A half-dozen of us met again at Gino's East in Wheaton this past Monday to discuss the central sections of Brian McLaren's Everything Must Change (chapers 19-30). Having reframed Jesus' message in terms of not just personal forgiveness and hope for the afterlife, but also one of global transformation in this world, Brian then applies this message to what he believes are the three biggest crises we face today: crises of security, prosperity and equity.
Our discussion began by reminding ourselves that Brian's main task throughout the book is not really to give us a laundry list of ways to fix all these problems. Instead the point of the book is to first change our way of looking at the problems in the first place, to see them through the lens of Jesus' story rather than the lenses provided to us by this world. For instance, we talked about how many of Brian's approaches in the book don't really fit into the typical Left-Right, Democrat-Republican categories that usually tend to only want to tweak the existing system, rather than seeing how the whole the thing is broken and suicidal and in need of something radically different (something Jesus called the Kingdom of God).
We also asked whether these issues - questions of violence, of environmentally destructive consumerism, and gross economic inequalities - could actually be talked about in the kind of churches we were familiar with. Since four of us attend emerging churches, one is currently de-churched, and the other is a pastor at a liberal mainline church, we granted that most of us probably could at least have the conversation; however we also recognized that these topics would have been totally off-limits or completely misunderstood at some of our former churches. And the mainline pastor admitted that even in his church where most of the folks would consider themselves "liberals" there were many topics raised by the book that still would have been considered either too extreme or would have gone completely over their heads - again speaking to the fact that Jesus' framing story doesn't fit well into our conventional categories.
Each of us expressed at one point a desire for more specifics in this book on how to actually bring about change, despite the fact that this was not Brian's purpose. If "everything must change" then we want to know where to start. That's what we want to talk about next month both as a conclusion to our discussion of this book and as a follow-up to Brian's Everything Must Change Tour coming to Chicago next weekend (it's still not too late to register and there's a new special student rate of only $35!) We want to get into specific, practical ways each of us can join this "revolution of hope" that Brian writes about. So come, once more to Gino's East in Wheaton on Monday, April 28 at 7pm and help us brainstorm how we can change our world. (Oh, and also read the final section of Brian's book, chapters 31-34, to help spur your thinking.)
See you then (and hopefully next weekend too!)