I’ve been reading Rowan Williams’

I’ve been reading Rowan Williams’ (Archbishop of Canterbury) book Lost Icons: Reflections on Cultural Bereavement. In chapter two he writes of ‘Charity,’ “Since social activity outside the framework of ‘charity’ is regularly characterized by the sense of rivalry for limited goods, the festival or the fraternity comes to be a vastly important redefinition of what is involved in acquiring ‘goods’ at all. The material world appears as a world of scarcity – at least in the sense that no material acquisitions can be infinitely divided out. The game of ‘charity’ is based on the implied proposal that there are goods to be worked for that are completely different in kind from material goods, goods that exist only in the game, within the agreed structures of unproductive action…” (pp. 56-57; italics his)
In this context (rivalry of limited ‘goods’, although not in reference to a ‘game’), I wonder whether the conflicts between different groups of Christians, and between some Christians and other religions, and between they and secularists, is a result of this notion: that salvation is a limited commodity so that there is a competition to see who gets it — or — God’s acceptance and attention are limited, so that there is a rivalry to attain them. Thus, one group demands that their way be the only way and that their definitions be the only definitions to the exclusion of all others, securing for themselves God’s salvation, attention, acceptance, and blessing.
I wonder whether for many there is an underlying concept of limit to God’s grace and mercy, to God’s salvation? The politicized Religious Right demands (in so many ways and at so many levels) that society accepts their understanding of what determines a Christian and their definitions, and accept their assertion that those who do not are not saved or are not Christian. Why? I know there all kinds of sociological, psychological, and theological explanations for such views and behavior, but I wonder within a theological context whether there honestly is a belief that God’s grace and salvation are limited, and because of this there develops a sense of rivalry and competition that compels them to horde, to become exclusive, to deny others that which they claim for themselves? This could explain a lot in the way the conservative Religious Right is responding to the inclusion of homosexuals into society and the Church and their obsessive, fanatical opposition to any Christian person or group that advocates for such inclusion. I wonder?
God’s salvation, attention, acceptance, and blessing are limitless, thus there is no need to adopt an economic or consumer model of competitiveness and rivalry to attain/obtain limited resources — whether spiritual, material, a sense of acceptance or self-worth, forgiveness, love, etc. There is no ‘charity’ and no concern for the other in this model, just selfishness, ego, and pride — which can and will lead to violence, whether spiritual, mental, or physical.

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