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8 Responses to “Beachheads of Shalom”

  1. Wendel Thompson says:

    We decry the loss of jobs to China, but I savor the knowledge that we have helped raise the standard of living of the Chinese.

  2. Glenn McMahan says:

    At the close of his book “The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success,” author Rodney Stark quotes one of China’s leading scholars, who, along with many other Chinese intellectuals, sought for the reasons behind the West’s economic, political and social strength. They concluded: “The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and then the successful transition to democratic politics. We don’t have any doubt about this.” Among many in the West today, capitalism is a bad word. But I suspect that these people hold disdain for a capitalism that is devoid of shalom, the very element that the Chinese intellectuals quoted above seek to inject into China’s economy and culture.

  3. Barbara Lachance says:

    Well said John,and Happy Birthday

  4. John Seel says:

    At issue is the spread of the gospel, not the preservation of the American way of life. Korea is the second largest missionary sending country in the world. Korean Christians can go where American Christians cannot. For this we must be grateful and supportive. Followers of Christ must have a global perspective — particularly now when most Christians live outside the West.

  5. Joey Tomassoni says:

    Thank you for this thoughtful article propelling us into this new decade. One thought to consider. It seems difficult in a brief blog post to have the concept of war appeal to our collective imagination.

    Though the example of shalom coming from a moment of war is strong it seems to me as soon as one uses an example of war it may not translate to many of our neighbors who we desire to flourish. Of course I am thinking about my most open leaning friends who loathe the idea of violence at any turn, especially the complexities surrounding war.

    If written again I wonder if there are alternative narratives, more universal that might help others to understand the timely things you are reflecting upon?

    An overall wonderful article, thank you!

  6. Hank says:

    This is a poignant essay that I am better off having read and will strive to live out its meaning in my own life and work.

    On a minor note, I would not trivialize the threat of militant Islam by associating it wth Tiger Woods’, or short term Wall Street concerns. If the 2nd fastest growing religion in the world propagates into the reality they envision, none of us will be living this out.

  7. Brody Bond says:

    Mr. Seel-

    Thank you for noting that “human flourishing” is not tied to the preservation or promulgation of the American way of life.

    That said, I still struggle to understand what human flourishing means, especially since it seems so relative. What I would consider to be flourishing, someone else would find damnable, if only because of its unintended consequences, or what it took to get to the state of flourishing in the first place.

    As a small example, we could look at the interstate highway system as something that cultural gatekeepers latched on to and institutionalized. Most folks would see this ease as transportation as a means of flourishing. Yet, others see this as a main cause of the desecration and evacuation of America’s cities.

    All that to ask: how do we define human flourishing?

    Or, is it the *pursuit* of human flourishing that is the goal. Simply by changing our objective, we change the rhetoric. Then, that new conversation becomes the open door for the gospel, not social institutions?


  8. Mike Metzger says:

    Brody: Merely wanting or planning or praying to help someone is not shalom. Shalom is willing their well being, making it happen. So the pursuit is insufficient – we aim for the fulfillment of shalom.

    As for the meaning of flourishing, I’m glad that you note that it “seems” so relative. In reality, it’s less relative than you imagine. Most people opt for good health and laughter and joy, for example. That’s part of flourishing. There is a residual image of God in everyone, so some good sense points good people in a good direction toward flourishing. You make a good point that the cultural gatekeepers have often made a fine mess of things, but that’s more due to fallen human nature – we are designed to have dominion but when fallen people don’t hold in tension the fact that we’re “bent,” dominion warps into domination or destruction.

    Of course, good people can disagree about what constitutes human flourishing. But everyone’s opinion is rooted in some framework or definition of reality. People who take these things seriously, like serious journalists, check sources. Since there is only one reality, it’s dishonest to leave it at “whatever” or that it’s relative.

    Joey: While I am grateful for your comments, let me also pose a thought for you to consider. I’m unclear what “open leaning” means, but it does remind me of G. K. Chesterton’s poke at his supposedly “open” friend, H. G. Wells. Chesterton said the purpose of opening one’s mind, just like opening one’s mouth, is to shut it on something solid. People who “loathe the idea of violence at any turn” and “especially the complexities surrounding war” may not be as open as you describe them. If that’s the case, accommodating their assumptions is unwise. I’d ask them to listen to President Obama’s Oslo speech. My hunch is that your friends need a reality check more than accommodation.

    The fact is, you’re working with what researchers call “the entitlement generation.” They feel entitled to inflated grades and peace at no cost. I would urge you to read “Fame Junkies,” one of the most thoroughly researched books on the 35 and under generation. The authors cite numerous studies of a generation with a Pollyannaish take on reality.

    Our responsibility is to speak truth in love and acquaint friends with reality. Sad to say, there is no “alternative narrative more universal” over the last 100 years than war (unless you’ve grown up in middle to upper class America). But this doesn’t call for timidity when it comes to talking about terrorism, war, genocide, and democide or using it as a metaphor for reality. It is reality. Of course, there is no need to be unduly harsh and militaristic. Chesterton said we need Christians with proper sentiments; not sentimentality. I’d urge you to consider whether your comments come uncomfortably close to the latter.

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