07 August 2005

The Kingdom and the myth of progress

OK, here's one to ponder. I'm pondering it myself, but I thought I might just throw it out there, and maybe somebody might share some good insights in a comment. I give you a topic:

What's the difference between the Christian eschatological hope of the fulfilled, final coming of the Kingdom of God (on the one hand), and the secular modern myth of "progress" (on the other hand)?

There are some obvious differences, of course (only one of them involves Jesus, or even God, for example). But I'm interested in exploring the differences in method and manner of unfolding, in expectations, in the people involved, etc. My main interest is in differentiating the two so as to recognize when the one is devolving into the other. Which I think is a major potential pitfall when we moderns and postmoderns (equally inheritors of this modern myth) talk about the coming Kingdom and eschatology. When we yearn for the coming of the Kingdom, what exactly are we yearning for, how will we get there, and how does it differ from modern secular visions of a utopia of technology and tolerance? Is it exactly the same, except that everybody's Christian? (I doubt it.) Is it in fact nothing more or less than the vast majority of the population, as well as "society" and its power structures, once again being overtly Christian? (Doubt that too, or else the Kingdom would have been fully manifested in Western society for centuries after Constantine. And that--er--wasn't exactly the case.) Could the Kingdom that Jesus taught about be fully present in a society that's religiously pluralist?

OK, this is a big topic. Fr. Rick tells me that Brian McLaren is writing a book on the subject of this Kingdom; probably that will provide some fresh insights.

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