Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Life after a terminal diagnosis

I am all for motivating people with positive visions of the future, and using fear (if at all) as a smaller stick to a bigger carrot. I think this generally works better in the long run. Fear might sustain a sprint, but only love can complete a marathon. That said, my own work is about finding a constructive (rather than destructive) place for ecological fears within theological ethics. And this is because I think that fear is not always a pathological response, but can be part of a healthy response in certain circumstances (at least certain kinds of "fear": deep concern for my neighbour's wellbeing, for instance and I think there is plenty to be deeply concerned about).

And so I don't shy away from suggesting that contemporary society has more or less received a terminal diagnosis (more on this soon). This doesn't mean there is no hope or nothing to aim for, far less that no motivating vision for the future is possible, but it does mean that I think certain visions of the future may well have to be relinquished as false or simply entirely unrealistic hopes. This is one of the helpful things about the Transition movement, since it isn't so much aiming to make current society "sustainable" (a likely impossible task) as to foster local communities of trust and resourcefulness that are resilient to the likely shocks of coming years and decades. This is where I think the church has excellent news, since fostering such communities, whose loyalties lie not with this passing age but in God's coming future, is what we do.