by Lora Nafziger, Pastor, Assembly Mennonite Church, Goshen, Indiana
Over our time together exploring and discussing economics in Indiana, I was most struck by the idea of functional atheism. This idea insists on despair. It insists that the individual is responsible for whatever happens. There is no room for mystery or miracle; no room for the inbreaking of the spirit. I was challenged to consider the rich theological heritage and language, of which we are stewards, to delve deep and explore the nuances and challenges of living in a culture of scarcity. This is a culture that demands we keep for ourselves and make sure we have enough, not just for today, but tomorrow too. As an Anabaptist, my history requires that I am always engaging the paradox of living in a culture and trying to be separate from it.
An Other Kingdom, the book that we were given to read in preparation for our time together, was in constant conversation in my head with our speakers. In this book, the authors, Block, Brueggeman and MacKnight suggest that the way to survive in these two cultures is to keep the culture of the world on the periphery, to turn toward others in generosity and community, to believe in abundance. When we function as if abundance is real we lose our atheism. We believe that even the world, the material universe we live in is God made flesh. God is immanent and transcendent. In the possibility for hope and inbreaking, for imagination and change that God is here.