In Brian McLaren's new book, Everything Must Change, he brings many different resources together, both religious and secular, to offer a theo-political critique of our current society and its global crises. He then offers an alternative vision in the form of a new 'framing story' that he argues can transform the way we life. McLaren argues that 'our societies are unified, integrated, motivated, and driven by the framing stories we tell ourselves as groups' (66). He then contrasts the Christian 'framing story' (i.e. Kingdom of God) with the theocapitalist 'framing story' (i.e. suicidal machine).
The 'Suicide machine' is the metaphor McLaren says 'captures the way the world's most serious problems are linked in a vicious, self-reinforcing circle' (52). These suicidal systems are the following: dysfunctional prosperity system (culture of affluenza), dysfunctional security system (invisible hand of the market requires the visible fist of the military), and the dysfunctional equity system (sharing the cost and story of prosperity and equity) (55-56).
The 'Kingdom of God' is the metaphor McLaren uses to describe the alternative, transforming framing story that has the potential to bring life instead of death. The Kingdom of God is the divine vision of justice and peace communicated in Hebrew and Christian scripture. For McLaren, the Kingdom of God offers the best framing story: 'a story in which God provides through creation's natural systems, a story in which we acknowledge our creaturely dignity and limits within those systems, a story in which we celebrate our kinship with birds and flowers, with season and toil' (139). This story is a story where peace is achieved through collaborative efforts at 'justice, generosity, and mutual concern' (159).
McLaren believes that Jesus' message and ministry challenged the dysfunctional, destructive status quo of the Roman Empire in his life. McLaren writes: 'Jesus' creative and transforming framing story invited people to change the world by disobeying old framing stories and believing a new one: a story about a loving God who, like a benevolent [leader], calls all people to live in a new way, the way of love' (274). McLaren also believes Jesus' challenge to the old story and offering of a new story is just as relevant for our lives today.
For McLaren, Jesus' message is relevant because it invites us to live a new and better life right now. Not something we must wait for, but something God invites us into in our daily lives. And this better life we can live now is 'live a life dedicated to replacing the suicide machine with a sacred ecosystem, a beautiful community, an insurgency of healing and peace, a creative global family, an unterror movement of faith, hope, and love' (227).
Ultimately, McLaren's book is about how Jesus' message of the Kingdom of God can offer us a way to discover hope and 'abundant life' in the midst of a world in crises.
Also recommended: For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy Toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future (John Cobb and Herman Daly).