Theology against globalization

19 Nov

Marc Batko, a member of the Moltmann discussion group, has translated Jurgen Moltmann’s "The Future of Theology" (1997) and  uploaded the essay to www.portland.indymedia.
Click on the link to this group and you can read Marc’s post.

Here is a brief segment from his translation:

"The social state is dismantled in favor of the globalization of
industry. Politics capitulates before the alleged `practical
necessities’ of the economy.. If a person is only measured by a
political market value, the disabled, sick and seniors are worth
nothing any more..
The democratic idea of equality is incompatible with an economic
system that produces ever-greatrer inequalities..
If globalization of the economy produces third world conditions
among us, then the theology of liberation logically becomes universal
because it is the first social-political alternative theology to
`capitalism’ that is also called `the global commercialization of all
things.’ If it becomes universal, liberation theology becomes the
beginning of a universal social-critical theology and not only a
contextual Latin American theology..

Moltmann sees very clearly that the Liberation Theology from the Two Thirds World actually has its implications for many of our ‘first world’ situations. But there can be no simplistic tranfer from one context to another.
The implications presuppose a social and political critique of our situation. Perhaps the most fundamental point is the first, in the quotation above. The social unit has been re-defined: we are no longer a state, or a society, but an economy. We are no longer people, we are consumers, customers, clients, and all those other words they use for us. When we allow this discourse to define us, we have already capitulated to the global economy.

Where, then, must theology and spirituality begin, if we are to find another way, a way of hope and redemption?
We must begin with the doctrine of humanity, made in the image and likeness of God.
We must begin with our creation, inter-dependent with the earth and with each other.
We must begin as persons.
This fundamental value must be asserted for all, including the ‘handicapped’, the old, the ill.

I am not primarily an economic unit. I am not to be measured by the value of my ‘output’, nor by my capacity to consume.
Nor must I value any others in this way.

How then are we to be free of the global economic hegemony?
Strangely, this is a freedom we already have. We are persons, in community.
We only need to receive and live this truth.
How difficult it is!

One thought on “Theology against globalization

  1. Frank,
    Reading your post reminded me a book I read a month or two back: ‘Priceless: On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing’ by Ackerman &
    Heinzerling (New York: New Press, 2004).
    In essence, it’s a very persuasive argument against cost-benefit analysis that is now so influential in the development of public policy—the assigning of monetary value to everything from the prevention of disease, stable climate, and the protection of endangered species. They provide an insightful critique of the underlying assumption, that everything can be judged or valued in monetary terms and signal the danger in allowing an artificial bottom line to distinguish right from wrong in public life.
    I was amused to read just yesterday an editorial in a denominational paper here in Texas in which the monetary costs had been calculated to the local and wider church of the increasing absences of members from Sunday morning church services across the state. Now there’s motivator for worship!
    Thanks for your post. Challenging as always.

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