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Another World? Lecture Five

This post provides a summary of Kathryn Tanner’s fifth Gifford lecture, entitled ‘Another World?’ Afterwards, my New College colleagues Evan Graber and Clement Wen will be providing their appraisals of Tanner’s depiction of the future as seen by both finance-disciplined capitalism and Christianity. As always, we invite your own contributions to our discussion (see my instructions for how to post). The lecture video is also now available at this link

In this lecture, Kathryn Tanner will concentrate on how the future is depicted in the contrasting accounts offered by finance-disciplined capitalism and Christianity. She will argue that stock valuations and the related sale of derivatives have the effect of ‘collapsing’ the future into the present, employing Luhmann’s distinction between the ‘future present’ (the future that will, in fact, come) with the ‘present future’ (current predictions of how the future will turn out). Tanner will elaborate that such reduction is not only a matter of perspective but actually helps to create such a future by affecting prices and valuations. Any claims to market mastery, however, are challenged by an irreducible unpredictability of the future, as shown in market crashes. Tanner will therefore argue for a Christian view of the future that does not seek to constrain volatility, but that it approaches such uncertainty alongside belief in the disruptive effect of God’s transformative grace. In this way, Christianity’s view of ‘another world’ to come challenges predictive enthusiasm while motivating work towards ‘realistic proximate futures.’

Gifford #5 Still 2 copy

Tanner begins her lecture with the importance of the future for one’s accounts in finance capitalism. Given the volatility of the market, extreme swings can wipe out years of accumulated wealth or, alternately, make up for years of small losses. As a result, it is less important to know the present value of a stock as it is to know its future potential. How likely is it, one asks, that ‘the future will validate the present prediction?’ As the present price is assessed, however, it is changed by the assessment: the likelihood of increase, and decrease, determines what one pays at present.

The question becomes ‘how does one price the future reliably?’ Even if one cannot know the precise value of a stock in the future, one hopes to at least know the ‘range’ to which volatility will remain bound. One’s imagination of the future therefore becomes limited to a certain section of the market and, of course, the ever-present domination of ‘finance.’ Tanner quotes Frederick Jameson’s quip that it becomes easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism.

Tanner next shows how ‘pricing the future’ is both an act of prediction and of creation. Stock value is affected by how many people think the stock will go up or down in a given time frame. As a result, the ‘future present’ is not really at issue; we only live within the ‘present future’ when it comes to stock value (employing Luhmann’s terms again). Stock predictions are therefore a self-fulfilling prophecy, for future value simply awaits the cumulative effect of present demands.

For all this efficacy, however, Tanner notes that financial operators are well aware the future will be unpredictable. Past market crashes always seem inevitable to hindsight, but that is exactly what wasn’t apparent beforehand. The ‘present future’ should be similarly unpredictable, therefore, though it rarely is. An unexpected market drop is all the more devastating because people failed to account for it. The need for such accounting creates, through the sale of ‘derivatives’ (or ‘futures,’ ‘options’), a proliferation of ways to liberate one’s purchasing choice.

Tanner describes derivatives as ‘designed to trade in unpredictability.’ As she summarises, a derivative allows one to contract to pay a pre-determined price on a later date. If there is a difference, one either saves or loses accordingly but at least one protects oneself from the eventuality of paying a price higher than that which is predicted, and contracted, in the ‘present future.’ Derivatives are therefore a ‘hedge against volatility,’ an attempt to ‘tame’ the conditions of the ‘future presents’ which might be less favourable to the buyer. While such contracts are a type of insurance, they are unlike typical insurance packages in that they do not require a personal stake in the investment (as one would with one’s house or car, such that an insurance premium only provides profit from what one does not want to happen). As a result, they can also result in ‘pure profit.’

Tanner draws a connection between the mastery sought by derivatives trading and the mastery of future events sought by Stoicism. Derivatives seek to ‘close off the future’ as a source of disruption to one’s life; the unknown future is ‘proleptically dealt with’ in the present. This is similar to the manner in which Stoicism counsels that one become master of the unexpected event by envisioning the worst case scenario, even the moment of death. Moreover, the manner in which derivatives contracts are taken out ‘on’ the future allow a refusal to commit to particular options, a refusal that might be compared with the Stoic detachment from anything except virtue.

Ironically, the more people are convinced of derivatives’ ability to tame the future, the less prudent they become. Tanner observes that the creative effect of present predictions shows its dark side here, as people not only increasingly risk, but begin to effect, future catastrophe.

Turning to a Christian view of the future, Tanner notes similarities with Stoicism but chooses to accentuate difference. She claims that the future expected by Christians maintains a negatively disruptive element. The transformation wrought by grace involves being torn from those sinful aspects of our selves to which we have become accustomed. This would be less painful if one were less of a sinner, but Tanner believes that, even assuming moral and spiritual advance, grace nevertheless interrupts the ‘trajectory,’ requiring confession and repentance. In contrast to the attempt to keep options open, perhaps the Stoic willing-with-reservations, there is ‘no room to manoeuvre at the end of days.’

The prospect of eternal life shows that the future remains an external gift, which is not to be incrementally approached through human calculation and creative powers. One can be certain of one’s resurrection hope while remaining uncertain about how that life will look; Christian theologians remain circumspect about what can be predicted in the world to come. Such reticence is due, in part, to the way Christians keep the surprise of Christ’s advent in mind (recall here Tanner’s discussion of typological readings of scripture). From their own reading of ‘past variations,’ Christians should be well aware of how unpredictably surprising the future will look.

As a result, Christian hope for ‘another world’ does not entail the kind of predictive enthusiasm shown in derivatives trading. Tanner uses Kierkegaard’s image of rowers in a skiff, who have their backs turned to the direction of movement. She claims that ‘turning one’s attention directly to the future to come, in order to assess one’s progress or lack of it, is to make that future the subject of calculations of more or less, and therefore to fundamentally misunderstand the way to get there.’ Turning to look forward does not help one’s momentum; such an action ‘simply hinders the rowing one needs to do.’

Tanner concludes by stating that she is not seeking to offer an ‘alternative model’ for economics, as if Christian models of the future could merely be imitated in markets. Instead, she is ‘applying to markets as a whole the Christian difference between present and future’ as a means to resist the way that current practices of stock valuation and derivatives contracts serve to collapse the future into our all-too-human predictions.

Such ‘application’ of the Christian difference can motivate attempts now, attuned to the shifting demands of the present, to create ‘realistic proximate futures.’ Even so, Tanner maintains that the destination towards which one acts in the present remains another world even as it pressures the present system: ‘the future that is present now remains disjunctive.’ Only with such a remove, maintaining a ‘never-filled gap between worlds,’ can the present dynamics of capitalism be seen clearly enough to be repudiated.

7 replies to “Another World? Lecture Five”

  1. Evan Graber says:

    What is important to keep in mind with these lectures as a whole is that Tanner is not interested in a change of finance-driven capitalism and its effects by degree but in kind. The view that finance-driven capitalism has of the past, present, and future is one that must be ‘repudiated’ and is part of the present reality that ‘must be left behind.’

    However, there are two competing responses to this present reality that appear in Tanner’s treatment of it. On the one hand, people must work toward realistic proximate ends, that is, take realistic practical approaches to attain achievable change. On the other hand, she claims that she is not arguing that financial markets should simply adopt a Christian view of the past, present, and future or that Christians should operate in more Christian ways within it in order to improve the character of these markets.

    If Christian approaches to time or hypothetically to business practice cannot improve the character of these markets, what proximate hopes can we have or should we have, and how can we discern them?

    A key point of understanding Tanner and the context of this question is her claim that finance-driven capitalism is a pervasive spirit. It is not simply present in the world of derivative trading. It dominates ways of thinking and action in every realm. Businesses not traded on the financial markets follow similar management strategies shaped by this financial system. Similarly, governments, churches, schools, and other institutions are often caught up in the culture of this financial system. It is present at every level of action, even in the way that we live our lives constrained and compelled by the pressures that it places on families and individuals.

    One of the implications of this was highlighted in the question and answer portion last night when Tanner highlighted our inability to extricate ourselves from this system. She said that ‘as Christians we expect to be complicit in systems that we cannot leave. This is not a question of purity. There are no clean hands.’ Her comment brings into focus that we cannot afford ourselves the luxury of being mere victims of a financial system. We are also part of the problem and even in our efforts to effect change, we must accept responsibility for the consequences of our actions on others.

    The phrase that has often come to mind during these lectures is that of the Lord’s Prayer: ‘Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.’ On the one hand, we pray that we will be forgiven our debts and we hope against hope to be forgiven and to find ourselves in a new and other world where this ultimate hope is a reality. On the other hand, there is the question of our realistic, proximate responsibilities to those who are indebted to us in this system and are also captives to it. Perhaps the question is ‘Who are our debtors; who are those captive to our complicit action?’ Perhaps they are our remit and the object of our proximate efforts. Perhaps we must find ways of forgiving their ‘debt’ to us and freeing them from it. Only in working for the freedom of others can we hope to find ours, knowing full well that our hope for them, our hope for the present, our hope for the future and our hope for the faithfulness of our action is the same, hope in God.

  2. Clement Wen says:

    David and Evan have already described and commented in such a way that I find my entering into the conversation late to have its perks. Namely, much of the heavy lifting has already been done. Rather than rehash more of the same, I think the best thing for me to contribute would be some thoughts on Wednesday’s seminar as directly related to the fifth lecture. The interactive portion of the seminar helped to clarify Tanner’s positions even further, and for that, I’m glad that parenting duties prevented me from writing up my comments until now.

    As one of the seminar’s participants interpreted Tanner’s project, when it comes to Christian engagement with the world of finance-dominated capitalism: ‘We’re not talking about tinkering with systems, but about tinkering with subjectivities.’ For Tanner, such ‘tinkering’ comes about by way of participation in the divine life through being in Christ by the Spirit. Such ‘grace’ brings about a self-transformation that is at all times dependent upon participation. The resources needed to engage the world as we find it, then, are sufficiently found through participation in Christ, as such enables us to have a different subjectivity than what finance-dominated capitalism has imposed in a seemingly totalizing way. While this perhaps sounds abstract, it is so on purpose. Tanner is not interested in offering specific concrete suggestions for what one can do (or for what financial regulators can do) to resist or restrain the impulses of finance-dominated capitalism. Rather, she wants to suggest a theology that can malleably meet new challenges and contexts as they arise.

    If there’s a disclaimer one needs to give about Tanner’s style, it’s that she doesn’t always say everything she holds to. Probably due to word or time limitations, a lot of content is instead necessarily presupposed and/or implied (and several examples of this were highlighted last week in a seminar with her about her 2010 book Christ the Key). Listening to her Tuesday night lecture, one could easily come away with the impression, as one questioner in the audience at the seminar did, that Tanner’s way of speaking about eschatological discontinuity (through language like ‘disruption’ and ‘radical difference’) leaves no room for any continuity between this world and the next. On this, Tanner clarified that she was not discounting continuity but stressing discontinuity, mostly in reaction to contemporary philosophers and theologians who go the other direction. It was interesting that the continuities she listed as examples all had to do with the individual (e.g., their personal identities, their bodies, etc.). I note this because her proposal regarding finance-dominated capitalism likewise focuses on providing *individuals* with a participatory framework for resistance and alternative engagement. Though this was interesting, in keeping with the disclaimer above I’m quite sure the rest of the cosmos is presupposed and implied in the eschatological continuity of which she speaks. Yet, the instinctive focus upon individuals obviously seems to be what is most salient for Tanner. Equally obvious is the anticipated critique that Tanner will inevitably face, which is that she does not take seriously enough a more structural and systemic way of engaging the principalities and powers (in this case, the principality and power known as finance-dominated capitalism)—and she alluded to this last night in her lecture when she mentioned that eschatological approaches such as hers ‘[have] been widely recognized and [have] often been made the subject of hostile critique (by Marxists, for example).’ Pausing here, I wonder what readers think of Tanner and the Marxist/liberationist critique along these lines. Certainly, one thing that has been refreshing about Tanner’s lectures is that, as far as I’ve been able to tell, she has described finance-dominated capitalism on its own terms rather than through a Marxist lens (and I say this because, especially in the American context that Tanner hails from, capitalist and Marxist ideologies, broadly speaking, are typically presented as the only alternatives).

    The second clarification that I think was helpful from this afternoon’s session in regards to last night’s lecture stemmed from a question asked by a colleague, Joanna Leidenhag, regarding how exactly Tanner regards ‘revolution’ in reference to her proposal. This led to a lively discussion involving several voices from the audience (myself included) as well as Dr. Joshua Ralston and Dr. Lydia Schumacher, both of whom were also on the panel. Tanner’s initial response went something like this: ‘The aim should be revolutionary. You expect things to be turned upside down because the current system is corrupt (every system is corrupt, but this one is especially bad because it forecloses possibilities of anything different). This is a revolutionary aim, but you don’t know actually what’s to replace it. You don’t have a blueprint to society – and that’s what makes this so revolutionary, because if you could imagine what’s to come, then it could only be based on what you already know, but that means that what you’re imagining is not all that revolutionary.’

    Prior to hearing her say this, knowing full well from the Q&A session of the second lecture that she was not interested in Anselm’s view of the atonement, I still perhaps would have responded to her fifth lecture with a thought about how Anselm’s perfect-being theology (that whatever we can imagine about God, God is even greater than that) can perhaps be transposed to our imagination about the eschaton so as to fuel our imaginations of the coming future in a way that influences the way we live out the ‘realistic proximate futures’ that Tanner advocates for. While such an Anselmian idea might still be relevant, I’m left wondering just how much our imaginations about the future should be employed at all. The very suggestion of ‘realistic proximate futures’ requires imagination, yet Tanner also advocates for an eschatological restraint. As such, I followed-up Joanna’s question with a question about how Tanner’s understanding of ‘revolution’ relates to her notion of ‘realistic proximate futures’ and she responded as follows: ‘So on one hand, you don’t know what [ought to replace the current corrupt system], but at the same time, what you are called to do is what’s realistically possible (meaning everything you know to be possible or what the situation allows you to do, and that changes from moment to moment). There’s always some room for how to improve things…. The emphasis upon personal formation here does not mean that you should not go about influencing institutions (as perhaps personal transformation may lead one to feel called to do so). In other words, the personal formation emphasis is not to say that changing institutions isn’t important.’ Coupled with her comments last night about our being complicit with the current reality (which Evan already highlighted above) and her stress upon a radical eschatological discontinuity, though ‘realistic proximate futures’ are called for, they will always pale in light of what’s to come (which we are unable to really grasp at present). As something of a side-note, I find all of this to be very much reminiscent of Wolfhart Pannenberg’s (1928-2014) program, especially as put forth in the final volume of his Systematic Theology. Whether Tanner actually did resource Pannenberg for constructive purposes or not, in my mind, she’s in good company.

    With all that’s been written thus far here at on this lecture, I think it’s fair to say that the broad strokes of Tanner’s eschatological view of individualistic engagement with the ‘world’ (specifically, finance-dominated capitalism), as such engagement is anchored by one’s participation in Christ by the Spirit (a participation in ‘uncreated grace’), has been accurately outlined. What do you all think? Do you find it compelling? Are there any gaps that need be filled? Do you find it overly individualistic?

    I look forward to further dialogue and especially to the final installment of Tanner’s series tonight.

    1. You’ve brought it back around to what I was thinking about after the very first lecture, about how authoritatively is Tanner calling for action, especially if she’s not suggesting concrete ways to act. I’m still not convinced that she is convincing.

      To be sure, complacency and apathy are never good, especially in matters that matter so much like entire economic systems. But calling for action requires authority and definite plans for a better alternative before it will be significantly effective or convincing.

      For example, in my hometown, there is a Christian company that decided to build a headquarters. They only had a portion of the required funds raised, but they trusted God to provide the rest– they knew they had to begin work. However, 15 years later, the building still isn’t completed. No one was convinced to donate when there wasn’t a sure plan of how to raise all the funds. Instead, the building is the eyesore and laughing-stock of my whole city, and no one wants to have anything to do with it either now or in the future.

      This anecdote isn’t the same situation exactly as what Tanner is talking about, but the point I’m trying to make is that while you can have good, established reasons to seek an unknown potential, without sure planning, you will really struggle to convince people to get on board with a project that may be viewed from a number of different perspectives and subjectivities. Doesn’t mean her project isn’t worthwhile, just that it won’t be complete without concrete suggestions.

      1. Clement Wen says:

        Really enjoying the conversation on this thread, so many thanks to all above and below who have contributed. Just as a quick response to Melanie, I find myself in agreement with alexa w.s. below who began by writing: ‘I didn’t take the absence of concrete suggestions as signalling a lack in Tanner’s proposal, but (at least) as an indication of the character of her intervention.’ Put another way, though Tanner is directly addressing the ‘world’ (defined in its Johannine sense) as it manifests itself in our time as ‘finance-dominated capitalism’ (and though this is what specifically occasioned the formulation of the perspective she’s offering), the malleability that is built into her proposal is something that I believe is intended by her to carry with it a more timeless character. It wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to suggest that such could be applicable to any manifestation of ‘world’ that one might face in the future (I would include past and present here, but really, the future is all that we have, whether a millisecond from now or a hundred years from now — the present disappears as soon as it arrives). If her proposal were to go in a more concrete direction, the attempted timelessness of her proposal regarding engagement with the ‘world’ would dissipate (and ‘world’ here of course includes future, perhaps even stronger strains of finance-dominated capitalism).

        That being said, Tanner isn’t advocating for no concrete action at all, but, if I’m understanding her correctly, is wanting to put forward a theology of participation in Christ that forms our self-identity deeper than the world does, and importantly, in a way that we have a participatory resource (as she herself said it: ‘everything we need in Christ’) for spiritual discernment regarding the concrete range of options for action (and/or intentional inaction) that could be taken. Her skittishness ‘about the Spirit imparting direct and unequivocal knowledge to humans’ (as Joanna aptly put it below) doesn’t, in my mind, necessarily compromise this intention, but rather builds in an element of humility and provisionality in recognition that nothing we do will fully capture the Kingdom that only God can bring about in the eschaton (hence, the language of ‘realistic proximate futures’, a great term that emphasises both ‘realism’ in the present and the provisionality of our efforts through the term ‘proximate’, as our imagination about the future directs us — even if such is ultimately unimaginable in, what I would argue, an Anselmian way). Indeed, as I alluded to in my original comment, Tanner may want to clarify the extent to which imagination about the eschatological future can be legitimately employed in light of her general definition of imagination as being confined by our past, as well as in light of her maintaining an eschatological reserve (i.e., she doesn’t believe it to be healthy, theologically, to imagine the eschaton since such can only, in the present age, amount to speculation that doesn’t correspond to the unimaginable actuality of what it will be — yet, ‘realistic proximate futures’ requires some level of imagination to be in operation).

        I don’t know if I would say that Tanner’s proposal is incomplete without a more concrete plan. The best corollary to this that I can think of was when John Stackhouse was going about answering questions during a book release public lecture for his 2008 book, Making the Best of It: Following Christ in the Real World (OUP). Someone in the Vancouver audience that night stood up and asked a long-winded question about America’s involvement in the geopolitical situation in the Middle East at the time and whether his book told us what to do about it. Stackhouse replied something to the effect of: ‘I’m not an expert about the geopolitical situation, and my book isn’t about providing answers about questions like that. Rather, what my book is intended to do is help provide people in such positions with a resource so that they can employ their expertise and influence in a theological way’. I think this is what Tanner is trying to do as well (not just for the experts — both Tanner’s proposal and Stackhouse’s book are meant for a broader audience; Stackhouse was skewing his response to a specific question. I don’t remember if it was during that lecture or not, but Stackhouse’s realism also suggests that we ask questions like: ‘What’s the ideal? What’s actually possible? What’s actually possible this week? … this month? … this year? … over the next five years? … over the next ten years?’, etc. I think Tanner would concur.).

        In sum, I see Tanner as attempting to put forth a theology that can underlie our concrete actions rather than an applied theology of concrete actions. As such, in her terms, the application is left to us by way of our participation in Christ, which is by the Spirit, which is to the Father. The Trinitarian God is all we need. And yet, there’s a provisionality to how we will express this in the present age because of our finiteness, sinfulness and brokenness. Anything we might think to do as well as everything we actually go about doing will inevitably fall short, but God’s grace is enough.

        But is it enough to overturn the power structures? That’s the hope (‘we aim at revolution!’), but not necessarily the expectation (at least, not right away). Indeed, many hear Tanner as being ‘pessimistic’ in regards to such expectations (‘we are all complicit’) when I think her intention is to be ‘realistic’. God’s grace is enough to break us free from being blind to how the powers shape us, and it’s enough as a resource to help us live in a way that resists such influence in the present in genuine hope of restraining and, if possible, changing what we can, as such opportunities avail themselves, towards something revolutionary — even if what such revolution looks like emerges in the midst of our cumulative actions rather than being known from the outset (lest, in Tanner’s mind, it not be truly revolutionary). In response to Joanna: I think this does allow for things like organized protests if that’s how some feel called to proceed — certainly, for Tanner herself, it called for a book and a lecture series that could easily be described as a form of protest. Does that make this whole proposal too individualistically subjective (if it’s all about how some feel called to ‘this’ and others feel called to ‘that’)? Perhaps. But I think Tanner would respond by asking if it could really be any other way, for this kind of malleability is completely in line with what it looks like to live in a participatory relationship with God rather than living out a faith based on principles that play themselves out logically in a linear fashion (which is what a more concrete suggestion from her might have come across as being about). Part of me thinks that, at root, what prompts critical reception of Tanner is that it can sound as if she’s saying that God’s grace is enough to help us merely survive the onslaught of finance-dominated capitalism at the level of our personal subjectivities, and most of us want to be more than just survivors…

  3. David Reimer says:

    This lecture left me with the strong sense that FDC and Christianity construct diametrically opposed relationships of present and future.

    From what I gathered from Tanner, FDC regards an uncertain future as known in order to maximize living profitably.

    Christianity, on the other hand, regards a known future as uncertain in order to maximize living sacrificially (think 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, or Philippians 3:1-14).

  4. Thanks for your summaries, David, Evan, and Clement…

    I think it’s interesting to think about eschatology (the hope and promise), but not about the details of the eschaton (the what and how and when). We don’t know what is coming, but we know all will be changed. I think the main challenge from this is that it is hard to disrupt something, to rock the boat when we have nothing to replace it. It is easy to replace one system with another, but difficult simply to disrupt with hope for a future that one might not see in an earthly lifetime. This is more than revolutionary; this is brave to the point of foolishness.

    It seems like the category of prophecy could be used here (which I think someone else brought up in the Q&A seminar). Is Tanner calling us to prophetic acts of disruption? Lives that are orientated/ revolved to point to God and the Kingdom? Tanner seemed sceptical about our ability to instigate the Kingdom here and now and any form of progress that this implies, despite the fact that the Spirit and not humanity would be the drive and architect of this (which I suppose is underpinned by her hesitancy about the Spirit imparting direct and unequivocal knowledge to humans).

    But can we still point to the kingdom? Is this not the essence of prophetic action? How do movements, such as recent protest against the “1%”, fit into this? Is there a call to organised protest, where and when that is possible, or is Tanner’s focus still on self-understanding, attitude and orientation?

  5. alexa w.s says:

    I didn’t take the absence of concrete suggestions as signalling a lack in Tanner’s proposal, but (at least) as an indication of the character of her intervention. A lot of good work has been done on presenting Christian ‘counter-structures’ to capitalism, especially emphasizing ritual and symbolic engagement, e.g., liturgically bound and motivated ‘ways of life,’ early church models, etc. But the new ‘spirit’ of finance-dominated capitalism can’t (only) be assessed and resisted according to representational and ritual renovations; it plays out with such similitude to true evanescence that even grappling with it via a ‘counter-concept’ would be naïve. (Here, I want to take seriously Tanner’s distinction that she is presenting not even so much an “idea” as a “hope.”)

    For the Christian, hope itself is actually super ‘concrete,’ though, right? Before and beyond its expression or codification in promises, plans, actions towards its fulfillment, etc. As a Christian, hope is your life (Colossians 1:17). Not your lifestyle, not your ‘way of life,’ but ‘Christ in you’ makes hope the predicate of your being. By presenting a ‘spiritual similitude’ to this fundamental ‘hope’ in its manipulation of life via an ‘invisible’ play with the reliability of one’s rudimentary ability to exist, the reality of one’s present experience, and the ability to form (any) real expectation (at all), finance-driven capital is sort of infectious of the whole organism of life itself, right?

    I don’t think Tanner is uninterested in action, but I think (and forgive my potential misunderstanding) that prescribing specific approaches would confuse an important emphasis of her message: We will routinely fail and find ourselves complicit no matter what we do to alter our ‘ways of life’ or ‘lifestyles,’ but this is not in itself a condemnation or consignment to failure of any life itself. A call to ‘know’ that discrepancy doesn’t seem to prescribe complacency; but it’s got to be heard as fundamentally more than a preface to action if it can be the sustaining anchor according to which myriad Christian lives can find their bearings.

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