Saturday, 28 February 2015

Have we been here before?

I have been rereading Brian McLaren's (2007) “Everything must change.” He finishes chapter 10 by talking about “Jesus resituated.” Basically, he describes the context in which Jesus lived, that is the Roman empire which promoted wealth and peace for all but in reality this was wealth and peace for a small elite while the rest were enslaved, taxed, enlisted, or treated as production units for empires prosperity, and security systems. The Roman empire framing story was about the benefits for those in the empire except for those who were on the margins. The surrounding countries were either in fear of the empire or they hoped to join it so that they could share in the perceived prosperity of the empire. The empire enlisted young men to defend its boarders and treated women as production factories to supply the needed men for the wars. McLaren also talks about how it was dangerous to speak out against the imperial machine.

It seems that there are some parallels with our current rumbling societal machine with its so called prosperity through growth framing story. We are called to endure austerity (except for the wealthy elite, corporate executives, and wealthy sports stars and celebrities) to ensure that we share in the later prosperity of the new juggernaut. To protect, the prosperity especially for the elite, the rest must pay their taxes, see their incomes squeezed, and be enlisted in the fight against those who would see to oppose the stumbling juggernaut.

We see immigration as an increasing problem as people outside the juggernaut perceive the relative prosperity of those within and nations on the boarders struggle to become a part but are excluded if they don't measure up to the stringent economic standards of the juggernaut.

Radicals and terrorists operate in marginalised countries attacking resources that the juggernaut needs for survival. Young people are not yet being conscripted but they are being encouraged to join the military machinery to defend the juggernaut from these rebel factions. New laws and agreements are introduced that maintain the rights of the wealthy and corporates at the expense of all others.

It couldn't be possible in the framing story that those who are being conscripted could possibly be radicalised by a system that promised prosperity for all except the poor, the middle class, those who did not agree with the framing story, those who questioned the direction of the juggernaut, etc.

Like the Roman empire, this modern age juggernaut will continue to rumble along as long as the majority of it citizens will accept the dominate framing story despite the hardship they endure and the growing inequality in society. After all it is the juggernaut that enables them to meet their needs and provides their security. Does it matter that a few who are cast out on the fringes become radicalised and fight against the juggernaut? The juggernaut is superior and can bring down these radicals.

But wait, what happened to the mighty Roman empire? What happened to the empires that European nations built? What happened and is happening in the nations they once colonised? Surely, we can't question the imperial mandate and its story that we have repeated throughout generations?


McLaren, B. D. (2007). everything must change: When the world's biggest problems and Jesus' good news collide. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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