back home … updates

Glad to be home in Maryland, where I saw and heard some signs of spring on my morning walk today … and where it’s been (unseasonably) warmer than (unseasonably cool) San Diego in recent days.
Rick B offers a humorous update on “other-mergents” here …
which links to a parallel one here …
Amy Sullivan describes disconcerting signs from the Religious Right here.
My most recent deepshift email (included below the jump) talks about the need for churches to engage with the financial crisis. Mustard Seed Associates is doing exactly this … (Thanks, Christine!)
Also – check this out from Catalyst.
And Luke passed on this link to a crash course on the economy … I haven’t watched all of this crash course yet, but so far it looks like a worthwhile and needed resource …

Dear Friends,
When I wrote Everything Must Change in 2006 for a 2007 release, I had no idea that Barack Obama would become a presidential candidate, much less the president, running on a campaign of change. Nor did I know that a flood (pardon the pun) of data would pour in saying that global climate change was “progressing” faster than anyone’s worst predictions – most recently, with a chunk of ice shelf the size of Jamaica breaking off of Antarctica. And of course I had no idea that there would be a global economic meltdown and crisis that would have people around the world calling for change.
This third issue is, perhaps, most critical at this moment. In EMC, I made it clear that to me, the Prosperity Crisis was the key symptom of an unsustainable (or suicidal) system. The economic system that we have created in the last few centuries has indeed produced wealth for the West that lifts the middle class to live at a level of comfort and wealth that a king could only have dreamed of a few centuries ago – medical care, hot water, bountiful food, heated and air conditioned homes, mobile phones, not to mention entertainment like MP3’s and The Office at our fingertips!
But this unprecedented prosperity has too often been purchased through various kinds of theft. First, we have stolen resources from the planet at an indefensible rate, stealing from our children and children’s children. Second, we have stolen land from native peoples, and we have stolen resources from nations whose people lack even basic needs (take dirty Coltan exports from Congo in our cell phones, for example, or dirty diamond exports from West Africa on our fingers, or dirty coal taken from Appalachia through mountaintop removal). Third, through a whole range of complex and newly invented financial instruments, a rich minority has succeeded in profiting from our retirement accounts and investments and real estate values. Fourth, through skyrocketing debt, we keep trying to prop up both our personal and national wealth … purchasing our own prosperity on the backs of future generations who will have to pay the mortgage.
Something fascinating and historic is happening. Government and business leaders are faced – as never before in my lifetime, at least – with the possibility that there really is something broken in the way we’re “doing civilization.” One of President Obama’s top advisors has said, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste,” and many of our leaders realize that we have a choice at this moment. We can waste the crisis and try to patch up the system, so it will “recover” and we can quickly get back to our suicidal system already in progress. Or instead of trying to patch up the old system, we can undergo “deep shift” and learn what we need to learn from this crisis … about the common good, about our duties to future generations, about our solidarity with the poor, about the need for values that go beyond fast profit to the timeless wisdom of the prophets.
When I wrote EMC, the term “sustainable economy” was used to describe an alternative to a consumptive, exploitive, suicidal economy. Now, in this crisis, some of our most thoughtful leaders are realizing we need to go even deeper than “sustainable economy” – so they are instead imagining a truly deep shift to “a regenerative economy.” How can we create a new kind of economy that heals rather than destroys creation, that takes into account the needs and dreams of the poor majority in our world and not just the super-rich minority, that diverts funds from swords and spears to plowshares and pruning hooks?
So, although these are anxious times, they are also incredibly exciting times. I am grateful to be joined by so many of you in seeking not to waste this crisis, and instead, to be agents of deep transformation in light of the good news of Jesus, the message of the Kingdom of God.
Three suggestions:
1. Maybe this spring would be a good time to launch a study of EMC with some friends – maybe from your church, maybe even better from your neighborhood. (I recently met a presidential candidate in a Latin American country – a non-church-attender for his adult life – who read EMC and has drawn inspiration for it for his presidential campaign. He’s also found a faith community that is now supporting him spiritually.) As you know, there is also a DVD study guide available … I keep receiving great reports from groups who are using this book – along with Secret Message of Jesus. If you’re a pastor, you’ll find sermon outlines and other resources on my website.
2. This would be a good time to get folks in your faith community talking about an “emergency plan.” What happens if unemployment rates reach 10%? 20% Even higher? What role can your faith community play?
3. How about being part of the poverty summit being sponsored by Sojourners in April?
Thanks for continuing to work for change,

Join the Mailing List