God's Politics

God's Politics


Rose Marie Berger: Davos, Meet Nairobi

posted by gp_intern

“God weeps,” Archbishop Tutu told participants in the ecumenical gathering near the conclusion of the World Social Forum in Nairobi, “and says, ‘Who will help me so we can have a different kind of world, one in which the rich know they have been given much so they can share and help others?'” More than 50,000 community activists, social reformers, religious leaders, and movers and shakers met at the seventh World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya, this January to compare strategies on transforming global economic systems to benefit the majority world, rather than maintaining economic systems that produce immoral disparities: one percent of the world’s adults owns 40 percent of the world’s wealth, while the bottom half combined owns less than one percent.

The World Social Forum was launched as a counterpoint to the annual gathering of the world’s power elites at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. But lately there’s been a hint of cross-fertilization between the two. With changes at Davos that allow religious and moral leaders to challenge the priorities of business and political leaders, and changes at the World Social Forum to promote effective and efficient collaboration between grassroots activists, legislators, and the business community, maybe another world really is possible.

In one small example, Catholic Jesuits from across Africa brought a whole delegation to the WSF from their ministries and communities. They offered a seminar on the theme “Social Transformation in Africa: an Ethical Face,” which included this focus on advocacy in the context of Catholic teaching:

1) Advocacy deals with structures of power and decision; it must be critical and constructive towards the people we challenge, and at the same time avoid confrontation.
2) Advocacy should facilitate the building of communities and this is a value in itself; we communicate and campaign in community.
3) It must always be done from the perspective of the oppressed and excluded and promote a value-based leadership.
4) It involves study, research and analysis – a contemplative vision of the world leading to radical action.
5) It is based on the rich tradition of Catholic social teaching; for example, on the principle that the goods of creation are meant for the benefit of all.
6) It implies discernment.
7) Advocacy is relational, and involves thinking, feeling, and action.


Rose Marie Berger, a Sojourners associate editor, is a Catholic peace activist and poet.



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Kris Weinschenker

posted January 29, 2007 at 5:42 pm


If “religious and moral leaders” truly think they are affecting the “priorities” of business and political leaders, they are deluding themselves.Business’s first priority is to make money. No amount of influence by Christians will affect that priority. Same goes for Political leaders, who first priority is to maintain power. The ONLY type of influence that Christians can affect on these people is to lead them to Christ.



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mingus

posted January 29, 2007 at 7:25 pm


“The ONLY type of influence that Christians can affect on these people is to lead them to Christ.” this is where i see modern evangelical christianity as having gone wrong. in the bible, we see Christ healing the sick, washing the feet of his brothers, befriending prostitutes, *literally* changing people’s lives for the better. these acts didn’t come out of some legalistic notion of leading people to Him – they came out of the profound and unimaginable love of God. Christ showed us how to love others. if our primary goal is to “lead people to Christ”, we are missing the mark. our goal should be to demonstrate in a tangible way the profound love of God. yes, leading people to Christ is a wonderful thing. but how to do this? i would argue that we do this by washing the feet of our brothers and sisters, by loving them with all of our heart. social and financial advocacy are an essential part of this.



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Andrea

posted January 29, 2007 at 7:58 pm


I guess my argument with the world social forum is not its intent or philosophy, but the kind o false dichotomy these types of events reinforce. Basically, having a social rather than economic forum automatically sets up the rational versus feeling argument. While the same issues with economic implications are inextricably linked to social justice, by naming it a World SOCIAL Forum, don’t you think it sets itself up to be marginalized and subordinated. However, I do see as a feminist how the soical and communiaction versus war and so-called patriachal paradigms make us all skeptical of how much dealing with socail jsutice can seriously impact economic empowerment and issues like debt cancelation or the WTO.



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kevin s.

posted January 29, 2007 at 9:44 pm


Mingus,You contradict yourself. You say that Jesus did not practice loving acts in order to lead people to him. Then, you go on to say that the best way to lead people to Christ is through acts of love.To separate Christ’s acts from his commands for us to follow him is not in keeping with Christ’s vision. The great commission was for us to spread the word of God first and foremost. I don’t consider that legalistic.



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Payshun

posted January 29, 2007 at 10:55 pm


No Kevin you are wrong. The great commission is first and foremost an disciple making mission. it’s goal is not to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth and that’s it. It’s goal first and foremost is to make disciples from every nation of the world. Spreading it must come w/ the goal of making disciples. p



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mingus

posted January 29, 2007 at 11:03 pm


it’s subtle, kevin, yes. but not contradictory. Christ didn’t heal the sick and feed the poor to “win them over”. he did so out of pure love. “winning someone to Christ”, without truly loving that person first and foremost, is simply an act. we are brought to God not by actions, but by the love demonstrated by Christ *both* on earth and on the cross. a love that we are commissioned to spread throughout the earth. spreading the gospel is not about being good at debate, it’s about spreading the love of Christ. what is the “word of God” if not LOVE?



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Payshun

posted January 29, 2007 at 11:13 pm


I love the section on Advocay. I thought that was really helpful. I think i need to add that to my theology about social uplift. p



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timks

posted January 29, 2007 at 11:18 pm


mingus, kevin and payshun: I can’t argue that anything Christ did was not out of pure love, but we can’t ignore the teaching from Scripture that many of the healings and feedings he did were also to provide testimony that He was sent from the Father. In other words, “to win them over.” I don’t think we would disagree, would we? His works were not all primarily one thing but not another.



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timks

posted January 29, 2007 at 11:28 pm


I do have some problems with some of these points from Rose Marie Berger. Take #4: why must advocacy be limited to radical action? Is radical action therefore only to be associated with advocacy? I struggle with the phrase “a contemplative vision leading to radical action”, unless I misunderstand Berger’s use of the term “action”. #5: I think I agree with this one, but much more explicit definition is required. Confiscation of legally acquired private property could be justified otherwise. Also #7: all she has done is say that advocacy is a verb, when it is clearly a noun.



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mingus

posted January 30, 2007 at 1:21 am


maybe it’s a semantics thing, maybe i’m not clearly stating my thoughts. i certainly don’t mean to imply that introducing someone to Christ isn’t a noble and wonderful thing. but i don’t think it’s about how many converts we can win, i think it’s about spreading the love of Christ. seems like that’s where our true witness is. moreover, i often wonder whether, in our rush to “win them over”, we forget about the love part and in the end, do more to push people away from us than to Christ.



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Payshun

posted January 30, 2007 at 1:55 am


But that’s the thing. Christ’s was not about winning people over. he really did not care if people stayed and even told people to leave if it was that hard for them to follow. They did.It was a message to show more than that he was from the father (even though that is extemely important.) That’s the lowest common denominator as it were. Jesus message was much bigger and broader than what we have talked about so far. So let’s talk about it. what is the gospel. Oh and as a contemplative I love point 4. It’s beautiful and exactly what the gospel is about. p



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kevin s.

posted January 30, 2007 at 1:58 am


“The great commission is first and foremost an disciple making mission.” Which is impossible without spreading the word of God, which, in turn, is impossible without raising disciples and teaching people to obey God’s commands. Not sure how this distinction materially affects my point. “moreover, i often wonder whether, in our rush to “win them over”, we forget about the love part and in the end, do more to push people away from us than to Christ.” I certainly try not to do this. However, by the same token, we can get wrapped up in doing for people without ever really communicating the salvific power of Christ and the call to repentance required to experience it. Certainly, however, we need balance in our approach to the Gospel. I am not one to hand a spiritual tract to someone and tell them to “repent”. That’s ridiculous.



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Payshun

posted January 30, 2007 at 3:20 am


Kevin you said the goal of the gospel is to spread it. I said it was to make disciples. They are not the same thing at all. That’s the difference. You made a step in the process the goal while not stating the goal.Actually you can do one w/o the other. It’s really not that hard. Just look at the state of the American church. God doesn’t need us to spread his word. He doesn’t need us for anything. His desire is for us to be his hands so that the world will see that he loves.Contemplatives and mystics understand that people will come to you if the message is good. We live in an urban world where every nation is literally a 30 minute drive from my house. So if I want to witness to people I can drive down the street to parts of the city and dialogue w/ Chinese, Somalian, French… But it’s good to hear you won’t be throwing out tracts. You are right it’s really stupid. p



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timks

posted January 31, 2007 at 12:10 am


mingus, moreover, i often wonder whether, in our rush to “win them over”, we forget about the love part and in the end, do more to push people away from us than to Christ It sounds like what you are warning against is one’s approach or maybe one’s tone. The Gospel is the Good News about the love of Christ, but I don’t see how it is possible to tell others about that Love without mentioning the Biblical teachings as to its necessity: Sin and its deadly effects, both in the here and hereafter. This is the part that many hearers confuse with “not love”. By the same token it is the part that many preachers alienate with their judgementalism. O/T: I’ve been meaning to ask, is mingus your real name or is it chosen in reference to Charles Mingus?



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