John Caputo, “The Insistence of God: A Theology of Perhaps”
These days, it seems, I read everything through the lens of After Trade.
Jesus’ miracles are not, as modern deists suppose, an “interruption” of the laws governing a body’s life; rather, they are the body’s liberation into wholeness. From a Christian point of view, there can be no Socratic-like hatred of bodies. Rather than seeking an escape from our bodies, we must hope and invest in their healing, reconciliation and redemption.
This dualistic way of thinking, however, all but inevitably leads to placing our hope in the immortality of the soul. This teaching says that when we die, our souls separate from our bodies… . Socratic thinking about bodies has been attractive to Christians for a long time. It is, however, a profoundly anti-Christian way of understanding the world. Why? Because it denies the goodness and beauty of the material world that God so deeply and forever loves. It denies the incarnation of God in the body of Jesus Christ. Thus it falls prey to one of the many gnostic heresies that have either disdained or denied or simply been suspicious of Christ’s fleshly life. It denies the Christian hope in the resurrection of the body. It denies John’s vision of a new heaven and a new earth in which God’s holy city descends to earth because “the home of God is among mortals” (Rev. 21:3).
Although Christ’s incarnation affirms bodily life and face-to-face communication, it also compels the church to enter the incorporeal realm of cyberspace and to interact in digital environments.
Today’s church suffers from a reconciliation deficit disorder. The cause of this disorder is an impoverished imagination. As Christians, we have a hard time imagining that God desires all creatures—human and nonhuman, living and nonliving—to be reconciled with each other and with God. For a variety of reasons, we have come to think that God cares primarily, perhaps only, about us.
This essay addresses the problem of capitalism by suggesting a theology of communitas, particularly as actualized in the coffee industry through the concept of After Trade.
The full version of this essay serves as the culmination of my master’s work at The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology. A condensed version of the same essay was published today with The Other Journal, the final contribution to the issue on Marxism. I couldn’t be more excited and grateful for the opportunity to share with you all the fruit of my labor, what has consumed much of my time within this past year, as well as drastically influence our plans for the future. Our hearts have been moved and shaped by the research, writing, and our conversations around this essay. We both know and feel way too much around this topic now to not allow it to affect the way we live, work, and relate with those affected by this industry. Although this essay gives away our upcoming move and next step, we’ll soon be announcing in more detail the news about our plans. So stay tuned!
Everyone needs to take the time to read this. I’ll share an excerpt, but be sure to click the link to read the entire post:
This image is posted along with the blog, but I wanted to draw attention to the name of this painting: “The Civil War Church — Our Banner in the Sky”
Whether or not slavery was the direct cause for the first shots fired upon Fort Sumter in April of 1861 is a matter of scholarly debate. What is undeniable is that two and half centuries of slavery was the fuel that caused the American Civil War to ignite into a conflagration that resulted in 623,000 deaths. From its Jamestown beginnings the American colonies and later the United States practiced one of the most brutal forms of slavery the world has ever known. The preservation of an institution that systematically dehumanized millions of people for the sake of economic gain was not a thing that made for peace. Inevitably that kind of cruel exploitation would overflow its cup and unleash death and hell, bringing everything that is the opposite of peace. During the horror of the American Civil War, the “land of the free” became a burning Gehenna. Thirty percent of Southern men of fighting age were slain on battlefields that saw the birth of modern warfare. From now on, war would be totalized and mechanized. The four horseman of the Apocalypse galloped across America leaving a wake of war, disease, famine, and death.
But in tragic irony a spiritual revival had swept through America during the decade before the Civil War. Americans flocked to churches and evangelistic meetings. This was especially true in the more religious South where Christianity was embraced with greater fervency than in the less zealous North. Across the country revival was on, churches grew, conversions multiplied. People got saved, praised Jesus, and talked about heaven. Then they went to hell. Or at least the same kind of hell Jesus had warned Jerusalem about during his final days. Despite a great “revival,” a nation of Christians was thrust into a hell of cannonballs, Gatling guns, field hospitals, and amputation saws. Great cities were set aflame and fields were littered with thousands of rotting corpses. The fires were not quenched and the maggots did not die. What had gone wrong? Millions had “accepted Jesus” and shouted hosanna, but they did not know the things that make for peace. They prayed a sinner’s prayer, “got right with God,” and kept their slaves. They had a faith that would justify the sinner while bringing no justice to the slave. They had faith that gave them a ticket to heaven…and a highway to hell. The religious fervor in the conservative churches of the South only served to convince them that they were blessed by heaven. They were quite certain God smiled upon their deep devotion to their southern-fried Jesus. If they had to go to war to preserve their freedom, so be it — God was on their side. They were sure of it. But there would be hell to pay.