Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What's Next? . . . Fence Moving!

metanoia - "a change of mind, as it appears to one who repents, of a purpose he has formed or of something he has done" (from the Blue Letter Bible)

Since launching this blog site following a seminar featuring Dr. Doug Bailey in early November, a number of those who attended the original conference have inquired more recently, "What's next for 'City of Peace'?".  To help in exploring some possible answers, George Kegley has written an excellent review of the workshop entitled, "Urban Congregations Must Move Fences, Not Build Them".

As it relates to the underlying themes of 'radical truth telling' and 'social justice', but especially since discovering Butler Shaffer's, Boundaries of Order: Private Property As a Social System, Dr. Bailey's analogy of fence moving as a means of better fostering an intricately knit community, impresses me as being particularly profound.  Yet, no more so than the implication for this 'change' as a movement of practical transformation in terms of mission, with the potential to transcend various levels of human experience all the way from third world village to our local neighborhood(s).
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed (metamorphoo) by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Banksy Hacks the Wall
Yet, because even a rudimentary study of the Old Testament reveals an ongoing and rather persistent rebellion on the part of God's elect (e.g. the nation 'Israel') in ignoring some of the most basic tenets of His will, what kind of future might actually await our own citizenry for imposing on subsequent generations a seemingly irredeemable national debt?  Similarly, but perhaps more importantly, what natural circumstances will befall a people who no longer hold to the idea of natural (e.g. Divine) provision and have subsequently become both the world's greatest debtors and its most exploitative consumers?

Consequently perhaps, now might be an appropriate time for the Christian Church to reevaluate the worth of self-assessments based exclusively on a history of its own rusting prosperity and instead, consider weighting its present condition in terms of 'Christ-likeness'.  Fortunately for us however, the bigger picture isn't all one of doom and gloom, there's more than adequate reason for hope.

"A New Era Has Begun"
"A new era for the human race has clearly begun. When I compare the state of people’s awareness today with what it was just a few years ago, remarkable changes are taking place.  People are finally waking up to the fact that the world of big money, big media, and big business is taking them absolutely nowhere except into degradation, alienation, and slavery.  People are finally becoming cognizant that their destiny lies in their own hands and within their own consciousness." - Richard C. Cook, from "A New Era Has Begun"
There are those too like Roger Walsh who in a paper subtitled, "Key Ideas for a World at Risk", expresses a well qualified viewpoint similar to Richard Cook's that 'religion' has the capacity to "catalyze" human development and if that possibility were "widely appreciated" to in turn, "transform the culture".  The type of 'religion' to which Walsh refers however is not the "conventional narrative religion" with which most people are familiar, but something he calls "transconventional psychotechnologies".

Where conventional narrative religion typically arises from a group's shared belief in a unifying 'story' or narrative, the "central theme" of transconventional psychotechnologies is by contrast, the possible necessity of training "the mind (and metaphorically the heart) in order to foster mental and spiritual maturation and well-being".  Walsh substantiates this point further by noting that "(p)reliminary research on meditation supports the idea that it can foster certain kinds of development (Walsh & Shapiro, 2006)".

Consequently however, there is also a shared responsibility (or 'exemplar' as Ken Wilber has called it) on the part of those same practitioners to "foster (their) own psychological and spiritual maturation".  For example, rather than rigidly observing less creative or interactive forms of 'traditional' charity, individuals instead engage in what Walsh describes a "millennia old" variety of service (Karma Yoga) as a means of transforming "one’s work in the world into spiritual practice".

Presence, Prayer, Peace . . .

There seems to be a contradiction between the needs of the Knowledge Era and the reality of centralized power (Child & McGrath, 2001) that leadership theory has not yet addressed.  "The dominant paradigms in organizational theory are based on stability seeking and uncertainty avoidance through organizational structure and processes . . ."  Uhl-Bien, Marion, and McKelvey, quoted from "Complexity Leadership Theory"
Banksy Hacks the Wall
From my perspective, the 'City of Peace' workshop did a brilliant job of providing a forum and framework for a diverse group of civic leaders from various sectors of our local community to further explore ways together, for contributing even more effectively to Roanoke's overall health and economic vitality.  This group then, represents nothing less than the potential to inspire and instill 'can do' attitudes much in the way that Congregations in Action has been doing in the area's public schools for some time now.

The key here however, whether addressing issues of homelessness, education, or economic vibrancy, is that we do so with an appreciation that we're not just witnessing a phenomenal point in history involving unprecedented creativity, innovation, and learning, but we're actually participants in its unfolding.  I hope we'll continue to both celebrate and honor that in relation to one and other . . . and in rejoining Dr. Bailey, Namaste.

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