Thinking Out Loud

January 20, 2014

The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

For several months, the book’s working title was Tomorrowland.

Eventually, it was ruled that ‘The Mouse’ would never stand for that, and so the title of Skye Jethani’s third book became Futureville: Discover Your Purpose for Today by Reimagining Tomorrow, and while another Disney property, EPCOT, is mentioned, the major motif in Futureville is the great promise that was held out for mankind in general, and America in particular in the 1939 World’s Fair.

Futureville - Skye JethaniWhile Jethani is not entirely a household name in the Christian community, his voice is as unique as his ability to weave a subject — in The Divine Commodity it was the art and life of Vincent Van Gogh — into his writing as an ongoing talking point. The middle book of the current three takes a different approach; elsewhere I described his book With as The Preposition Proposition.  His audience is widening through friend Phil Vischer’s podcast, but he is probably best known for his work on Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal, and its highly ranked blog, Out of Ur, relaunched this past weekend as PARSE.  As I’ve said elsewhere — and in reference to other authors — I think his books are best enjoyed after you’ve had exposure to some visual media; some clips are currently available at his blog Skyebox.

The premise of Futureville is that “our vision of the future is what determines how we understand the present. In a very real sense today is defined by tomorrow… what lies ahead.” The book looks at the wide arc of Biblical history through a lens that is both somewhat philosophical and agnostic-friendly. This is a title that meets the giveaway criteria.

He also offers some fresh insights for insiders. Example: We tend to think of the Biblical narrative beginning in a garden and ending in a return to a garden (which owes more to Crosby, Stills and Nash) while in fact the story ends in a city. If you live in Philadelphia or Detroit or Gary, Indiana, the idea of city may suggest that perhaps God could do better. But Jethani uncovers the rationale behind the imagery.

Social activism, environmentalism, politics, etc. all come under the microscope as does the effect current affairs have on shaping theology. Yes, the Bible can be thought of as somewhat clear on matters, but theological thought trends in ways not unlike celebrity fixations on Twitter. We may know what the text says, but the book points out the ways in which the capital ‘C’ Church will spin it differently and slowly drift from its mission.

Much of the book’s purpose is to help refocus us by freshly acquainting ourselves with the key images of scripture and of worship, and to re-purpose us to realigning our priorities. In many respects, Futureville is prescriptive, it gives the Church a mandate for 2014 not unlike Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock did for a broader society in 1970. While parts of Futureville may leave you disturbed, overall, the book offers assurance that God has orchestrated things to lead toward a conclusion of his choosing, and one that, to borrow from Jeremiah, offers us a future and a hope.

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December 1, 2010

Wednesday Link List

I’m making a list and checking it twice…

  • Out of every ten people, seven can not live their faith in full freedom. And the most persecuted religion is Christianity, with at least 200 million people suffering from discrimination. This was revealed by the report on religious freedom in the world that is published every two years by the Catholic organization “Aid to the Church in Need.”    Watch the video from RomeReports.com
  • When Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson dropped the ball, he may have done so in more ways than one.   Here’s a frank, disturbing and yet must-read account of the theological fallout from Johnson’s ill-considered Twitter post, at the blog, The Wartburg Watch.   Don’t miss the comments, either.
  • Phil Johnson’s view of worship is very non-Pentecostal to be sure, but it’s a view common to many people who attend weekly meetings consisting largely of scripture reading and exposition, and would still say, if asked, that they attended a worship service.
  • Here’s a discussion I joined back in August on the blog Rumblings, concerning the devotional book Jesus Calling by Sarah Young that’s still going strong three months later.
  • The normally much more sedate Julie Clawson explains why she was walking down the streets of Austin, Texas wearing nothing but underwear.   There’s even an element of cross-dressing.
  • Got young kids?   Here’s a website they might enjoy from CBH (Children’s Bible Hour) Ministries, the people who produce the Down Gilead Lane radio shows.   It’s called iToadU; sorta as in ‘I told you.’
  • A Canadian version of the Hallellujah Chorus flashmob thing. two weeks ago in a city outside of Niagara Falls; but local discussion has centered on the fact that, in not keeping with tradition associated with this piece of music, the entire audience did not stand up.
  • Really enjoying listening online to WAY-FM, broadcasting from the warmer climes of South Florida, especially since my normal online radio switched to Christmas music a little too early for my tastes.
  • Dean Lusk notes that his cat and dog aren’t as enlightened as us, and thereby are able to live together as an example of harmony.
  • Linkless entry to fellow bloggers:  When you embed from Hulu, only people in the U.S. can watch.   Always frustrating.  This may come as a surprise to you, but you actually do have readers in other parts of the world.   Or at least you did.
  • Christianity Today asks a wide variety of contacts the [literally] musical question, “Should churches ban Christmas carols with questionable theology?”   Read their answers and consider yours.  Or skip the experts and go straight to the comments on this one.
  • At Internet Monk, Chaplain Mike says that “those who welcome the Prince of Peace at this time of year should be praying for peace in this dangerous situation.”  Read his comments about last week’s attack on South Korea by North Korea.
  • Linkless entry to fellow bloggers:  Another thing about embedding videos:  I know Vimeo is much more cool than YouTube, but it takes forever to buffer, even if you have high speed internet.   Sometimes I really want to see what you enjoyed so much, but it just takes soooo long.
  • Tomorrow at Thinking Out Loud:  A report on the debate between Christopher Hitchens and Tony Blair on the benefits of religion to society, and an analysis on debates of this nature in general.
  • Our cartoon today is from Dave Walker at The Cartoon Blog in the UK.  He has three books out of which the newest, The Exciting World of Churchgoing is available to retailers through Canterbury Press, distributed in the U.S. by Ingram/Spring Arbor.

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