At a time when government leaders seem to falter in their efforts to address critical issues like poverty and climate change, Bill Phippsâe(TM) Cause For Hope: Humanity at the Crossroads illuminates key sources for transformation in ourselves and in the world. His is a message of hope that challenges faith communities, concerned citizens and activists to take the lead in transforming the world.
The main challenge that Phipps identifies is stark: Global society stands at a crossroads and the direction we choose will have profound implications for our future. The dominant stories of our culture have shaped ways of living that are not sustainable. Urban sprawl, environmental damage, wasteful energy choices, hyper-consumerism, the growing gap between rich and poor, and violence in all forms are just some of patterns that Phipps identifies and explores.
At the same time, Phipps points to the many individuals and groups who are creating a life-giving presence in the world today. Thinkers like Thomas Berry, David Korten and Vandana Shiva are writing new stories that challenge us to see our relationships with each other and with the earth differently. Others, like activists Craig and Marc Kielburger, are creating new stories by the way they live and the concrete choices they make.
Hope lies in our growing awareness of the oppressive assumptions that characterize the old stories, and our awakening to new ways of understanding how we are in relationship with God, Earth and each other. Phipps uses stories from his personal life to point to his own spiritual awakening to the unjust assumptions operating in the stories he was taught, and allows the reader to share in his growing awareness of how these stories function to legitimate injustice in society.
For example, the reader follows Phipps on a journey of transformation to 1960s Brooklyn, New York where, at the age of 22, he had a summer job as assistant director of a childrenâe(TM)s program. He found himself in a racially changing neighbourhood that was dealing with extreme poverty and realized that, as a white middle-class Canadian, he had a lot to learn, particularly in the area of race relations. The steep learning curve he faced is illustrated by two stories: one in which he is barred from listening to a speaker from the growing Black Muslim movement, and the other in which he walks down a Brooklyn street and has, for a few moments, a deep spiritual experience of the whole world as an integrated whole.
Phipps probes what is harmful in the collective stories that currently operate in North American society and beyond, even as he outlines key themes in the âe~New Storyâe(TM) that he believes are emerging. He includes a chapter on water not only because it is under stress throughout the world but because it shows the interrelatedness of ecological health, economic justice, public policy and globalization. In the process, he invites the reader into new stories that reveal our oneness with water: without water we die; our very life is intertwined with it. We need to recover the spiritual and artistic symbols that can engender a collective sense of the sacredness of water if we are to transform the choices we make about our use of this life sustaining resource.
Through this use of both personal and collective stories, Phipps reveals the deeply spiritual nature of the crossroads at which we stand. Crossroads are times of exciting and surprising spiritual discernment. They are moments in history when the divine energy, the creative impulse at the heart of life, reveals itself enlightening us, challenging us, and loving us into being and action. For instance, we are aware that the Old Story of the Consumer Society is destructive but it is ingrained in our psyche. We can consciously choose to live a New Story but it will require opening ourselves to transformation. Which road will we choose?
The stories and the reflection questions at the end of each chapter draw readers into their own spiritual discernment. How will I respond at the crossroads? Will I choose to be overcome by fear and denial? Or, will I see this moment in history as a privileged time in which I am invited, with others, into an exciting transformation?
Our hope lies in a growing collective awareness of how we have internalized the death-dealing patterns of the Old Story and in our collective willingness to learn to live the patterns of a New Story that declares that all of life is interrelated. The first step is to open ourselves to our own personal journey of transformation.Sue Wilson
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