That’s the one word that described this book the best. An Other Kingdom is a powerful call to depart the consumer culture and return to a neighborly covenant culture.
It’s a short book at under 100 pages (and that’s including some commentaries), but boy, does it pack a punch. Never has a passionate rant against the consumer culture that we are all so deeply entrenched in sounded so poetic and inspiring and longing.
An Other Kingdom
Okay, maybe I need to make it a bit more specific—which is not easy, since this book isn’t specific or practical at all. It’s broad and over-arching and rarely moves down to details, with the exception of a few concrete examples. That’s intentional though, as it completely fits the vision for the three authors who rail (though lovingly) against the top-down culture and embrace the grass roots solutions.
Their main point is this: free-market consumerism is consuming us. Almost literally. It’s destroying our bodies, our relationships, our minds even. It’s holding us captive.
Instead, the authors describe their vision for a neighborly covenant culture. They place abundance where scarcity reigns, mystery as opposed to certainty, fallibility to perfection, and the common good above personal individualization.
This book challenged my paradigm when it comes to the consumer culture. Never before have I been so confronted with the damage this culture does to us as people, as God’s people. The mindsets of scarcity, of competition, of perfection—they’re destroying us bit by bit.
Maybe this is also why I’ve been so reluctant in using free-market techniques in promoting blog content, both for ChurchMag and for my own blog, and for the promotion of products and services I offer. Stressing scarcity for instance is a well-known sales technique (“This deal will only be available for 48 hours and after that the price will increase.”), but what theology do we unconsciously promote by this? I’d never looked at it that way until I read this book.
The message of the covenant-based neighborly culture where we focus on the common good stirred my heart. It seems unrealistic, naive—but it’s also incredibly hopeful. It’s in line with what Alan Hirsch and other emergent church leaders are saying as well about post-Christian culture, so if that’s your cup of tea you’ll love this book.
Read this book, I challenge you.
I’d love to start a conversation about this topic, because I know I’ll be chewing on the concepts introduced here for a long time.