A changing picture

I’ve been reading a Brian McLaren book, Church On The Other Side. McLaren is a fairly progressive Christian, keen to help church-goers and churches to stop declining in number and relevance. It’s a challenging read, in some ways, and sad in others. I guess most Christians and church-goers that most readers would regard as needing to read this probably wouldn’t.

And that’s a real shame. McLaren’s book isn’t the easiest to read, though it could be a lot more difficult. The chapters are numerous and small, perhaps in lieu of better structure, or more well thought out “narrative”. But he is passionate about this topic. The church is (in the west) now arguably the most ineffective and most derided it has ever been since Emperor Constantine. And McLaren wants the church to change.

There is one horribly good example buried more then three quarters of the way through. It is provided in the context of long-term versus short-term viewpoints, which may be a way to get this example past certain types of thinking. But to my way of thinking, it is an example of insular, blinkered, “churchy” thinking versus an inclusive, world-connecting thinking. McLaren says that if you ask a typical Christian what are the most pressing issues today and you will get soundbites about abortion, breakdown of families and homosexuality. Ask a non-Christian and you’ll get quite different responses: over-population, climate-change, ethnic tribalism (including fundamentalism!), systemic poverty and ecological destruction.

This is quite a different list.

I don’t want to be part of a church that get’s it panties in knots over homosexuality. I’d rather my church gets constructively upset over climate change deniers, for instance.

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