What’s happening to us?


     If you haven’t noticed, the Western world is in the midst of another paradigm shift. This time from a modern, scientifically verifiable facts, to a  postmodernpostChristian view of reality that is not related to facts or history or consents to “Ultimate Truth.” They say there is no such thing. How can they know that?

     Of course, I truly hope the people who designed this 737, and those that built it, were not so inclined but adhered to the laws of physics and flight…, especially the landing part.

     Most of us live in a world that relies on the dependability of continuous change; that is, new things are usually predicated on earlier ideas or inventions. But in a paradigm shift we experience an occurrence of discontinuous change. The NEW things are not connected to the past in any way. The automobile had as much to do with horse transportation as our smart phones have to do with landlines.

     The expressions of the Christian faith are going through a time of discontinuous change in our society. Although we hear many Christians cry for the old-ways of the liturgical calendar and liturgical worship, the fact remains that the format of faith constructed in the 400s or 1700s is not designed to face the assaults of this postChristian sensibility in which we life.

     Still, other Christians today, decry the loss of our “old-time religion.” They tell us that today’s contemporary worship service, with its culturally affinitive music and come-as-you-are mentality is nearing its end. Really?!? Oddly, Paul in his missionary journeys never considered NOT adapting his style or methodology to each new situation. Read Acts! Read Paul’s Letters! Nor did the earliest missionaries to the Far East, or to the Vikings.

     The Christian message should always couched in the idioms and formats of the host culture. When we try to import 17th century European Christianity to other cultures if always backfires. And that includes the postmodern/postChristian landscape in which we find ourselves today.

     There was nothing particularly sacred about the 100s–400s. Although a lot of Christian beliefs and practices were established in that period. Nor was there anything sacred about the 17th century. Why do we constantly try to return to their expressions of faith as if they had something we do not!?!

     We have the privilege of formulating new, multifaceted expressions of our faith for this time, our peoples, and for a world more closely woven together. Let’s get at it!

Honor God, honor people…, make a difference,

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT disruptions & tenacity—  pass on, not out.

Of Cubes and Chaos: Paradigm Positioning 3- Dashed Dreams

   When I was in sixth grade I had a crush on a girl. She looked a lot like this. Carla Jean Stewart- the love of my life…, in fifth grade. Alas, it was not meant to be. She moved, I moved. Never saw her again. My dreams of a bright future with my precious blue-eyed blonde crush were never to be.
     Dashed dreams of childhood.
     Since then I have known many dashed dreams- some of them more devastating than others. But I recovered, mostly. Today they’re just an ancient memory. And I’ve learned something.
     Dreams are fun, fanciful, wonderful diversions from our realities. And it is good to dream them. (Most of them.) Some might even come true. Most, though, will hide in the back right corner of our minds and pop up later on in life. Like now.
     I don’t dream of young beautiful blondes anymore; actually, I married one! But she was a brunette by the wedding. I didn’t care. She was perfect for me! She was God’s gift to me. Still is. Who cares about hair color!?!
     Had I pined for my childhood crush I would have never met my wife. And if any of us hang on to a past love, dream, fantasy, etc., we will miss the better things our Father has in store for us. When I was first in ministry, I could see no other future for my life outside of the ministry’s opportunities for service. Little did I understand how I had adjusted my dreams to fit their realities, limiting both God and myself. What I am doing today is so far beyond who I was back then. What a surprise.
     The monkey on the vine image still holds true. Sometimes you have to let go of the last vine before you can reach out and grab the next one. Or, as we’re more apt to say around here- God is full of surprises…, don’t trust Him. And if you believe that I’ll send you Zac Efron’s cell number.
     Dashed dreams simply clear the way for you to move beyond your limited perspective to a more expansive, wilder, Christ-infused vision.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and watch your doors to be blown off.  [Proverbs 3:5-6. Sorta.]
     Dashed dreams are mere hints that you should be dreaming bigger, wilder, adventurous ways of God.
     Get with the program.

Honor God, honor people…, and watch out for flying doors,


NEXT— Paradigm Positioning 4: stepping up our game. 

of cubes & chaos- paradigm positioning 2 mass murder in America

These past two weeks in America we have seen what could be our new reality. Our government seems to have fallen to its lowest common denominator in extreme language, on both sides, to devastate anyone not on their side. Four mass murders have been carried out from Texas to Ohio and two in California. Seriously.

     WHAT IS GOING ON?!? Civil values in our country have taken a nose dive into deepest hell. And no one seems able to stop it. Not uncivil conservatives: nor socialistic liberals. Lots of promises, little action. After your initial reaction of surprise and shock, a search for meaning and solutions should be rolling around in your head. Seriously?!?

     I don’t know about you but I am heart-sick by all the killings, the rhetoric, and the mutual-hate practices in our country. What can we do?

     Nothing—  That appears to be the wait-and-see answer. I’ve never been a wait-and-see kind of person. I want to make a difference in this world. Think globally: act globally! Think locally: act locally. Our Christian enclave no longer has the luxury of sitting back and waiting…, waiting…, waiting.

     What used to be seen as acceptable civil values has shifted from the center to the edge. Any Judeo-Christian impact hasn’t been dominant in North America, or elsewhere, in quite some time. Yet many of us pretend it still holds some sway over the powers-that-be, the culture at large, world politics, and local manifestations. It may appear to be so, but Christianity’s influence on our world has become shallow, just-a-show-on-the-surface. Our deep values no longer even go that deep for the majority of American Christians, let alone others.

     One perspective I read summed up our new world cultural paradigm as “Anyone, Anything, Anytime, Anywhere.” [Big Blue Gumball]

     Three comments—

  1. It’s not all that new.
  2. Time for Christians to stop pretending.
  3. Why are we so afraid of getting involved?

     It’s time for genuine Christians to take a stand for the principles our Lord taught us when he was on earth. They still hold true; they still make sense. Yes, we are in a new paradigm of anti-religion, anti-Christian ideology. But our faith is neither Liberal nor Conservative. Jesus Christ owns our allegiance.

     Now let us, individually and corporately, get up and get moving. Talk’s cheap: action’s everything. I’m all in!

NEXT—  Paradigm Positioning 3: stepping up our game.

Of Cubes & Chaos: Paradigm Positioning


    Ever see a map of the world that looks like this one? Probably not. This is one of the 2D maps that keeps the positions of the continents in correct proportion.

    Unlike the Mercator map (see below) which keeps the longitude and latitude parallels in line & makes Greenland look pretty much like the biggest continent on the face of the planet, whereas the AuthaGraph map is concerned with representing the continents in proper proportion to one another.

    This is a major shift in how we image, or imagine our planet to appear in a 2D format. It requires us to think differently.map 2

    For many of us this amounts to a new way of perceiving. It forces us to consider a new paradigm of the placing of the continents.

    The same kind of paradigm positioning is now thrust upon the Church of Jesus Christ. The Church has known for quite some time that she is no longer a dominant force in the world in a political sense. But she still holds the power of God to change cultures and individual lives. We need to learn a new way of intermingling that is in keeping with the new paradigms of our changing cultural attitudes to our faith.

    We need to position ourselves within a new way of perceiving, and of being perceived, in our rapidly changing world. ALL Christian witness is predicated on the following factors: Scripture, culture, personality, relationships, and the power of God at work in us, individually, and globally. Over the centuries, the Church has grown more organizationally than spiritually: as such, it has become more concerned with quantifiable control than empowered presence. This is an imbalance and must be adjusted.

    But how?!?  Might I suggest that we start by losing our fear and judgmentalism and learn to love our healthy pagan neighbors as themselves— the way Jesus loved people. His love was full of compassion, passion, patience, truth and grace. Should our love be any less than that?

    That’s right, even the way we love people has to change. Paradigm positioning is real.

NEXT— Paradigm Positioning 2…

paradigm blending

  • Clueless, Christianity, Christian, Book, Dr, Gary, DavisParadigm Blending— Let’s look at this era of paradigm blending[i] a bit.  One example of paradigm blending in our culture can be seen in the early 2001 movie SAVE THE LAST DANCE. Set in urban Chicago, Sarah is a young white girl who has lost her mother in a terrible auto accident.  She must now adjust to the hip-hop climate of a Black/Hispanic inner city culture. Sarah longed to be a ballerina and attend the Julliard School of Performing Arts.  Instead, she found herself struggling to learn the moves of hip-hop in a club called STEPS. Coming to her aid is Darrell, an intelligent, street-smart inner city,  black, fellow high school student who wants to be a surgeon. From Darrell, Sarah learns the intricatemoves of hip-hop. In the end, Sarah blends the moves of hip-hop with ballet training for a second Julliard audition that is truly incredible. Not surprisingly, Julliard accepts her.

Another surprise hit me in a 2003 visit to Macau, China. Once settled in my hotel room, I turned on the TV to find the Chinese (Portuguese, whatever) had their own version of MTV simply titled “V.” There, to my amazement, performed ENERGY, the hottest sensation representing American RAP music. (Again, go figure.) Paradigm blending at its finest!

  • Music ‘n Stuff— Drawing together all of the above, two strains have emerged throughout Western society that are bonding much of both genX and Millennial cultures.  They are music and consumerism. Through the rise of MTV and music videos a basic coupling, a paradigm blending, has taken place; sight and sound have joined to bring visual expression to what before was only audio. Before, people eitherread books, OR listened to music, OR watched TV.  Now, these three media resources have blended into a single image-experience that moves conscious-thought into the realm of experiential stimulation. Reading once called on the reader to create the images: TV and cinema now create them for you. Listening to music, once drew the listener to heights of glory in classical inspiration or excited the senses in a hype/jive rock ‘n roll beat.  No longer. Now, listening to music (on the radio, a CD, or through an MP3 device…, read iPOD) reminds you of the images in the video. People have begun to think in music; experiential blending has supplanted analytic thought. But Because music/visual images are beginning to replace mental assessment, it is also true that active analysis has given way to a more passive, music-reflective level of critical thinking (if you can even call it thinking); it is more like reactive thought versus proactive thought. Nonetheless, musical/visual reference points have displaced methodical, mental analysis.

Western music and video have permeated almost the entire world. All continents seem to be listening to common themes, and therefore mass-marketed ideologies, in music. Regional and national differences aside, there is now a worldwide homogeneity through music that is uniting a generation across national and even political boundaries. For example, in France, or the Netherlands, or Germany GenXers (who hate the self-definer) no longer think of themselves as French, or Dutch or German; they think of themselves as European.  Hey, the EURO, remember!?

The other glue that is uniting generations, and even continents, is stuff. STUFF, STUFF, and MORE STUFF. Our world is becoming a global village of STUFF— consumerism. What is the saying? He who dies with the most toys wins. I remember watching a man buy a Cadillac; he was smoking on a mondo-big Havana cigar while the car salesman counted out his $48,000 in $100 bills— CASH. STUFF. There is a woman whom I know is on welfare and Medicare. She lives in state subsidized housing. She goes to Florida for a month every January and has a ball. How do I know? Because she tapes it on her digital Camcorder and shows it to me on her 42” HD flat screen TV. If these two illustrations don’t convince you of western society’s lust for stuff allow me to point you to The Robb Report, December Issue. Every year it comes out with recommendations for the world’s most elaborate gifts— like a $485,000 watch, or a $1 million special edition Mercedes, or an $8 million dollar boat (boat?). But there are also items for poorer types (like me, or you); a $10,000 fountain pen, for example (ink-well included, of course).

You can find inner city “poor” teenagers in $250 Cross-Training Shoes, or a back-bush Maasai tribesmen with his iPAD wandering the bush. Australian singer Olivia Newton-John (played Sandy, opposite John Travolta in Grease) put it best in her 70s song NEVER ENOUGH…, O it’s never enough, simply never enough.  Why is all that we have simply never enough.

STUFF. Never enough. God help us all.


[i] Paradigm, paradigm blending. The terms paradigm, paradigm shift were popularized by Thomas Kuhn in his 1962 work The Structure of Scientific Revolution. A paradigm is a way of perceiving life. A paradigm shift is a change from one way of thinking or perceiving to another. A paradigm blending is a cultural phenomena where varying approaches to viewing life are intermingled to form a composite.