Wednesday, November 14, 2007

everything changing

my wife, some friends and i hung around with, listened to, and talked with author, speaker, and activist brian mclaren monday evening and all day yesterday. i don't think he knows he's a rock star among those of us who are dissatisfied christians. maybe he does know, but he doesn't come across as cocky or full of himself. he's unassuming and relaxed and soft-spoken. he sits and talks easily with people. he has a nice smile.
and, he's a revolutionary. he stirs shit up and then continues in conversations with his readers - in blogs, workshops, conferences - while they respond and figure out what they're feeling and thinking.
he keeps asking a question, in many ways: What is it jesus was talking about, for real, and what does that mean for us now? and if we stripped it down and let all the things we've created go, what then? church structures, squabbles, doctrines, stuff we think is the point but isn't, territories - all the not-jesus stuff about institutional religion. let it go. instead, ask, How are we serving The Thing Jesus Wanted?
his new book, however, goes way beyond reforming and rethinking chrisianity. it's called everything must change. he calls us to reform and rethink all of human civilization.

mclaren says that human civilization is a big interdependent machine. what drives this machine is the very legitimate human desire for happiness. and so the machine uses resources - people, coal, agriculture, air, water, time - to give people happiness and food and transportation and stuff.
over time, the having of these kinds of happiness and stuff has a negative side, which i identify as fear. people get stuff, they're afraid they don't have enough or they'll lose their stuff, and so they feel they need security. and those without the stuff want the stuff, and it just explodes from there. and meanwhile, the machine
has grown too big to fit in the ecosystem as it is running today. and this is a problem which, if not addressed, only has disastrous (for human beings, the ecosystem, plants and animals, etc.) possibilities ahead. he talks about how this system breeds terrorism, and war, and prostitution, and the more-and-more rapid use of the ecosystem's (limited) resources, and border reinforcement - and on and on.

i started to get depressed as he talked. because it was so, so, so big. i had no idea where to start.

then i heard him say that we as christians - or jesus people, in my case, since i'm no longer a traditional christian -
are the ones who can change this path. not politicians, who are too inured by the system/machine/matrix. not those caught in the system/machine/matrix. not those who come from a place of fear.
it's the Big Story that influences everything. if the big story is that the universe is hostile, then all our choices come from fear. if the big story is that people are sinners, then our relationships are based on self-protection.
but if the big story is that the universe is benevolent, and that people are just broken children of god, then our choices and relationships can come from a place of creativity and possibility and hope.
and we who are jesus' people - not necessarily christians, since christianity is, on the whole, a part of the system/machine/matrix - can change the big story. or, retell the big story as jesus told it.
and then everything can change. but ... it won't be easy or fast.

i had some ideas about how to start with that. tell everyone i can the big story that god is love and that we are god's beloved and that our job is to receive that love and to return it to god and give it away to other people. when we do this, miraculous impossible things happen and the world is better.
i actually am goofy enough to believe that the world will be really better because of that mission.
and the journeyers and i are not the only people telling that big story. so, yeah, it takes a long time to be transformed by love. and we may not make it before the system/machine/matrix konks out. i know that. but i won't go down without giving away lots and lots of encouragement and hugs.


Anonymous said...

I think about Jesus at the temple with the money lenders. I think about Bonhoeffer conspiring against Hitler.

Wouldn't it be nice to have the moral clarity to go off all "Onward Christian Soldiers" like on some of these global issues? Should we establish a mission statement? Organize an army? Elect a general?

Or just sit here all depressed with my Starbucks coffee and Krispy-Kreme doughnut?

It is good to pray about and talk about these questions... and try to love God and love a neighbor who needs a little help here today.

Rick Diamond said...

it WOULD be nice to have the moral clarity to go off and knock down the idols and systems ... the problem is, as The Who said, "meet the new boss, same as the old boss." if one system replaces the former, they end up the same at the core. you said it - elect a general ... ugh.
i'm with you. pray. talk. love.