“With every step of our lives we enter into the middle of some story which we are certain to misunderstand.” ~ G.K. Chesterton
We’re in the middle of a worldview shift across the western world ~ or so says Brian Mclaren, and I am inclined to agree. As with the shift from the Medieval to the Modern Era, new data about the nature of the universe and what it means to be human has blown apart current paradigms of who we are and how the world works.
Here are five catalysts I believe are forcing us all to rethink our view of ourselves and the world:
Relativity and Quantum Physics ~ Discoveries in the past hundred years in these fields have strengthened the notion that how you define “reality” depends on where you are standing, and that what “is” or “isn’t” is best described in probabilities, and cannot be fully known.
Better Mapping of Our History ~ Better mapping of genomes (human and other forms of life as well), along with more robust science around the history of the planet, and the variations of “humans” that arose on Earth and did not survive, are all causing us to redefine our collective story as a race, and rethink what it means to be human.
E.T. ~ The now common acceptance in the scientific world of the inevitability of life on other planets, and the expectation that at least some of that life will be intelligent is causing us to re-imagine our place in creation.
The Advent of the Internet ~ On a social plane, the rapid spread of the internet has made the majority of the world instantly accessible, and has brought its people close to one another in an unprecedented way. This is making it increasingly difficult to maintain an “us” and “them” worldview, forcing us all to realize that “we” ARE “them,” and “they” are “us,” whether we like it or not.
The Earth as a Limited Resource ~ The growing awareness of the Earth as a limited resource is forcing us to recognize that we are a global village where everything we do affects everyone else, and vice versa. In particular, the stark realization that the western lifestyle (now being hungrily adopted by China) is not sustainable long term, and the moral and ethical implications of continuing to pursue a life of wealth and consumerism while over half the world’s population lacks clean water, decent shelter, or even a toilet to poop in.
So, it’s a New Era ~ but we’re just at the beginning stages. As leaders in the Church, what are the questions we need to be asking ourselves about all this? What are the conversations we need to be having? When will we start having them?
Here are a few questions I’m pondering & praying about:
- The transition from the Medieval to the Modern Era inspired the Reformation. What if a new “Reformation” will come with this transition as well? If so, what is the nature of that Reformation? What will it require of us to lead it? Who are the new Luther(s), and what will the next “95 Theses” say?
- The transition from the Medieval to Modern Era also produced a great schism in the Church that largely continues to this day. Is a new schism in the Church inevitable as we move into this new Era? If not, how can it be avoided?
- The transition from Medieval to Modern also resulted in many years of war (largely as a result of the Reformation). The Church doesn’t hold the same political authority it did in those times, but even so, is war still a possible outcome for us in these times? If so, how might it be avoided? How must we lead the Church in order to avoid it?
Heavy thoughts, I know, and I realize some may not agree with the assertions I’ve made here. That’s okay. I welcome your comments. Do you agree we’re in transition to a new Era ~ why or why not?