It’s hard to know exactly which topic to start this blog series with, so I thought I’d go with the most universal, holistic vs. linear thinking. Let’s start with a quote about my generation:
“A generation raised on channel-surfing has lost the capacity for linear thinking and analytical reasoning.” — Chuck Colson, Christian writer, chief counsel for President Richard Nixon,
First of all, let me express my respect for Colson. He is a fine Christian thinker and his book How Now Shall We Live is a definite must read. However, on this issue he’s dead wrong. There is an abandonment of linear thinking and analytical reasoning, but maybe, just maybe, the problem doesn’t lie with the generation or the television: it may just lie with the concepts of modernism.
The Modernists tended to compartmentalize and describe things in terms of their parts, rather than holistically as a unit. Basically, things were the sum of their parts. This came about as part of the industrial revolution and the rise of the factory. Henry Ford’s machination of the worker didn’t help. If every worker is a cog, and every cog needs to spin, what happens when one cog stops spinning? Well, you replace it, with a cog who can do the exact same thing. This philosophy became invasive.
Today, we see a similar trend in education, what some people call overspecialization. It used to be you went to college and got a Bachelors degree. Then, in the last 19th century, they started giving you an option, you could get a Bachelors of Arts degree, or a Bachelors of Science degree. Then they started adding majors. Now you can get a Bachelors in anything under the sun, which qualifies you to go out and do–one thing. On top of that, Masters degrees are even more specialized. All training you to do exactly–one thing. Now, I understand the need in some fields for specialized training, (I couldn’t be a lawyer without learning more about law) but in a lot of ways it seems really silly.
The New Epoch is going to see a move away from this. I believe this for several reasons: the rise of the internet puts all the world’s knowledge at your finger tips. How you can decipher knowledge will become a much greater asset than what you already know.
Look at the format of Wikipedia, if you want an example of nonlinear thought. In a reference book, you can look up an article, and at the bottom, it will list related articles. The thought is that you will read the article and then shift to another related topic. On Wikipedia, which I believed is a strong reflection of the culture, you don’t have to wait to even get to the end. You can click on any key word and it will take you to a discussion of that word. You can even have twelve tabs running at once with Firefox or the new Internet Explorer. The idea behind all of these is that ever web page and topic is interconnected with the other ones. Technology both reflects and creates cultural philosophies.
So how can the church reach a people looking for that fulcrum to their view of life? After all, isn’t that what this all seems the lead to. If the New Epoch are discontented with specialization, what can we offer something central to living, for “in him all things hold together” (Col 1:14). Christ offers the centrality the governs everything.
This is one of the things the Church has to offer, a centre to the world. How do we embrace that responsibility? I believe the Church had been doing that for years during the middle ages. The Church was the community town hall, school, and source of entertainment. Everything revolved around not only the church building, but the Church year as well.
This is something we need to recapture in the coming year: church as the outlet for all knowledge: Arts ministries, sports camps, Science fairs. We need to promote a place of discovery, but unlike the medieval church, a place that condones questioning everything. The church will need to be a place for everyone, representing both diversity, in all different people types, skill sets, and even viewpoints, yet with unity, as all people come together to worship Christ.
What will this look like? I believe adult education courses will become an intrigue part of an all encompassing church. Fueling people creativity and imagination will be key attributes. We will reexamine what Worship is, so that it transcends what it has been relegated to in the past, finding Worship possible in study, in art, in camping, in music, in fiction, and so on and so forth forever. Amen.
Wow. This has been a long one. It’s also been very cerebral. I’ll try and make the next few post a bit more practical and a little more specific.
I really would like to hear your thoughts on this; that’s what this comment box is for.