Newsweek: Brains are Back - Michael Hirsh
What Obama's election means, above all, is that brains are back. Sense and pragmatism and the idea of considering-all-the-options are back. Studying one's enemies and thinking through strategic problems are back. Cultural understanding is back. Yahooism and jingoism and junk science about global warming and shabby legal reasoning about torture are out. The national culture of flag-pin shallowness that guided our foreign policy is gone with the wind.
From the very start of his campaign, Obama has given notice that whatever you might think about his policies, they will be well thought out and soberly considered, and that as president he will not be a slave to passion or impulse.
Long ago there was a great king. He was a good king - just, honorable, righteous, and loved by all his people. Within this king’s service was a servant. Each day the servant would wake up and work hard at whatever task he was given. He knew the king was good and just and was always concerned that if the things he did were not good enough, the king might cast him out from the kingdom. There was another man who lived in the same kingdom. He was one of the king’s sons. Each day the son would wake up and work hard at whatever task he was given. He knew the king was good and just and loved all that the king stood for, so he worked with all his strength to help the king in every way he was asked. He loved to hear the words, “Well done my son.” He also knew that, as the king’s son, he would never be in danger of being cast out of the kingdom. Why did the servant work hard? Why did the son work hard? Which would you rather be?
This story demonstrates our love for God and desire to serve him not out of fear, but out of love for all that He is and stands for. And, it also points out the deeper relationship that exists between a king and his son than the relationship between a king and his servant. Further, it hints at inheritance, authority and other privileges belonging to a son.
One of the features of the modern world was "reductionism": the belief that complex things can always be reduced to simpler or more fundamental things. To reduce something is to take it out of context and to take it apart. Church leaders have become experts at reductionism. Ministries that are successful in one context are reduced to "models" that we try to duplicate in other contexts. Sometimes such reductionism is effective. But when we use reductionism indiscriminately, we end up in a world so simplified it is barely recognizable.
So in a modern world, we tend to reduce the complexity and diversity of the Scriptures to simple systems, even when our systems flatten the diversity and integrity of the biblical witness. We reduce our sermons to consumer messages that reduce God to a resource that helps the individual secure a reduced version of the "abundant life" Jesus promised (John 10:10).
And the gospel itself gets reduced to a simplified framework of a few easily memorized steps.
People are not asking the traditional gospel question much anymore. Asking, "If I died tomorrow, where would I end up?" does not generate much life. But asking people, "If you had just a few years left, what kind of life would you want to live?" generates enormous energy.