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Is ‘change’ really what we need?

Brittian said something really interesting over at his blog today:

Walter Brueggemann spoke about in The Prophetic Imagination.  He said that the Empire of control and competition, is constantly co-opting people’s revolutions.  In other words, when was the last time a revolutionary didn’t eventually become Emperor?  Think Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler…but maybe even more unfortunate are those true believers like the French revolutionaries whose ideas of liberty and equality eventually turned into a reign of terror.  Why?  Brueggemann points out that it is because those revolutions and revolutionaries bought into a critical deception.  The immediacy of their hope.  Anytime, he comments, the hope is too “here and now” it becomes prime real estate for imperial control.  The tangible, touchable, manageable realities of linear thought and rational process are Their domain.  Finally he councils us not to be Managers of change but rather to be Imaginers…  Poets, provocateurs, singers of songs, artists, prophets, painters, sculptors, wordsmiths, etc… Envision a new world, live into that new reality…but don’t necessarily engage in the dangerous assumption that CHANGE is the end all solution.

Brittian specifically is talking about the new ‘green revolution’ that seems to be taking place and how the same big companies are changing their marketing tactics to market to this target audience.  Rob Bell and Don Golden say someting similiar about the oppressed becoming the oppressors from Egypt to Jerusalem in their new book Jesus Wants to Save Christians (44-45):

God gives power and blessing so that justice and righteousness will be upheld for those who are denied them…

To forget this, to fail to hear the cry, to preserve prosperity at the expense of the powerless, is to miss what God had in mind…

Exile is when you forget your story

Exile isn’t just about location; exile is about the state of your soul.

Exile is when you fail to convert your blessings into blessings for others.

Exile is when you’re a stranger to the purposes of God

We have to be careful that we do not buy into ‘change’ as an idea simply as a cool ‘alternative.’  Otherwise, when things ‘change’ we will somehow believe we have reached our goal.  This new green revolution has become ‘the norm’ and the world has begun capitalizing off the label.  Ryan Bolger has a good graphic that I would like to borrow.  The image is a table of the difference between the ‘green’ revolution and the way that perhaps we should respond as Christians (labeled as ‘blue’).

graphgreenblue.gif

He asks the important question, does the church need a color?  Over at Jesus Manifesto as well there has been an important discussion going on about language.  Who are we leaving out and who are we including based on our language?  It is easier than people sometimes think to learn a cultural language or a certain theological bent and to extol that theological bent to your congregation, but the danger is that the theology begins trumping Jesus Christ and the particular plan and revelation of God throughout time and space–the one that transcends cultures.  It is actually very easy for big companies to read this “cultural language” and create products which they can capitalize off of to “co-opt” the revolution (as Brittian said earlier).

The questions then are large: How does Christianity stay focused on Christianity and avoid being eaten up into a larger mass culture created by the media and big business?  How do we deal with the major environmental movements in a way that is true the particularity of Christ?  Which direction is the church going and is it the right direction? Are we following Christ or are we following culture?  If we are following culture, to what extent to we dwelve into it?  Over at emergent village one person argues that almost nothing is off limits.  Do you agree that Christians can go anywhere and do anything in the name of Christ?  Are there limits on our freedom as Paul often talked about, for the sake of our brothers?

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One thought on “Is ‘change’ really what we need?

  1. Thanks for the quotes brother.

    This is something I am really wrestling through, truly…it’s not just some polemic engagement. I am torn between sort of a “realized eschatology” that says the kingdom is here and we may live in the light of that reality…and a sense of, for lack of better word, delayed gratification–which is really what my post was about. If indeed the modernist project of the last two hundred or so years has “enshrined change (or the future) and extolled the (unrealistic) revisionist past”, isn’t it interesting that the two candidates in this election year seem to fall right into this polarization of essentially the same perspective? One cries out for the Future (CHANGE) and the other remembers (or reimagines) the Past (EXPERIENCE). Experience suggests that their attempts will both fall short of the “Christian difference” we are looking for.

    My friend eliacin (www.eliacin.com) has a very intriguing post up right now on the idolatrous pilgrimage to the voting booth. He infers that many evangelicals realistically assume that this one moment is the only moment their values come to bear in the world around them, the political world. Interesting that many believers seem to engage in a passionate praxis only once every 4 years.

    Well anyhow…good stuff bro! I’m going to add you on my blogroll and follow what you’re up to around here, would you mind doing the same and adding me to yours?

    Cheers!!

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