Over the weekend I finished (devoured) Brian McLaren’s new book Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crisis, and a Revolution of Hope. It is revolutionary and I can’t stop thinking about it. Things I hear on TV, conversations I have with friends, stories I read in the Bible, all are being processed through the important points that McLaren raises in this book.
McLaren begins by asking two questions that he has found himself asking time and time again in his life and his ministry:
1.) What are the biggest problems in the world?
2.) What does Jesus have to say about these global problems?
What follows is a beautiful, prophetic, poetic, exploration of global systems and faith. At it’s core, this book is a call to action.
McLaren argues that we’re living in a world that has become a suicide machine, our systems inherently leading to death and destruction while hiding that fact from those of us in the system. A couple of nuggets I keep going back to:
The covert curriculum teaches us what matters and what doesn’t by strategically ignoring certain things. So our public schools overtly teach children that math and reading deserve years of practice. But patience, self-discipline, conflict resolution, gratitude, interpersonal communication, contemplation, or reconciliation have little or no visible part of most curricula that I know of. You can get an A in math and an F in contemplation and self-knowledge, and you are still judged a success, because there is no course called “contemplation and self-knowledge” in the curriculum. That fact itself is a key element of the covert lesson plan (pg. 290).
What is the covert curriculum of the news industry? Why are some things considered newsworthy and others not? Who decides and why? Who makes money from selling us too much sugar and fat and too many new cars? Who profits from making us fear aging, death, celibacy, fidelity, marriage, parenthood, or wearing last year’s hot brand name or hairstyle? Who profits – in money or in votes – from teaching us to fear terrorism caused by others, but not fear the consequences of wars we ourselves start? What are we taught about our emotions, when our teenagers take illegal drugs to numb their pain or replace their boredom, and their parents take legal drugs to do the same thing? (pg. 291)
As I’ve read back through this post I realize that I’ve barely begun to touch on the rich material that McLaren covers and that it would be nearly impossible for me to do his work justice in a simple blog. Regardless of your thoughts about faith, politics, economics, or anything else, I highly recommend this book!
McLaren has put together a tour this spring that is being called Deep Shift. The hope is to bring people together to discuss his work in faith communities around the country as we seek to catalyze the needed deep shift in our culture and our world. I’m hoping to figure out how to go to either Chicago or Goshen and I’ll keep you posted.