We have often heard of a “new maps” analogy… Life (and/or church ministry) is changing so radically that it is like a tsunami has wiped out all the old structure and paths and we have to re-imagine new structures and new paths.
Recently, that metaphor was re-imagined for me by the New Yorker article The Really Big One. Kathryn Schulz promised a thoughtful and simply explained investigation as to why the US Pacific Northwest is at risk. She reminds us of the one-two punch of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck Tohoku, Japan, and thousands upon thousands were impacted. While we are all aware of the San Andres fault in California, Schulz, however, points to the fault along the Cascade mountain range.
While the rest of the article will keep you up at night (but you should read it), this is the paragraph that has got me thinking…
The Cascadian subduction zone remained hidden from us for so long because we could not see deep enough into our past. It poses a danger to us today because we have not thought deeply enough about the future. That is no longer a problem of information, we understand very well what the Cascadian fault line will do. Nor is it a problem of imagination… (Citing movies such as the recent San Andres, she claims that) Such apocalyptic vision are a form of escapism, not a moral summons, and still less a plan of action. Where we stumble is in conjuring up grim futures in a way that help avert them.
If I read the New Yorker article while living in Portland, I think I might have three potential responses to it.
- Holy Crap! Kids pack the bags! We were moving our lives significantly more inland, like Iowa.
- Pffft. The best predictions of all the science indicate a one-in-three chance that something occurs in the next fifty years. I’ll do my best on an evacuation plan, cross my fingers, and we’ll see what happens. (Here are some helpful hints.)
- Yikes. There is an unimaginable “far too much to lose after the fact,” we have got to become changes agents now for what we can see coming in the future.
Option C, of course, is the prophetic choice. Option C is the choice to be with a marginalized people (even if they don’t realize that they are being marginalized by the shifting earth beneath them) and work.
We recently have concluded a webposium series of articles looking at the issues identified at a 1980 symposium held in 1980 that was entitled Hope for the Decade: A Look at the Issues Facing Catholic Youth Ministry and suggesting how we are doing in responding to those issues three and a half decades later.
As a Church and as a people, we can do more than only be responsive to the waves of change. We must be prophetcs as we can see deeply into our past yet still we have enough information and imagination to foresee our future. Be the change that you want to see: Ghandi