BOTH PALLIATIVES AND CURATIVES IN THE SEARCH FOR A SACRED ECONOMY –
‘The neglect of Economics is a wound in the side of the church’ claimed an internationally recognised theological scholar. Its pithy precision struck me when I heard it in 2002. It neatly pinned down the reason for my part in industrial Chaplaincy undertaken for some 41 years before; and still driving me through the stimulating 11 years of ’ministry free of institutional drag’ since then. ‘The Kin[g]dom has outgrown the church’ said another scholar recently; that also touched a resonant chord.
In facing up to this challenging judgement in my critical loyalty to the Anglican Church, and hoping to make those charges redundant, I have had the privilege and opportunity of being Chair of the Common Council for Monetary Justice [CCMJ] for the last 16 years.
CCMJ has just passed and marked 50 years beyond its founding inspiration, the Dundee Report of the Scottish Congregational Union published in 1962 on ‘A Christian View of Wealth’, carrying a clearly identified conclusion that the system was fraudulent.
This milestone coincided with expanding international unrest about the effects of economic and corporate globalisation and the accelerating demise of, but also the slow rebirth in emergent contemporary ways of, ‘global consciousness.’ From the perspective of good faith and an incarnational sense of ‘that of God in everyone’ and everything, we are committed to appraising the systemic financial matters of reform for today and for the future.
In the spirit of inclusive structured justice, everyone needs a way out from their current position with dignity in the generation in which ‘a critical mass’ is emerging perhaps, at last, capable of moving towards global house-keeping in an inter-disciplinary ever-replenishing economy.
We believe that institutional transparency for all financial transactions is a necessity in a sound economy in order to engender trust as a basis for the route to more fundamental change. In this sense, we move forward by continuing to network, advising against dogma, encouraging tolerance for ambiguity in such complexity, throwing out all dogma to take back its good essence in poetry, and opting for more organic decision-making; given that the reforms we propose and see ways of effecting would have such a profound impact.
We do not have members, relying on mutual enabling, support and critique in a voluntary and open viral agency. Practically, we are presently consulting 185 associates, honestly and communally trawling our hopes and aspirations for a new commitment to our future thrust appropriate to the speed and the need for a new method in communication as the time for a fundamental change towards a replenishing economy hastens in upon us all.
The gift of planetary life points to the commons. ‘Commons – the vehicle for meeting all basic needs in the replenishing global economy in a roughly equal way – is being annexed and dissembled to serve a global market machine which treats nature as a brute commodity. Commoners become isolated individuals. Communities of commoners are splintered and reconstituted as armies of consumers and employees. The “unowned” resources of the commons are converted into the raw fodder for market production and sale – and every last drop of it has been monetised, the inevitable wastes of the market are dumped back into the commons. Government is dispatched to “mop up” the”externalities”, a task that is only irregularly fulfilled because it is so ancillary to neo-liberal priorities.
To counter this loss of perception of the gift economy, CCMJ has gathered wide experience in opening up critical dialogue with many individuals and agencies and tries therein to maintain suitable ways of mutual encouragement in tackling the importance of foundational matters that are exposed when we acknowledge that the money economy needs to be a subsystem of the bio-spheric commons. Thus:…………….
– Affirming the recovery of commons. – Land as gift and the political economy emerging from the implications of ‘God is embarrassed by possession’.
– The right distribution of economic surplus created by communities of human action – location value —‘The need to stop the cheating and share the rent’
– The arguments for and the implementation of a basic income “A contradiction lies at the heart of the great sadness of our civilisation that by using money we turn the world into it.” J. Buchan, ‘Frozen Desire’
– Publicly created money free of the insidious evil of usury [interest/exploitation] “Deny the wisdom of ending usury and the eco-system dies.” J Buchan – thus ‘Root out Usury’
– The ending of legal standing for corporations as person in law – ‘Corporate Watch’ offers evidence of both the need and the solution.
If I have aroused interest in structural approaches to inclusive justice, that is, to cures to be set in motion alongside so many heroic palliatives, then make further contact via firstname.lastname@example.org
It could be that SCM and CCMJ could move into more strategic collaboration for salving many of the huge inter-generational problems that confront us. They do confront us, whether we are in denial or not. And even if we are ‘pessimists of the intellect’, our faith requires, and our discipleship ensures, that we be ‘optimists of the will.’
Peter Challen, Chair, CCMJ
A pithy foot note:
A recent article struck a delightful chord in recalling a theological giant who well understood the power and tendency of institutions to neglect integrity. It ended: ‘Should Auld Aquinas be forgot…..’
Two thoughts in the background!!!!! : “Christian scholarship is the church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible [narrative], to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the bible narrative [of covenanted inclusive justice] coming too close.” Kierkegaard
Make for thyself a definition or description of the thing which is presented to thee, so as to see distinctly what kind of a thing it is, in its substance, in its nudity, in its complete entirety, and tell thyself its proper name, and the names of the things of which it has been compounded, and into which it will be resolved. For nothing is so productive of elevation of mind as to be able to examine methodically and truly every object which is presented to thee in life, and always to look at things so as to see at the same time what kind of universe this is, and what kind of use everything performs in it, and what value everything has with reference to the whole, and what with reference to man, who is a citizen of the highest city, of which all other cities are like families; what each thing is, and of what it is composed, and how long it is the nature of this thing to endure.—MARCUS AURELIUS ANTONINUS. 180