, no, to my recollection Wink never used the term "community organizer" to refer to Jesus. I would agree with mousethief that sounds like a reading of modern issues into the ancient era. I suspect the author didn't really literally mean "community organizer" but was using a sort of American insider shorthand. In the US, ever since 2008 when Sarah Palin sneered at Barack Obama's experience as a "community organizer"-- suggesting it's not a "real job"-- "community organizer" has become sort of slang for "lefty". I think the author is meaning to suggest that Jesus was a Democrat. Which, of course, is just as superficial and eisegetical as "community organizer". I do think the values/agenda of the current American Democratic party is closer to Jesus' values/agenda than that of the current American GOP, but that's a pretty low bar. A bit like saying "a gnat is closer to a grizzly bear than a piece of cheese."

So, while I would share the author's appreciation for Walter Wink and the pursuit of justice, I'd like to see the author go back and read the book a bit more closely and thoughtfully.

[ 29. May 2017, 20:16: Message edited by: cliffdweller ]

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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Ian Climacus

Liturgical Slattern
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I had never heard of Walter Wink; might seek him out. Thank you for your reflections and thoughts.

Despite my concerns on the article, I did like the comments on Wink's "working for transformation". I just found the rest, well, odd.

[ 29. May 2017, 20:22: Message edited by: Ian Climacus ]

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Ian Climacus:
I had never heard of Walter Wink; might seek him out. Thank you for your reflections and thoughts.

Despite my concerns on the article, I did like the comments on Wink's "working for transformation". I just found the rest, well, odd.

Yeah, I think that's spot on. Wink is profound, challenging, thoughtful. The article reads like a high school essay written the night before the assignment was due, after skimming thru the Cliff Notes version of Wink's book.

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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Alan Cresswell

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# 31

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Wink is not a particularly easy read. But, well worth the effort.

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Don't Brexit if you haven't a scooby how to fix it.

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Pigwidgeon

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[tangent] I've never read anything of Walter Wink's, but I helped him move once (and enjoyed a picnic dinner on the floor of his not-quite-moved-in living room). That was over 40 years ago. [/tangent]

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Don't keep calm. Go change the world.

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Brenda Clough
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# 18061

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In 2008, you will recall that former community organizer Barack Obama and Senator Joe Biden were running against Senator John McCain and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. The joke at that time was that Jesus was a community organizer, and Pontius Pilate was a governor.

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Science fiction and fantasy writer with a Patreon page

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Pigwidgeon:
[tangent] I've never read anything of Walter Wink's, but I helped him move once (and enjoyed a picnic dinner on the floor of his not-quite-moved-in living room). That was over 40 years ago. [/tangent]

That's super cool! But how in 40 yrs since that close encounter have you not read his work?!?

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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Barnabas62
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Wink's writings are great! Well worth the reading work, on this topic and others.

Also worth a read in this context is Jim Wallis's 'God's Politics. Why the Right gets it wrong and the Left doesn't get it'.

A good vicar friend once advised me that Christianity transcended both the politics of the Left and of the Right, since the sayings and teachings of Jesus provided unique insights into personal morality and responsibilities, social morality and responsibilities, and the relationships between the two. And so were both supportive and challenging to any politics which would overemphasise one and discount the other.

That feels like a good summary to me. There is no reason why a good community organiser cannot also be good and helpful re both of those dimensions. But, leaving aside the anachronistic point, I think Jesus's mission and actions transcended the modern role of community organiser, though it did include some features commonly associated with that role.

[ 30. May 2017, 09:25: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

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Martin60
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# 368

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cliffdweller, just to be quite clear, by 'he is quite clear that you are engaging not just human powers, but demonic systems, and that this will be a very very costly battle to be waged only with "the weapons of the Spirit".' to Wink, unlike Boyd, these demonic systems are everything but fallen angels. They emerge from human social interaction.

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Love wins

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simontoad
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# 18096

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Wink has a substantial body of work, I note from a quick google search. Where should one start? Please, be gentle with me. I find it easier to read history than philosophy.

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Human

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Martin60
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# 368

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I like Roger Olson's take. He recommends The Powers That Be.

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Love wins

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Doone
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Thanks for the links, Martin, definitely worth a read!
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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
cliffdweller, just to be quite clear, by 'he is quite clear that you are engaging not just human powers, but demonic systems, and that this will be a very very costly battle to be waged only with "the weapons of the Spirit".' to Wink, unlike Boyd, these demonic systems are everything but fallen angels. They emerge from human social interaction.

I think that's a bit overstated-- for Wink the "myth of redemptive violence" is innate sin-- the "original sin" of sorts. So it's more than just the result of particular human sinful choices but rather a force, an underlying demonic System. Something more powerful than mere humans and bigger than just bad people doing bad things.

Otoh to your point Wink dies not seem to personify evil in the same way the "spiritual warfare"/ "demon under every bed" folks do. For Kraft and the spiritual wayfarer folks, it's about individuals possessed by individual personified demons. For Wink it's more about the way whole systems being corrupted by a more generalized (but still not human) evil force

Boyd is sorta in the middle, encompassing both positions but closer to Wink than Kraft. His acknowledges more the totality of the corruption of creation, manifested in various ways/places.

[ 30. May 2017, 14:30: Message edited by: cliffdweller ]

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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Martin60
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Emergence from synergy in other words. There's nothing overstated about that. Period. Or with regard to anything Wink ever said. Individual human sin - the impulse to violence, the abuse of power in any and all of its forms - is not a system. Two humans in any relationship is the beginnings of such a synergistic, emergent system. All human groups are entities with synergistic, emergent properties which are often utterly terrifying and at least disempowering. No actual fallen angel required.

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Love wins

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cliffdweller
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sorry, that should be "spiritual warfare" folks, not "wayfarer". Dang autocorrect is clearly part of that demonic system.

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by cliffdweller:
In the US, ever since 2008 when Sarah Palin sneered at Barack Obama's experience as a "community organizer"-- suggesting it's not a "real job"-- "community organizer" has become sort of slang for "lefty".

I don't think I have a good read on what "community organizer" actually means in American parlance - it has always scanned to me rather as "self-appointed busybody", which doesn't seem to be quite the intent.
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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
quote:
Originally posted by cliffdweller:
In the US, ever since 2008 when Sarah Palin sneered at Barack Obama's experience as a "community organizer"-- suggesting it's not a "real job"-- "community organizer" has become sort of slang for "lefty".

I don't think I have a good read on what "community organizer" actually means in American parlance - it has always scanned to me rather as "self-appointed busybody", which doesn't seem to be quite the intent.
That was certainly the way Palin was trying to spin it-- and I would say successfully among conservative circles.

But in actual usage and as exemplified by Obama's work in Chicago it's generally a paid, professional position-- either with a local government agency or with a non-profit-- working on community development-- doing things like improve education, address affordable housing, increase employment, decrease crime, work on gang diversion, that sort of thing. As an "urban ministries pastor" (outdated and problematic term) I work with a number of community organizers in my city, particularly in the area of reducing homelessness. It is indeed a vital and important role, but dismissed by many conservatives as mere rabble-rousing.

So "Jesus as community organizer" is probably a better fit than "Jesus as CEO" (an actual book). But still rather eisegetical/ anachronistic.

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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leo
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Good article.

Jesus built an ekklesia = community - smaller than an agora = public forum, larger than an oikos = household.

[ 30. May 2017, 17:52: Message edited by: leo ]

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My Jewish-positive lectionary blog is at http://recognisingjewishrootsinthelectionary.wordpress.com/
My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by cliffdweller:

But in actual usage and as exemplified by Obama's work in Chicago it's generally a paid, professional position-- either with a local government agency or with a non-profit-- working on community development

I see. So it's a paid position in service to the local community - something a bit like a social worker or outreach worker - but with a name that gives the impression that it's a person who is a "community leader"?
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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
quote:
Originally posted by cliffdweller:

But in actual usage and as exemplified by Obama's work in Chicago it's generally a paid, professional position-- either with a local government agency or with a non-profit-- working on community development

I see. So it's a paid position in service to the local community - something a bit like a social worker or outreach worker - but with a name that gives the impression that it's a person who is a "community leader"?
Well, generally they ARE a community leader-- not just a "impression" of such. It's hard to do community development w/o some degree of leadership ability. And they are usually organizing the community to accomplish common goals.

[ 31. May 2017, 01:58: Message edited by: cliffdweller ]

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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simontoad
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# 18096

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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
I like Roger Olson's take. He recommends The Powers That Be.

Cheers Martin

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Human

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by simontoad:
quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
I like Roger Olson's take. He recommends The Powers That Be.

Cheers Martin
Yes, a very clear and concise summary of both the many similarities as well as the differences between Wink and Boyd's view. (fyi: Olson is one of the leaders/original founders of the Open Theism movement, of which Boyd is currently probably the leading theologian). Boyd is definitely and explicitly drawing from Wink's work, but also carving out a middle ground between Kraft (seeing the "powers that be" as real, personified demons acting individually on individual persons) and Wink (seeing the "powers that be" as a generalized force for evil corrupting systems & institutions). Boyd is calling more for a "both/and" approach which recognizes the full extent of evil in our world impacting us both individually and corporately.

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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