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agricultural cooperatives be protected against absorption and destruction by big companies, Legislation and possible fiscal measures may need to be developed to ensure the survival of small and medium-size businesses. Economic growth and Third World development will, however, require more than this. For southern African regional development to succeed, fair trade agreements between southern African nations are necessary. For the South to counter the domination of the North, South-South development projects are required. For free trade to become a reality, global regulations and tighter control of transnational capital markets are necessary. The role of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and international trade agreements will need to be renegotiated to serve the needs of poor nations, i.e., in ways that assist local production, distribution and economic viability.70

(6) Threats to the environment by an industrial economy need to be seriously addressed, It is not sufficient to impose a 'green' agenda on the existing industrial order essentially because the source of the present ecological crisis is not merely a result of our more unfortunate management miscalculations. It involves the indiscriminate human assertion of self over the natural environment. This is a reality that has deep cultural roots, requiring that the theological borderline between dominion and domination (Genesis 1.2.8) be investigated,71 This places theological concern with ecology at the centre of the theological encounter with economics. It demands a programme of environmental accounting that takes into account not only current production but also long-term health costs and future productivity, as well as natural and cultural interests.

(7) The Church (because it is church) is obliged to discern the practical implications of theological work 011 the struggle for a just (alternative) economic system within the Hebrew Bible and Jesus movement.7* The pertinent question concerns the formative values and ultimate goals of the people of Yahweh in the Hebrew Bible and in the early Christian messianic community of the New Testament, Both these societies were driven by an understanding of a God who takes sides with the poor and destitute (Leviticus 25), with those whose basic needs are not satisfied (Matthew 25.31^), with the empowerment of the weak and the judgment of the strong (Luke 1,46f*}. Differently stated, the biblical God is never revealed in a neutral place (whether in the mind of intellectuals or among the counsellors of the Pharaohs or high priests), but among the slaves (Exodus), the peasant farmers (Amos), the widows and orphans (New Testament).73

(8) The Church is obliged to note the legitimate objection of economists to this biblical affirmation. 'Theology', economists insist, 'does not produce grain, nor does it build houses!5 Indeed, the theological task is not to construct specific economic models for society. It is rather to bring the basic social impulses of the liberating biblical tradition to bear on the economic struggle of the poor and the oppressed in contemporary times, This requires the Church to ensure that the economy is not left to unfettered market forces (individual and corporate) that serve the interests of the powerful.74 While conceding the disastrous consequences of statist controls in Eastern Europe, the task of theology is to promote such forces within the economy that allow for democratic intervention by ordinary people (including the poor) to ensure that their needs are addressed- For all the virtues of the market system, history shows that market-minded people strive primarily to satisfy their own need for survival, scarcely that of others- Theologically it is imperative to stress that life consists of more than money and consumer goods. The 'proper functioning of the market'75 necessarily includes the recognition of the intrinsic value of human life, which includes health, beauty, community, conviviality, moral integrity and spiritual well-being. An economy that is driven by profit alone requires the strongest theological critique.

Christian theology is about community. It is about people living fiin Christ' one with another. The role of the economy in community-building has motivated Douglas Meeks to entitle his book God the Economist^76 precisely because of the way in which the economy is inextricably bound up with how people coexist. Tt is this that causes liberation theologians to instinctively lean in the direction of socialism - whether in the form of social democracy, democratic socialism or socialism of a more doctrinaire kind, The democratic impulse of liberation theology, grounded in the empowerment of the poor, should, at the same time, militate against statisttype (non-democratic) forms of economic control.

Suffice it to say, the demands for economic justice have shifted from the ideological debates of the 1970s and 1980s to a more pragmatic struggle with economic realities - to which there appear to be no simple or quick solutions. For liberation theology to meet this challenge it must build on the pragmatism, social critique and the democratic impulses that have permeated this theological debate from its inception, rather than its ideological, doctrinaire dimensions- This means that the quest for an economy that promotes the welfare of all, and more specifically the well-being of the poor, is to be democratically pursued in relation (albeit in competition)

with the views of those who reject these initiatives. Bluntly stated, a Utopian notion of an exclusive socialism that politically excludes those who promote the interests of rich and powerful is not a viable option. Democracy demands the recognition of difference and the right of dissent This requires theologians to concern themselves with matters of constitutionalism, the rule of law, human rights and free elections as a basis for addressing the economic problems of the poor.77

In summary: The quest for an economic alternative to exploitative capitalism constitutes the point of continuity between the theological agenda prior to the 1990s and that of the present. Given the global realities of the present, the vision of the alternative order is not finalised. There is at the same time a certain confidence that pervades the struggle of the poor. It is grounded in what Jorge Pixley calls a 'natural majority* within most countries that favour radical economic reform.78 The pertinent question is how to mobilise this constituency. Ultimately it is about how to mobilise people to project goals and to realise these in quest of the common good.

Empowering the poor

The common good and national reconstruction is about jobs, houses, health care, education and democratic structures that empower people. Empowerment, however, includes cultural renewal and a spirituality that draws on religious, social and historical resources that provide a sense of personal and communal self-worth. In the words of Franz Fanon, culture is £the action through which [a] people creates itself and keeps itself in exist-enceV? Culture that empowers is born where people suffer, where hope emerges from defeat and life out of death. Spirituality is that exercise by which people reach beyond themselves to draw on what Max Weber calls the 'life forces' of existence,80 It is story, memory, symbol, language, poetry, song and places. It is the soil, the blood and the history which constitutes our identity. It is the experience of the mysterium, the poetic, the holy - of God, in the midst of life. It is that within which we live, move and have our being. It is the food of the soul. As such it involves more than ecclesial reliance or priestly dependency, Indeed Leonardo Boff provocatively argues that the poverty of an empowering spirituality needs to be explained in relation to priests having 'expropriated the spiritual means of production from the laity'!81 A people's spirituality can of course be facilitated by ecclesial structures, but it involves more than the internalisation of traditional Christian devotional practices-

This organic, people-based spirituality is more than one option among others for discovering our worth and giving expression to our identity. It is more than a light coat that rests on our shoulders, to be discarded at will.

Spirituality is being, It is religion and belief- It is culture. It is life, To the extent that a person is alive, responding to new challenges and ready to engage the other in dialogue, spirituality is an irreprcssably dynamic reality. It unites, synthesises and brings difference into creative harmony,

Africans instinctively understand this. Traditional African understandings of uhuntu affirm the organic wholeness of humanity - a wholeness realised in and through other people, The notion is enshrined in the Xhosa proverb: umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu {a person is a person through persons). This is a belief that recognises within other people the presence of the divine through which a person attains full humanity. Ubuntu involves the realisation that for better and worse we are shaped by a host of others with whom we share our lives. Meaningful relationships, whether 'by blood', 'by marriage* or even cby association', are dearly cherished by traditional African culture/1 Primarily the sense of belonging involves kinship within one's own clan. One can, however, also discern a sense of belonging with 'personal strangers' - people with whom one grows in his or her humanity, whether through affirmation or conflict. In sum, an African sense of community includes and unites.

Theologians have, however, with few exceptions, failed to provide the kind of systematic reflection on this encounter that is required. Liturgists and priests have, in turn, been too timid in plumbing the depths of African identity to glean from it spiritual resources for the Church. H, Richard Niebuhr has reminded us that:

... where common memory is lacking, where men [sic] do not share in the same past there can be no real community, and where community is to be formed common memory must be created,.. The measure of our distance from each other in our nations and our groups can be taken by noting the divergence, the scpararencss and the lack of sympathy in our social memories, Conversely, the measure of our unity is the extent of our common memory,8}

South Africa still awaits a unifying memory which incorporates provincial memories and partial pasts. This struggle, for symbols that unite and stories that bind, has only just begun. A new genre of theology is waiting to be born, one that draws on song, dance, poetry and art. It will need to look to the spoken and unspoken word, often so deep within the human psyche that it cannot be adequately articulated- Where seers, prophets, priests of the people and poets have scarcely succeeded in uncovering the mysteries of the past, academics will need, however, to tread warily! They will need to remove the shoes from their feet. They will be on holy ground,

If spiritual ty is what creates and sustains a people, in South Africa it is urgently needed. For it to succeed in this task it is obliged to deal with difference - accentuated not only by generations of apartheid, but also by centuries of religious conflict, proselytisation and war.

Again it is Niebuhr who assists us. He speaks of revelation in a broad and inclusive sense. For him revelation is recorded in all life's stories that encapsulate an event or events that give life its purpose and meaning.84 Rosemary Radford Ruether reminds us of a growing repertoire of such events that provide new insights into life - contemporary stories and events. New liberating experiences in life, she suggests, continually empower us *to write new stories, new parables, new midrashim on old stories*/5 These new (contemporary) stories, both oral and written from within the heat and passion of lived experience, function every bit as powerfully - if not more powerfully - than the stories of traditional religious texts in the shaping of our identities.

The parochial memory of a battle won, of a defeat suffered, of a celebration or a funeral, of an engaging event or bitter conflict often does more tc unite and motivate a people than the most sacred events of established religion. At times these stories override the importance of established sacred symbols; at times they give established religious stories new vitality and contextual meaning. The memory of the Great Trek, Blood River and the suffering of Boer women and children in English concentration camps are memories that unite many Afrikaners. Sharpeville, the 1976 Soweto rebellion, Umkhonto we Sizwe (for some) and Apia (for others) have equally united blacks. And yet these same stories, memories, symbols and culture are at the same time at the root of the alienation that exists between most whites and most blacks. Thus nation-building of the inclusive kind that underpins the goals of the present era of South African politics, requires that in affirming these memories, we also transcend them. We need to share memories as a basis for the emergence of new unifying memories.

Storytelling, in one form of another, is pare of all traditions, cultures and civilisations, 'If you cannot understand my story, you do not accept me as your neighbour,' Ellen Kuzwayo once told me. 'I am an African woman. I've tried to share my soul, my way of seeing things, the way I understand life. I hope you understand/ We continued to speak at some length. 'Africa is a place of storytelling/ she continued. 'We need more stories, never mind how painful the exercise might be. This is how we will learn to love one another. Stories help us to understand, to forgive and to see things through someone else's eyes/8*

Gustavo Gutierrez speaks of the need for people to drink from their own wells. Nation-building in South Africa demands more than this. It requires

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