Skip to main content

Must Everything Change? Part III

In my last post, I ended by introducing what McLaren calls the "Suicidal Machine." The Machine is an image he uses that says the earth is a "machine" made up of three intertwined wheels that propel society: equity, prosperity and security. The machine consumes energy, mostly from the primary energy source of the sun and produces waste and heat. It is a very impersonal image, but through a very detailed discussion, he gets his point across.

He also introduces the idea of a "framing story," which guides humans, individually and collectively. Another way of describing this guiding paradigm could be a sort of "worldview." McLaren believes that the current framing story of the majority of society (he focuses on the American and North) is destructive, weak, unrealistic and dangerous and is consequently sending "the machine" on a suicide mission. If our framing story tells us that the goal of life is to live as individuals who can accumulate an abundance of possessions, experience maximum pleasure in a maximum number of years on earth at whatever the cost to those around us (child or slave laborers produce some of our possessions). McLaren also believes that our framing story has become subject to an excessive over-confidence in ourselves and our nation-state, as he tells brief stories of wars from the past 60 years.

Specifically for Christians, McLaren maintains that the incomplete and fractured framing story of our day has caused us to focus too much on "me" and "my spiritual life" and "my eternal destiny" and has neglected the injustices in our world including systemic poverty, propensity to use violence rather than peace, ecological destruction, overconsumption and corporate greed. McLaren believes that our understanding of the "good news" has lost its inherent truth: that it's the best news. He argues that the framing story that drives us day by day has lost the holistic and hopeful perspective that the good news is about making a better world and helping individuals find abundant life.

McLaren necessarily takes this framing story idea into his initial operating questions: Is it possible that at the heart and life and message of Jesus was an attempt to expose, challenge, confront, transform and replace the unhealthy framing stories of his day?

I do believe that in many local churches in America we have softened the message of Jesus. Jesus was living in an intensely, politically-charged era, where the Roman empire had incredible influence on Jewish society. That influence along with a selfish reading of the holy text caused many Jewish teachers to lead the people down a path of destruction rather than life. Many Christians, when reading his language of a "suicidal mission" may respond "well, of course!" McLaren believes many Christians have a sort of religious, death-wish: the world is going to keep getting worse and I can't wait for that day, because Jesus will come back and I get to escape it all. This belief hinges on our interpretations of Scripture. Obviously, he has different interpretations than many traditional denominations.

I agree with McLaren on this point, although he only says it implicitly: much of the Christian community has stronger allegiances with the American "empire" and has become corrupted in our thinking, driven by the same worldly pursuits and idealogies that "the suicidal machine's" framing story is teaching. Is McLaren preaching too much of a social gospel? That, I do not know. I've only reviewed a quarter of the book! I don't think that is the point, though some would disagree (those who say he is a heretic, a false teacher). I believe that prophetic, challenging truth is found in his writing and I plan to continue reviewing...


Popular posts from this blog

Pilgrims Looking for the Sun


Pilgrims Looking for the Sun
This weekend across America, our transportation and information highways will glut with millions of eclipse-chasers travelling from the far corners of the globe order to find an unobstructed view along the “total eclipse” zone spanning the United States from Oregon to South Carolina. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime moment for many. A total eclipse of this nature hasn’t spanned this country for a century, though, the upcoming century holds many such eclipses in store. I myself will be joining the ranks of eclipse-chasers, making a relatively brief journey south to my parent’s property in Sparta, IL, which is comfortably within the totality zone.
I’m a latecomer in educating myself about this rare event. Only after watching two videos (by Smarter Every Day and Vox) and discussing the astronomically phenomenal event with my friend, Kacey, did my eyes begin to open in wonder and amazement at the unique phenomena of a total eclipse. Previously, I thought, oh, I’ll be…

Leatherbound Books

If you're into reading or just like thinking that you are, you should check out LibraryThing. Pretty sweet site actually. I have many leather bound books in my online catalogue. You can see for yourself: The site allows you to see users who have similar reading tastes as you and then you can check out their book reviews and other reading selections. I didn't have time yet to upload the Bearenstein Bears books I read back in high scho...I mean kindergarten. Mostly--well entirely, actually--my catalogue is filled with some books I've had the chance to read since the start of college. The point when I began to take reading seriously. Useless site? Ah...I wouldn't say so. It may help me to broaden my reading intake a bit. Or, maybe I'm just a sucker for these novel sites that allow us to connect with others and share knowledge.

What were my memorable books of 2016?

I don't read nearly as much these days. Or maybe not as much as I'd prefer in some idealistic (unreal) world where I get to spend a few hours a day soaking up good literature.

Mostly, I'm reading Goodnight, Gorilla, There's a Rumble in the Jungle or Fancy Nancy. (Let's be honest. I actually like children's literature.) And at bedtime, Anna has fallen in love with (routine?) my narration of homegrown stories. (In case you're wondering, I'm a terrible storyteller. I wish I were that dad whose stories inspire her to one day look back and marvel at the whimsical, imaginative stories I cooked up at bedtime, but alas, probably not. I'm learning slowly, though, at least about what kind of story she will likely enjoy.)

But in the margins of here and there, I have found time for a sampling of books in 2016. Here are some memorable ones:

More of Less, Joshua Becker

A helpful guide on minimizing excess (possessions) so you can focus on what's most important…