Everything Must Change


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.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Everything Must Change

  1. ShaneBertou

    Several of us from around the blogsphere are reading “Everything Must Change” together and discussing our thoughts. We’ve just begun, but we’ve set it up in a way where it’s never to late to participate.

    If you have any interest, you can visit us at:

    http://readingforchange.wordpress.com

  2. Sara

    Wow- I was thinking about the passage you quoted about school curriculum. As a public school teacher, I know how true that is. I went to an anti-bullying training last year, and one of the key points the leader stressed was that we need to find ways every day to consciously teach our children every day empathy, because it’s something they’re not learning at home or on their own. However, in the classroom, teachers are so pressured to teach to the state mandated tests and meet “No Child Left Behind” standards, that we don’t teach kids how to be decent human beings. Some schools are trying to work on that. We have a mandatory mentoring program with our students, but it’s a far from perfect system and is still focused more on academics than anything else.

    There are so many other issues around this for me about teacher accountability and societal responsibility in raising children that I cold go on an on. But, it’s a great discussion to have and I’m glad you raised the point. I’ll have to check out the book.

  3. Anonymous

    Jeff,
    I’m with Sara on most of her points. Parents are not working with children on manners, empathy, or personal responsibility so it falls on teachers to do the dual job of raising children (25 or so at a time!) and teaching. It’s a monumental job! My school also works on personal characteristics for success called Pillars of Character. We are seeing good results in the school in most of the kids, but there are still kids who are getting no reinforcement at home. It’s a big problem!
    Diane

  4. Mark

    Jeff,
    I’m planning on going to Goshen in May. We should see if we can hook up there…of course in a very heterosexual, manly sort of way 😛

    McLaren is saying some great things…I’m interested in hearing some practical application points. I have my own, but I’d like to hear his voice on the matter.

  5. Dustin

    Thanks for the recommendation! It’s on my Amazon Wish List! At first I was a little skeptical of the hyperbolical title, but it definitely sparked my curiosity.

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