Feast or Famine: How the Gospel Challenges Austerity – an Ekklesia Lent Course for Groups and Individuals, edited by Simon Barrow, November 2017. Darton, Longman & Todd, ISBN 978- 0 232 53261 6, 128 pages. RRP £6.99 (paperback)
This small and interesting book is a five week Lent course for left wing Christians. All the sections begin with a Bible passage, followed by a considered contemporary reflection on the passage and the current political situation and concluding with a short comment.
The chapters are entitled “Spending or Saving?”, “Hunger or Satisfaction?”, “Health or Wealth?”, “Security or Insecurity?” and “Cutting or Investing?”. There is also a useful introduction entitled “Moving Beyond Austerity: A Christian Challenge”. This is followed by a “Course Guidance and Structure”. The book is well organised to generate extensive discussion and appropriate prayers are also included.
To quote “[T]here is hope…we are left with the task of resisting, redirecting and resetting an austerity mindset, ideology and policy that is pointing in the wrong direction”. (p. 27)
The authors present a biblical basis for modern ‘ Keynsian’ economics ‘ in an austerity (cutting!) economy which is hurting the poor. Here the reader will find scriptural arguments for contemporary political choices and hope in the resistance to an anti-austerity mindset. This book gives its students a vision of what society could be and a model of economics from a Christian viewpoint. It is a”Reimagining”, as Archbishop Welby writes in his new book*, a new society built around caring for each other. In this there is hope.
I commend this booklet to those Christians who next Lent want to try something different and challenging. For this could be it, a challenge and a vision for our ministry, faith and politics. Here practice, politics and prayer are combined to present a new order based on the parables, especially the Good Samaritan, the Gospel depictions of selfish materialism and the miracle of those lepers who are cured. It constitutes a biblical and political exegesis for our modern age of austerity and an inspirational lesson for those who wish to make a better world and seek to love their neighbour – practically
* Welby, Justin Reimagining Britain (2018)