catapult magazine

catapult magazine


utopias - real and imagined


Feb 23 2005
01:28 pm

This is a great discussion, but this is getting awkward. I guess I should have just linked to it in the first place. I need to get better at this stuff. I apologize for the unwieldiness of this attempt.

Post 8:
I have a saying “people over things”. I value people over things so I give away my things to people in need. This is not other worldly. Exact the opposite. It is because I value relationships and people over things that I do not buy myself a new pair of shoes if my neighbor is without food and shelter. I am being very practical. I am not platonic at all. I believe the Morally Beautiful Community is to be lived NOW in the church today. But we build that city by incarnaing the moral attributes of God not by making beautiful buildings while people starve to death. On planet earth. Today. In our context.
1 John 3:16-18.
The kingdom makes very radical claims on our lives and valueing people over things is core to the kingdom.
by: brad (URL) on 2005-02-23 10:18:11
Post 9:
Brad, quite apart from the question whether or in what sense we may be transforming & reclaiming our world under Christ in our age, it seems pretty plain in all common experience that having a high regard for & caring for people implies having a high regard for & caring for “things”. It isn’t a matter of convoluted abstract reflection to get that “things” & people are intimately, intricately intertwined in the world we belong to. To see this is as simple as to observe that we were created in dependence on them, among them. In fact I think your very term “morally beautiful” reflects this interwovenness in creation; in what character of existence does this notion beauty have to be rooted, if it’s meaningful to describe our behavior toward each other with reference to it? The higher our regard for people, I’d say, the higher we necessarily regard “things”. The over-valuing of “things” that you’re concerned about I think actually comes down to an under-valuing of them, driven by a misunderstanding & a mis-valuing of self. Jesus addresses us on our concerns & pursuit of our this-worldly well-being; however it isn’t how we understand “things” he’s effectively confronting, but how we understand ourselves before God.
by: paul bowman (URL) on 2005-02-23 11:34:31
Post 10:
Paul (and this is my last comment I promise),
The point is how it works out in our story. The nuance of our language is not the issue. I am speaking from a very different paradigm and so all sorts of assumptions are made regarding what I am saying. First, I will write two posts on this idea this week. Second, to value I mean to love and by love I mean have an affection to be with and to enjoy. Things don;t have “well-being” so to love a thing is simply to want it as in the love of money. So are we to value things or the well-being of people. Is it a good testimony for the church to build ornate aesthetic artifacts or to be frugal and give the to the poor in the name of Jesus. We live in a real world wit hreal people who live without. Therefore, the church is to be content with food and covering and to be generous with the rest. Is this the moral distinction that the church displays or do we love things obver people. This is an ethical issue. Therefore, when we say city do we mean people or buildings? From Gideons, utopia list, I infered that by city he might be thinking buildings to which I make a challenge in the name of Justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Does ornate and luxury items (nice buildings and food and clothes) violate love of brother? When Jesus says Solomon is not arrayed like a lily and then says people are more valuable than lilies He is calling us to value people’s well being over nice things (treasures) on earth. Any other interpretation of what Jesus is saying is actually Platonic. The Hebrew mind would never have thought that Jesus was talking about the atitude of our heart. Such a view is Greek and Platonic.
by: brad (URL) on 2005-02-23 12:24:35
Post 11:
Try saying the kingdom is not about buildings and food to a starving, homeless person. The kingdom is about buildings and food; and not just any, but beautiful buildings and delicious food. This is what the kingdom means. It is not about things over people but about everybody having the necessities of life in the fullest. Obviously, in a practical context, this may work itself out in different ways. But to build huge cathedrals while the peasants starve is a misunderstanding of God’s Kingdom, as is some sort of sanctified spartanism.

peace in christ
by: the coob (URL) on 2005-02-23 13:07:29
Post 12:
Brad, for my part I can’t think but that the more carefully we consider what the well-being of people must be & demand of us, the more we’ll be drawn to work out & attend to the well-being of “things”. This is an ethical issue. Therefore when we say city we mean people ? and buildings :)

Looking forward to your posts!
by: paul bowman (URL) on 2005-02-23 13:08:34