Justice, Ecology, Social Action, Contemplation, and political action are interwoven as a seamless garment. This is what we call Church.
We see this in Thomas Merton, Thomas Keatings, Richard Rohr, and yes, Pope Francis.
The Hank Center and the various lectures they present help us understand what is happening at the intersection of technology; culture and how that can change politics.
Technology becomes more important to think about and ultimately to act upon because of time. Maybe for the first time in this plant’s history, we are being confronted with the Universe having the upper hand.
Academically, I was a student of Humanities. I have been blessed to have spent most of my working career in the arena of emerging technology with some of the most fascinating companies. We see first hand the societal phase change that technology brings to our culture. How it impacts us, and we are not always aware of the cause/effect. For example, how many of you think of how the phone has evolved and the societal change that occurred? In many ways, we take it for granted. The same taking it for granted occurred with the Industrial Revolution. Today, We see this change occurring as we are now in the next revolution called the Autonomous Revolution.
The political and social angst is felt most in the early years of these technological and social change revolutions. Just look at the first 50 to 100 years of the industrial revolution. And in all these periods of history, we have seen organized religion change also. We have seen a few institutions fade way into history who could not evolve with the change. It is all about the hermeneutic.
History has shown us these periods of societal change are gut-wrenching transformations of society. They are the struggles of workers, children, families, and the politics thereof. Just read good ole Charles Dickens and the early beginnings of the industrial revolution as a period of time pretty equivalent to what we are experiencing during this new Autonomous Revolution. Dig up some old Charlie Chaplin movies and see what he was trying to say to humanity about the slums and cities in pollution of the Industrial Revolution. And for you historical theology buffs, think of the Epic of Gilgamesh. The upheaval and societal phase change that occurred, and it was the birth of the Agricultural Revolution. Gilgamesh was a poor, feeble excuse for a leader, for a monarch, totally self-indulgent, corrupt, violent, and always abused his power. Humm.
I think what the Hank Center and this lecture are trying to saying to us as we enter the Autonomous Revolution the need to understand where we are as a political nation, and as spiritual people. If we look at our political world today as being the “norm” then we may be in the process of cutting down sacred trees and killing scared bulls, and we may be at the point of just going too far as what happened with Gilgamesh.
Organized religion is about to see and experience changes; it is not prepared to experience what technology is bringing to the forefront. But think about it, the church today is not organized as it was 2000 years ago, 1500 years ago, or even 500 years ago, OK still pretty close to 500 years ago (LOL.)
As Autonomous Technologies begin to take form in our society, we will have less control over the changes that will evolve and over the rules. Why? Well, this time around, we are not only living in a physical world as in both of the past cultural revolutions, but we are living in a virtual world interwoven with the material. The virtual will drive change at a rate as you have never seen.
Like many of you, I think we are very optimistic about what will eventually unfold as we change. We, as humans, can solve an abundance of problems. With autonomous technologies, we can now multitask, something humans can not do at all.
We have discovered not only a new world but new aspects of our Universe with the technologies.
The church’s question and organized religion will be how well do they address the most challenging issues of social phase change in an era of technological change coupled with political upheaval? Will humanity, religion, society collaborate to solve the challenges of the Autonomous Revolution?
If we can, we will have a more meaningful and abundant world to live out of lives and come to understand the difference being human makes and the difference why!