In a recent interview with John McKnight in preparation for the An Other Kingdom Event on September 12, he reminisced about road trips with his parents. The children were persistently inquiring, “Are we there yet?” And a few minutes later for the parents, after what seemed an eternity for the children, inquiring again, “Are we there yet?”
How will we know when we have departed the consumer culture? How will we know we have arrived?
For John, the most significant chapter of An Other Kingdom written together with Peter Block and Walter Brueggemann is the final chapter, “The Disciplines of Neighbourliness.” John believes that as we see these three disciplines/practices of neighbourliness becoming more prevalent in our own lives and in our communities we will know that we are arriving. They are disciplines with a bias towards the common good rather the supremacy of the individual.
These disciplines are around:
Time – no need to rush
Food – that is local and shared
Silence – leaving room for mystery and unencumbered listening.
They are supported by covenant (the quality of our relationships), a belief in abundance (obvious implication for our stance towards money) and ritual. In the land of fast food, busyness as a status symbol and devices providing an ever-present sound scape for our lives, these are intriguing ideas.
In this collaborative trio of John, Peter and Walter, one of the gifts John received from Walter was his exploration of the Hebrew scripture’s story of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for 40 years on the way to the Promised Land.
We often think of the wilderness as a scary place but in this story it was the place where God was present, providing daily manna and water and trail markers along the way.
A new piece that emerged for John as he listened to Walter, was the realization the manna got stinky. The manna was only good for one day and if you took more than you needed for the day it started to rot!
“The manna was part of a cooperative society sustained by a common spirituality rather than a competitive society trying to accumulate stuff as sign of success.“ said John. Now that is a provocative proposition to those of us raised in this culture!
You are most welcome to join us on Monday, September 12 at Ambrose University to continue this conversation with John, Peter and Walter. Please register by Friday at noon.