Carl, Sunny and the Deterritorialization of Christianity in Vienna

We got to see Carl and Sunny for dinner tonight. They just got back from Vienna, and it was cool to hear about some of the things going on in the churches there. I think I've mentioned before that Carl is a famous theologian and Sunny is a talented artist, but if you missed that post, now you have the backstory.

One of the themes of Carl's new book, Globochrist, (coming out this fall) is the deterritorialization of Christianity. He was in Vienna to teach a course, but also spent a lot of time meeting people involved in ministry there. What he found is that Vienna is an incredible illustration of this dissolution of traditional barriers.
Baptists, Catholics and many others are working cooperatively to tackle social justice issues. Carl also described that there aren't profit and not-for-profit silos for the work. For example, many Christians are working to provide economic opportunity for prostitutes. Women who want out can train as artists transforming art posters into handbags and other fashion items. Older prostitutes are trained as companions for the elderly. (Can't you just imagine the interesting stories they would have to tell?) There is also extensive work going on to help Afgan refugees with language and job training to help them integrate into a new society.

This collaborative approach goes beyond social justice issues. Christians in Vienna are working to create community within the city. Carl illustrated this with the German words being used in worship songs. It isn't "sie"--the formal word for "you" which would be used with people which whom you have no relationship. It is "du" the familiar.

Sunny introduced us to an interactive computer program developed by a woman that allows children to explore the stories of the Bible in engaging ways. The program is currently in German and they are looking for a company to partner with in the US to create an English version. She also told us about the art museums and the piece she painted for Justin and Jennifer Murff.

As always with Carl and Sunny it was an evening of interesting conversation and fabulous food--a definite trend for us. And as always, John and I continued the conversation between ourselves on the drive home. The eight different church buildings of various denominations that we passed on the way stood in stark contrast to the cooperative community Carl was describing. But as you know, I'm optimistic. Maybe they are all connected by tunnels.
© Random Cathy
Maira Gall