By Duane K. Friesen
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Extra info for Artists, Citizens, Philosophers: Seeking the Peace of the City : An Anabaptist Theology of Culture
The percentage of our citizens in prison is one of the highest in the world. We are one of the world’s leaders in the number of persons executed through capital punishment. The gap between the wealthy and the poor is vast and continues to grow. A devastating number of children grow up without the presence of responsible adults to nurture them so they can flourish. Thousands of babies are aborted every year, and not, as some would argue, for justifiable reasons (threat to the mother’s life, rape, or incest) but from sheer sexual indulgence without responsibility for the consequences of pregnancy.
So why do I limit this theology of culture to the North American context? I do insist that we should be aware of the larger global context. We must do our thinking in the light of our existence as human beings who belong to the earth and to the larger cosmos. We also must be aware of how our lives in North America affect and are affected by human beings around the globe. Above all, we must not cut ourselves off from the suffering of others, no matter how distant from us. Nevertheless, I think it is a mistake theologically to try to think about a theology of culture in general.
With the breakup of Christendom, the church now faces the reality of secularization and the church’s minority status in a world of religious pluralism. Though particular streams in the history of the church can be of special help to us today, a Christian theology of culture today is broadly ecumenical. Even within the “Constantinian” stream of church history there are rich resources to use in constructing an alternative cultural vision. Though I believe a model of the church for our post-Constantinian age is best articulated by a “believers church” form of Christianity, we can only construct a vision of the Christian life from the resources of the whole church catholic.