These days I’m re-reading Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development (Orbis) by Bryant Myers. I first read it a few years ago during grad school, and am now reading the new “revised and expanded edition” for an upcoming magazine review. It’s basically the Bible for transformational development, not counting the actual Bible itself.
I’ll have more to say about it soon, but for now I thought I’d share a particularly poignant paragraph from Walter Wink, who is quoted in the theology chapter, supporting Myers’ conviction that “we are to see the world as created, fallen, and being redeemed, all at the same time.” Here’s Wink:
God at one and the same time upholds a political or economic system, since some such system is required to support human life; condemns that system insofar as it is destructive to full human actualization; and presses for its transformation into a more human order. Conservatives stress the first, revolutionaries the second, reformers the third. The Christian is expected to hold together all three.
That comes from Wink’s Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination (I’ve yet to read that one, but I found his little book Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way insightful and helpful when I read it and blogged about it last summer).
Because the world is created by God, is broken because of the fall, and is being redeemed through Jesus Christ, it’s important for development practitioners — and for all of us — to keep that three-fold creation-fall-redemption theme in mind as we do our work in the world.
It’s easy to just be a conservative or a revolutionary or a reformer; it’s tough to discern the proper place of each. But each impulse, each posture, has its place, and at times simultaneously. God help us to hold the three together.