Theology and Social Practice

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I was once told a joke of an English engineer, who shows a French engineer the plans of a machine he proposes to build. The English engineer inquires of the French engineer: "Do you think it will work?" The French engineer replies: "Sure it will work in practice, but will it work in theory?" This is exactly the question I would like to ask. Sure, the way we read the space of the city where spiritualities interact, seems to work in practice, but does it work in theory? I think that the transformation and liberation of mission is crucial in the face of the rise of this new space of the city, seeing as this is the place where most of the world’s population already live (Sheldrake, 2010:159). To transform and liberate mission, I propose we look at the way we read the space of the city where spiritualities interact. Recently the interdisciplinary journal Culture and Religion (2012) published a special edition with the theme: Believing in the City: Urban Cultures, Religion and (Im)Materiality. Each one of the city spiritualities described in the journal believed that they were somehow transforming or liberating the city. Underlying the urban spiritualities described in this edition of Culture and Religion was the metaphor of a battle for the space of the city. By publicly living their spiritualities, each group believed that they were claiming back secular space as spiritual space or claiming back spiritual space from an opposing spirituality. The city thus became the site for a zero-sum game of space for spiritualities to compete in. A zero-sum game is a game where there is only one winner and only one loser (Von Neumann & Morgenstern, 2007:46-47). A zero-sum reading of the space for urban spiritualities collapses this space into ... ... middle of paper ... ...a manifesto. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Mercer, K. (2005). Cosmopolitan modernisms. Cambridge, U.K.: Institute of international visual arts. Searle, J. R. (1980). Minds, Brains, and Programs. Behaviour and Brain Sciences, 3(3), 417–424. Sheldrake, P. (2010). Explorations in spirituality: history, theology, and social practice. New York: Paulist Press. Turing, A. M. (1950). Computing Machinery and Intelligence. Mind, 59(236), 433–460. Van Leeuwen, T. (2005). Introducing social semiotics: An introductory textbook. London; New York: Routledge. Von Neumann, J., & Morgenstern, O. (2007). Theory of Games and Economic Behavior (Commemorative Edition). Princeton: Princeton University Press. Wood, P. (2004). Varieties of Modernism. New Haven: Yale University Press in association with the Open University. Žižek, S. (2012). The Year of Dreaming Dangerously. London: Verso Books.

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