As Paul puts it, this line isn't "so much about change, but another insight into the transformative / formational journey." To me, this sums up much of what we've been contemplating around here for the past while. (And as often happens, I'm reminded of David Dark's The Sacredness of Questioning Everything.)
See what you think:
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
This, friends, is incredibly valuable advice. Instead of focusing on answers, lets strive to live out the questions. That is how we will be transformed. Thanks Paul.
I quote a lot of Richard Rohr around here, and I also talk often about the Body of Christ as the instrument of God's plan to redeem all of creation. It stands to reason then that I can't resist quoting Richard Rohr talking about the Body of Christ:
Paul sees the “Body of Christ” as something alive in this world. He sees it almost as an energy field created by participating in the very real Spirit of Christ. St. Augustine said it well a few centuries later, “The church consists in the state of communion of the whole world.” Those who live in communion and love, surely made possible by God, are the church, wherever they are. They are the leaven that will change the world.
For Paul, you do not live in the world and go to church. You live in the Church and go to the world. Take off your head, shake it and put it back on; because that was not the way any of us were trained to think. Church, for Paul, is not something you attend. Church is something you organically are—or not! It is more a living organism than a formal organization. You don’t join it as much as you breathe it. He is announcing an existing mystery more than establishing a new institution. Maybe this is exactly what Jesus meant when he said that many who think they are first will be last, and many who think they are last will be first.
Two great quotes on change... one I've used many times over the years, and the other I just read this morning. I debated with myself over the order to present them to you, and settled on this (emphases mine):
"Incremental change is usually limited in scope and is often reversible. If the change does not work out, we can always return to the old way. Incremental change usually does not disrupt our past patterns--it is an extension of the past. Most important, during incremental change, we feel we are in control...
Deep change differs from incremental change in that it requires new ways of thinking and behaving. It is change that is major in scope, discontinuous with the past, and generally irreversible. The deep change effort distorts existing patterns of action and involves taking risks. Deep change means surrendering control."
This theme of change has been swirling through my mind and heart these past few days as I've contemplated the People of God and the World Economic Forum. The handful of brave souls who have commented are encouraging, but the lack of broader response--even in rebuttal--can be a little discouraging. Did Jesus come to change the world or not? If so, is that change to be simply 'spiritual', or is it meant to actually make a difference in the real lives of all of God's children? And by extension, does the Body of Christ have that same responsibility?
Speaking of Brian, his new bookNaked Spirituality: A Life with God in 12 Simple Words will be released March 15. The publisher's blurb tells us that the new book 'describes a dozen spiritual disciplines that facilitate a “naked” life with God and others. Writes McLaren, "A life centered on simple, doable, durable practices helps you begin and sustain a naked encounter with the holy mystery and pure loving presence that people commonly call God."'
A lot of folks I respect have good things to say about Brian's book. Here's what Richard Rohr has to say:
"How does one man have so much to teach us? And it is always wise, easy to read, and practical besides!" (Fr. Richard Rohr,O.F.M.)
In Falling Upward, Fr. Richard Rohr seeks to help readers understand the tasks of the two halves of life and to show them that those who have fallen, failed, or "gone down" are the only ones who understand "up." Most of us tend to think of the second half of life as largely about getting old, dealing with health issues, and letting go of life, but the whole thesis of this book is exactly the opposite. What looks like falling down can largely be experienced as "falling upward." In fact, it is not a loss but somehow actually a gain, as we have all seen with elders who have come to their fullness.
And here's the line that really got me:
This important book explores the counterintuitive message that we grow spiritually much more by doing wrong than by doing right.
So let us begin anew -- remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate. Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us."
John F. Kennedy's inaugural address, January 20, 1961. (Source: American Rhetoric, via Sojourners)
The teaser immediately below the headline says this:
The World Economic Forum's report on examining sustainable credit find that credit levels need to double over the next 10 years, growing by US$ 103 trillion, to support consensus-projected economic growth.
Let's consider for a moment the idea of a projection, as in "consensus-projected economic growth" cited above.
It used to be that a projection was an estimate of something that was going to happen. A forecast, if you will. We believe that this event or condition is going to occur anyway, so let's see if we can quantify it. By its very definition then, nothing is required to make this condition occur; it's going to happen on its own. It follows then, that if anything is 'needed' (see the headline above) then this is not a projection, but a desired state that will not occur unless there is some form of intervention.
Do you see my point?
We're now confusing desires with inevitabilities. It stands to reason though; We live in a world that is addicted to growth. Anything less than consistent, positive growth is viewed as abject failure. We've forgotten, apparently, that infinite growth is an impossibility. Those are long-term sentiments, and in today's enlightened times we've reduced the meaning of 'long-term' to the end of the current quarter. In my previous life in the investment industry we had a saying: "Trees don't grow to the sky." We were as Gordon Gekko-fied as anyone back then, and even we didn't believe growth could go to infinity. Apparently we were being naive.
Back to the quote: We've drawn a fiscal line in the sand at the 'consensus-projected economic growth' level, and we now must meet that target, or suffer the wrath of, well, whoever or whatever it is that is wrathful when we fail to hit economic targets. The good news is we can hit these growth targets--if we double the credit limit on the planet's credit card.
Think about that. In order to convince ourselves that we are doing well on a global scale, we need to double the amount of debt out there. Does that sound alarming to anyone?
Never fear though. The same plutocrats who have determined that this 'projection' is reasonable attainable desirable required assure us that it can be hit "without increasing the risk of major crisis". I feel much better now, because lord knows these folks have done a grade A job of managing the economy up until this point. Come to think of it, these are the same people who have warned us that "The world is in no position to face major, new shocks." Hmmmm.
It's not all roses and butterflies however. Admittedly, "[t]he report finds that meeting credit demand will be challenging" for several reasons. Challenging, but not risky. Apparently "banks will require additional capital." Hey, the last time they need to find 'additional capital' they did fine.
Cough *bailout* Cough
Seriously, the banks have no chance of raising this capital "unless there is a marked increase in US domestic savings rates." Have you seen the US savings rate trend? Not reassuring.
I'll end the economic rant here by adding that if you're not very, very afraid of all this you're not paying attention.
Here's the Jesus-follower's angle:
It should be obvious by now that the world is no longer governed--at least economically, which is the only factor that seems to count anymore--by nation states. It is controlled by corporations, by plutocrats, by the elite. It seems to me that this is both a terrifying condition, and also an opportunity.
When will the church of Jesus Christ, aka the People of God, take their place as agents who actually make a difference in the world? Just to be clear, I'm definitely not talking about orthodox political power. When will we as followers of Jesus reconfigure our lives in such a manner so as to undermine this unacceptable situation? When will we realize that we have spiritualized our faith to such a degree that it no longer has an impact on what occurs in our world from day to day?
Those aren't rhetorical questions, friends.
UPDATE: Just saw this article that my be of interest:
Groups to shine light on dark side of capitalism (Reuters) - Several groups will shine a spotlight on the dark side of capitalism when leaders from the world of business and politics convene for their annual meeting in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.
UPDATE 2: I realize I'm beating a dead horse now, but this line from a forumblog post this morning bears repeating. There's nothing really new here for us; the post is announcing the release of the two reports we've already touched on: The Global Risk Report 2011 and the Sustainable Credit Risk Report 2011. Again, it's the language that gets me (emphases mine).
"[E]arlier this week we released the Sustainable Credit Report 2011. The research highlighted that over $100 trillion of additional capital will be needed to meet expected GDP growth over the coming 10 years. The sheer scale of global credit expansion poses several significant risks, particularly related to Asian debt markets, funding of European banks and the spectre of financial protectionism. These issues will also form an area of RRN inquiry."
Forgive the repetition, but I'll point out again that if intervention is needed, the outcome cannot be expected (without that intervention.) It's like a loop:
Someone determines that we desire/need/want this level of global growth (outcome)
In order to achieve that growth, we need massive global credit expansion (intervention)
But that scale of credit expansion is exceptionally dangerous (risk)
But failure to achieve those growth targets contain their own risks (no one is mentioning this part)
So, we'll do our best to manage all these risks in order to achieve the desired out come
So the way I read all this, the WEF's ironically-named Risk Response Network is not simply responding to these global risks, readily acknowledged. It is actually creating them.
Personally, the next iteration of the church that I'm looking forward to is one that has something to say about all this.
Going through my reader yesterday I came across 2 quotes, and I immediately knew I had to pass them along. I won't try to put them into context, other than to say that I think they help to put into words some of what I was trying to express in my previous post.
"A person of good intelligence and of sensitivity cannot exist in this society very long without having some anger about the inequality - and it’s not just a bleeding-heart, knee-jerk, liberal kind of a thing - it is just a normal human reaction to a nonsensical set of values where we have cinnamon flavoured dental floss and there are people sleeping in the street." George Carlin via AZSpot
"You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, 'Look at that, you son of a bitch.'" Apollo 14 Astronaut Edgar Mitchell via Futility Closet