In 1970, Alvin Toffler’s first and most important book was published - Future Shock. The book looks into the near-future and sees a world of almost overwhelming change and anticipates the impact upon us individually – shock, future shock.
The book is pretty amazing in its accuracy of the unprecedented wave of changes that our culture would absorb. It’s less clear how accurate the book is in predicting our ability to manage this revolutionary change. There have been a lot of “papers” written on this very topic with different conclusions being reached.
In my humble opinion (I admit, no research to support this) – we are all greatly influenced by a tidal wave of change that SEEMS to be seamlessly absorbed by the general population. Said another way, I don’t really see the “shock” predicted (with a few very important exceptions such as the death of manufacturing) but we have all been impacted in significant, unexpected and unappreciated ways by the changes within our culture.
This reality can be seen in many different ways. Maybe the most obvious is social media. Also the “news” and the way we gather the news has changed radically. Think about the ways we are entertained – endless gaming and media options exist within our own home.
The list goes on and, as a direct result, we are being “reshaped in how we interact with each other, altered in what makes us happy, and modified (in) our capability to reach our full potential as individuals.” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-565207
We don’t just DO things differently, we ARE different. Okay….so what?
I’m writing this to make one point – the vast majority of us are being swept along with this tidal wave and we don’t even notice - maybe that is a greater danger than experiencing “shock.” For example, most of us are at least somewhat “post-modern” even though most of us don’t know what “post-modern” means. We are being swept along in a post-modern world, influenced tremendously, without our active participation. (Post-modern, stated simply, is the rejection of the idea that there is “truth” that applies to all people equally; so, for example, morals or “right and wrong” are reshaped to fit one’s own personal beliefs).
The ramifications run deep. Most likely much deeper than most of us are aware. For example….
Matters of church, faith, religion – it is remarkable the changes in our culture over the past 10-20 years when it comes to matters of our faith. Not so long ago the Church was possibly the most influential and important “institution” in our lives. The church wasn’t just a place we went on Sunday mornings, it shaped how we viewed and understood our life and our world. In a blink-of-an-eye that has changed.
An ever growing segment of our culture simply doesn’t need “church” any longer. Not on Sunday mornings, not in defining ourselves or our world. (there is even a new term coined for those of us that have walked away from church – “nones”; see http://www.pewforum.org/2012/10/09/nones-on-the-rise/ ).
I wonder – how many of the Nones really considered their choice, and how many are simply caught up in the tidal wave of culture? I fear many, probably most, are simply being swept along, mostly unaware and unconcerned.
Does it matter? Is The Church simply an institution that we can choose or not? Or is the church something that transcends the world and its culture? I have a feeling that many of us have changed our answer over the past few years. Maybe we have changed our answer without even considering the question….