Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Trying my hand at public critique

Having said in a previous post that I struggle with the lack of intellectual effort that we sometimes put into our discussions, I am going to make an effort myself. I am going to have a look at the booklet "The Oikos Journey" published by the Diakonia Council of Churches and endorsed by a number of patrons including a bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. Let me challenge myself!
The booklet can be downloaded here.
The booklet is subtitled "A Theological Reflection on the Economic Crisis in South Africa" and it was published in 2006.
Chapter 1 - Why an Oikos Journey?
This booklet is written in response to the sense that in South Africa we have reached a' kairos' moment in the economy. Just as the church published the challenging Kairos document in 1985, the authors felt that we needed to start a journey to a similar point or perhaps document, the Oikos Journey.
I certainly agree that the church needs to do theological reflection on matters of economy - even more so after the events since 2006 (such as Marikana and Nkandla).
We have had democracy since 1994, but still people live in poverty, this is a challenge. I agree.
This booklet is presented as a challenge to church, state and society.
"It uses the image of oikos to express our thinking". Oikos being part of the etymological root of the word economy and also ecology. The linking of the fundamental importance of both the economy and the ecology seems to be done by use of the etymological similarities. This is unfortunate because etymological similarities between words are often coincidental which makes this a weak link. I think that a better case or argument could be made for this association. We also note that oikos is a 'Bible word'. Although it is not mentioned that it is used in the Greek Biblical text, we need to be cautious that we don't believe that we are making a biblical argument just because we are using a word with biblical associations! But this is just the introduction and the word is just for use as an image. Thus, so far so good.
The rest of the chapter briefly describes the process (a study group met for over a year) and what is coming up (experiences of poor people, current thinking of the church, what is needed for the economy to be 'in line with God's economy').

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