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  • Writer's picturePastor Chris Smith

Solidarity Economics and the Good Life

This week, we hear God's beautiful invitation to abundance and satisfaction in Isaiah:

All of you who are thirsty, come to the water!

Whoever has no money, come, buy food and eat!

Without money, at no cost, buy wine and milk!

Why spend money for what isn’t food,

and your earnings for what doesn’t satisfy?

Listen carefully to me and eat what is good;

enjoy the richest of feasts.

Listen and come to me;

listen, and you will live.

I will make an everlasting covenant with you,

my faithful loyalty to David.

Look, I made him a witness to the peoples,

a prince and commander of peoples.

Look, you will call a nation you don’t know,

a nation you don’t know will run to you

because of the Lord your God,

the holy one of Israel, who has glorified you.

- Isaiah 55:1-5

This year, I’ve had the joy of participating in a Solidarity Circle, part of the Wendland-Cook Program in Religion at Justice at Vanderbilt. Our cohort has spent the last nine months exploring the principles of solidarity, justice, and community care around a vision of a solidarity economy that we see longed for in this passage from Isaiah. One of my colleagues in this endeavor, Mary Hess, recently wrote about some of the practical and theological implications of our economic systems in an article titled “Solidarity Economics and the Good Life.” She writes,

We are at the dawn of a new age in so very many ways. Activist, lawyer, seminary-trained philosopher Valarie Kaur invites us to imagine that rather than the “darkness of a tomb” perhaps this time is a “darkness of a womb” – and we are laboring to give birth. How might we find hope in the midst of it? How might we perceive the “signs of the times” in ways that lead to hope rather than despair? How do we breathe in the midst of this labor? One place I believe we have to start, woven directly into the fabric of creation, is to believe, and to act on the belief, that “we do better when we all do better” (to quote Paul Wellstone). As Chris Benner and Manual Pastor write in Solidarity Economics: Why Mutuality and Movements Matter, “for nearly 250 years now our major economic and political institutions have been built on the assumption of self-interested individuals and the continued systematic marginalization of disenfranchised groups.” But that is not the heart of the gospel, nor is it the framework that lives in the Hebrew bible. We do not have to live this lie. We can, instead, plant in the soil of creation, in the good ground with which God has gifted us, evidence of our shared life. We can live from a deep sense of interconnection and interdependence.

You can read the rest of the article at the link below and I encourage you to spend some time wrestling with it as you go through your week. As you do, consider the ways God is calling you to plant in the good ground that God has gifted us. How might we be called to transform our relationship with the economies we participate in? How might we better envision a world where all eat what is good and enjoy the richest of feasts?

Solidarity Economics and the Good Life by Mary Hess -

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Chris

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