Big, small world

I have been absent. But thankfully I haven’t missed myself.

Since the beginning of the month I have been studying globalization and society at GMU. Following are some disjointed attempts at correlating what I read and hear with the kingdom of God. Fragmented synthesis if you will…

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Like rebellious robots, our global economic and political institutions are fast outgrowing our ability to control. Notice and ponder the collapse of our gargantuan financial institutions and the helplessness of the politicians trying to save them.

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Despite our humanism, we talk about the forces and dynamics of society as if something beyond us is at work. Our very language betrays our intuitions toward the spiritual.

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The more I study global sociology, the more I am drawn to the beauty of God’s vision for society as articulated by Christ. Sadly, many within the church measure sociological development with the world’s standards–the spread of free market democracy and increasing wealth. Think about how our language betrays us when we talk about mission efforts in “undeveloped” nations or cultures. Granted, development stands in contrast to poverty; however, selfish accumulation of wealth at the expense of others surely indicates another kind of non-development. Certain sociologists understand the impossibility of sustaining the dominant world system and its hedonistic model of development. I am especially intrigued by those who advocate models which–when stripped of their academic jargon–are stunningly Christian (as in Christ-like). De-development is one such idea and begins with the basic premise that people are more than market participants and wealth-accumulators (imagine that!). This premise is then used to explore such radical ideas as non-accumulation of wealth, simplicity, and local community. Instead of measuring development by GDP, exports, and technology, perhaps we should measure happiness. Or meaning and purpose. Of course, quantification of meaning could be difficult, but we might begin with suicide rates.

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Like any discipline, sociology has to answer some basic questions. Who are we? And why in the world are we here?

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The gospel and kingdom of Christ will always be relevant regardless of the sociological structure. However, the gospel and kingdom of Christ also inform the true society. How much should we tear down what is (globalism)? How much should we work within the context of what is? How much should we ignore what is and concentrate on building what should be?

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3 Responses to Big, small world

  1. Matt Gingerich says:

    Wow, sounds like stimulating studies! Just down my alley…I’m looking forward to studying again in about a month, but I’m also worried my student skills have totally disappeared and I might just die:/ How long are you studying at GMU?

    • Josh says:

      At this point I’m just taking 5 week summer class right now because I’m teaching again this coming year. Hopefully I’ll be full-time in the not too distant future. Where and what are you studying?

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