Worldwide Discussion:

Very few people are going to believe what’s in the extended series of articles that begins today with this first entry in the headline story column at The Global Conversation.

The articles that will appear here over the next two weeks will answer the most important question in human history: What does God want?

For many people that answer will be startling.

These headline stories will be excerpted and adapted from the book What God Wants—and should, in my opinion, be the headline story every day in every major newspaper in every city the world. This news is that important.

This is because humanity’s ideas about God produce humanity’s ideas about life and about people. Dramatically different ideas about God will produce dramatically different ideas about life and about people. And if the world could use anything right now, that’s it—because nothing in our world is working.

Now I know it feels very “not okay” to some people for a spiritual messenger to talk in any way negative about life, about how things are, about what could be made better in our world, or anything that does not point directly to positivity and joy and loving solutions.

Yet one cannot discuss or explore joyful and loving solutions if one is not at least allowed to describe the problems. So we’re going to begin there, and then we’ll talk about solutions. And you’ll just have to have some patience with this if you among those who believe that “Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil” is the only spiritually valid approach to life.

The problem in the world today is that none of the systems we have put into place to create a better life for us all on this planet have produced the outcome for which they were designed.

It’s worse than that. They’ve actually produced exactly the opposite.

Our political systems — created to produce safety and security for the world’s people – have produced nothing but disagreement and disarray.

Our economic systems — created to produce opportunity and sufficiency for all — have produced increasing poverty and massive economic inequality, with 85 of the world’s richest people holding more wealth than 3.5 billion…that’s half the planet’s population…combined.

Our ecological systems — created to help us produce a sustainable lifestyle — have been abused so much that they are now generating environmental disasters right and left.

Our educational systems — created to lift higher and higher the knowledge base of the planet’s population — have produced a drop in global awareness and sensitivity that each year sinks our intellectual common denominator lower and lower. We can’t even remember our own telephone numbers anymore.

Our health care systems — created in hopes of producing a good and long life for an increasingly higher percentage of people — are doing little to eliminate inequality of access to modern medicines and health care services, thus actually providing top level medical services each year to a lower and lower percentage.

Our social systems — created to produce the joy of community and harmony among a divergent population — more and more generate and even encourage discordance, disparity, prejudice, and despair…to say nothing of rampant injustice.

And, most sadly dysfunctional of all, our spiritual systems — created to produce a greater closeness to God, and so, to each other — have produced bitter righteousness, shocking intolerance, widespread anger, deep-seated hatred, and self-justified violence.

This article is Part I of an Extended Series of headline stories in The Global Conversation

We stand today on the brink of a global cultural war. The opening volleys have already been exchanged. The really major clashes, the unthinkable FutureWorld battles, may be yet to come.

Given the direction in which humanity appears to be moving, it may seem as though this larger conflict is inevitable. It isn’t. There’s something very powerful that can stop it: dramatically different ideas about God and dramatically different ideas about life and about people.

Such ideas, if accepted and adopted, will produce dramatically different ways of living and being. Values will change. Priorities will change. Power structures and power-holders will change.

Of course, as we know, change can be a dangerous thing to suggest, not only around people of power (to whom change is the ultimate threat), but also around ordinary people (for whom change is threatening simply because it leads to the unknown).

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore had it exactly right in a September, 2004 interview in The New Yorker:

“In a world of disconcerting change, when large and complex forces threaten familiar and comfortable guideposts, the natural impulse is to grab hold of the tree trunk that seems to have the deepest roots and hold on for dear life and never question the possibility that it’s not going to be the source of your salvation.

The final part of that sentence (italics mine) tells the tale of humanity’s belief about God and life in 15 words. Mr. Gore confirms this with his next statement. “And the deepest roots,” he says, “are in philosophical and religious traditions that go way back.”

Al Gore’s insight leaves us all facing a thunderous question: Is the way forward to be found by going way back?

The answer is, no.

And while, as the former Vice President notes, we never question the possibility that our philosophical and religious traditions are not going to be the source of our salvation—presumably because we feel threatened by such questioning—could there be times when not to question those traditions presents an even larger threat?

The answer is, yes. And this is one of those times.

(Part II of this extended series will appear in this space soon. Watch for it.)

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