I have just finished reading James Martin's The Meaning of the 21st Century. And - in my opinion anyway - every person who seeks to influence others to the Christian way ought to be conversant with this book. Don't expect to find a Christian point of view about the future - just the opposite, in fact. But you will get a catalog of the issues that humanity faces in the next few decades. The issues are political, economic, technological, scientific, and, I believe, moral.
Martin, who comes out of the world of Oxford, spends most of his time ruminating on the social and economic impacts of computers and technology. So says the book jacket. His mind is deep and broad which is to say that he knows lots of things. And this book demonstrates it.
I found myself fascinated, not threatened, by James Martin for several reasons. First, because he is an intellectual who represents the totally secularized mind. It doesn't hurt to acquaint ourselves with what people like him really sound like.
Second, because Martin has done his homework within the world he's defined for himself. In other words, he's thought through this stuff and isn't going to be easily dismissed. Push back at him if you want, but you better have done your homework.
Thirdly, because he's identified the issues of real consequence that every one of us will soon be living with, like it or not. Live twenty more years, and every one of Martin's concerns will be on your mind?daily.
Finally, I appreciated Martin's call to civilization to make some tough conversion-like decisions (some of which I think are plainly spiritual) if it cares to see the planet survive the 21st century. I wish I heard more voices in my faith tradition speaking as clearly as Martin does.
At this point in my life, I have felt a freshened call to do whatever I can each day to encourage and cheerlead a younger generation of Christian leaders. To challenge them to deepen their communion with God, to rediscover the Biblical building blocks that lead to a durable and resilient faith, to call people to a vibrant witness to Jesus which is less about words and more about meaningful initiatives that align with God's purposes. And James Martin helps me identify another aspect of this call. To persuade younger men and women to become more involved and influential in the emerging planet-wide dialogues (everything from Starbucks to Davos) about the imperiled future of the human race. I think Jesus would like us to do this.
Read more of Gordon MacDonald's forcast of the future at Leadership's homepage.