Why Be Christian?
Christianity as a Paradigm Shift from
Force and Competition to Relational Power
by Teri Daily
A paradigm shift
Christmas doesn’t just come once a year; Christmas happens whenever the kingdom of heaven is revealed as an alternative paradigm. It takes place whenever we see a way forward not based on brute force, fear, or competition, but based on love, abundance, and relationship.
The questions we ask
And so as we prepare to enter the season of Epiphany, let these questions claim our attention: When and where do we succumb to a worldview of force, competition, and scarcity? In every situation, what is the more life-giving alternative? In every situation, what does it look like to live in a world where power comes in the form of a baby, love is unlimited, and everyone has enough? Who are bold, courageous companions to travel with us—those who have also seen the kingdom of heaven and can hold the vision for us when our own memory fades or our imagination fails?
The glimmer of a star
And while these questions float in your mind, keep awake for the glimmer of a star, a baby in a manger, love that replaces fear—all anomalies in the existing paradigm, anomalies that point to new and amazing possibilities, anomalies that give us the courage to go home by another way.
Home by another way
And yet, in the Incarnation we see an alternative that, once glimpsed, can’t be unseen. This alternative speaks of self-giving love as true power, of abundance and inclusion and relationship, of losing yourself to save yourself....It inevitably launches us on new paths; we find ourselves compelled (in the words of a James Taylor song) to go home by another way.
Finding the path
This doesn’t mean that following this alternative path is always easy—it isn’t. Often we are met with resistance, from those with so much invested in the familiar paradigm and from those afraid to take an unfamiliar road. Often we are riddled with doubts, especially when the results are messy, complicated, and unlike anything we expected... Living with a foot in each world is a difficult thing to do; sometimes the path forward is overgrown and hard to find. But once we’ve experienced the presence of God and have glimpsed the kingdom of heaven, we can’t live as if there’s no alternative to the old paradigm, as if any world makes sense other than this dream of God.
Also of interest:
Relational Power by Bob Mesle
What is Fat Soul Philosophy? by Patricia Adams Farmer
Kindness: The Beautiful Contagion by Patricia Adams Farmer
Why Christians turn to Christianity by Jay McDaniel
No Need to be Center Stage by George Hermanson
Let the Blurring Begin: Process Theology and Open Theism by Jay McDaniel
Beyond the Theological Straightjacket: John Cobb's Conversion to Ecology by John Cobb
After Empire: Historical Christianity, American Foreign Policy, and Jesus by John Cobb