Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sunday Sermon

Take a look at Robert Jensen's sermon from last Sunday. I've mentioned before on this site that Jensen is one of my favorite political writers. Although not a professing Christian, he was invited to give the Sunday sermon at a sympathetic Presbyterian church in Austin, Texas, where he lives. The result is a fascinating manifesto that links together political and social action, religion, and some hard-hitting reflections about science and technology.

As a person interested in all three of those realms, I was glad to come across Jensen's sermon. (Thanks to my Mom for e-mailing it to me!) His apocalyptic vision of our current predicament is reminiscent of world-systems scholar Immanuel Wallerstein's perspective that we have now entered a time of great crisis and uncertainty in the world. I realize that, to my fellow historians, this probably will seem quite suspicious (having been proclaimed many times before!), but I wonder if we look at the historical record with an open mind, will we not see that many of the larger structures (cultural, social, economic, environmental) that hold the modern world together are indeed coming under tremendous stress? We need people like Jensen to remind us of the bigger picture.

1 comment:

Ambivalent_Maybe said...

I was moved by Jensen's sermon, but I feel more hopeful than he about the immediate future. Certainly there are great uncertainties in the world at the moment, but the collapse of the old order is an opportunity for building something new. A lot will depend on the direction the US takes in the next couple of elections, but there are so many people in the world ready for big changes that world politics is already changing for the better.

The continued errosion of our environment is probably the largest threat we face in the next century. Jensen rightly disparages the belief that 'high tech/high energy' will solve all our problems. But high tech can also mean low energy, and increasingly small-scale yet interlinked systems that can more easily adapt to local needs.

It was also very nice to encounter in Jensen's piece a personal hero of mine: Abe Osheroff. I was lucky enough to take a class on Spanish history and culture from Abe (he probably wouldn't know me from Adam, but he didn't like being called 'Mr. Osheroff') at the University of Washington. Abe is a veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade; he jumped from the dockyards of Brooklyn into the Spanish Civil War to fight fascism, and has never stopped fighting. I'm not sure there are any good historical parallels to our current world situation, but if you want to look at time when the fate of the world truly was in the balance, the middle of the twentieth century might be a good place to start. God grant us today enough people like Abe, back on the docks of Brooklyn.