In my earlier post, I noted that Brian D. McLaren's new book makes some choices about how to organize and present what he perceives as the world's biggest problems, attempting to hone them down to 3 core causes or systems. In this second of the 3 posts, I want to briefly review what McLaren refers to as the equity system.
The word equity is not one that comes up frequently in conversation. The word comes from
equite, from Old French, from Latin aequitās, from aequus,
which meant even, fair.
In this book, McLaren frames what many in the Global North & Global South have defined as a crisis where
“the majority of the globe is now poor & disadvantaged, with an entitled few enjoying miraculous wealth”
This is a dramatic shift from how many in the affluent West traditionally view the world. To gain a better sense of this, take a look at this venn diagram from the brilliant site Indexed, which is kept by Jessica Hagy:
To be more specific, the top one percent of the world’s adult population (about 37 million people) owns 40 percent of the world’s wealth, while the top two percent owns over half and the top 10 percent owns 85 percent. In contrast, the bottom half of the world’s adult population—or about 1.85 billion people—owns collectively only one percent of the world’s assets. Wealth is defined as physical and financial assets minus liabilities.
This video In The Know: Are America's Rich Falling Behind The Super-Rich? from the Onion satirizes the miraculous wealth that has exploded in a handful of enclaves:
Given this crisis in the equity system, McLaren does not suggest that Jesus calls us to become an economist or wallow in guilt. Instead, he suggests that Jesus calls us:
“to seek justice for all fellow citizens in God’s Kingdom so that God’s compassionate will is done on earth as in heaven”
This phrase "on earth as in heaven" is one that many Jesus followers repeat thousands of times in their lives. God's will in heaven and earth repeatedly is described in sacred texts as an embrace of love - joy in the form of love, healing in the form of love, faith in the form of love. Restoration comes from this love, transformation comes from this love, new life comes from this love. The generosity of love is as marked a contrast to equity and wealth as light is to darkness, as love is to fear.
At the core of McLaren's new book is an invitation that he returns to, like a jazz player coming back to a riff or a painter giving herself over to a stroke of the brush. That invitation is to join a revolution of hope:
“one that offers good news for both the living and dying, that speaks of God’s grace at work both in this life and the life to come, that speaks both to individuals and to societies and to the planet as a whole”
If we choose to join this revolution of hope, then working to answer the crisis in the equity system is just as natural as the authority of Scripture or the importance of a grounded theology, all of it part and parcel of re-membering the message, ministry, teachings & the acts of Jesus.