Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Globalization and the Cross

I recently finished Thomas L. Friedman’s book The World is Flat, a text which chronicles the flattening of the world by means of technology (particularly collaborative platforms). While the text is very informative (and in many ways right on target with its analysis of the world of new collaboration), it continually struck me as missing something. Of course, as someone with an interest in theology, I noted the conspicuous lack of religion from the mix of Mr. Friedman’s analysis (except for references to political-religious extremism in Islam). While I realize that the purpose of his text was to investigate and analyze the flattening of the world, I have also realized what is the grain of sand which was vexing me at times in his text.

Forces of collaboration around the world (including the expanded abilities which come with outsourcing, insourcing, and offshoring) are a fantastic set of tools for making the world more technologically efficient. In many ways, they are indeed drawing many people together in ways previously unthought-of. However, there is a void being dug out by these flattening forces, one which is in many ways being filled by a sense of loss of religion. To the massive changes in interpersonal communication and relationships, we are seeing the growth of mega churches, massive communities based on some form of Protestant Christianity. This is merely an affirmation that the economic and political aspirations of man will never fill humanity’s void, for humanity, at its core, desires and needs love.

Yesterday’s office of readings included a text by Saint Augustine in which he said something related. He says (of Saint Paul), “…But he did not say that he boasted in Christ’s wonderful works: in creating…or in ruling the world… Rather, he said: Let me not boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. I have been drilling this for a while but think it is appropriate. Once again we have here an affirmation that Christ came primarily for the Cross and not for all of his beloved teachings. While they have a place of primacy in the lives of Christians, the first reality of Christ was neither intellectual nor moral but instead loving.

The Cross always stands at the center of Christ’s life as what he came to do and accomplish. With Christ as the head of humanity, the cross must be the lens through which we not only see his humanity but ours as well. The disparate parts of our lives are not able to be united by broadband and efficient supply chains. Indeed, as such technology replaces true, face-to-face relationships, the gains we have had in efficiency will be offset by apathy and depression as people are deprived of the only force which truly matters to them: Love. While great things have occurred as the world has flattened, we must always remember that all hope and boasting must first be in Love. After that, we will have a true foundation for collaboration and unity in the world.

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