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What Would Jesus Demolish?

Most of us have seen the clearing of trees that marks the ground breaking of the new dorm on campus.

For some, I suspect it is a bit jolting to see, maybe even upsetting. For others, I imagine it is exciting to see the expansion of the school and the improvement of our facilities.

Whatever your feelings are on the new building, it at least provides us with an opportunity to take a look at the kingdom of God in relation to the direction of the school.

However, to begin to reveal this relationship, we must find a better starting point than personal feelings and sentiments.

I think Christ is an agreeable starting point for the conversation. He is, after all, at the center of Eastern’s commitment to faith, reason and justice, and the bridge between all three. If we are searching for ethical guidance, I propose Jesus as the cornerstone.

Looking at Jesus, we can begin to list a few characteristics of his life and teaching. Certainly Christ had a concern for the poor, a striving for simplicity, a challenging of the false claims of sovereignty in the world and, ultimately, a bringing forth the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.

Christ can and should be seen as the center point from which we understand God reconciling all of creation back to himself.

We must dispense with the idea that Christ was merely a ticket to heaven. Instead, I think it’s appropriate to think of Christ as bringing the kingdom of God to this earth. Thus, he provides a model in which we can live as members of that kingdom.

But how are we to live as members of the kingdom of God? In Philippians 2, Paul speaks of Christ ushering in the kingdom of God through a process of kenosis, or “emptying” in Greek.

Christ brought forth the kingdom, not by becoming powerful, but by becoming weak. To use the phrase of Shane Claiborne, Eastern alum and founder of the Simple Way, Christ stressed “downward mobility,” never upward.

The Mennonite tradition has a beautiful theology of enough. There is always enough for ourselves, and there is always more we can give to the world. There is no need for more, because what has been given is plenty.

Instead, as disciples, we embrace the resources that they are not ours, but God’s, given to the world.

I thought about preaching at this point, but after four years at Eastern, two months from graduating, I’m recognizing that living a Christian life is a hard thing. We must have grace for each other as we stumble and skid our way toward the kingdom.

I also want to avoid questioning the intentions or heart of the administration. I think Dr. Black is one of the most loving and good hearted people I know, with a strong, genuine passion for justice. In fact, I’m pretty convinced he should be nominated for sainthood.

So instead, I think it might be better to leave this article unresolved and ask questions, which our community can answer together.

Is the expansion of Eastern in line with the radical ethics of Christ? Are we being good stewards of the environment, our money and our resources by continuing this expansion?

If this is the case, when does our expansion stop? Are we headed in a direction that seeks to reach out to the marginalized? What are the long term goals?

And ultimately, how does a community or business (Eastern is both) achieve living the radical ethics of Christ in the setting of American capitalism where bigger seems to always mean better?

But the big question is this: where will the albino deer go?

Dan Leonard is a senior majoring in anthropology.

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