Kenotic faith

This concludes several posts about Sallie McFague’s 2013 book, Blessed Are the Consumers: Climate Change and the Practice of Restraint. One of my many takeaways from the COVID-19 pandemic is that the underbelly of the American heritage of individual freedom is that we are prone to chafe at requests for restraint in the interest of the common good.

Restraint relative to public health practices, restraint relative to environmental degradation, and restraint relative to consumption of vital resources may be dismissed as “woke” ideology. It isn’t heard as an extension of the prophetic tradition of the Old Testament or Jesus’ self-emptying (kenosis). This is a sad byproduct of today’s hyper polarization.

McFague devotes an entire chapter to an exploration of “kenotic theology.” This includes sharing scarce resources among the needy, with a particular focus on food, “the lowiest, most basic need shared by all living beings.” She wrote: Like “Teilhard de Chardin, I have come to realize that I cannot love God or the world, but must love both at once.”

The chapter concludes: The classic doctrine of Christian discipleship, that, made in the image of God, human beings should embody the kenotic love of God, means that our own bodies must be on the line. In other words, food (and the whole planetary apparatus that goes to produce food for the billions of creatures) should become the central task at all levels, personal lifestyle changes, and public policies.

From “Tomorrow’s Gods: What is the future of religion?” by Sumit Paul-Choudhury, BBC Future, August 1, 2019

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