God and Community Organizing
A Covenantal Approach
290 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- ISBN: 9781481313155
- Published: October 2020
The ever-evolving climate, technological advances, neoliberal capitalism, and globalization and its effects have transformed the very fabric of global society. In the wake of these phenomena is a globally experienced fragmentation caused by moral assumptions about social institutions as well as increasing disenchantment with democracy and social arrangements as they currently exist. Recently, a surprisingly large number of Christian congregations have been attracted to the twentieth-century concept of community organizing. This phenomenon is a result of the inherent passion for justice in covenantal organizing that underlies Jewish and Christian faith. Not only is covenant instrumental in the formation of God’s people as a community, the concept has also played an important role in the rise of modern Western ideas of democracy, constitutionalism, and human rights.
God and Community Organizing: A Covenantal Approach brings Saul Alinsky’s community organizing into conversation with biblical and theological models of covenant. Hak Joon Lee argues that covenant reflects the life of the triune God who eternally organizes Godself as the Father, Son, and Spirit. At the heart of the biblical institutions of the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant of Jesus is the attempt to structure a wholesome, close-knit community of love, justice, and power. Lee incorporates four examples of covenantal organizing in different historical and social contexts: Exodus, Jesus, Puritans, and Martin Luther King Jr. Critically engaging with Saul Alinsky’s method, Lee seeks to highlight how the two streams of thought—covenantal organizing and Alinsky’s community organizing—can complement each other to develop a more vigorous and effective method of faith-based community organizing.
From his study Lee explores the political and moral implications in light of the current struggle against the neoliberal corporate oligarchy. By demonstrating how covenantal organizing presents a more coherent and plausible social philosophy, an effective method in organizing a globalizing society is offered as an alternative to liberal democracy, postmodernism, identity politics, and communitarianism.
Hak Joon Lee has written a fresh and compelling study of the practice of political power to which close attention should be paid. Lee explores the claim that covenant as expressed in the Bible constitutes a map and guideline for the contemporary practice of community organizing. He shows the way in which the covenant of ancient Israel becomes a model for the exercise of social power. In this narrative account the pay-out of exposition is the singular work of Saul Alinsky who wisely acted out the impulses of covenant. In the midst of this covenant-to-Alinsky exposition is Jesus who knowingly ‘trained his disciples into kingdom organizers.’ Serious faith can no longer be a passive head-trip. It is rather transformative action in the world. Lee exposits the biblical resources for just such a faith.~Walter Brueggemann, Professor Emeritus, Columbia Theological Seminary