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  • Direction: Power and Practices: Engaging the Work of John Howard Yoder
    the limitations of Yoder s term revolutionary subordination Alexis Baker puts Yoder in dialogue with womanist theologians and helpfully outlines where Yoder s theology of the cross might be used as a tool in addressing the oppression of Black women Bourne presents Yoder s thoughts on the church s witness to the state with Foucault as a new conversation partner Analyzing legitimacy sovereignty and governmentality Bourne seeks to articulate how Yoder and Foucault can assist Christian communities in complex and appropriate analyses which can serve formulations of social and political critique and resistance that are communal relevant local non Constantinian but not powerless Philip Stoltzfus explores shortcomings in Yoder s writings challenging Mennonite theologians to take seriously the constructive theological task involving concepts of God Stolzfus argues that when using God Yoder avoids the critical carefulness he employs in conceptualizing a nonviolent ethic of Jesus for example and so allows for violent images of a vengeful God to persist For Stoltzfus Mennonite theologians can draw critically from Yoder as a theological resource but they also need to engage in corrective work where Yoder failed to propose imaginatively nonviolent symbols and concepts for God Paul Martens provides an intriguing critique of claims of consistency in Yoder s work analyzing important shifts in Yoder s writings from a strong Jesus centered social ethic to a later less particularly Christian position Investigating Yoder s interpretation of Jeremiah and his diverse conceptualizations of history Martens detects a shift from claiming Jesus life and death as definitional in the seeking of peace as patient endeavor to equating peace with the political and social salvation of culture in which the oppressed not necessarily Christian minority is the bearer of progress and change This line of thought in the late Yoder explains his attractiveness to secular political

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/39/2/power-and-practices-engaging-work-of.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Seek the Peace of the City: Christian Political Criticism as Public, Realist, and Transformative
    but a realist who understands that the material world is the place where history unfolds and in which Jesus still operates and moves Without living examples that embody this cosmological worldview there is little hope that others will see how radically Jesus has altered reality Thus Bourne argues that language about God at the very least describes the way things really are and at the most means that theological truth is truer than other truths Nonviolence reveals the way God is and thus analogically reveals the way the world runs despite the existence and influence of the fallen powers The most promising part of this book is Bourne s use of Foucault to deepen Yoder s theology Bourne states Just as just war thinkers would not sanction all violence neither does Yoder sanction all nonviolent strategies 126 Bourne s juxtaposition of Foucault and Yoder could help unpack that statement but differently than the path Bourne chooses to pursue Bourne notes for instance that Yoder insisted that pacifists accept the state s punishment for disobeying the law But surely Peter s jailbreak in Acts 12 complicates that picture I would suggest that Bourne s placing Foucault and Yoder as fellow travelers could have profound consequences on understanding the relationship between Christian pacifists and the state For Foucault the most effective way to govern a people is to subdivide them into various statistically monitored segments and redefine them as a population This mode of organization does not require an omnipotent and omniscient sovereign to force people into submission on the contrary such a sovereign has an incomplete statistical knowledge of the market place It requires administrative apparatus and internalized disciplinary processes so that violence becomes unnecessary because it is ineffective Thus the total system works to control and oppress in ways that

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/39/2/seek-peace-of-city-christian-political.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Living on Hope While Living in Babylon: The Christian Anarchists of the Twentieth Century
    all of whom would have embraced the label York displays the lives of each as a response to one element of the triple axis of evil materialism racism and militarism all of which are explicitly implicated in the logic of nation state Thus Catholic Workers Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin exemplified an alternative to capitalism through houses of hospitality and voluntary poverty Clarence Jordan and the Koinonia Farms community he founded in rural Georgia embodied a rejection of racism that went far beyond civil rights advocacy In fact Jordan s life was an implicit criticism of some elements of the civil rights movement that sought change within the political framework defined by the U S government He believed that the most direct action one could take was to first and foremost live the change sought 78 Because of their acts of resistance to militarism the Berrigan brothers Daniel and Philip were frequently imprisoned exposing the idolatry of American civil religion and exceptionalism By correlating biographies with a particular pathology of government power York successfully presents focused accounts of these persons without suggesting that their witness is limited to just one theme York has used the manuscript in his undergraduate classes and I would consider doing so in my own teaching The book introduces Christian discipleship in a clear and engaging fashion that is bound to provoke constructive discussion Nevertheless a thicker account of the lives and witness of Dorothy Day and the others would have strengthened the book as a whole I had hoped for a discussion of some of the conflicts within the Catholic Worker communities that emerged from their commitment to organize by anarchist principles or how radical communities make use of temporal goods of the earthly city such as the marketing within the capitalist system of the

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/39/2/living-on-hope-while-living-in-babylon.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Salvation and Sin: Augustine, Langland, and Fourteenth-Century Theology
    beings 7 albeit mixed with the earthly city Conversion is not an invisible purely inward movement but consists in church membership Indeed conversions are made and sustained by human mediations that constitute the body of Christ 12 Grace Aers reveals neither represses storied personality nor eliminates personal conflict with the past Divine agency is not an irresistible force that carries a person leaving behind struggle Despite conversion old habits and pleasures remain God s activity is prior but works with people to transform desires and evoke human agency Conversion is neither rivalrous competing agencies nor autonomous In short the processes of conversion disclose a double agency which is a sacrament a mystery 15 Because human agency is never eliminated the habits of rivalry and desires for honor will always be present in the church as an intermingled body hence the continual need within the church to convert Christ guides the process of conversion and delineates Christian life through his kenotic servanthood as both the goal and way for humanity Langland sees the extent to which sinful habits have carried on into the fourteenth century church Reading Langland through Augustine Aers exposes sin as social The community can deform individuals by instilling sinful habits even though the form of salvation is still social Langland uses the parable of the Samaritan and Semyuief the half dead man to illustrate the consequences of sin and the gradual healing of grace The church is in the place of the half dead man who both acts and is acted upon by Christ s gifts sacraments which free semyuief through the outflowing of double agency To act according to a free will separate from this double agency is a willed rejection of grace which remains as the freedom of unbelief This separation persists in the church

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/39/2/salvation-and-sin-augustine-langland-and.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: The Plot to Kill God: Findings From the Soviet Experiment in Secularization
    within a nation In the end he concludes that the plot failed God could not be killed Soviet leaders assumed that without state support adherence to Russian Orthodoxy in time would simply fade away and Lithuanian Roman Catholics and Central Asian Muslims would eventually be suppressed by state regulation Readers whose family history includes post Revolution experiences can attest to the brutality unleashed by Bolsheviks on faith communities However limiting the supply of formal religious experiences did not fully extinguish theological expression since many citizens continued to quietly celebrate religious holidays The Experiment responded by substituting secular holidays December 25 and 26 became Days of Industrialization that were celebrated with compulsory work Within texts used in Soviet wedding funeral and confirmation services the word the Proletariat replaced God Local parishes were replaced with cells aimed at preaching the new truth of scientific atheism ironically by employing neo evangelical tactics to secure converts By the 1970s churches and mosques were either shut down or ostensibly empty Leadership often was informal and training minimal Liturgical practices varied dramatically Muslims claimed their religious identity yet had lost their religious traditions and possessed limited knowledge of the critical pillars of their faith However Froese notes that while Soviet officials were capable of scaring people from church and mosque it was not so easy to turn them against religion Despite social disincentives embers of faith still glowed with particular persistence among evangelical Christian groups who had adapted to restriction in Imperial Russia and remained adept at operating underground in Soviet Russia Ultimately what Soviet officials misjudged was the strength of a personally reassuring religious belief in a caring God Froese asserts that if Soviet rule had co opted religious movements to develop a passive attitude to economic and political issues latent opposition to the Soviet

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/39/2/plot-to-kill-god-findings-from-soviet.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: First Be Reconciled: Challenging Christians in the Courts
    student soon learns that the one option not open to a judge is to not decide This decisive aspect of the litigation event seems diametrically opposed to Church s emphasis and the Mennonite approach in general In fact notwithstanding the prominent position given to 1 Corinthians 6 by Church his heart really lies with Matthew18 where the emphasis is on how to reconcile with or discipline a wrongdoer rather than on how to determine whether a wrong has been committed Church s bias towards reconciliation is complemented by his focus on the practicalities of conflict resolution rather than a theoretical analysis of litigation itself However the question needs to be asked What is litigation The tendency for Church and for Mennonites generally is to skip over that question and frame the analysis in terms of sociological ecclesiological outcomes Is litigation divisive in the church Does it serve the strong over the weak Does it muddle the distinction between the church and the world Here an attempt to define litigation to articulate clearly what we are actually talking about would help Mennonite thinkers break new ground For example might not litigation be understood as an attempt to address three essential questions arising out of a contested event First what happened Second was it unjust Third what would make things right Litigation may center on any or all of these questions There may be a disputed recollection of events there may be a disagreement about the propriety of conduct there may be a question of penalty or restitution Is there no functional role for these questions within the church Arguably the typical Mennonite analysis of the litigation process tends to skate over all three of these elements and move on to critique what is really outside of the judge s hands enforcement

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/39/2/first-be-reconciled-challenging.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: The Genesis of Desire
    perspective on that type of query with regard to the psychiatrist s couch and the anthropological reflections that arise out of that setting Theologically inclined readers will take an interest in Oughourlian s comments on the Adam and Eve story in Genesis which inspires the title He interprets Adam and Eve as symbols of human beings in general the Serpent is the symbol of mimetic desire The Serpent introduces discontent a feeling of lack and of deprivation Out of these flow envy conflict and violence The vertical relationship with God which signifies the original goodness of creation is broken down and replaced with horizontal relationships of mistrust deception and jealousy In the wake of the fall into sin human beings claim to know good and evil meaning that my desire will be presumptuously identified with the good and the other s rival desire will mendaciously be identified with evil 68 Some of the author s more memorable positive comments point to the reality of continuing creation through which God seeks to bring humans forward into maturity in spite of the pervasiveness of sin Rivalry is a closed cycle of time always repeating the victim victimizer loop The time of grace and redemption is openness to the future 157 The book mentions the concept of mirror neurons though it is not an extensive theoretical treatise on that topic Mirror neurons are an aspect of the brain which enables humans and other animals to mimic behaviors they observe This ties mimetic theory to naturalistic roots The author includes diagrams illustrating psychological concepts that are at times helpful and at times hard to follow A fair number of pages are devoted to describing the entangled relationships of Dr Oughourlian s patients X is married to Y but X is having an affair with

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/39/2/genesis-of-desire.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: From the Editor: The Emerging Church: Critiques and Appreciations
    conversation They are Christians who live in community usually in impoverished urban neighborhoods practicing simplicity contemplation and friendship As far as I can tell New Monastics are also missionally focused Its members are on speaking terms with missionals and emergers sometimes complimenting each other in their books Postconservative evangelicalism not directly addressed by any of our contributors is yet another important thread in the Emerging fabric It has connections to the Emergent variety of Emerging Church but seems to have a less direct relation to missionals or to New Monastics This is just the North American picture To include what s happening around the globe under the Emerging umbrella would blur matters even further The essays in these pages seek to clarify some issues raised by the North American Emerging Church In his probing essay Paul Doerksen trains his sights on Brian McLaren s understanding of what the church should be and finds it wanting in significant ways Alan Stucky offers an appreciative reading of the Emerging Church suggesting that it has enough features in common with early Anabaptism that emergers and contemporary Anabaptists have things to teach each other Budding scholars Travis Barbour and Nicholas Toews examine some philosophical assumptions of the Emergent Church They conclude that internal contradictions and misunderstandings of the very concept of emergence threaten the movement s long term viability Tim Neufeld examines the missional church idea and proposes that Mennonite Brethren should have a natural affinity for missional church thinking In the same spirit Cory Seibel looks at the unique challenges facing an urban congregation that seeks to love its neighbors stressing the importance of spiritual disciplines to the missional vitality of such churches Len Hjalmarson reflects deeply on the Metro Community experience in Kelowna B C where monastic practices and theology guide work

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/39/1/editorial.html (2016-02-16)
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