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politics beyond elections

May 8th, 2009 by isaac · No Comments

I wrote a short review of Hauerwas and Coles’ book from last year, Christianity, Democracy, and the Radical Ordinary (Cascade). It appears in the current issue of the Mennonite Weekly Review (May 4, 2009). Here’s an excerpt:

Politics involves all the ways we tend to the common good. This happens in our neighborhoods, not just in Washington. For Coles and Hauerwas, democracy is everyday politics that turns us to the importance of “concrete practices of tending to one another.”

Coles describes the civil rights movement as a story of this kind of everyday democracy. He focuses our attention on the ordinary African-American churchwomen who gave Martin Luther King Jr. a movement to talk about. Ella Baker is the protagonist of this story. She was a political organizer who spread the civil rights movement among everyday folk. According to Coles, Baker’s politics displayed “the arts and the techniques of ‘sitting at the feet’ of the least of these.” These relationships turned into political networks that birthed life in the midst of suffering.

Baker’s democratic politics started at the kitchen table and community meals. For Coles, with whom we eat is as politically significant as what we do in the voting booth. Meals of communion fuel political imagination.

If you want to read the article, follow this link: “Politics beyond an election.”

Tags: political power · published · reading corner