I’ve blogged about Brian McLaren books before, and I’ve just started reading a new one, so prepare to read about all the ways it blows my mind as I work my way through it. Based on what I remember of my Intro to Christian Theology class I took in college, McLaren’s Everything Must Change is a book on theodicy, or the problem of evil/suffering in the world, though you’ll be pleased to know McLaren completely avoids theological jargon and, as a former English professor, is an excellent, easy-to-read writer. In many ways, EMC is about the biggest problems in the world and what Jesus teaches us about them, and, refreshingly, to McLaren, the biggest problems are not the usual Christian hot-button issues like abortion and homosexuality. In fact, McLaren identifies 4 major problems, the fourth of which informs the first three, and will be key to solving them. These problems are:
- Environmental breakdowns 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.
- 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.
- The danger of cataclysmic war arising from the intensifying resentment and fear among various groups at the opposite ends of the economic spectrum. We’ll call this the security crisis.
- 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. By framing story, I mean a story that give speople direction, values, vision, and inspiration by providing a framework for our lives.
As he makes clear in his other book, The Secret Message of Jesus (which I highly recommend), McLaren believes that in making the Christian message all about where you go when you die and what you intellectually assent to, we have missed the message of Jesus, which, as Jesus makes clear, is that “the Kingdom of God is at hand,” which is really that God is at work making “thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” come true. That the amazing thing is God coming here, making things new, and staying here with us forever, rather than all of us flying away. And if we believe that the message is that the Kingdom of God is at hand, well, things will start to look really different when it comes to what we, the Church, do and say in and to the world. Continue reading “on Haiti and “Everything Must Change””