In recent posts there have been some good questions raised about the nature of Christian social critique, particularly of capitalism and how authentic theological action can take place in the face of the capitalist order. I’ve argued on the one hand that Christians should be ideologically opposed to capitalism on theological grounds. I’ve likewise argued that all such oppositions to the capitalist order occur within the context of capitalism. None of us critiques from outside, but always from within the hegemony of global capitalism. The question this raises regards what kind of authentic theological action is able to open up new vistas of liberation and hope. How can the Kingdom break into the capitalist hegemony?
This is clearly a question that should be pondered and practiced in many different venues and in many different ways. While I’ve argued that there is no way to overthrow capitalism or extract ourselves from it, that should not, however mean that genuine resistance, liberation, and hope is not possible or actable-on in the world. What we cannot do is come up with a theory of another totalized system with which to replace capitalism. We cannot do this for two reasons. First, it would take much to make plausible the idea that another global economic framework could ever overcome the capitalist order. Secondly, and more important theologically, is that the logic of the Christian gospel does not lend itself to any sort of totalizing economic framework which humans could autonomously construct. All totalized systems of economics are susceptible to the critique of the interrupting Word of God.
One of the ways in which I think an authentic mode of theological action is embodied is within the practices of monasticism, particularly the vow of stability. In vowing to stay in one place, monastics (and the “new monastics”) create a space in which forms of life can be cultivated, that, at least in some aspects are free from capitalist discipline. While not a total answer (there can be no total answers) to the capitalist problematic, a community who takes it upon themselves to deny themselves the kinds of mobility and “options” at least is taking on one crucial way of attacking the pervasiveness of capitalist discipline. This is, of course merely one way in which theological action which opens up experiences of liberation from the capitalist hegemony. What other modes of theological action would folks put forth?