DN om Cavanaugh

Idag skriver DN:s Susanna Birgersson en ledare om konversationen mellan Trägårdh & Cavanaugh. Om hur mötet med människor som tigger utmanar den svenska statsindividualismen och ”the Swedish theory of love”:

Men Cavanaugh påpekade att ett minst lika starkt motiv till att minimera utrymmet för välgörenhet är att ”givaren” slipper utsätta sig för det jobbiga, emotionellt utmanande mötet med en utblottad medmänniska. Jag betalar skatt och undgår därför att se den hjälpsökande i ögonen, behöver inte veta något om hennes livssituation, om barn, sorger eller glädjeämnen, jag behöver sällan känna lukten av misär. Det finns socialsekreterare och fältassistenter som får betalt för sådant.



Cavanaugh & Trägårdh


I seminariet på Ersta i onsdags fortsatte samtalet som påbörjades i Between the State and the Eucharist  kring stat, individ och gemenskap mellan historikern Lars Trägårdh och teologen William Cavanaugh. Att den senare vågade vara just teolog gjorde det hela än mer intressant. Här ett utdrag ur Cavanaughs föredrag:

I think Lars has misunderstood my intent when he writes that I “aim to debunk what so many feel, which is loyalty to the nation and membership in the nation.” He says that I am “empirically speaking on shaky ground. If there is one thing that nationalism has been successful in accomplishing, it is instilling in citizens the passions of loyalty that make them willing to die for the nation” (19). Of this I have, and always have had, no doubt whatsoever. What I doubt is that just because people have such passions, they are a good thing. Here I cannot help but use theological, not just sociological, criteria to make judgments about what the true ends of human life really are. Lars thinks I employ a sort of Marxist view of “false consciousness,” that “if people would only ‘get’ that the modern nation-state does in fact not do what is claimed—providing a comfortable mix of freedom and community, of rights and duties—the odds would increase that the Church can re-complexify the social space and eke out a larger role for itself as the purveyor of an alternative moral authority as well as more humane social services and a promise of a Christian economic order that challenges the cold logic of the market” (19). If my argument remained on this level of social analysis—that the nation-state does not deliver what it claims, that the mix of freedom and community is not comfortable for all, that the church needs to claim a bigger social space and recapture some of its former market share as purveyor of moral authority and social services—then the argument would not only be incomplete, but distorted. I do not want to have this conversation without considering theological criteria. I do not think that what ultimately matters is some neutral criterion like “community,” and talk of God is expendable. I do not think we can have a fruitful conversation about how social life is organized without talking about the ultimate ends of human life, and, as I have argued, I think the way we view social life has been distorted precisely by the attempt to exclude consideration of ultimate ends. To be clear: I have no desire to impose any theological vision on the whole of society through state enforcement. But this is precisely why I think a pluralism of communities with shared ends needs to be allowed and encouraged. If there can be no return to Christendom–and thanks be to God there cannot be—then we should not replace Christendom with the unitary society of hard or closed secularism. For hard secularism imposes its own ends on society, regardless of its rhetoric of letting each individual choose her or his own ends. What is needed is what Taylor calls “open secularism,” which allows a true pluralism of communities with different ends.


Cavanaugh-seminarium live på video

Idag är det release för boken Between the State and the Eucharist som tillkom efter en ”läsar-konferens” på Bjärka-Säby 2012. Föredrag hålls av William Cavanaugh och Lars Trägårdh, och sedan följer frågestund och därefter en panel med Ola Sigurdson, Stefan Gustavsson, Mona Samadi och Jakob Forssmed. Bäst följes denna händelse givetvis på plats, men näst bäst är att följa det live på bambuser – här!

Hauerwas om svensk frikyrklighet

På onsdag är det release för Between the State and the Eucharist: Free Church Theology in Conversation with William T. Cavanaugh på Ersta, en bok jag och Fredrik Wenell redigerat om (i huvudsak) svensk frikyrklighet i dialog med Cavanaugh. Läser den ikväll – för första gången mellan pärmar, faktiskt! – och konstaterar återigen att Hauerwas korta förord är så intressant och insiktsfullt. Hör bara:

I had come to Sweden just prior to the disestablishment of the Lutheran Church by the state. I was told often that this would be a deep challenge to the Lutheran Church in Sweden. I have no reason to doubt that may well be the case, but I thought the disestablishment of the Lutheran Church would present a deeper and more lasting challenge to the Free Church. I thought that might be the case because the Free Church had positioned itself primarily as “not Lutheran.” What do you do when you lose the primary identifying marker that makes you who you have been?

Reading the essays in this book, however, has helped me see that while that impression may not have been wholly wrong it was too simple. For many of these essays help me understand that the challenge is not the Lutheran Church itself, but the Swedish welfare state. The latter turns out to be the expression of a Lutheranism that makes difficult any strong distinction between church and state. It seems outside the welfare system in Sweden there is no salvation. Accordingly the Free churches of Sweden, at least as these essays suggest, are manifestations of the very modernity they may well think they are reacting against. Ironically, spontaneous prayer turns out to be a practice that insures the Free churches will lack the resources to understand, much less resist, the forces that threaten their life.

(s. xii)



Helgens longread

Helgens longread är tveklöst amerikanen Theo Padnos skildring av sina två år som fånge hos al Nusra i Syrien. Den är ett fönster till konflikten i hela sin mänsklighet, i både positiv och negativ bemärkelse. Futtigheten, grymheten – och glimtarna av vänlighet och humanism mitt i eländet. Som i detta samtal mellan Padnos och hans fångvaktare:

I was curious about the futures of the five people now responsible for looking after me. What if they retired from military life, I asked, went home and promised to obey the Islamic State in the future? Would the group still wish to kill them?

“Of course,” they said.

“Really?” I asked. “But why?”

“Because we are Jebhat al Nusra,” they replied.

I knew the answer to the next question but asked it anyway. “Your practice of Islam is exactly the same as ISIS — you admire the same scholars and interpret the Quran just as they do?”

“Yes,” they agreed. “All of this is true.”

“And it’s true,” I said, “that when you joined Al Qaeda, in the early goings of the revolution, ISIS did not exist?”

“Yes, this is so,” the fighters agreed.

“And now they’re hoping to kill you?” I asked.

They shrugged their shoulders. “Yes.”

“But the situation is absurd,” I said. “You’re like a guy on the street drinking a bottle of Pepsi. Along comes the Seven-Up salesman. ‘Wicked man!’ says the Seven-Up salesman. ‘How dare you drink Pepsi? You must die.’ Under the circumstances, it ought to be O.K. for you to reply: ‘I’m quite sorry, sir. But when I went into the store, there was only one brand of soft drink available. Pepsi. That’s what I bought. Where’s the problem?’ ” The foot soldiers, all in their 20s and early 30s, were regular cola drinkers and were happy I had put the matter in everyday commercial terms. Everyone laughed.

The real issue between the Nusra Front and the Islamic State was that their commanders, former friends from Iraq, were unable to agree on how to share the revenue from the oil fields in eastern Syria that the Nusra Front had conquered.