I’m pondering all this because I’m trying to “name and frame” an outreach effort that’s in the building stage. It combines perspectives from authors/experts like Wendell Berry, Michael Pollan, Matthew Crawford, E.F. Schumacher, Aldo Leopold, and John Leeke. I guess where Jesus comes in is that these writers have been, for me, key influences in the questioning of Post-war cultural imperatives: more, bigger, faster, cheaper. By releasing us from the urgency of this concept of “progress”, they allow us to question our assumptions. There are a lot of bad ideas that can be accepted in the name of a vague concept like progress. Holding the concept and goals of “progress” at arms length opens up some new perspectives. There’s an implication in the writings of each that there’s a better alternative that does not require the machinery of more, bigger, faster, cheaper. It’s one thing to innovate and solve problems, but it’s another to think that those innovations define progress or generate fulfillment. They will generate a temporary sense of fulfillment actually, if we listen to the explicit and implicit supporting messages, and that’s the problem. There’s something about buying into that kind of fulfillment that keeps people from staying or getting connected with God. It seems that the further we are from God’s provisions, or the more we focus on man’s capabilities or innovations, the less we connect with the Creator.
The ironic good news is that it seems like we live more sustainably, with better stewardship, as we learn to enjoy food and the existing beauty (natural and man-made) more; and at the same time we are drawn closer to God. Win, win, win. But I think we could have more Christians offering this to society so that the connection to God is clearer. In the earlier post “There’s Gold in this God Thing”, I made the point that the demand seems to be strong enough to financially support this effort on the part of more Christians.
From my daily scolding by Oswald Chambers (he’s my favorite, but some of you know what I mean) we’re supposed to be about much more than meeting the physical needs of people. We’re to be looking for obstacles to the Gospel message. Times have changed since the New Testament was written. Mention the usual Christianese, and not only do most not understand, they are turned off because of other societal issues. So, we can’t just feed the hungry, and we can’t even feed the hungry plus “share the Gospel” in the usual way, at least in my mind. But we do need to make disciples. How do we cut through the obstacles or undo the damage? We’re not seen as “good” because we don’t have the right political views. “How can they be good if they believe that…” Hmm. I’m not really frustrated by this, and I know that we’re not alone in the battle : ). I’m just thinking. I realize I haven’t answered my question from Part I yet, but I’m getting close.