Exploring the Social Imagination

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

In God's Imagination We Live

Acts 17: 28 For in him we live and move and have our being...

Reflecting on current events... we can settle our disputes through legal assembly; otherwise, we are the ones to blame for rioting. Acts 19 In this segment, we learn that craftsmen were disgruntled with Paul who voiced his disdain for the craft of creating false images and he made his voice known in a town which produced such items. This caused outrage among those producing such things. The clerk in town insisted that those craftsmen making such things were aware that Paul was not causing the problem of 'riot' but that they were. They need to seek justice (if they feel there is injustice) via legal assembly. To bring a case against Paul through the proper legal system; which they could not because Paul was not the cause of the problem, they were.

Not that this is an exact example of current events, but it asks us to look at the root cause of social problems. Often, when their is social strife, there is a social cause. Quite often the cause is instigated from top down of the social structure (those who have the most to lose, carry on the most) and this was the case in Paul's times too.

Thorstein Veblen, American sociologist/economist, spoke of this situation as well as many decades ago in book, Vested Interests and the Common Man. He saw social conflict largely between those with vested interests and the common man. For Veblen, a vested interest is a legitimate right to get something for nothing, a prescriptive right to an income which is secured by controlling the traffic at one point or another. Whereas all the common man asks for is to be left alone to have the freedom to pursue his dreams even if they are small ones.

In today's situation's of conflict, we find this playing out. Why is that? Firstly, because we live in a corrupt program. The Christian knows of that event as is related in Genesis. 
Given that, what can be accomplished here and now in this corrupted program.

Let us reexamine Veblen. Firstly, he disregards choice and free will which is everyone's. Max Weber, thankfully took this into account. Social structure/hierarchy is the composition of those participating, all people have a choice. What they end up with is based on their choice. Some may argue that they have no fair choice as would Veblen argue. But, that is not true if they live in God's imagination.
Let us say that they live in man's and how that plays out to be fair. Given that we live in a corrupt program, one that still allows everyone to make choices, knowing this program and its agenda so well articulated by Veblen, we can see how choices appear to be unfair.
Without getting into writing a book on this and or how Veblen was mistaken in many instances, the point being in regards to today's current conflicts is that everyone involved has made choices that he or she thinks will either safe guard them or catapult them into higher positions - both are about preservation.  Even the common man makes decisions based on those two underlying agendas.

Using Veblen, Weber and Paul's situation as given above in view of current conflicts, we can recognize structures in places throughout the world as being created by choices made. No one is caught in a situation without having something to do with its creation. There are two social dynamics - subordinate and dominant. Neither can exist without the other. Without these, social reality would not exist.
Paul protested passively 'subordinate', and those at the top reacted harshly as they were afraid of loosing their subordinates. They did not understand Paul's choice in not supporting their dominant position. Paul's choice of preservation came from within (God's imagination) and the craftsman's preservation came from outer realm (Man's imagination -without Godly direction).

This is not to say that if the tables were turned it would be different. God's choice of Paul is significant for he was at one time on the other side of social structure - top down, he was in a dominant position and did not understand the choices of the apostles, Steven i.e. nor choices of Christians. Jesus too showed us how to live through making choices, he healed on the Sabbath, it was his choice.

The legal assembly is the way forward in our corrupt program, it is the way forward in making sure choices are viewed as legitimate because what the vested interests fail to realize is that the choices of the common man are what allowed him to make his and visa versa.

1 comment :

  1. Our nation's founders understood this. They looked at history and realized that a legal assembly was the only way to mitigate the tendency of corruption to "have it's way". Accountability and agreement can ward off the effects of corruption and evil.