Living on Hope While Living in Babylon

“Living on Hope While Living in Babylon: The Christian Anarchists of the 20th Century” by Tripp York [Wipf and Stock, 2009]
“Fred “Tripp” York is a professor of religion and a prolific Mennonite writer (B.A., Trevecca Nazarene University; M.T.S., Duke University; Ph.D., Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary). His writings span a wide range of genres and subjects including: animals, martyrdom, politics, violence, religious satire and comics. His most popular work is his satirical search for Satan in “The Devil Wears Nada”. He is the co-creator and co-editor of The Peaceable Kingdom Series. York belongs to the Mennonite tradition that has a 500 year history of Christian pacifism. He has written extensively on the North American Christians’ complicity with power and suggests a return to a more diasporic understanding of Christian practice. He emphasizes the witness of Christian anarchists such as Dorothy Day, and Daniel and Philip Berrigan. He teaches at Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk, VA. He previously taught at Elon University and Western Kentucky University.”

“Christian anarchy, the belief that in Jesus’ teachings may be found an inherent opposition to systematic secular rule and an inclination towards war and oppression, is a credence that dates back as far as Christianity itself. York focuses on the movement’s modern manifestations and their potential as models for contemporary Christian life. The author examines a few twentieth century Christians from varying religious traditions who lived such a witness, including the Berrigan brothers, Dorothy Day, and Eberhard Arnold. These witnesses can be viewed as anarchical in the sense that their loyalty to Christ undermines the pseudo-stereological myth employed by the state. While these Christians have been labeled pilgrims, revolutionaries, nomads, subversives, agitators, and now, anarchists, they are more importantly seekers of the peace of the city whose chief desire is for those belonging to the temporal cities to be able to participate in the eternal city, the city of God.”
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“The publication of Tripp York’s “Living on Hope While Living in Babylon” marks a significant contribution to the recently re-emerging interest in the connection between Christianity and anarchism and for that reason should be celebrated. Very little scholarship exists regarding these questions, and the less these concerns remain marginal to political theology the better….
Christian anarchists enjoy calling themselves by that name as a distinguishing marker: distinguishing themselves from “politics as usual” as well as from “mainstream” Christianities. But Christian anarchists need to begin to become accountable for their use of the term “anarchism,” not simply appropriating it with no intention of engaging actual anarchism and actual anarchists. I’d like to see Christian theological engagement with anarchism that takes a more “C/catholic” approach rather than the either/or approach that has dominated the discussion so far.
What we need is an anarchist political theology that has learned from anarchism because it has been in real dialogue with it and has even been challenged by it. Thankfully there are some emerging Christian theologians who are doing just that: I am thinking of Alexandre J. M. E. Christoyannopoulos who has published several articles on Christian anarchism and has edited an interreligious collection called “Religious Anarchism”, Lee Griffith (see his “Called to Christian Anarchy?” in “God and Country?: Diverse Perspectives on Christianity and Patriotism”, ed. Michael G. Long and Tracy Wenger Sadd [New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2007]) and Andy and Nekeisha Alexis-Baker’s impressive academic work and online Jesus Radicals project/community. The latter is especially rooted in a real personal identification with anarchism and a praxis of dialogue and openness to intellectual and praxial conversion. These scholars represent the kind of engagement with anarchism that is needed for the twenty-first century, an engagement that leaves the triumphalism of the past behind and seeks first the Kingdom wherever it is emerging, both inside the church and outside of it.

see also
for Jesus Radicals, see
christian anarchism
for M. E. Christoyannopoulos see


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