A limen is simply a threshold, a point of crossing so to speak as in a cultural shift or a change of employment, income, social class, or any other kind of movement from one status to another. Right now, the world is at a liminal moment. We are moving, full speed ahead, into the information age which is dramatically affecting how we “do business” as an ever increasingly integrated world.
Since most new “products” are information based – data, software programs, digital images or other recordings of sound and video – and the Internet dropping the time and relative cost of moving these products to nearly nothing, how information is shared, bought, or sold is already radically different than it was just twenty years ago. The printing press was such a revolutionary device that created a “new” world by the cheap proliferation of information. The Internet is the printing press on steroids, third generation mutation, then zapped with radioactivity. It is like comparing a student’s backpack for cartage to a shiny new oil supertanker.
So what does this liminal moment mean for the integration of faith and economics, for the spread of religious doctrine, for influencing history toward the aims of God’s mission in the world?
Robert Wright, in his book Non-Zero: The Logic of Human Destiny, makes the point that the speedier the access to sharing information, the more broadly folk interested in similar things can coalesce and increase their effectiveness in getting things done. The business world is already moving very, very fast on this new frontier and has already developed means the Church can appropriate for mission.
There are various communications technologies that churches and mission organizations are already using—multimedia, virtual meetings software, Internet broadcasting. How can we, especially ecumenically and globally, use new technology to advance God’s Kingdom? I am very interested in hearing from as diverse a range of voices on this as possible. Let me know what you think.
I will say this. Businesses, driven by a profit motive alone (the vast majority), are at the forefront of pushing further development of technology and trying to optimize existing technologies to gain productive efficiencies and market share. Does the church not have, ultimately, a more important message and a higher motivation?
As I said before, we are not just at any old threshold in cultural evolution. We are standing on the precipice of epoch level changes in how the world operates. Where do we take this conversation to help answer Jesus’ prayer that the people of God would be one as Jesus and His heavenly Father are one, that we might be salt and light to the world, our works glorifying God?
New technologies, changing economies, thought development…transglobal communications unprecedented in human history. Surely God sees opportunities for us to step up to the next level. My Google search on the phrase “technology in Christian mission” returned disappointing results. Why is the church so sadly behind the rest of the world? I guarantee Greenpeace and the environmental movement in general is way ahead of us on connecting the movement globally.
I would make a special note to mention David Miller of Crosscape Networks in Werrington, New South Wales, Australia (http://www.crosscape.com.au/site/index.php) for creating MissionTechWiki (http://www.missiontech.info/wiki/Main_Page). From there you can jump to the International Conference on Computing and Mission (http://www.iccm.org/).
How many of us have even heard of this organization? We are looking face on at perhaps the greatest opportunity for the advancement of global Christianity yet we seem to be lagging behind. Folk, we have a lot of catching up to do!