Friday, October 15, 2004

The future's different than it used to be

In his Wonder Land column, Wall Street Journal deputy editorial editor Daniel Henninger writes:

Led by Deng [Xiaoping], China changed its economic policies to make them appropriate to the world as it existed, not as China wished the world would be. China flourished. And it is not alone. India the past five years has similarly broken with its longtime statist past. Brazil is attempting a similar transformation. All three are huge countries in the process of rapidly creating a smart, globally relevant business class. This country's biggest problem isn't "Halliburton" but the realization, just sinking in, that internal U.S. labor costs are being set by a suddenly thriving, truly global marketplace. This is the real cause of the famous "middle-class squeeze," and it's a force more powerful than any one person sitting in the Oval Office.

After three presidential debates, it is clear that George Bush is asking the American people to make a similar, abrupt break with the comforts of the political past. Proposals such as Social Security
privatization or individually run health-savings accounts are not being offered as just an intriguing "policy" alternative. These ideas are an historic necessity to surviving in the world economy as it exists today...

Intellectually, the case for making the leap is compelling. Emotionally, the way forward is less obvious. Most Americans have already adjusted to the disturbing realities of Iraq and of waging--and leading--a war on global terror. But it's quite a lot to ask them in the same election to step away from 50 or more years of federally guaranteed social protection. That would have been large without Iraq and terror...

The Ownership Society is the appropriate, 21st century replacement to the New Deal. It's about making it possible for the economy to turn on a dime, not once a decade.

Henninger's words address a coming reality which will arrive sooner rather than later. Yet, as he notes, it's a reality hard for people to comprehend because of more pressing and urgent matters, especially the war on terror.

What the writer sees as true for the 21st century global economy, many have already expressed as true for the 21st century Christian church. There is an undeniable shift occuring in Christianity presently. While I can't define it or place much more light on it, I am worried that we (evangelical Christians like myself) have grown so attached to the traditions we grew up in that we will be unwilling to contribute to the conversations and decisions which will take the church into the future.

To borrow from Henninger, it's about making it possible for the church to turn on a generation (be relevant to each new generation), not once every few centuries.

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