sticking it to the Man

I recently picked up Miraslov Volf’s Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation. My experience of reading Volf is like taking a freezing cold shower; you don’t necessarily enjoy it, but you walk away invigorated, alert, and refreshed. And then maybe later, you admit to secretly having liked it.

Volf, a theology professor at Yale, is a native Croatian who writes truly Christian theology that addresses the complexity of contemporary political and cultural realities. What all of this mean for you, dear reader, is that you can expect to be bombarded by Volf quotes for the next few weeks.

Starting with this one. Volf never explicitly references “the Man,” but I think we all know who he is talking about.

How does the system work? Consider first what might be called the “background cacophony of evil.” It permeates institutions, communities, nations, whole epochs, and it is sustained, as Marjorie Suchocki puts it, by “a multiply nuanced and mirrored and repeated intentionality of purpose that exercises its corporate influence” (Suchocki 1995, 122). This is the low-intensity evil of the way “things work” or the way “things simply are,” the exclusionary vapors of institutional or communal cultures under which many suffer but for which no one is responsible and about which all complain but no one can target.

Happy Monday! And don’t let “the Man” get you down.

2 Replies to “sticking it to the Man”

  1. Volf is fantastic. You might also look at another book of his *Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace*. It’s a little bit more accessible than some of his other books and deals with generosity in the first half and forgiveness in the second. Also, his follow up to *Exclusion and Embrace* is entitled *End of Memory* I forget the subtitle, but it essentially has to do with the role our memory plays in reconciliation. It’s great stuff.

    1. Trey, I’m actually reading Free of Charge right now and certainly agree with you. Way more accessible. I think his appeal for me is not that what he says is entirely new, but what he does say he says really well. I’ll look forward to diving into End of Memory eventually.
      Thanks for stopping by.

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