Radical Preaching

Can preaching again have something to say?
This blog marks the attempt to bring the theological vision of Radical Orthodoxy into the worship and preaching of the local church.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Abortion and Capitalist Discipline

I appreciate Isaac's recent comments in yesterday's post about Bell's conception of forgiveness overcoming capitalist discipline. I believe that Bell provides a way forward, and that he is absolutely correct about forgiveness. However, I'm not sure we fully grasp how deeply capitalism has plumbed our souls. I read this article in the LA Times about an abortion doctor in Arkansas that has performed over 20,000 abortions in his career. What is most chilling to me is how abortion is reduced to an economic decision: the mother determines the value of the baby and weighs it against the cost of delivering and caring for the baby. Pope John Paul II referred to our culture as one of death. In A Community of Character, Stanley Hauerwas refers to abortion being the inevitable outcome of a society that cannot receive children.

It is articles such as these that let us know just what is at stake and should also call us to realize that our theology is not just a series of logic games. At stake is the life of the world.

LA Times Article


Blogger The Drew said...

So capitalism is responsible for abortions?

I suppose in a socialist economy we'd simply take 50% of people's incomes and have the state pay for people's mistakes, including abortion?

It seems to me that abortion is a recourse of poverty, often times...and while poverty exists in a capitalist system, captitalists recognize that Marxist social experiments to erase poverty and create utopias always yield worse results.

But I suppose if Stan Hauerwas said it, it must be true.

November 30, 2005 6:58 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Come on, you can do better than that. In your trolling, did you read any of the other posts on this blog? Are we supposed to be impressed with the Stanley Hauerwas insult? Maybe you could call us sectarians while you are at it.

The point of this blog is to think through the theological claims of Radical Orthodoxy in an effort to restore meaning and depth to preaching and ecclesial life. I preach in the United States, specifically in Waycross, GA. This is hardly a socialist utopia. It is a place where people are propagandized into believing that the life of an infant can be determined according to economic calculations. It is to these people that I preach weekly, and hopefully narrate the social and political vision of the Gospel.

Sure, you can drop your little barbs, but they will not find much reaction here. No one on this blog is the liberal you are searching for. In fact, most of us are routinely attacked by liberals.

What is welcome and will be received is serious theological thought. I suggest that if you want to participate in the conversation you read, think hard, and then participate in a respectful manner. Then, we could surely address the issues of how secular utopian visions distort the vision of the Gospel. After all, a majority of my graduate work has been in post-communist transitions to democracy in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. I certainly understand the costs and effects of this secular tragedy.

Otherwise, please don't waste our time or yours.

Grace and Peace,

November 30, 2005 8:49 PM  
Blogger The Drew said...

Did I attack anyone as 'liberal'? I don't recall doing so.

I am constantly amused both by how sensitive and violently reactive Hauerwas and those of his ilk are. Surely you read his critique of Elshtain in First Things? How can you take someone seriously as a Christian pacifist who eviscerates his enemies in print and uses expletives in every lecture? You might want to find someone better to idolize.

And I assume by "the social and political vision of the Gospel" you mean the vision put forth by Yoder and his followers? If anyone can read the new testament and find a complete, coherent socio-political philosophy, they are reading their own views into it. This is an idolatry all its own.

And I won't patronize you by closing with "grace and peace".

December 01, 2005 4:23 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

You come on a blog, put forth a weak argument, hurl a few insults, and then get offended when I call you on it. Who is being too sensitive?

Actually, the reading of the New Testament is a socio-political theology called the Church. This would be the view that emerges not only in the writings of John Howard Yoder, but in most Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox theologies, as well as strands of the Wesleyan theology that I call home.
To call that idolatrous is just silly. I'm not sure what else to say.

Let me ask this question. You do not seeem to have any interest in discussing any of the issues put forward on the blog. If you are so sure that everyone here is a little Stanley Hauerwas clone steeped in idolatry, why waste your time? If you are hoping to convert us, don't bother. We have already heard all the cliches: Stanley wants to be Pope, he is a sectarian, he is too violent, he cusses...

When I say grace and peace, I am not patronizing anyone. I see from your blog that you attend Duke Divinity School. I consider you a brother in Christ. We can disagree and still be brothers.

So, with that,

Grace and Peace,

December 01, 2005 6:26 PM  
Blogger The Drew said...

I'm not trying to convert anyone, I'm just a mere first year! Burning at the stake doesn't come until at least the third year. I know this is how EVERYONE at Duke talks, and I enjoy being contrarian.

As yet though, no one has been able to answer what "the church" is. Who's church? There are a lot of different ones, and not everyone who invokes the name of Christ is what I would consider a Christian.

I just took Hauerwas' war in the christian tradition class, and I found myself at a loss as to what his alternative is to everything he despises (liberal protestantism, capitalism, liberal democracy). The closest thing he's given is "the church," but this doesn't translate into tangible policy for me.

So, back to the original point. If you dislike capitalism based on theological grounds, what is a better alternative?

December 01, 2005 9:50 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

What is tangible policy?

What is it about the church that does not satisfy you in terms of policy?

In terms of capitalism, the posts I've made on Dan Bell's book Liberation Theology after the End of History move beyond just critique of capitalism toward the alternative, which for Bell is the ensemble of practices called Christian forgiveness. In the next few days, I will post about the atonement and forgiveness, and forgiveness and eschatology. I would say that the overall thrust of why Bell argues Christianity provides a superior alternative to capitalism is an Augustinian one. The Church embodies and lives out of an economy of charity instead of an economy of scarcity.

I am not naive to the way of most churches, and that we often fail to embody anything close to an economy of charity. This is where I think Bell's analysis (re: Foucault and Deleuze) is so powerful. The reason we struggle to be what the church is to be in this nation is the depths to which capitalism has plumbed our souls. Most board meetings more adequately depict a combination of a Nietzschean will to power and a utilitarian cost-benefit analysis, probably guided by a marketing telos. Underneath the last Bell post, Isaac raises some points of critique and asks the question as to whether the church can outnarrate and overcome capitalism. That is the question, and I suspect the answer will only be found when pastors and church communities attempt to transform radically their understanding of the church. I agree that this will be extraordinarily difficult. But I most hold out hope because I see this as more than an alternative but as the path of faithfulness God lays before us.

I think often that people misunderstand Hauerwas as to say that there is no room for social action within the structures of the nation-state. I don't think that is what he is saying at all. What he is saying is that we cannot worship the American political process and see it as an extension of God's salvation. Chrsitians can certainly call on the state to take all kinds of actions. They just cannot hope that if they can grab hold of the reins of power they can turn the nation back from the abyss. Indeed, I think the Civil Rights Movement is a classic example of how a nonviolent Christian politics can radically transform a nation's practices.

I'm not sure if this answers your question, but I hope it is a beginning to conversation.

Grace and Peace,

December 02, 2005 4:19 AM  

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