What are the opportunities?
The opportunities are nearly uncountable, if one thinks in terms of helping to bring shalom to the planet. 2 billion people are living on 2 dollars a day or less. Millions of children suffer with HIV/AIDS. 25,000 children die every day from starvation. There is war across the entire planet, not just in Afghanistan and Iraq. Countries like Laos and Vietnam and Iraq, among many others, are still dealing with children dying every year from the unexploded bomblets from cluster munitions which were produced and dropped as long as 40 years ago (And where were they produced? And where are they still being produced!?!? What is the responsibility of the citizens of that country?) There are 27 million slaves in the world, more than at any time in history. You said that peacemakers would be called children of God. The world desperately needs some peacemakers. You said the merciful would be comforted. The world desperately needs some merciful people. There are *so* many ways to get involved. There is the tiny beginning of a list of organizations which would be happy to help individuals get involved with some of these opportunities on the top right of my blog, oxymoronredundanyparadoxtrap.blogspot.com, under the heading "Areas of moral clarity" (I borrowed this title from Dr. Paul Farmer of PIH.org). Or if you don't want to go check that out, you might start with one of my favorites, Patch Adams Gesundheit Institute, which has lots of simple and practical everyday ideas for ... creating shalom.
What are you going to do different in 2007, as a Christian?
Well, perhaps the question doesn't really apply to me, as I don't really consider myself a Christian anymore. I'm still feebly ... moving in some direction which could be considered a similar direction to the direction in which one would, or should, be moving if one were a Christian. However, I don't really fee comfortable with partaking of Eucharist anymore, and so ... well, I think technically you have to do that to be a Christian.
However, having said that, I'll answer the question as best I can. One thing I'm planning to do differently in '07 is to be involved with a soul-care community. I wasn't in '06. But I found one I really like, and I'm hoping (feebly hoping, but still hoping) that they won't find me so unbearable that they ask me to stay away. Their name is monkfish abbey. I'm also planning/hoping to identify and begin to help and form a relationship with an NGO that is working to end child prostitution and helping child prostitutes in the developing world as they transition.
What are your hopes for Christianity in 2007?
My hope is that in '07 we will see a huge transition, especially in the west, from Sunday Morning Church® to Emergent Church. I hope 2007 will be a breakthrough year for myself and an enormous group of people like me. After George Bush won the general election 2004, The Stranger, a weekly newspaper in Seattle, ran a front page cover that started out "Do not despair, you don't have to leave. You don't have to move to Canada. You may feel out of place in the United States today. You may feel like you're surrounded by fundamentalist, church going, gun hugging, gay bashing, anti-choice Bush voters. But you're not." It continued, "You live in the city. A big city. ... Cities are diverse, dynamic, and progressive. Don't think of yourself as a citizen of the United States. You are a citizen of the urban archipelago. The United Cities of America."
The editors at The Stranger were on to something. Both the United States and the rest of the world are becoming more urbanized. Part of what this means is that the Christianity described on that Stranger cover is becoming less relevant. I would love to think that I, and the huge group of people like me--people for whom the Christianity we grew up with, the Sunday Morning Church ® Christianity, no longer works--can actually be as hopeful about our faith as the Stranger editors are about America. I think 2007 will be the year when the message of the emergent church--a message that is highly indicative of such hope--will have a huge breakthrough. It's been gearing up for several years now. There is a critical mass being reached, and I think that this message is going to explode exponentially in 2007. Emergent voices and emergent organizations are multiplying, and instead of getting bigger and more top heavy, they are multiplying in the cellular/networking way which Dwight Friesen describes so eloquently.
What message am I talking about? It's a message that says to discouraged and disenfranchised semi and former and wannabe Christians "Don't think of yourself as a member of a Sunday Morning Church ®. You are a member of ... the human race. You can be a Christ follower and still embrace unknowing. Christianity doesn't have to be about "church" or "worship services". It can be, indeed it is, about the things that are already important to you." I find this very exciting and enormously hopeful.