Why We Don’t Join Institutions Anymore

Why We Don't Join Institutions Anymore. Robert Sweetman. Presented at the ICS Worldview Conference "Another Brick in the Wall", Oakville, Ontario, September 27, 2008.

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This essay argues that institutions are a perennial feature of human society and culture.  They preserve default positions on how to act together in any number of ways to perform those functions necessary to human living or deemed necessary to human flourishing.  But institutions take on the colour and texture of the age in which they emerge or function. Our most successful institutions, those identified with globalizing capitalism, betray the colours and texture of the age of ideology.  Thus they are aggressively expansive, coercive, hugely complex and very large.  What becomes ever more obvious however is that we no longer trust institutions of the ideological type to steward our common human good.  We are emerging into a post-ideological world.  The institutional experiments most attuned to the new world are very different in colour and texture from those formed in the age of ideology.  They are localized (although tied via new technologies to similar groups worldwide), small, simple and participatory or democratic.  What does this have to say to the Christian community in its institutional life?

This is the first of two addresses by Bob Sweetman given at the ICS Worldview Conference titled "Another Brick in the Wall" on September 27, 2008 in Oakville, Ontario, Canada.