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Understanding Our Current Time : Globalisation, Postmodernity, and Consumerism Michael W. Goheen Acts 29 Understanding Our Current Time : Globalisation, Postmodernity, and Consumerism Michael W. Goheen Acts 29 Regional Conference San Diego, March 2008

What time is it? Overview Modern story for two centuries: Faith in science and What time is it? Overview Modern story for two centuries: Faith in science and technology to enable us to progress toward a better world u Today: Three tectonic plates: u • Globalization: Global spread of modern (liberal) story around world • Postmodernity: Challenge to the modern (liberal) story in West • Consumerism: The heart of our culture?

First Tectonic Plate Globalisation: Global spread of modern, liberal, humanist story First Tectonic Plate Globalisation: Global spread of modern, liberal, humanist story

20 th Century Background u 20 th Century: Bipolar—Two forms of Enlightenment Humanism (US, 20 th Century Background u 20 th Century: Bipolar—Two forms of Enlightenment Humanism (US, USSR)

20 th Century Background 20 th Century: Bipolar—Two forms of Enlightenment Humanism (US, USSR) 20 th Century Background 20 th Century: Bipolar—Two forms of Enlightenment Humanism (US, USSR) u Fall of Communism (1989) u Global powers today u • Globalisation of liberal modern story • Islam • China • Third world church and Pentecostalism

Why is it important to understand globalization? The reality of our world is not Why is it important to understand globalization? The reality of our world is not the end of grand narratives, but the increasing dominance of the narrative of economic globalization. . This is the new imperialism. . . (Richard Bauckham) Economic globalization is the greatest challenge that the Christian mission faces (Rene Padilla).

Importance of Understanding Globalization ‘This moment, at the turn of the millennium, appears to Importance of Understanding Globalization ‘This moment, at the turn of the millennium, appears to me to be one of the most critical points in human history. Powerful, untruthful, hypnotic ideologies corrupted societies and destroyed millions of people throughout the twentieth century. Yet none of them had the instruments of communication available to it to infiltrate the human mind the way the present ideology of limitless economic and technological expansion can do. ’ (Goudzwaard)

Enlightenment Vision: Seeds of Economic Globalization u u u u Progress Paradise images Material Enlightenment Vision: Seeds of Economic Globalization u u u u Progress Paradise images Material prosperity Reached by reason Discerning natural laws Translated into technology Society reorganized according to reason Exaggerated place of economics

Classical Economics Leading role u Mechanistic economic laws—analogy with physics u ‘Equilibrium theory in Classical Economics Leading role u Mechanistic economic laws—analogy with physics u ‘Equilibrium theory in economics is based on a false analogy with physics’ (Soros). ‘. . . Analytical and mathematical reason is not content to deal with physics or astronomy; it must extend its operation into [social realm]’ (Newbigin).

Classical Economics u u u Leading role Mechanistic economic laws Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ Self-interested Classical Economics u u u Leading role Mechanistic economic laws Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ Self-interested individuals acting according to self-interest harmony of conflicting interests material prosperity trickle down to prosper poor ‘The rich are led by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of the necessaries of life, which would have been made had the earth been divided into equal portions among all its inhabitants; and thus, without intending it, without knowing it, advance the interest of society’ (Adam Smith).

Science of economics The modern science of economics was born. Once again teleology was Science of economics The modern science of economics was born. Once again teleology was removed, because economics was no longer part of ethics. It was not concerned with the purpose of human life. It was no longer about the requirements of justice and the dangers of covetousness. It became the science of the working of the market as a selfoperating mechanism modelled on the Newtonian universe. The difference was that the fundamental law governing its movements, corresponding to the law of gravitation in Newton, is the law of covetousness assumed as the basic drive of human nature (Newbigin).

Classical Economics Leading role u Mechanistic economic laws u Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ u Two Classical Economics Leading role u Mechanistic economic laws u Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ u Two gambles (leaps of faith) u • Happiness gamble: If we have more goods produced by labour we will be happy. • Market gamble: If we let the market be free for the economic self-interest of individuals then it will guide us to a better future for all.

Autonomy of market or TINA ‘. . . we must follow the market wherever Autonomy of market or TINA ‘. . . we must follow the market wherever it leads, because the market will act as our guide to a better future for all. Naturally, for all this to happen, we must permit the market to do its work with as little disruption and political interference as possible’ (Goudzwaard).

Norm for economics Economic life. . . is placed under the divine rule of Norm for economics Economic life. . . is placed under the divine rule of oikonomia—good stewardship. Economic life is meant to deliver the fruits of human labour in a way that satisfies the needs of the peoples of this earth, and so it presupposes care of trusteeship of everything, including everyone entrusted to our responsibility.

Religious Choices of Enlightenment Vision End of human life: Material prosperity u Relationship of Religious Choices of Enlightenment Vision End of human life: Material prosperity u Relationship of human beings to nature u Mechanistic understanding of law u

Vision Implemented in Industrial Revolution Science-based technology u Division and mechanization of labour u Vision Implemented in Industrial Revolution Science-based technology u Division and mechanization of labour u Tremendous economic growth u Evolutionary worldview deepened commitment to autonomous market u

Changes in Capitalism in Late 20 th 21 st Centuries Less salting influence of Changes in Capitalism in Late 20 th 21 st Centuries Less salting influence of gospel; increasing selfishness and covetousness u Wealth of today vs. need of Smith’s day u Economic totalitarianism u Technologically manipulated needs vs. existing needs u Global market u

Economic Globalization u What is it? Economic Globalization u What is it?

Late Modern Story u u u Globalization is ‘a form or method of modernization Late Modern Story u u u Globalization is ‘a form or method of modernization on a global scale. ’ ‘Possibly never before has modernity received higher expression than in today’s process of globalization. ’ ‘. . . the word “modern” is not neutral; it cannot be divorced from a specific view of life, humanity, the world, and ultimate meaning. ’ - Bob Goudzwaard

Economic Globalization What is it? u Trusting global market u Unjustly created market u Economic Globalization What is it? u Trusting global market u Unjustly created market u Growing poverty and ecological damage u Three comments about global market ideology u

Three Comments on Global Market Ideology Free market is good but twisted by natural Three Comments on Global Market Ideology Free market is good but twisted by natural law theory u Market is one part of social fabric but twisted by totalitarian influence u Market is creational but twisted by ‘messianic’ expectations u

Second Tectonic Plate Postmodernity: Challenge to modern, liberal, humanist story Second Tectonic Plate Postmodernity: Challenge to modern, liberal, humanist story

Breakdown of Modernity Critical Factors in Dillusionment u Environmental destruction Breakdown of Modernity Critical Factors in Dillusionment u Environmental destruction

If the whole world lived at the level of North Americans… … the world’s If the whole world lived at the level of North Americans… … the world’s resources would last about ten years

Breakdown of Modernity Critical Factors in Dillusionment Environmental destruction u Growing poverty u Breakdown of Modernity Critical Factors in Dillusionment Environmental destruction u Growing poverty u

At the beginning of the development decades (1960) the world’s richest 1 billion were At the beginning of the development decades (1960) the world’s richest 1 billion were 30 x richer than the world’s poorest 1 billion. At the end of the development decades (1990) the world’s richest 1 billion were 60 x richer than the poorest 1 billion

Breakdown of Modernity Critical Factors in Dillusionment Environmental destruction u Growing poverty u Nuclear Breakdown of Modernity Critical Factors in Dillusionment Environmental destruction u Growing poverty u Nuclear threat u Economic problems u Psychological, social disorder u

Don’t believe modern stories! “Simplifying to the extreme, I define postmodern as incredulity toward Don’t believe modern stories! “Simplifying to the extreme, I define postmodern as incredulity toward metanarratives. ” -J. F. Lyotard

Postmodernity: Challenge to (Some Foundational) Modern Humanist Story u Challenge to optimism Postmodernity: Challenge to (Some Foundational) Modern Humanist Story u Challenge to optimism

Challenge to Optimism Maybe human being are not so good u Maybe we aren’t Challenge to Optimism Maybe human being are not so good u Maybe we aren’t moving toward a better world u

Postmodernity: Challenge to Modern Humanist Story Challenge to optimism of story u Challenge to Postmodernity: Challenge to Modern Humanist Story Challenge to optimism of story u Challenge to centrality of reason u

Non-rational Dimensions of Humanity Pushed Down and Springing Back Body u Emotions u Senses Non-rational Dimensions of Humanity Pushed Down and Springing Back Body u Emotions u Senses u Subconscious u Desire, passion u Religious u Imagination u Instinct, intuition u

Postmodernity: Challenge to Modern Humanist Story Challenge u to to to optimism centrality of Postmodernity: Challenge to Modern Humanist Story Challenge u to to to optimism centrality of reason objectivity of knowledge

Neutral Reason? Subjective factors affecting knowledge: Social -Tradition -Community -Language -Culture -History -Faith Personal Neutral Reason? Subjective factors affecting knowledge: Social -Tradition -Community -Language -Culture -History -Faith Personal -Feelings -Imagination -Subconscious -Gender -Class -Race

Postmodernity: Challenge to Modern Humanist Story Challenge to optimism u Challenge to centrality of Postmodernity: Challenge to Modern Humanist Story Challenge to optimism u Challenge to centrality of reason u Challenge to objectivity of knowledge u Challenge to injustice created by modern story u

Injustice created by modern story u Toward minorities with different stories (gender, class, sexual Injustice created by modern story u Toward minorities with different stories (gender, class, sexual preference, ethnic group, religion)

Unforgiveable Sins in a Postmodern Academic Culture Racism u Sexism u Heterosexism u Ethnocentrism Unforgiveable Sins in a Postmodern Academic Culture Racism u Sexism u Heterosexism u Ethnocentrism u

Injustice created by modern story Toward minorities with different stories (gender, class, sexual preference, Injustice created by modern story Toward minorities with different stories (gender, class, sexual preference, ethnic group, religion) u Toward third world cultures u Toward poor u Toward environment u

Postmodernity: Challenge to Modern Humanist Story u u u Challenge story Challenge to to Postmodernity: Challenge to Modern Humanist Story u u u Challenge story Challenge to to optimism centrality of reason objectivity of knowledge injustice created by modern to secularism Religious smorgasbord/pluralism: . . . New age, psychics, astrology, gnostic religions, eastern and native spirituality, occult, etc. . .

Initial Christian Response to Postmodernity u u Dialogue with postmodernity from within story of Initial Christian Response to Postmodernity u u Dialogue with postmodernity from within story of the Bible Dialogue leads us to recover insights lost in modern story. . . E. g. , • Non-rational aspects of human beings • Factors affect knowledge • Goodness of diversity and plurality u Dialogue leads us to see emergence of new dangerous idols. . . E. g. , • Pluralism • Relativism

Initial Christian Response to Postmodernity u u Dialogue will lead us to discern ‘heart Initial Christian Response to Postmodernity u u Dialogue will lead us to discern ‘heart cries’ of postmodern culture Dialogue must lead to forms of communal life that embody life and reject death • People of love and truth over against pluralism and relativism • People of selfless giving over against a culture of selfishness • People of justice over against economic and ecological injustice • People of hope over against despair and consumer satiation

Third Tectonic Plate Growth of Consumer Society Third Tectonic Plate Growth of Consumer Society

Consumerism: Central to Western Life “The postmodern is rightly associated with a society where Consumerism: Central to Western Life “The postmodern is rightly associated with a society where consumer lifestyles and mass consumption dominate the waking lives of its members. ” (David Lyon) “From rock music to tourism to television and even education, advertising imperatives and consumer demand are no longer for goods, but for experiences. ” (Stephen Connor)

Consumerism and Globalization u Related to globalization: Western side of economic globalization • Economic Consumerism and Globalization u Related to globalization: Western side of economic globalization • Economic structures have enriched West at expense of non-West

Consumerism and Postmodernity Related to globalization: Western side of economic globalization u Related to Consumerism and Postmodernity Related to globalization: Western side of economic globalization u Related to postmodernity u • Consumption fills void created by loss of story

Consumerism as “Our Story” If there is an overarching metanarrative that purports to explain Consumerism as “Our Story” If there is an overarching metanarrative that purports to explain reality in the late 20 th century, it is surely the metanarrative of the free-market economy. In the beginning of this metanarrative is the self-made, selfsufficient human being. At the end of this narrative is the big house, the big car, the expensive clothes. In the middle is the struggle for success, the greed, the gettingand-spending in a world in which there is no such thing as a free lunch. Most of us have made this so thoroughly ‘our story’ that we are hardly aware of its influence. (Susan White)

The Religion of Our Day? Consumerism appears to have become part and parcel of The Religion of Our Day? Consumerism appears to have become part and parcel of the very fabric of modern life. . And the parallel with religion is not an accidental one. Consumerism is ubiquitous and ephemeral. It is arguably the religion of the late twentieth century. (Miles)

Sacred order? “. . . we cannot fully appreciate the depths of materialism unless Sacred order? “. . . we cannot fully appreciate the depths of materialism unless we understand how economic behavior supplies us with meaning, purpose, and a sense of the sacred order. ” (Roberth Wuthnow) “The accumulation of wealth is one of the great idols of our day and huge amounts of energy are spent every day in seeking meaning through great and greater accumulation of wealth and possessions. ” (Craig Bartholomew)

Our Calling? u Understand! • Dynamics and facts about globalization • Potential solutions (cf. Our Calling? u Understand! • Dynamics and facts about globalization • Potential solutions (cf. Goudzwaard) Bible as true story (cf. Bauckham) u Our part in missional encounter u Lifestyles of restraint and generosity u Good news for poor and oppressed u Suffering, spirituality, and community u