For those who missed Brian McLaren‘s talk that he recently gave at Highland Baptist Church here in Louisville, Kentucky, a helpful summary is given in the March 17, 2009 edition of his DeepShift / Everything Must Change News email:
Just last week, I had a chance to present a summary of Everything Must Change to a group of about 450 people…and something different happened this time! You may remember part of this conversation if you came to an EMC tour stop last year…
First I talked about the prosperity dysfunction (our economy keeps growing beyond environmental limits because of its addiction to more and faster) and then our equity dysfunction (as the rich prosper and live like kings, the poor fall farther and farther behind). Then I moved to the security dysfunction, and asked, “What do the prosperous do when they see the suffering of the left out and left behind?” Then I jokingly replied, “They take out their wallets and ask, How can we help you?” Everyone started to laugh, realizing how far this was from the truth.
As the laughter died down, I explained, “No, the rich typically build higher walls to keep the poor out. And instead of investing in ways to help their poor neighbors, they invest in bigger and more destructive weapons to defend themselves from anyone who might want to interfere with their private money party. They take the money that could have been spent on bread or economic development or medicine to serve others, and they spend it on bombs and guns to protect themselves.”
And at that moment, for the first time in all the times I’ve presented this material, the crowd broke out in applause. Not because they were happy about what I was saying, but because they were relieved to hear someone telling the truth, and they wanted to affirm their belief that this false security system must be named for what it is: barbaric and wrong.
But while they were still applauding, I kept speaking: “I wish that’s all I had to say. But it’s worse than that. You know what else the richest of the rich do again and again? They don’t just build new weapons systems to protect themselves.” Now there was silence again, and I added: “They sell weapons to these poor guys over here, so they’ll use them against these poor guys over here. And they sell weapons to those poor guys over there, so they’ll fight against those other poor guys there. Knowing that, you won’t be surprised to hear that the nations of the U.N. Security Council are also the world’s top weapons dealers, and that our nation sells weapons to both sides of many of the world’s hot spots of conflict.”
People are “getting it” more and more: there comes a point where more weapons mean less security. And that’s why I think people of faith are reaching a tipping point, related to weapons, especially nuclear weapons.
What would happen, brothers and sisters, if over the next five years, a faith-based movement to abolish nuclear weapons began to take root? Wouldn’t such a movement need to begin in the country that has the most nuclear weapons – the USA? Wouldn’t that be a great next step in God’s kingdom agenda of beating swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks?
It’s thrilling to see “the new abolitionists” springing up all over the country – people dedicated to abolishing today’s slave trade where women, children, and men are trafficked for sex or for bonded labor. But I wonder if that’s only one dimension of a three-dimensional abolition movement that’s taking shape among us:
1. Abolishing exploitive and slave labor and human trafficking, and building a fair trade/ethical buying movement in their place.
2. Abolishing nuclear weapons, and building a peace-making movement in their place.
3. Abolishing economic practices that destroy the environment, and building regenerative economies in their place.
Does that start to sound like an agenda that people of faith could come together on – liberal and conservative, Protestant and Catholic, Mainline and Evangelical, Christian and Muslim and Jew, along with people without formal religious commitments? I hope you’ll ask if this is what the Spirit is saying to you and to churches today.
Keep on plotting goodness, Brian
(Emphasis is all McLaren’s)