Monday, January 21, 2013

Everything Must Change, Part 2

I am going to do this a little different than I did last week.  Last week, I broke all the questions up into separate posts.  This week I am going to put them into a single post.  If you would like to comment, just click on the comment button and join our discussion.


Two quotes to think about as we begin this afternoon.  Feel free to reflect on them.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

“When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land.  They said, ‘Let us pray.’  We closed our eyes.  When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.”
Desmond Tutu

McLaren suggests that the “world’s most serious problems are linked in a vicious, self-reinforcing cycle.  The global problems I had been studying weren't like an uncoordinated herd of stampeding buffalo or a flotilla of stinging jellyfish; they were like a single system, a single mechanism of awe-inspiring engineering and roaring power.” (p. 52)

He calls this cycle that we have created a metaphorical suicide machine. 
(Taking this term from Jared Diamond, David Korten and Leonardo Buff.)

He says: “I hope that suicide machine can serve as a hopeful metaphor (among others) for the systems that drive our civilization toward un-health and un-peace.  It can help us visualize the way several facets of contemporary life connect, gear in gear, to destroy good and living things, devalue what is precious, overvalue what is worthless, foul up the results of millions of years of evolution, and so desecrate and frustrate what I believe is a sacred and ongoing world of the Creator, in us, among us, and through us.” (p. 53)

Does this metaphor of “Suicide Machine” work for you?  Why or why not?


McLaren suggested that there are four cogs or wheels in the metaphor of the “suicide machine”.  What are they?  Do you agree with them?

How does it feel to consider yourself as part of a social machine? 
What experiences make you feel this way?
When do you feel free from the machine?

What do you think are the three biggest crises in the world today?

Do you see any spiritual dimensions that help you to better understand how the world works?

Beginning in chapter 9, McLaren develops the idea that stories that we tell ourselves “frame” how we look at things.

He writes: “If our framing story is wise, strong, realistic, and constructive, it can send us on a hopeful trajectory.  But if our framing story is dysfunctional, weak, false, unrealistic, or destructive, it can send us on a downward arc, a dangerous, high-speed joyride toward un-peace, un-health, un-prosperity, and even un-life.” (p. 67)

On page 67 he suggests how a framing story affects us and our community.

Do you agree or disagree with him?

Beginning on page 72 he suggests that we need an alternative framing story.  In order to develop that alternative framing story we need look at Jesus differently.  McLaren writes:  “For Jesus to save the system, we must first, in a sense, save Jesus ---- by reframing him outside the confines of our dominant and largely unquestioned assumptions.” (p. 73)
Do you agree that we need to “save” Jesus?

We will not meet next week (I will be at Stetson University at their Winter Pastor’s School, hopefully on Monday playing a little golf --- forecast right now is for the weather to be in the 70’s).

We will continue on Monday, February 4th at noon at Ridge Church.  We will be looking at part three of Everything Must Change, chapters 10-14).  Bring a lunch and join us, or follow here on my blog!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

JESUS: A Theography

I have read many of Leonard Sweet’s books in the past and often find them provocative and challenging (and at the same time a bit wordy and flighty) but have always finished feeling I got something out of it.  I can’t say the same with JESUS by Sweet and Viola.

The purpose of this book is to reclaim the entire Bible as a gripping narrative about Jesus Christ.  It is a loft goal that many Christians have attempted to do in a small scale but I have not seen it attempted like this before.

Unfortunately to accomplish their goal they are forced to take scripture out of context and use a translation that suits their purpose.  I have to admit, I got angry and frustrated at their manipulation to make it serve their purpose.

After a while, I finally put the book down and said enough.

This book is so different from the approach that Sweet has taken in the past in works like The Gospel According To Starbucks, Aqua Church, SoulTsunami, etc.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, January 14, 2013


According to the Pew Research Foundation there is a major increase in people who claim no religious affiliations and this decline in religious participation is particularly true in the younger generations.  Why do you think this is?


In chapter 4 (p 45ff) in Everything Must Change, McLaren tells the story of a health care worker in Khayesitsha, South Africa.  He he were to show up at Ridge Church this afternoon what do you think he would say to us.  What would he say to other Christian Churches in the USA?


What does the term "Kingdom of God" mean to you?  How would you define it?


How do you think most Christians today respond to the issue of poverty?


What do you believe are the causes of poverty around the world?


Just a couple of icebreakers to get us started.

1.     What movie that you have seen best illustrates the plight of the poor or those who are living in difficult (harsh) conditions?

2.     What issues or crisis in the world is most interesting or compelling to you?

Everything Must Change Discussion Group

Later this morning I will be leading a discussion based on Brian McLaren's provocative book: Everything Must Change.  I had hoped to set up a chat room on our website, but have been unsuccessful at getting it to work, so instead we will be using this forum.

How this will work is I will post the questions that we are discussing and allow you the opportunity to engage in the conversation.  Each question will be posted in a different blog posting.  I have set the security so that all posts will show up immediately without having to wait for approval.  I hope that I am able to keep it that way.  If you are not logged in, make sure that you identify yourself in your post.

If you encounter any problems, please let me know ASAP.  Feel free to use this post to test how it will work, by letting me know you are planning on participating.

I am looking forward to a lively discussion over the next few weeks.