Becoming Kingdom

Part of the inspiration for this post is the idea of brokenness. Brokenness would seem to assume a fall from something unbroken or perfect. This fits with common rhetoric in many schools of Christianity with regards to the Fall. The story is often presented as a fall from the perfection in the garden. Adam and Eve allow sin to enter into the garden, and then they are removed. In this act sin (or brokenness) enters into the world. Thus, for many, the aim of Christianity is to enter into God’s kingdom so that we may return to this perfection.

I don’t think that the story which scripture tells subscribes to such a return to perfection. There is no return to the garden in Christianity. What Christianity promises is the Kingdom of God – not a return to the garden – but a journey to something much different. This is interesting because without the fall the potential of the Kingdom wouldn’t be there. It is the fall which allows for the constant becoming of the kingdom. Instead of suggesting that the fall is a bad thing, what if we were to consider the fall a necessary move.

If we look at it in this way, and are able to remove the normative claims of the fall, we can think about the fall not as a move from good to bad, but rather as one broken world to another. Not a negative brokenness – but rather that brokenness which makes us interesting. I think that part of the key here lies in our understanding of sin – not as a moral category, but as an ontological one. We do sin, but that is not what makes us sinful, rather we sin because we are already, ontologically sinful. It is not what we do that makes us sinful, we just are. From this we are broken. But rather than experiencing this as something negative, why not celebrate the fact that it is our brokenness that makes us interesting, different and unique. It is also our brokenness that allows us to change, to move towards new things.

If we get rid of the moral claims surrounding the fall, we can think about the fall as something different than a fall from perfection to imperfection or from unbroken to broken. Rather, we could suggest that it is a move from brokenness to brokenness. I’ve been thinking about the Kingdom of God within the Deleuzian ideas of deterritorialization. That the Kingdom of God is a series of deterriorializations and reterritorializations. That the perfection in the garden was itself broken. That this perfection needed to be deterritorialized, so that a new territory could be built. The garden was stagnant. Without there being something broken, there was no way for the potential of the Kingdom. It was only in the move towards brokenness that the potential of the Kingdom could be realized. The move towards the Kingdom of God exists in scripture because of the first deterritorialization (the ‘fall’), rather than in spite of it.

Furthermore, this notion can help us function against the thought that we are moving towards a perfect world. Rather, we are moving towards a new territorialization, which will again need to be deterritorialized. Power and stagnation move hand in hand. By assuming a notion of perfection and universality to become our ideal, we allow power to fester, and stagnation to occur. We are constantly becoming kingdom, but this requires constant movement. The Kingdom of God is constantly becoming! Instead of thinking about Christianity as moving towards a stagnant kingdom, on might understand Christianity as something that is both itself constantly being deterritorialized and reterritorialized, while at the same time, the kingdom is constantly being deterritorialized and reterritorialized. If we think of the Kingdom as against Empire, against power, and on the side of the oppressed, we can understand the Kingdom as the constant deterritorialization of power. New powers may rise up, but the Kingdom, through its embrace of the radical love of the other, constantly moves to tear that power down. [1]

What we are moving towards is not perfection, but new brokenness, which again will need to be deterritorialized. Never remaining stagnant. The Kingdom alive in the constant movements towards love. Love in the brokenness, love of the brokenness.

[1] One problem of this, of course, is that the Church has been used, historically, as a tool for Empire, for stagnation, and for power. Christianity has been used to oppress and to seize power.
This is something that we need to struggle with, and fight back against, but I haven’t dealt with it directly in this post.

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