NewScoop YYC, the Canadian Poverty Institute and Ambrose University are looking forward to hosting Peter Block, John McKnight, and Walter Brueggemann along with our friends and colleagues in a conversation about An Other Kingdom. As a prelude to this event on September 12, NewScoop YYC is touching base with each of the authors for an interview.
As a result of connecting with Walter Brueggemann, a rock star in the world of Old Testament Theology (my words,) Peter moved out of a state of amnesia. As Walter, John and Peter were on the journey from colleagues to conversation partners – they began presenting, at the same conferences in Cincinnati, Cedar Rapids and other places, which gave them the opportunity to become familiar with each other’s work.
Peter, who is Jewish and describes himself as an Old Testament sympathizer, rediscovered the depth of wisdom in the Old Testament texts, while listening to Walter’s unfolding of the Israelite’s story of slavery under Pharaoh, miraculous delivery under Moses, the revelations at Sinai (including the Ten commandments), wandering in the desert for 40 years and eventual settlement, all of which is referred to as The Exodus. The Exodus became a rich metaphor for John, Peter and Walter to explore our embeddedness in the consumer culture.
The essence of An Other Kingdom is the attempt to tether, in written form, 3 – 3-hour conversations between friends, all at their pinnacle of knowing and freedom to know. Peter transcribed and organized the dialogue. His publisher, who publishes one “weird” book a year, graciously published it.
The possibility suggested by this book, and which will be explored on September 12, is that life, community and economy can happen outside of the consumer culture. For those of us who live in the safe, affluent city of Calgary this is a bit like asking a fish to live outside of water. So it is all exploration at this point, perhaps getting a perspective on the water, understanding what the water is, how it defines and constrains us.
Peter, way further along on the journey of not being a fish, suggests that the Israelites, while slaves, could not imagine life beyond Egypt; so we can not imagine life other than bigger, faster, cheaper, more with ever increasing personal control.
Peter’s hope for our time together on September 12 is that it will support and affirm our movement of freedom away from the consumer culture; that our imaginations will be fueled for a different way of living and we will discover we are not alone, we are not crazy to be considering such a possibility.
The back jacket of An Other Kingdom states:
The consumer culture holds the belief that no amount is enough. The free market ideology produces economic crises, violence and an exhausted planet. An Other Kingdom provide a new narrative, a shift in our thinking and speaking, to take us out of a culture of addictive consumption to a place where contract is replaced by covenant, consumption is replaced by neighbourliness and time it reclaimed as our own. This is a modern exodus towards a connected community, built on an alternate set of beliefs, liturgies, and disciplines. The shift has begun and out of it we find a better way to raise our children, be healthy, be safe and be kinder to the earth.