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individualism, desire and the christian self

It is frequently said that we live in an individualistic society.

This is not all bad. The fact that individualist philosophy values the individual’s worth is fantastic.

Not so fantastic in light of Christian theology is the individualist insistence on rejecting all forms of external interference on one’s interests. This is not simply because of the existence of God, the ultimate “external” authority, but also because of the unrealistic, even naive, view of human existence it represents.

What human is able to live according to their own interests, unabated by the interests of society? We live in a world of social connections in which even our most basic needs are dependent on relationships. I think for example of food whereby most of the people I know are completely disconnected from the production and manufacture of almost everything they eat.

How would individualism even work in a world such as this? Read the rest of this entry

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things on heaven, and things on earth…

Christians are often puzzled or bored or indifferent when confronted by the Torah’s obsessive concern with regulating every aspect of Israelite life. Does the holy book really need to tell us what to do when one ox gores another (Exodus 21:35-6)? Why are bald eagles detestable to eat (Leviticus 11:13), but bald locusts are just fine (Leviticus 11:22)?

The details of such passages might need some sorting out, but the overall point should not be missed: the Old Testament writers had an abiding concern with the materiality of life. There simply was no distinction to be made between spiritual concerns and material concerns.

The realm of the material is not just an inert and indifferent means to spiritual aspirations. The salvation of the whole community is worked out not in some interior dialogue with God, but in the everyday interactions with the material world. All of creation is to be brought into conformity with God’s will.

William Cavanaugh in his article on the ABC Religion & Ethics website, Only Christianity Can Save Economics.

MCA

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