Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Counter-Imagination of Missional Community

I'm almost done with Disruptive Grace by Walter Breuggemann. In one of his essays, he writes about the need for a subcommunity that hosts an alternative world in contrast that that of the dominant community. This requires a counter-imagination than that of the dominant imagination. He identifies three things that characterize the dominant imagination of Western culture. They are:
  1. The shriveling of the human by the pressures of commoditization;
  2. The failure of the communal infrastructure, in which the notion of a 'public' is mostly driven out by devotion to the 'market'; and
  3. The nullification of holiness, in which everything is reduced to technological control that leaves nothing to the imagination.
He then says "the 'missional responsibility' of a human subcommunity in response may be:
  1. The enhancement of the human in ways that energize, authorize, and celebrate our common humanity;
  2. The reconstruction of a neighborly infrastructure that requires acts of obligation and generosity but that requires, in a prior way, a set of symbols and images that invite an imagined public; and
  3. The recovery of a sense of the holy that resists every ideological reduction, that opposes every easy absolute, and that affirms a hidden mystery of governance out beyond all of our posturing and contestation.
He packs a lot into a sentence. But I think he is on to something. If we were to go to South Asia as missionaries, we would be trained to understand the context of the dominant culture and think about ways to practice life as a subcommunity that is shaped by a counter-imagination. Should we not take the same approach in our own neighborhoods?

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