Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Vernand Eller from the preface of Christian Anarchy

Why, I asked myself, did I always wind up on the wrong side of each of the Christian Left's enthusiasms--peace, justice, equality, liberation, feminism? After all, I was supposed to be part of that gang, not an outsider. Yet no matter what was said or implied about me, I knew I was not a "conservative" over against their "liberalism." I was every bit as unhappy with the positions of conservatism as with those of liberalism. So, being neither a radical, a liberal, nor a conservative, what under the sun was I? What other option could there be?

The chapters here following will recount my discovery of the rather easily identifiable but almost entirely subconscious and submerged tradition of "Christian Anarchy." And with that tradition I had found my home and am at peace. All of my battles of the past thirty years now fall into place and make sense. Now I can see a consistency throughout; I knew what I was doing but didn't have name for it.

I really do believe the key was in coming up with the requisite terminology: "anarchy," with the derivatives "arky" and "arky faith." All along, of course, Scripture itself provided the terms that should have led us to this understanding but had not. Its talk of "the powers" would have done it--except that we automatically identified those only as the evil powers we were eager to combat and not at all including the good powers we embraced. Likewise, both with Jesus' "being not of the world" and Paul's "not being conformed to the world," we read them as counsels to separate ourselves only from the world's bad powers and certainly not from its good ones. Consequently, lacking an explicit terminology, even the greatest Christian anarchists--from Jesus on down--have not had themselves or their condition identified in a way that would make possible explicit consideration, analysis, and debate.

Vernand Eller from the preface of Christian Anarchy

1 comment:

Erich said...

I hope this statement does not describe you too perfectly. I too have felt like the author, never fitting in with right or left, but I do find his desire to have an -ism to fit into a bit disturbing. Isn't it a given that people who think beyond mass slogans won't fit into easily defined categories based on simplistic assumptions? Why try to fit into them? Why not just be, and try to be consistent? I've often been interested in the concept of Christian anarchism, as many of my favorite thinkers are big on the anarchist ideal (the fact that I study turn-of-the-century folk obviously contributes to that). However, Christian anarchism has many pitfalls and must be approached quite critically. Also, there are so many things that those two words together could mean that they aren't inherently very descriptive.