Over the last couple of years I have been suggesting that we are living in the fourth cultural epoch of North American culture. We have seen the Agrarian Age, the Industrial Age, the Information Age and now we are entering the Inventive Age.
Each of these ages has particular ways of thinking, valuing, appreciating aesthetics and way of using tools. And all parts of culture including religious communities are created from these cultural situations.
In Community in the Inventive Age, I suggest there are 10 Characteristics to Inventive Age Culture.
While writing the book I was reflecting on the happenings that started a year ago tomorrow that we now refer to as The Arab Spring. Here is a piece from the book on that:
At the time I’m writing this chapter, the dominant interna- tional news stories are the democracy protests in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain, and other countries. It is not clear as to what the future of any of these movements will be, but what is clear is that the early twenty-first century is a time of participation across the world.
In many ways this is not fueled by outreach efforts of the world’s other democracies (in fact, in many of these places the United States has helped to support the former regimes). These latest democracy movements are fueled by people demanding to participate in their future.The era of the dictator is coming to an end. The Internet and social media are fueling this participation movement. When people know more and are better equipped, they start demanding a greater role in their own affairs.
The Inventive Age rewards and encourages partici- pation, but participatory culture is not clean or easy. There are tremendous difficulties embedded in this approach, and the outcomes are not guaranteed. Still, participatory culture is the expectation for Inventive Age people.
I was pleased to see that Time Magazine made the protesters around the world their Person of the Year, but wish they were called Participators and not protesters.
We live in a new age, not only in North America but around the world where participation is crucial and expected. I hope that those of us in the business of community and church formation will see the full participation of all members of our community to be the norm and not a goal.