In the previous post that wandered around the issue of "authority," I spoke about "networks," which is but one shift in the way humans are perceiving reality today. I now want to add two more shifts that I think the Church must recognize, if we are to effectively continue our mission. These three shifts are:
1. Networks - relationships are formed through complex webs of networks, often formed around leisure activities, family and friendships. Geography often plays a minor role. Network societies can both connect and fragment, as well as include and exclude.
2. Mobility - as the "local" gives way to the "global" perspective, new options regarding where we put down roots have opened up. In some cases, the concept of "roots" (home) has been completely redefined, with "place" being given a lower priority. This can provide more freedom and opportunity, but also undermines long term commitments. It is also cause for some tensions between those who have the means to be more mobile, and those who feel "stuck" in a particular place.
3. Consumer societies - previous generations found their identity in what they produced, but we now find our identity in what we consume. The core value of society has moved from ‘progress’ to ‘choice.’ We are moving towards a “personalized scale" in which ”it must fit me exactly” is an essential value. Among other things, this will affect the way people evaluate truth claims. “Truth” will be treated as a commodity. Consumer societies provide more choices, while also reinforcing the illusion of individualism.
For further reading:
(the entire book, from which some of the above content was drawn, can be found in pdf format here)
The Great Emergence
(some videos of Phyllis Tickle speaking about the content of this book and a study guide can be found here)
Next: Some specific institutional challenges.