Of anglicans can be said what Longfellow wrote of a certain little girl: when they are good they are very, very good (the Book of Common Prayer, Bishop Butler, Charles Williams, C. S. Lewis, John Stott), and when they are bad they are horrid (the Cambridge radicals, Bishop Robinson, Bishop Pike, Joseph Fletcher, Thomas Altizer). It was therefore with ambivalent feelings that I attended the recent Inaugural Symposium at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, honoring the seminary’s new president and dean, Armen Jorjorian, known in Episcopal circles for a creative institutional-chaplaincy program in Texas. The Right Reverend John E. Hines was on hand to preach, while “futurologist” Robert Theobald served as main speaker.
To everyone’s surprise, Theobald appeared not in person but on videotape from Arizona to deliver his keynote address (and the moderator brought the house down by noting that this was being done “the Anglican way—via media”). Following the taped address, discussion groups met to pose questions to Theobald, and he answered them over a conference telephone circuit.
Theobald set forth his own approach ot the future against the background of three other current views with which he strongly disagrees. First, there is the “positive extrapolist,” such as Daniel Bell (Work and Its Discontents) who sees the future as a linear, positive extension and expansion of the present. This approach naïvely accepts a pro-Western doctrine of the inevitable progress of present technological society. In reaction, one encounters the “negative extrapolists” (the SDS mentality) who agree with the positive extrapolists that the future will consist of a larger-than-life present, but believe this will be an inferno, not a paradiso. Face to ...1
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