Archive for January 10th, 2008

Everything Must Change

January 10, 2008

You’ve suffered through multiple posts from yours truly prompted by my readings of both Stanley Hauerwas and Walter Wink in the past. Prepare yourself for Brian McLaren.

Due to the combination of a recent post from Urbino calling attention to McLaren’s new book, Everything Must Change, and a generous gift of Barnes & Noble gift cards from my father-in-law, I’m about to wade into McLaren’s way of thinking.

And so are you.

Now I know you don’t have to participate, but I’m going to be thinking out loud, and I feel confident you won’t be able to resist pointing out the flaws in my thinking. 🙂

So let’s begin…

McLaren writes,

“…more and more of us are realizing something our best theologians have been saying for quite a while: Jesus’ message is not actually about escaping this troubled world for heaven’s blissful shores, as is popularly assumed, but instead is about God’s will being done on this troubled earth as it is in heaven. So people interested in being a new kind of Christian will inevitably begin to care more and more about this world, and they’ll want to better understand its most significant problems, and they’ll want to find out how they can fit in with God’s dreams actually coming true down here more often.”

Okay, admittedly, not everyone that hangs around this blog is a-flutter with the idea of fitting in with God’s dreams, nor even in becoming a new kind of Christian, but I think there’s a bit of kinship to be found here: we seem to be somewhat interested in caring about the world we inhabit, understanding its problems, and making it a better place, no?

As an introduction today, let me simply throw out for discussion what McLaren suggests (verbatim) are the four deep dysfunctions that lead to our many global crises. He suggests that the fourth is the leverage point through which the first three can be reversed:

(1) Environmental breakdown caused by our unsustainable global economy, an economy that fails to respect environmental limits even as it succeeds in producing great wealth for about one-third of the world’s population. We’ll call this the prosperity crisis.

(2) The growing gap between the ultra-rich and the extremely poor, which prompts the poor majority to envy, resent, and even hate the rich minority – which in turn elicits fear and anger in the rich. We’ll call this the equity crisis.

(3) The danger of cataclysmic war arising from the intensifying resentment and fear among various groups at opposite ends of the economic spectrum. We’ll call this the security crisis.

(4) The failure of the world’s religions, especially its two largest religions, to provide a framing story capable of healing or reducing the three previous crises. We’ll call this the spirituality crisis. (Note: McLaren defines framing story as “…a story that gives direction, value, vision, and inspiration by providing a framework for their lives. It tells them who they are, where they come from, where they are, what’s going on, where things are going, and what they should do.”)

Now, I’m confident every one of us would group the problems in different ways than McLaren (and each other), but I’m not asking for a better grouping. Instead, to begin, are there glaring omissions from McLaren’s list?

Or any other thoughts at the outset of a discussion of global crises and what to do about them?

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