Amoureax by Eve Arnold

"Giving to the poor was neither a legal obligation, nor a matter of personal whim, but a sacramental entering into a mysterious cycle of outgoing and returning love whose widest sphere was the divine charity itself." Catherine Pickstock, After Writing, p144
What Catherine Pickstock writes of guilds in the middle ages is true of that majority of Anabaptists who were not communalist in their shape. Peter James Klassen calls this 'the economics of mutual aid.' (The Economics of Anabaptism 1525-1560) While 'mutual aid', with its resonances of Kropotkin, does not quite capture the spirit of these brethren in that way that Pickstock's "...entering-into a mysterious cycle of outgoing and returning love..." does, it seems nevertheless the most adequate shorthand if taken as entailing this deeper sense.

These Anabaptists were being accused of practicing community of goods by the authorities and such as Georg Schnabel would not deny it. Rather, it was understood, not as a legalistic requirement, but as something flowing from the Spirit who would see no one in need when another possesses more than is necessary. And so Georg Schnabel said to Landgrave Philip:
"The community of goods among believers is practiced thus: everyone who has more than he needs gladly shares with his poor brethren." - quoted in Klassen, p38
Sitting behind this practice of sharing is the fact that all is held in trust from God and belongs to no more to one than to another. Klassen writes that
"...everything beyond the actual need of the individual was placed at the disposal of the whole group." - Peter James Klassen, The Economics of Anabaptism 1525-1560, p42

This practice of mutual aid lies somewhere between Pickstock's 'personal whim' and the legalism which the Hutterites represent. What does this practice of Spirit-led, yet deeply concrete mutual aid look like for we who prefer personal whim? What structures might be required if we were to practice this menner of community of goods? These non-communalist Anabaptists so-called are perhaps communal in ways which we finds almost impossible to imagine.


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