One of the quotes NewScoop lives by is, “Change happens at the speed of relationships.”  At the An Other Kingdom event this past Monday, we were treated to the interplay of the relationship between Walter Brueggemann, John McKnight and Peter Block, three thought leaders in the areas of community development and theology. Their relationship has born the fruit of a call to folks of all faiths – or no faith – to consider our embeddedness within a consumer culture, its costs and the beginning articulations of a way to An Other Kingdom.

It felt just a tiny bit subversive to be having this conversation in the company of such a diverse group of people, strangers from different contexts: young and old, students and academics, neighbours and social workers, church leaders and community leaders. 

It was emboldening to be questioning the tenants our consumer capitalist society and teasing apart how this way of “making a living” – in the broadest sense of money, lifestyles and meaning – may actually be “making a dying.” We are hurting the planet, our neighbours (on the other side of the world and next door who carry the true costs of our consumer culture by their undervalued labour), and ourselves as we flail within the confines we have created – confines of double incomes, time scarcity, and meaning based on the accumulation of stuff and the fulfillment of bucket lists.

The following were some of the questions the group would like to continue to pursue:

Mark:  You spoke of moving us away from an individual to community-based economic model. What does that mean?

Alex: In regards to social capital, is there a way to leverage market forces to use business as a social good?

Tom: What are the costs associated with living in a consumer society?

Jim: What keeps all of you hopeful? (It feels a bit like asking a fish not to swim in water – in this case the consumer ocean.)  What are practical ways communities can begin the new culture?

Stephanie: We are all approaching these ideas from a microcosm… Do these principles need to be explicitly taught? Can you give us insight into the context?

Donna: I am feeling challenged to think about theses principles in a global way. We are all each other’s neighbours.

Max: I am wondering how our academic reading practises are influenced by consumerism. Can you talk more about academics’ stance toward reading and how we read?

Tom: How do we get away from Utopianism? (Most seem to devolve into an autocratic leader.)

Dave: How do we measure value non-monetarily? How can we accept that consumerism is our own problem, on our plate?

Esterelle: In regards to keeping Sabbath, how do we make space for rest and for our neighbours?

NewScoop also heard the wondering about who else is asking these questions. Who else is wanting to make connections and create relationships that will journey us all to An Other Kingdom?

New Scoop will continue to hold space for this conversation. Please contact us with feedback about the event and suggestions for next steps.

In the meantime, hang out on the NewScoop YYC website. We have been exploring many stories about how our city can be connected, creative and equitable. Check out Thrive– Calgary’s Community Economic Development organization and the Soul of the Next Economy coming up at Ambrose University Sept 30 – October 1.

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