What inflames change all the more in our exponential times of cultural conflict are:
Globalization – Transnational reality as a legacy of colonialism
Technology – Internet, Social Media, etc.
Finances – capitalism in the 21st century
We have set sail and are coasting in to uncharted waters.
Look at our institutions:
government is broken with congressional gridlock, banking crisis and scandal (too big to fail bail out of 2008), military spending is exponential but stuck in 2 endless wars because how do you win a war on terror, even religion … just look at our denomination [even the Quakers split last year] the UMC is about to, this is why some people are attracted to converting back to Orthodoxy, or Catholicism, or Anglicanism. It has a fetish appeal. Our seminaries are buckling.
Democracy, Capitalism, Nationalism, Religion.
We live in unprecedented times.
It is incredible and exhilarating and overwhelming to many. You can begin to see why some folks are attracted to going back to the way things were. It would make sense – it would be simpler and easier if we all just settled down and went back to the way things were.
Here is the problem – you can never go back. Because the past isn’t where you remember it was and even if you got there – it simply isn’t there anymore. It is gone. Time moved on
And the past won’t save us. Our future is not to be found in the past. Backward looking and past-oriented systems and mentalities will not prepare us for what is coming.
Things have changed. The landscape is changing. We live in fluid times and a liquid culture. It is time to sell the farm and becomes sailors. We won’t need bigger barns when the tide comes in – it is time to tear down the barns and use the wood to build some boats. We are floating in the new age.
The past will only sink us.
The Danger of ‘Re’ words.
But have no fear! God knows what (S)he is doing! God will get us through! Faith will get us through by God’s grace.
OK – so even if you are not as enthusiastic as I am about the future, which is fine (not many are) you need to be aware of dangers in romanticizing the imagined past.
SO what do we do?
Easy – Christianity is built for this! We have an incarnational gospel that is infinitely translatable to any language, culture, and time. God didn’t just work in the past. God is working in the present here and now.
We can bring about a preferable future by partnering with God’s spirit in the present moment. The infinite and timeless God is calling from the future into each moment providing us opportunities to say ‘yes’ and open up potentialities that were not always available in the past. This present moment is pregnant with possibilities for goodness and justice that don’t come embedded with the need to re-create, reinforce, and re-instantiate the layers of racism, sexism, and hierarchy inherent in past systems.
This is one of the unique aspects of Christianity that is different than other religions. We have a built in contextuality and translatability that gives us flexibility. All we have to do is repent and divorce ourselves from the marriage of religion and power – or to release the safety of empire and control.
That is what we are going to talk about next week: why things seem out of control.
For now let just say this: the past won’t save us. The future of faith is better than Europe’s past. We have nothing to fear but fear itself. God is at work in the world by Christ’s spirit. God is wanting and willing to work in and through us here and now. All we have to do is join God is the work that we were built for – and uniquely gifted and graced to do!
I am trying something new. Since everyone is reading the same chapter of the book each week, there is no sense in my just repeating that information or providing a slightly different take to supplement it. That is what I have historically done.
I am attempting ‘inverse preaching’ which is to take the idea and turn it inside out to see if it looks any different … or maybe it falls apart.
So for instance, at the start of the series I took the common thought (often attributed to Augustine) that ‘darkness doesn’t exist, it is simply the absence of light’ and inverted it to ask:
What if there is no such thing as light, but it is only the absence of darkness?
I take common wisdom like ” Jesus loves you” and says Jesus doesn’t love you as an individual – Jesus loves whole groups.