Sunday, November 01, 2009

Getting a Different Perspective

I just completed reading Joshua Cooper Ramo’s The Age of the Unthinkable. Ramo is the managing director of Kissinger Associates, a former editor of Time Magazine, and a China analyst. Ramo’s thesis is that we live in a “revolutionary age,” defined by problems (such as terrorism, financial crisis, global warming and the AIDS pandemic) whose complexity, unpredictability and interconnectedness increasingly defy our efforts at control. Taking a page from writers like Thomas Friedman and Malcolm Gladwell, he uses historical, contemporary, and personal vignettes to both illustrate the situation and to support his approach to dealing with the situation.

So why does a person who is interested in “building up the Body of Christ” in the 21st century read a secular book like this?

I picked up this book because it was recommended by Alan Roxburgh, one of the most creative thinkers I have encountered on the missional church and missional leadership. Roxburgh introduced me to the concept of “discontinuous change”—just because we know what has come before, we cannot necessarily predict where we are going next. Ramo’s approach blends in well with Roxburgh’s thesis.

Roxburgh understands that we as Christians can learn a great deal from persons in a number of fields who are struggling to understand the world we find ourselves in. Those people don’t have to be believers to share ideas and strategies that may benefit the church. We often find people like Ramo and others who are thinking along parallel tracks, dealing with similar issues, and suggesting approaches that may have applicability to the church.

I think we can learn a great deal from reading outside our usual areas of study. We can learn from literature, film, drama, political science, and the hard sciences. Looking at things from another’s perspective can change or sharpen our own.

I encourage you to “get out of your box” and take a look at what others are doing. You might be surprised at what you learn.

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