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Embarking Blog

...on the journey towards restoration of all things

Filtering by Tag: Everything Must Change

Regress on Hunger


Instead of making progress on hunger globally, indicators show that the hunger crisis around the world is increasing - one out of every 6 people.  Take a look at these statistics (for more information, read this article or this one:

  • World hunger is projected to reach a historic high in 2009 with 1,020 million people going hungry every day.
  • “A dangerous mix of the global economic slowdown combined with stubbornly high food prices in many countries has pushed some 100 million more people than last year into chronic hunger and poverty,” said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf.
  • The number of hungry people increased between 1995-97 and 2004-06 in all regions except Latin America and the Caribbean. But even in this region, gains in hunger reduction have been reversed as a result of high food prices and the current global economic downturn.
  • The urban poor will probably face the most severe problems in coping with the global recession, because lower export demand and reduced foreign direct investment are more likely to hit urban jobs harder. But rural areas will not be spared. Millions of urban migrants will have to return to the countryside, forcing the rural poor to share the burden in many cases.
  • While food prices in world markets declined over the past months, domestic prices in developing countries came down more slowly. They remained on average 24 percent higher in real terms by the end of 2008 compared to 2006. For poor consumers, who spend up to 60 percent of their incomes on staple foods, this means a strong reduction in their effective purchasing power. It should also be noted that while they declined, international food commodity prices are still 24 percent higher than in 2006 and 33 percent higher than in 2005.
  • The number of hungry has increased from 825 million people in 1995-97, to 857 million in 2000-02 and 873 million in 2004-06.

I'm saddened that in a world with such forward thinking, progress, innovation, resources, and abilities that hunger worldwide continues to be on the increase.  What's interesting to me (among a lot of things) is the interaction between poverty, globalism, trade, and their relationship to security.  Often we seem so concerned about security, and yet we miss the potential problem with such glaring numbers of people in poverty.  I don't want, though, to regress to merely caring for the poor and hungry because we're afraid they might revolt against global consumerism (and hence global consumerists), and I would hope that we could find it in our hearts to actually care for the poor and hungry who are our fellow human beings - our brothers and sisters.

A good and challenging Christian book that looks at issues of poverty, greed, globalism, and security  and asks some great questions (not so sure about the answers) is Brian McLaren's Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crisis, and a Revolution of Hope.

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McLaren at Baker


Brian McLarenFindint Our Way AgainI went to see Brian McLaren tonight with a friend at Baker Book House in Grand Rapids.  He was on a book tour for his new book in Phyllis Tickle's series on Ancient Spiritual Practices called Finding our Way Again.  He didn't talk a whole lot about the book, but instead talked for a bit about his last three books (The Secret Message of Jesus, Everything Must Change, and this new one) and the kernels of thought and heart that have produced them.  You can tell that McLaren is passionate about change in the world in which we live more in line with the Kingdom of God.  It's always great to hear McLaren, not because he's super-inspiration or charasmatic, but because he opens up the Scriptures often in a new way and his questions are challenging.  I also am particularly fond of his almost fearless (now) prophetic words towards the secular culture and towards the church, particularly the evangelical church.  He answered the typical questions I figured he'd get like "What do I say to my conservative friends who don't like you or think your dangerous" and "what do you really think of hell and the afterlife."  The second one, he really danced around and I wasn't fully satisfied with, but he consistently went back to his reading of Scripture through the lens of the inbreaking Kingdom of God in peace, love, generosity, and goodness.  Here are a couple highlights for me (paraphrases):

"The evangelical church is not meant to be a chaplaincy to secular capitalistic consumerism."

"If you read the passages of the bible literally about some things, you have to read it literally about others."  His example here was the story of the Rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16, in which he says, "If you read this passage literally, it seems like the way to get to hell is by being prosperous, and the way to get to heaven is to be a poor beggar with nothing."

McLaren also talked about what the Gospel is and how it relates to things like penal substitutionary atonement and he also responded to Driscoll's comments (although Driscoll was unnamed) attacking McLaren - the jist being that McLaren's Jesus is too soft and sissy, and Driscoll's Jesus who appears again in on a war-path of violence against his enemies.  McLaren was excellent on this point and gracious to his detractors as always.  I'm not going to sum it up except to say that McLaren is thinking about writing a book that responds to the misunderstandings of his critics.  On this note he talked about exclusivism, inclusivism, and universalism in terms of salvation - and I think I'll try to post on that next.

Overall it was an uneventful but stimulating discussion as always.  McLaren speaks today at Mars Hill, in case you're interested. 

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How Deconstruction Saved My Faith 2


I was reading an interview with Brian McLaren on his book Everything Must Change from The Other Journal, and I read something in his narrative from the early 90's that is very similar to what I was going through during 1990-1999.  Here is what he says:

[Lost people's] questions re-opened for me something I had encountered a long time ago in graduate school, and that's postmodern philosophy, and this cultural shift from modern to a postmodern culture.  So in the early nineties I started grappling with that shift, and it was really tough... If you want to use a term that comes out of that postmodern world, the word would be deconstruction.  I was undergoing a deconstruction.  Not a deconstruction of my faith as a personal trust in God, but of my theological categories and of my theological methodology.  So that's not an easy thing to go through, but once you do a lot of deconstruction, then you have to start reconstructing or else you end up with nothing but a bunch of fragments.

The difference here for me from McLaren is that I actually discovered a more personal trust in God after the deconstruction of my theological categories and cultural history.  In about 1993, I began the reconstruction even as I continued the process of theological, cultural, and denominational deconstruction.  In fact, I think today I still go through a continual process of deconstructing.  I would prefer to call it reformata et semper reformanda - reformed and always reforming.  And here is the key to so many things right now for me (and for people like Roger Olson, John Franke, Stanley Grenz before he passed, Kevin VanHoozer, Nancey Murphey, LeRon Shults, John Stackhouse Jr., NT Wright, Rob Bell, Scot McKnight and many many more people).  I could probably write a book right now about how so many people in the evangelical world are misunderstanding some new theological and practical movements in the emerging church as heretical, when what these people are honestly trying to do is reform the church according to the Scriptures.  In fact, they're trying to re-read the Scriptures in a way that takes seriously the impact of cultural and theological history upon our reading in good ways and bad.  More on this in a couple follow-up posts to come.

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