The Marketplace in Context and Design – DP Mavia

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The Marketplace in Context and Design – DP Mavia

In my soon to be finished manuscript (The City, the Market and the Temple) I have always postulated the theory that the City always collaborates with the Market against the Temple. The City, the Market and the Temple are spaces that facilitate human interaction. They aretrading contexts that sometimes evoke economic tension. At the center of most cities if not in their most strategic locations, you are bound to find a Market or a Religious Center. The Westminster Abbey is to London as the Sistine Chapel is to the Vatican. Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is to Dublin as The Church of Nativity is to Bethlehem.Thriving Markets are City born and nurtured whether it is in New York, Tokyo, or London. God addresses cities in the Bible through their ruling personalities – City of David, King of Tyre. The City and Market remain non-human entities unless by association but the Temple has he ascribed be associated as the morphology of His Church, we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. We have become God’s space. If the City is the parent of the Market, it means the Marketplace thrives on the spirituality of the City. In equal contending measure the Temple should be the core Spiritual reservoir of the City and the Temple, but it is therein that we find the tension between the Temple and the bond between the City and the Market. The City left to itself will choke out the Presence of God. The Temple (Church) is thus the one being relied upon to breathe life and infuse the City with Presence of God.

But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, and saying, we have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. 

Starting with the City

Markets are generally the boldest city caricatures. They bear the visible multi – organ wiring of the City. Different mythologies have their own constructs of origins of the City. I would like to subscribe to the Hebraic mythology and form a thesis that for me brings out a working understanding of the City – Market relationship. In the Trans Saharan trade in Africa markets were also like elsewhere in the world hosted in cities – Timbuktu, Gao, Kilwa, Gedi Bornu. Jesus addressed Jerusalem as if it was a personality. He was often in Jerusalem either in a house, the temple or in the market place.

Departure and Enclosure

The departure of man from the presence of his maker is one of the subtle ingredients of enclosure in the city.  Cain departs then wanders, then gets a son, then builds a City.

And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife and she conceived, and bare Enoch and he builded a city and called the name of the city, after the name of his son Enoch.

We can deduce that when Cain walked away from the presence of God he also delinked himself from the dependency of origins (God). That was the deliberate choice of man to venture outside of what was naturally his enclosure – the Presence of his God. Because of this, he wandered of to a place called Nod (which ironically means to wander) to create a new enclosure. He built a Cityand signed it off as Enoch an identity, which in this case turned out to be his progeny, his seed, his fruit, and his effort. The name of Cain’s city is Enoch – which means narrow, or to initiate or discipline. The City is an embodiment of initiations and disciplines that from this point narrows out paths for its inhabitants. We are initiated by the subculture of the cities we reside in. we are ritualized and nurtured. We are citizens.A man who does not know better has to set aside The Presence Culture and be baptized into The City Culture. The City Culture disciplines man to exist outside of the presence culture. Whereas Presence needs personality to be authentically attributed to, the City will create new presence called space and place and man has to find a way of filling it with himself or more so with what he creates. When man fills the city with what he creates and goes ahead to trade with others the Market is formed. The Market is the constant incubated space that the City births to legitimize its fruit and strength.

Trading Contexts

In the New Testament Mathew 25:14-30 we find the parable of the Talents. Three men are given talents. One is given five another two and another one. Each is given according to their several abilities. There is something in their hand given to them based on something within them. Then the master gives the charge ‘Occupy until I come’ some versions render it as ‘Trade until I come’. Every market place is a Trading Context. We can conclude that every one given a talent in the parable knows the following

  • Who sent Him/Her – Who has sent you?
  • What he has been given – What has been given to you?
  • What he has been endowed with – What is your skillset/competency?
  • His Timelines  – What are your timelines?
  • The Sender’s expectation  – What are the expected results?
  • His Reward – What are you going to get from it?

The curious thing is that on the Masters’ return he honors the two fruitful and faithful servants with two things – he invites them to enter into his Joy and he makes them to be rulers of Cities (at least in Luke’s version of the Parable).

Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them.20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[c] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

Luke 19:15-19

When he returned after receiving the kingdom, he summoned these slaves to whom he had given the money. He wanted to know how much they had earned by trading. 16 So the first one came before him and said, ‘Sir, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 And the king said to him, ‘Well done, good slave! Because you have been faithful in a very small matter, you will have authority over ten cities.’ 18 Then the second one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has made five minas.’ 19 So the king said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’

The subtle inference here is that using their several Skillsets/Competencies to multiply their Talents was termed as Faithfulness and earned them Lordship over Cities. The Skill applied to Talent is equal to Multiplication. Multiplication thus delivers more influence over Cities. A Skill is a vital force in a City when it is tied to the command of the master.

City Spirituality

Paul’s address to the Epicureans in Athens reveals a City in a quest to the search of God. Athens is a City at its best caught between the void of the true God but yet laying claim as the centerof the answer to everything. It is possible to practice your trade or career in a city context without presence (God)then end up turning your trade or enterprise into a void filler.

The Athenians have a slab or monument dedicated to many gods including ‘the unknown god’. Many in the city do not know what they are searching for. There is an unknown desire for transcendence that is absent and can seldom be located in the pursuits of concrete and metal or currencies and deals. 

Passion is good but is not always God. The Athenian passion creates an aspiration for God and gods. It mingles pseudo – spiritualties. In its search for higher spirituality it despises the Paul kind of people who have a spirituality that surrenders all to the symbol of the cross.  The Cross of Christ injures the World and Christ like people are crucified outside of the City. They are in the City but not of the City. The four lepers outside of the City are about to take a stump of Faith into a City delivering breakthrough. They are out of the City. Locked out, ostracized, they have no City Logic. They are non-City thinking dwellers. You can only survive and be the change in a City you do not think like.

Tent Economy  – A Different City

Abraham was looking for a City whose maker and builder is God. The trade off of his search was his continual manner to reside in tents. Marketplace practice places a demand on us to know the difference between the temporal and the fixed. City spirituality is fixed tent spirituality is mobile. It moves where God moves.

Tent spirituality is not reliant on the stability of City economics but by the navigational reality of the promise of God. The spikes in the graphs of the City stock exchange are factual but the strategy and framework of Covenantal Economics overrides the contradictions of market forces.

Tent Economy has a perception of another City whose maker and builder is Invisible. The Tent Economy has the Faith blueprint that is built on revelation. Marketplace practitioners with Tent Economy Mindset can thrive in the chaos of the world. They have no cerebral cobwebs of the normal City structure. They hope against hope, they have a wholesome scope of the intentions of God in the City, they can give up the things they value most to the one who called them – meaning they have no price tag in the Marketplace they cannot be bought. When they go to battle like Abraham they can bring down five Kings. They are seeker of a City, a better City whose builder and maker is God. They seek in the chaos of the wandering city the true city.

The Sum of all Things

So what is the sum of all things?

The Context of the Market is the City

The market cannot thrive outside of the Philosophical framework of its parent the City. All cities have some sort of personality that infuse its nature in the Market spaces they have nurtured. By extension the traders in these markets do take of its nature and thrive around the social software of the city.

Presence, Skill and Tent Mindset may be the most underrated tools that will make you navigate the chocking and ever encroaching squeeze of the city. God indeed fills up places. He is not a hovering Spirit he is an embodying Spirit. A city without the breathe of God is a dodo. Skills are competencies that make the delivery of purpose meaningful. Skills are Gifts to a City. They beautify and form; they are tools of Work not business. They are tools of grace not excuses.

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Last modified: March 12, 2021