Carnival Kingdom – a short review

There is no doubt that in the 13 years since the millennium any optimism present then 9781908860026has faded. Economic crisis, the growing effects of climate change, ever rising energy and food costs have seen to that. These make themselves apparent to us as a justice crisis. In the West median incomes have hardly risen for 20 years and the gap between rich and poor has widened. In the developing world some countries such as India and China have boomed with millions being lifted out of poverty, but at high ecological and social cost. Since the 2008 crash millions of us worldwide are either unemployed or underemployed and in the UK even middle class families teeter on the brink of financial disaster.

In his song “Justice” Bruce Cockburn sang

“Everybody
Loves to see
Justice done
On somebody else”

in other words we want to see justice done as long as it does not affect us. This book is written by a team of people who want to see justice done to benefit everyone, but particularly the poorest and most vulnerable, where ever they are situated. In this case everyone does mean everyone, the books reach is immense. It covers everything from climate migration, development in the Philippines to what the Putney debates held just after the English civil war can teach about us the challenges facing us due to the ecological and economic crisis (and a lot in between).

The book is based around the idea of God’s kingdom being an upside topsy turvey kingdom like the medieval carnival. In the carnival normal rules and regulations were ignored or reversed. But perhaps most importantly everyone “the Carnival had no observers, only participants”. Like the carnival God’s kingdom is upside down (Luke 1:51-53) and we should be fully involved.

Holding this idea of carnival (though its mentioned increasingly less throughout the book) the authors look at the ideas of justice within their own contexts. This takes the reader into areas that he or she would never of thought about. The stand-out chapters for this reviewer included the chapter by Dr Darío López Rodríguez on Evangelical community, civil society and political action. Whilst Rodríguez writes in a Latin American context, the call for evangelicals to engage politically on the side of the poor and not defend the status quo is directly applicable to the Western world. The climate justice chapter written by the Hodsons is outstanding, the only criticism that in some ways its not hard hitting enough as we pass 400ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere. This reviewer found the background on the XL pipeline in this chapter particularly useful, as it was something he had heard about, but knew little. Climate activists in the US led by amongst others a Christian called Bill McKibben who leads 350.org are even now trying to stop this madness.

At a time when the politics everywhere seems more nationalistic and selfish this book should be a wake up call to evangelicals to take an interest in justice in their own community as well as other more distant communities around the world and take a stand against the selfishness prevalent in society around them.

I was given a copy of this book to review.

Neil

 

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