Saving the Planet One Left-Wing Position at a Time (IX)
Three Interlocking Systems
The uniformed, ill-advised, and un-initiated reader might think that Bri is considering paving his driveway, but in reality, his “three interlocking systems” are aimed at a far larger problem looming on the horizon than just some cracked asphalt. Remember: Bri is attempting to get us to think big thoughts like Jesus did. You have to read carefully and a little between the lines, but Jesus was a charter member of the Sierra Club and the reason he walked on water so much was that he was trying to reduce his carbon footprint. Jesus was keen and astute as these matters go and you would never find him giving a talk to his disciples about global warming on a cold day.
As large and complex as today’s global issues are, Bri firmly believes that we must keep reading and studying. There is one more ingredient that is crucial, essential. Bri kept “talking with knowledgeable friends.” This leaves many of us out, since “knowledgeable friends” translates into “those who agree with Bri.” If you can ever find any of these knowledgeable dudes hanging around the vending machine waiting their turn to get their medicinal marijuana, you need to have a yellow legal pad with you—actually, any color will do, but to be a bona fide follower of the non-leader leader, yellow is the preferred color. Why is that? Well, that way you can sketch out “all kinds of diagrams and flow charts to capture the cause-and-effect interrelationships between problems.” I thought the correct statement was among problems, but Bri’s the English guy and I’m just the theologian.
Even having an authorized Bri yellow legal pad doesn’t solve all your problems. With all that discourse among the knowledgeable friends old Bri found himself caught in “solution deadlock,” which is not a fun place to be. What happens when your knowledgeable friends and yellow legal pad leave you in the lurch? Then you turn to Dr. Leonard Sweet, who is an Emergent church darling. The difference here is that Dr. Sweet isn’t merely knowledgeable, but also brilliant and contagiously thoughtful. That definitely helps. “Len,” as Bri calls Dr. Sweet made a passing comment that opened up the “solution deadlock” and seized Bri’s attention like an alarm buzzer. Here is what opened the bottleneck. Bri thought, “It’s like we’ve created some sort of suicide machine.” He wasn’t alone. Other thoughtful folk had already spoken out stating how some ancient cultures “committed ecological suicide by destroying their own resource base.” He could be on to something here. If you read Daniel carefully—especially Daniel 3—there might be a case to be made for Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace emitting too many toxic gases thereby committing ecological suicide for Babylon. He should have—anachronistically—signed the Kyoto Accord where only privileged countries like China and Russia get to pollute the world.
Bri’s description of what’s happening to our planet was getting a little too scary for me—worse than any nuclear weapons device Doomsday Machine is the current Suicide Machine, which is a carryover from the ecological suicide of past generations and cultures. Thankfully, Bri explains, “Suicide machine is, of course, a metaphor.” Whew! What an enormous relief! What exactly is the metaphoric suicide machine in our midst? According to Bri the words “can serve as a helpful metaphor (among others) for the systems that drive our civilization toward un-health and un-peace.” Such a way of looking at and describing life can point us to how man can and has fouled “up the results of millions of years of evolution.” That’s a powerful assertion. Here is evolution blindly, impersonally moving us forward, pulling us up out of the slime and man steps in and destroys millions of years of evolution. The follower of Jesus according to Evolution has every right to be indignant, especially if he or she knows knowledgeable, brilliant, and contagiously thoughtful people and not those angry and reactionary fundamentalists, stuffy traditionalists, crusading religious imperialists, and overly enthused Bible-waving fanatics. By the way, this is the second time that Bri has mentioned talking to knowledgeable people. If he’s not careful, he just might end up sounding like an elitist snob. He isn’t, of course, because all that he is telling us is born out of a feeling he discovered that he had something worth sharing.
Back to the (Authorized) Yellow Legal Pad
With the suicide metaphor—again, I cannot express how thankful I am that it’s just a metaphor—on the front burner of Bri’s brain—oh, that’s just a metaphor too—he went back to all his (authorized) yellow legal pads that were full of diagrams, flow charts, lists, and other scribblings—with the emphasis on scribbling. In a short while, Bri is going to share some of the products of his expansive legal pad meanderings. I tell you this to forewarn you and to prepare you for some heavy duty graphs and also so that you won’t split your sides laughing as such inane scribblings.
First, however, we must get down to the serious work of describing three subsystems of the supersystem. They are the Prosperity System, the Security System, and the Equity System. You and I have known these in the past under commonly understood names, but when you’re a thoughtful person, you need something a little catchier, a little trendier.
The Prosperity System
This describes what fulfills our desires to thrive and not merely to survive. In other words, the Prosperity System “feeds civilization with the products and services that people want to obtain—or ‘consume’ if you will.” The Prosperity System is comprised of a host of subsystems such as agriculture systems, manufacturing, energy, transportation, education, entertainment, communication systems, and so on. “So on” is a huge category. This is all well and good, but problems and jealousies arise “when some individuals or groups of people have a bigger share of desired products and services than others.”
Communism and Socialism both know a great deal about this problem, but in the millions of years of evolution have not been able to solve it—but they’re working on it! This is an amazing piece of literature former-English-teacher Bri is giving us. He just surreptitiously and in a subtle fashion slipped in the notion of redistribution of wealth and prosperity. He will, in the course of this book return to this concept—repeatedly.
The Security System
“To protect a successful prosperity system from interference, a society develops a security system.” Like the Prosperity System, this one also has a number of subsets or subsystems, such as weapons systems, intelligence systems, border control systems, policing and surveillance systems. These systems are important, but they are also very expensive. That being the case, you’d think that old Bri would be pleased that we have a standing military that will prevent some Islamic jihadist from nuking his Birkenstocks, Starbucks gift card, and yellow legal pads, but being thoughtfully selfless, he is more concerned about the costs associated with the expanding security system.
Hidden within these words also is an agenda. Don’t forget that we’re discussing global issues and how Jesus would handle them and we all know that Jesus was a pacifist, in favor of open borders, anti-gun, and a full-orbed (and robed) revolutionary.
The Equity System
It’s here that Bri begins to spill the beans. He’s opposed to monopolies and it seems that we already have legislation with a view to monopolies. When Microsoft gets too big, for example, the government should mandate breaking it up into even more ineffective ways to build software—you know, platforms that crash every five minutes instead of just once or twice a year. One way that the Equity System thrives is when it “levies taxes to distribute the shared expenses of developing and maintaining all three systems.” It? The only thing “it” can mean in McLaren’s word is “government.” By all stretches of the imagination, the government does a decent job at levying taxes. In fact, it has advanced degrees in that undertaking and to this point, “it” still doesn’t have enough revenues—especially when they continue to spend taxpayer dollars at an alarming rate. To this point, sensible economists have argued that the problem today is not with revenues—which are more than adequate—but rather with government expenditures, which are out of control.
But there is more for “it” to do: “it establishes or protects the press and court systems so they can investigate and report the truth about inequities.” Boy, “it” is going to be busy. “It” establishes the press? Now I’m thinking that “it” must mean Democrat instead of government, because the Dems virtually control the media, with notable exception.
How does “it” protect the court system? Does “it” only appoint judges that meet a certain agenda? For example, does “it” only want judges who are pro-choice? Is protection calculated in whether or not a judge is in favor of open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens? Is it dependent upon affirmative action, pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan, signing the Kyoto Accord, affirming a great deal of the junk science of global warming, or supporting universal health care? At this point, we don’t know. In fact, you’ll search Bri’s ethics book in vain for a sentient, biblical, or common sense answer. It’s all meaningless platitudes and generalities.
But Bri wants to make an important distinction here while he’s discussing the Equity System: Equity does not mean equality. “Equity means fairness and justice, the outcome of wise and virtuous judgment, without prejudice, favoritism, or corruption, but with a human sense of mercy and compassion.” In other words, Bri is opposed to racial quotas like affirmative action and the minimum wage. What? Oh, I’m sorry, I thought he was. I guess I was mistaken. But other than those things he’s all for less government intervention and letting the free market police itself. Right. Even though he hasn’t said it, Bri believes that Jesus was in favor of the social gospel with substantially more emphasis on social than on gospel. We are sixty pages into Bri’s ethics where he announces (non-authoritatively authoritatively that everything must change and that everything must change. I know this is probably silly of me, but this sounds very much like a non-metanarrative metanarrative. Can’t we, don’t we tend to think of a word such as “must” as carrying some sort of authority with it? The second thing that is noteworthy is that we are sixty pages into this quasi-ethical work and there has been no Scripture. Third, the only time that we have encountered the “s” word, sin, is on the lips of other people. Bri doesn’t use it, but, hey, he’s just following Jesus, who rarely said anything about it at all. As a matter of fact, later on old Bri is going to give us a paraphrase on Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount that makes The Message look like a translation.
There’s more weighty material in this section dealing with the Equity System. McLaren writes, “Or we might say that men and women should be paid and treated equally, but then we may agree that a pregnant woman or nursing mother should be given more leniency in regard to time off…” Who is the “we” here? Is “we” synonymous with “it”? One thing is certain. “We” is to be taken “collectively” and it is clear that Bri is not referring here to “We the people…” Like Jim Wallis before him, Bri claims to have no particular political agenda, but then comes down in the left-wing camp on virtually every issue he discusses. Here’s something that needs to be said often: The Christians who carp about other Christians being aligned with right-wing politics ought to take a close look at their left-wing agenda. This is a double-edged sword and it cuts both ways. Unfortunately, the emergents and pomos only want it to cut only one way.
(For whatever reason, the blog won't pick up the diagram. Trust me, it verges on simpleminded.) Nice. I’m not making this up. Kindergarten classes have put clay ears on bunnies that were more complex that this diagram. As difficult as this is, Bri will explain it all to us shortly without using much Scripture at all and without using the “s” word. But rest assured: Even without Scripture Bri is fully convinced—as fully convinced as a pomo can be, of course—that he is showing us the real, essential Jesus. Parents, make certain your children stay away from this nonsense.
 Brian McLaren, Everything Must Change. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007), p. 50.
 Ibid., 50-51.
 Ibid., 52.
 Ibid., 53.
 Ibid., 2.
 Ibid., 4.
 Ibid., 54.
 Ibid., 55.
 Ibid., 56.
 Ibid., 57. Italics mine.
 Ibid., 58.
Labels: Emergent Church