Science Fiction: Modern Day Prophesy?

“Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” (Genesis 3:22).

“Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. (Genesis 11:4-6).

Apparently the very thing that God was afraid of back in the Book of Genesis will be coming true in 2045.  I had not heard of the Singularity until it was mentioned in a post on BoingBoing.  It piqued my curiosity and so I looked up more.  If you want a really fascinating, terrifying and easy to read explanation of the Singularity and why you should care, check out the Time Magazine Article from February 2011, “2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal”.  As I read the Time article, I found myself thinking “why is no one in the church really talking about this stuff?”.

I remember watching Aubrey de Grey give a TED lecture on the topic of curing death and thinking that he sounded crazy (his beard didn’t help).  And while many people do (think he’s crazy), many in the scientific community are putting aside their existential biases and are making strides in bring them to reality (read the bit about making mice younger in the aforementioned Time article).

We need to get passed the whole Creation vs Evolution feud that has kept us at odds with science for so long because, in our eagerness to debunk and write off science (partaking in advancements in medicine and buying iPhones not included), and our general resistance to understand and interact with what’s going on in the scientific community, we are beginning to miss out on some truly important conversations.  Forget Piper vs Bell, Heaven vs Hell.  We are too easily misled and corruptible to judge; salvation and judgement are God’s alone.  Meanwhile, there is a whole world out there debating things that are very relevant to life, God, the Bible, and faith, but we aren’t showing up to the party.

Things are changing exponentially and life as we know it may change forever/cease in our lifetime (is that alarmist enough to get you interested? 😉 ).  My advice: return your Left Behind books to the fiction section and pick up some Asimov… he might just be more relevant to Armageddon than we realize.

Disclaimer: Please don’t read this as a call to rise up like an angry mob to go burn down Dr. Frankenstein’s windmill.  I am pro-science as much as I am pro-faith, for there are many areas where I believe that faith is augmented by science and vice versa.  May God grant us all the wisdom and discernment to see Truth, whether she wears a alb or a lab coat.

The B/S Show: Episode 20 – we <3 teh internets

Hi folks, sorry for the delay, teh internets let us down yesterday when we tried to upload the episode.  That little hiccup does nothing to diminish our affection for technology, though, and that’s what you’re getting this week.  Initially we wanted to have a really intelligent conversation about how and why the internet and technology makes life better… in the end we just kinda played on our iPhones and gushed like little fanboys about all the cool stuff that we have learned.  Still, technology is fascinating, and these are amazing times we’re living in, so, if nothing else, we hope you walk away from this week’s episode with a little bit of child-like wonder… because you are listening to our voices.  On your iPhones.  Or iPads.  Or computers.  Our voices.  You are listening to them and we aren’t even anywhere near you.  WOW!

Our Song

Our Song chord chart

This is a song I wrote about a year ago.   It was (and still is) a prayer for my church (Oak Park) and The Church.

Christianity is a funny beast.   Despite being historically built on the life, death and belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, it bears the mark of so much flawed humanity.

In today’s North American culture, a faith in the redemptive nature of a real and loving God is synonymous with a host of polarizing politics and opinions.  As has been said, the Church is more known for what it is against (and we can’t even agree on that) than what it is for.

This is, of course, not every church or every Christian.   It is however an example of the few ruining it for the many, and it is a reality that we, as Christians seeking to be vessels of restoration to a broken world, need to recognize. But I digress…

We are a flawed faith, if only because we are a flawed people.  Yet, that doesn’t prevent God from breaking through and changing us, even using us to make this world what is should be.  And, to me, that is beautiful and worthy of song.  Which brings me back to the song.

It is probably my favourite song I’ve written in the last year.  There’s just something so simple and genuine about it, you could almost say “pure”… in fact, I will.

Also, this video is adorably self-aware, which makes me like that I did it even more.  And yes, it is a live take, flubs and all… what a strange word, “flub”.  Flub.  Flub.  Flub.

EDIT: As requested by Randy from Lambrick (thanks by the way!) I’ve added the campfire chart PDF  for your downloading and using.  All I ask is that if your church likes it, let me know… and if they don’t, let us never speak of it again 🙂

Our Ever-Changing Horizons

In episode 18 of The B/S Show we talked about dealing with criticism.  One of the things that came up was a conversation that B had with some of the seniors in his church in California.  It was a very encouraging conversation because everyone from the young to the old listened to each other and as a result, mutual understanding and respect was achieved.  This is what lies at the heart of our thoughts on criticism.  If there is an issue, or something you feel needs to be addressed are you doing it in such a way that real, two-way communication can happen and understanding achieved, or are you just scattering your opinionated seeds with no regard as to where they land and whether or not they will bear fruit (this is what I am always asking myself).

When B talked with his seniors, the main point that they expressed that was the root of all their criticism in the past was simply that what was happening in the church and, specifically, in the congregational practice of worship was so different from what they knew in their youth and, therefore, unfamiliar.

This experience of older generations wrestling with unfamiliarity isn’t exclusive to the church, but it is arguably exclusive to life in the last couple hundred years.

Scott Bakker (working off of the work of a conceptual historian named Reinhart Koselleck), recently talked a bit about this on his blog (albeit in a slightly different context).  According to Bakker, Koselleck defines Modernity “as the changing relationship between what he called the ‘space of experience’ and the ‘horizon of expectation.’”

“The example I always like to give is that of a medieval yeoman chewing his callouses in some German field. Not only can he assume that his son will by and large share his experience, but that his grandson will, and his great-grandson, and so on. His space of experience, thanks to social immobility and a creeping rate of technological change, possessed an almost preposterously deep horizon of expectation.”

In other words, there was a time that life, due to “social immobility and a creeping rate of technological change” was predictable and the wisdom and experience of the elderly was invaluable because what they lived and experienced was consistent with what the younger generations were experiencing.  However, that is becoming less and less the case as our world continues to experience sweeping social and technological change.

There was a time not that long ago when racial segregation was a societal norm and gay marriage was inconceivable.  Information on any given subject was harder to come by and as a result what you were taught was limited to what was known in your immediate familial and social circle.

The world is different now.  Racial segregation, while still around in various forms, is generally intolerable, gay marriage is an increasingly achievable option, and we have instant access to an almost embarrassingly vast wealth of global knowledge, perspective and experience (just yesterday I was reading about how nuclear power works.  Think about that… I was able to read about nuclear power on a whim!).

As Bakker says, “We can’t even reliably predict what our own lives will look like in twenty years time, let alone the ‘experiential space’ our children will some day inhabit… the reason why the respect once accorded to the elderly seems to have all but evaporated in contemporary consumer society: their experiences no longer apply the way they once did.”

The question of whether or not this is a right or good thing is almost inconsequential because whether we like it or not, culture and technology continue to barrel on with an ever increasing momentum.  The world is changing faster and faster and the age with which we are naturally losing touch with the world our kids are growing up in is becoming younger and younger.

What does this mean for the church?  What does this mean for society and the world my kid(s) are growing up in?  How do we as christians and church leaders respond to this, or do we not “respond” and instead embrace these realities?

I don’t know.  But I know that understanding the “why” will take a lot of work from both the young and the old, and understanding the “why” is important if we hope to move past the conflicts that this kind of tension brings about.  But then again, maybe these conflicts are not “problems to be solved” but rather “tensions to be managed*”?  Argh!  It’s all too much for my mind to wrap around!

Well, regardless, hats off to B and his seniors for setting the example and working towards understanding.

Pastors, worship leaders, parents, children, young, old, what say you?  Does any of this (for better or worse) resonate in you?  How do we respond?

*Andy Stanley talks about this difference in his podcast “Maintaining Healthy Tension”.