Have you ever been in a conversation, and the whole thing just seems wrong. Not wrong like evil, but wrong like missing the point. Wrong like we are simply regurgitating old solutions for old problems. Of course it doesn't seem that obvious, because the old solutions are masked to look like new solutions, but they aren't new, not at all. In fact, they are simply surface adjustments without in-depth changes. These things usually show themselves as fads, with many books written on them, and large crowds gathered around them, but like most fads there's nothing new about them, they require very little intellectual engagement, and cost very little to engage. These things look new, but they are not.
I was reading Ape and Essence by Aldous Huxley the other day, and I came upon this paragraph by the protagonist as he was contemplating the real "why" behind Gandhi's assassination:
The whole story [Gandhi's assassination] included an inconsistency, almost a betrayal. This man who believed only in people had got himself involved in the sub-human mass-madness of nationalism, in the would-be super-human, but actually diabolic, institutions of the nation state. He got himself involved in these things, imagining that he could mitigate the madness and convert what was satanic in the state to something like humanity. But nationalism and the politics of power had proved too much for him. It is not at the center, not from within the organization, that the saint can cure our regimented insanity; it is only from without, at the periphery. If he makes himself part of the machine, in which the collective madness is incarnated, one or the other of two things is bound to happen: either he remains himself, in which case the machine will use him as long as it can and, when he becomes unusable, reject or destroy him. Or he will be transformed into the likeness of the mechanism with and against which he works, and in this case we shall see Holy Inquisitions and alliances with any tyrant prepared to guarantee ecclesiastical privileges.
I had to reread it, and reread it. I had to underline it. And I can't get away from this statement. I am afraid it is hauntingly true about way too many thing in our world, in my world: in the church world, in government, in social change. In fact, most of the conversations I've been around lately about social change, church, outreach, politics, etc, etc, seem to be so relevant to this text. It gets too hard. We swap original prophetic imagination for success, platforms, and celebrity, all in the name of "change", but at the end we are usually the one's changed, or used and spit out. We have not killed the monsters of old, we have only dressed him in new clothes. Maybe I'm wrong, I don't think I am, but wouldn't mind it if I were. If I seem frustrated in a conversation, it may be because I can't help hearing it through this filter. If we really want to see change happen, it is going to take much more than cosmetic adjustments.