I’ve just finished reading Why it’s Kicking Off Everywhere, Paul Mason’s analysis of the wave of change which swept the world last year, from the Arab Spring to the Occupy movement, via the Eurozone crisis. Anyone who’s watched Mason’s reports on the BBC’s Newsnight over the last 12 months will already be familiar with his skills as a journalist, and the book doesn’t disappoint.
Of particular interest are his insights on ‘the networked individual,’ including a new breed of activist who is passionate about the need for change on critical issues, and who, armed with a smartphone and access to social media, has all the tools they need to connect with the likeminded and quickly build a movement. Mason writes about the ‘emergence of a new kind of individual with ‘weak ties’, multiple loyalties and greater autonomy.’
The question is: how does this impact the church, and our communication of the values of the kingdom which are crying out to be heard at a time like this? There’s a desire for change but also a wariness of the institutions who have presided over the failures of the current system, with the church in the role of sometimes-collaborator. How do we foster discipleship in a world of greater passion and but where ties are held more lightly?
Perhaps one answer is found in Jesus’ image of leaven working through dough. Could it be that the kingdom of heaven is like ideas transmitted through a network, subverting, inspiring, disturbing, until all of it was infused.