“If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”
This is the foundational Bible verse for Noonday Collection, which was founded by Jessica Honnegger in 2010 after a transformative trip to Uganda, where she met Jalia and Daniel, jewelry artisans who dreamed of “using fashion to create dignified jobs in their community.” Noonday Collection creates global change by empowering and enlisting artisans to create fashion accessories that are sold in the United States by Noonday Collection Ambassadors. Fair tradepractices produce sustainable growth initiatives that enable vulnerable communities to thrive as they move from poverty to purpose. What began with an adoption fundraiser, has turned into “a $17 million business that is economically empowering over four thousand artisans all over the world.” The Noonday Collection Impact page shares that by empowering women, cherishing children, and creating dignified work and connection, they have fostered opportunity with 33 business partners, in 130 community workshops, impacting 4,500 artisans, 20,400 family members, employing 2,000 Ambassadors, and supporting 4,200 adoptive families. It’s evident, Noonday is making a difference around the globe.
Noonday employs key world changing criteria, where story is used to convert people’s hearts and minds so they will have right values, make right choices, and change culture. While these initiatives are noble, they also employ capitalist mentalities and levels of white savior industrial complex. In his 2012 article, Teju Cole reflects upon Invisible Children and the Kony2012 video. Sharing tweets and analysis, Cole points out how “a nobody from America or Europe can go to Africa and become a godlike savior or, at the very least, have his or her emotional needs satisfied. Many have done it under the banner of “making a difference.”” Cole argues that activism needs to begin in a different place, namely within “the money-driven villainy at the heart of American foreign policy…(where) The White Savior Industrial Complex is a valve for releasing the unbearable pressures that build in a system built on pillage.”
Clearly, Christian good intent is closely woven together with the capitalistic and damaging political endeavors found within our religious and cultural milieu; the solutions are anything but simple.
Considering power, politics (and indirectly American foreign policy) James Davison Hunter remarks Christians already see politics and policy as means to achieve faith-based ends. But he argues, Christians have “embraced strategies incapable of bringing about desired ends, (because) they have failed to understand the nature of the world they want to change and failed even more to understand how it actually changes.”
For both conservative and progressive Christians, their worldview dictates their actions. For conservatives, battles ensue as the world seeks to distroy their biblically grounded perspectives within all systems, including political, educational, entertainment, law, economic, and artistic. Such demise reveals “American is clearly going in the wrong direction,”  and their language reflects the loss of the mythical Christian ideals of position and power established in the foundational documents of America. Conversely, progressive Christians, bent on equality and community, have developed liberation theologies to bring biblical understanding to social justice issues. Like conservatives, they desire to seize political power to bring about social changes that align with their particular worldview. Hunter argues both uses of political power are ineffective in bringing about world change, because our understanding of power is skewed.
Examining the social power of Jesus, Hunter highlights Jesus’ work which counters human tendency of abusing power by modeling complete intimacy with God the Father; total rejection of status, reputation, and privilege; humility and love through degradations; and unprejudicial, noncoercive compassion toward those outside the Jewish faith community. It is only though embodying such values that Christians can impact the world around them.
What does this look like practically? Hunter notes, “In formation (the changing of lives), it is the culture and community that gives shape and expression that is the key. Healthy formation is impossible without healthy culture embedded within the warp and woof of community.” Based on evidences that the culture surrounding Christians is decidedly unhealthy and significant change is impossible, or minimal at best, Hunter proposes an alternative way of living through the theology of faithful living. This theology acknowledges “God’s faithful presence to us and his call upon us to be faithful to him” as we participate in Christian worship traditions, welcome all people, and remain present and committed to our tasks and spheres of social influence, so all may flourish. Hunter concludes, by the power of Christ and his victory over all oppressive institutions, anything is possible, thus Christians are free to “actively, creatively, and constructively seek the good in their relationships, in their tasks, in their spheres of influence, and in their cities.”
The founder of Noonday, as well as those of other Christ-centered organizations and churches, believe their actions are biblically based and Spirit driven. They profess to be prayerful servants of God and desire to be faithful ambassadors of reconciliation in the communities in which they exist. Their motives are established on biblical precedence and practice, if even selectively, and they are working to live the Gospel in a God-honoring way. It’s clear though, that despite best efforts, Christian formation and actions are inherently flawed because the cultural, religious, and political systems we exist in are flawed. This framework causes a negative feed-back loop of imperfection and an inability to create sustainable change.
While Hunter’s proposed antidotes are hopeful, their simplicity feels less than helpful. But maybe that simplicity is closer to the life Jesus led than the ones we keep trying to establish within our cultural Christian paradigms?
“Anybody can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple.” Charles Mingus
Be faithful and attentive in the small.
Try to do no harm when working for good.
Trust God to mind the gaps.
 Noonday Collection. About: Our Story page. Accessed Feb 15, 2020.
 Michele Martin. “How This Woman Built $17M Global Business Empowering Women.” Forbes.com, July 31, 2018. Accessed February 15, 2020. https://www.forbes.com/sites/michellemartin/2018/07/31/how-this-woman-built-a-17-million-global-business-empowering-women/#14f272fc379b.
 James Davison Hunter. To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010) 10.
 I do not believe the intent behind Noonday is malicious in anyway. I do believe they exist within a particular Christian and cultural construct that influences their “prayerful” decisions. Success in the endeavor is evidence of God’s favor upon their works, thus their works and reach grow, with positive and negative consequences.
 Teju Cole. “The White Savior Industrial Complex.” The Atlantic. March 21, 2012. Accessed February 15, 2020. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/the-white-savior-industrial-complex/254843/
 Hunter, 95.
 Ibid., 99.
 Ibid., 111.
 Ibid., 115.
 Ibid., 131.
 Ibid., 147-149.
 Ibid., 187-193.
 Ibid., 227, 236-237.
 Ibid., 243-247.
 Ibid., 286.